Retro Comics are Awesome

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andersonh1
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Green Lantern #25
December 1963

War of the Weapon Wizards!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Joe Giella

The cover advertises a fight between GL and Sonar, with Sonar having obtained the Green Lantern ring somehow. What the story actually is, though only he knows it, is an attack by Hector Hammond on Green Lantern using Sonar as his weapon. Hammond has the mental power to escape from jail any time, as he demonstrates to a prison guard, but he figures there's no point in doing so until he deals with Green Lantern. He helps Sonar break out of prison without Sonar ever realizing that Hammond was responsible. In an interesting story twist, which is not apparent at first, Hammond runs the entire scenario where Sonar attacks Green Lantern as mental images in Hal's subconscious mind in order to see what Hal will do and plan accordingly. "Forewarned is forearmed." Hammond declares, and I have to admit, this is a smart move on his part, as is keeping his part in the scheme unknown.

I love the crazed look on Sonar's face at the beginning of part 3. Great job on Gil Kane's part. The battle plays out pretty much as it had in Hal's imagination until Hammond influences Sonar to do something different right at the point of defeat. Hal is able to use the ring's yellow weakness to escape a cage that Sonar created, and he staves off defeat by taking mental control of the power ring when Sonar flies close enough for Hal's willpower to override Sonar's. Hammond can't believe he's lost again. Sonar does escape with the ring and with Hal a prisoner in a solid green block of energy, but GL "borrows a trick from his friend the Flash" and uses Sonar's weapon to vibrate himself out of the trap, unnoticed by Sonar. He follows him, incapacitates Sonar with his own weapon, and takes his ring back. Hammond can't believe he lost, but he's determined to try again.

We haven't had a lot of full-issue stories in Green Lantern so far, but a fight by Hal against two of his enemies merits devoting the entire issue to a single story. I liked this one a lot more than I expected, from Hannond's long-distance manipulation of events to Hal thinking on his feet all through the fight and ultimately figuring out a way to win, even without his ring. I really enjoyed the fact that neither he nor Sonar ever know that Hammond created the whole situation. It does seem as though Hammond would need to take into account what both men would do, not just how Hal thinks the battle will go, but the story even addresses that by having Hammond note that he'll guide Sonar to victory.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Batman #79
October-November 1953

Bride of Batman!
Writer: David Vern Reed Pencils: Dick Sprang Inks: Charles Paris

Batman... is it true you're engaged to Miss Vale?
You heard Vicki, boys! I guess she knows what she's doing!
Wow! She's bossin' Batman already!


What a great splash page: a church hall full of people (including Gordon) with two crooks leaning in the open window commenting about what an easy town Gotham will be now that Batman will have a home life. Robin, the best man, hold's the bride's wedding ring while a nervous Batman is gazed at adoringly by Vicki Vale. So either Batman's afraid of marriage in general, or of Vicki in particular. Pretty stereotypically rom-com "nervous groom" behavior of you there, Batman!

Of course the splash pages are often not to be taken at a literal face value. After Vicki has had a minimal presence in the series for a long time, making very few appearances, she's back in a big way with what is essentially her own adventure and even the makings of a supporting cast of her own in the form of her editor and a rival photographer, Eloise Leach. When the Shah of Nairomi, a man who controls the largest uranium source in the world, visits Gotham City and falls for Vicki, she has to figure out a way to turn down his proposal without offending him. She claims that she's already engaged, and it's been a secret because she's engaged to Batman. Batman agrees to go along with the hoax only because of the delicate political situation, but he's none too happy about this. "She's enjoying the whole hoax," he thinks when they're dancing in public where the Shah can see them, "but I'd be much happier taking on a deadly criminal any day!" When she fusses at him for not bringing her flowers (which he lost while fighting crooks) he thinks to himself how glad he is that the engagement is only temporary!

The hoax is going great until Eloise figures out that Vicki is faking it, and is determined to embarrass Vicki by exposing the game, or if they're too proud to admit the hoax, to force her and Batman into a marriage they don't want. She does it by sending a tip to the papers in the form of a wedding date set before the Shah leaves town, so he'll be able to attend the wedding! Wuh oh! Batman decides that it's time to get out of this whole hoax, but Vicki is delighted. She likes being engaged to Batman and wants to go through with the wedding.

The solution is simple: as Bruce Wayne, Batman tells Eloise Leach that whoever marries Batman will have to have plastic surgery to change her appearance to keep her safe from Batman's enemies (knowing full well that Eloise will tell the Shah), which the Shah will not countenance since he's still enamored with Vicki's beauty. And Vicki's not really willing to get plastic surgery either. The wedding is off. That gets Batman off the hook, and since Vicki has (supposedly) been engaged, the Shah cannot marry her either, so Vicki's problem is solved.

This really was a lot of fun to read. It's the best Vicki Vale story in ages. A rom-com is not something we've seen much of in the Batman series given the reading age that this series was aimed at and the crime fighting emphasis, so I found it an enjoyable change of pace. I do wonder how "Batman" could ever legally get married though since of course it's the man under the mask that's the actual real, legal identity. But he dodges the bullet, so the issue is avoided.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Green Lantern #26
January 1964

Star Sapphire Unmasks Green Lantern!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Joe Giella

I hear Green Lantern operates in these parts - but this dame has him beat by a mile!

What a great cover, with Star Sapphire removing the mask from a shocked Hal Jordan. They use it for the cover of the second omnibus collection, and I have to admit, it does make me want to read the story and see just how this happened. It starts with Carol Ferris feeling a strange compulsion to head to the "odd lots room" at the police department, where the Star Sapphire gem rests and where it changes Carol back into Star Sapphire. After a brief recap of her first appearance, the story shows Sapphire eavesdropping on GL's discussion with the police chief about the "copter gang". Sapphire goes after them first and captures them. I love how she thinks of GL as her "friendly enemy" and sees him more as someone to get the upper hand over rather than really defeat. I also enjoy seeing Star Sapphire act in a heroic capacity, even if she does have an ulterior motive for doing so. And the sexist barbs back and forth between GL and Sapphire are fun. "You and your male ego! I'll be near by - to take over when you fail!"

An invasion by what look like three giant relatives of Tomar-Re are the occasion for the comment, and though Hal ultimately figures out how to defeat them, Sapphire beats him to it and insists that now his will is weak, and he has to propose to her! Hal agrees, but only if she can remove his mask. She finds that can't just reach up and pull it off (as we've learned in past issues, it's Hal's willpower that keeps it firmly attached to his face) but as the cover indicates, she'll figure out a way to remove the mask. She implants a subconcious command in his mind while he's charging his power ring and off goes the mask. Hal insists on removing Sapphire's mask and is shocked that it's Carol. When he says her name, she reverts from Sapphire back to herself, and Hal quickly puts his mask back on, working out from her comments that she won't remember her time as Star Sapphire, since it's something of a split personality. Scanning her mind with the ring, he gets the whole story of how she faked the three invaders as part of her plan to trick him into marrying her.

I enjoy the whole Hal/Carol on again/off again romance, so a story like this is right up my alley, even with the dated characterization. And honestly, that's part of the fun. Carol is not wrong about Hal having a huge ego, but he's genuinely good at observing and thinking his way out of tough situations in these Silver Age stories, so he's often as good as he probably thinks he is. It's his love life where the guy just isn't too bright. This was a fun one.

World Within the Power Ring!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Joe Giella

This is the first appearance of Myrwhydden, the alien sorcerer trapped inside Hal's power ring. While on his way home after a Justice League meeting (nice reference to his membership on the team, and I think the first time it's been mentioned in his own series) he's attacked by Abin Sur! Hal knows Abin is dead, and when he asks his ring about him, the ring says that "Abin" was a magical creation of the wizard Myrwhydden, who had been captured and imprisoned in his power ring by Abin Sur. And of course, Hal now wears Abin's ring. So he reduces himself in size, enters the ring and performs some magic of his own, taking on Myrwhydden in a sorceror's battle. But Hal was just faking magic to throw Myrwhydden off his game. He was using his power ring the whole time, and since he was inside it, he was constantly in contact with it, but was able to trick the wizard into thinking he'd lost it during the fight and catch him off guard. He silences him, so that Myrwhydden can't speak his incantations, rendering him helpless.

Not that we don't know as readers that Hal will generally win and survive, but this story is told in flashback with Hal telling Tom Kalmaku the story, so a lot of the urgency is not present. He's relating the events from a position of safety, so we're never in any doubt that he beat the threat. That aside, I like the idea of a world within the power ring, though I personally wouldn't trust the security of imprisoning an evil wizard inside the source of all my power if I was Hal. Best to get that guy far away somewhere.

One reason I particularly like this story is because Grant Morrison revisited Myrwhydden and the concept of a world within the ring (the Emerald Sands, in his version) and even personified the ring's AI as a person Hal could interact with. It was a great issue, and it retroactively gave me more enjoyment of the original this time around.

Green Lantern #27
March 1964

Mystery of the Deserted City!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Joe Giella

I like the splash page with GL fighting weird, other-dimensional creatures. It seems to have nothing at all to do with the cover full of intangible, invisible people, but this is a story that takes a lot of twists and turns. The people of the town of Pioneer Bluffs find that they cannot interact with the environment or other people, but a lone thief can. It's not hard to guess that a seismographic disturbance centered on the town may be related. Hal gets involved because Carol is seeing to the ferrying of a group of scientists to Pioneer Bluffs. He turns down the piloting gig because "he's a test pilot" and goes as Green Lantern. When he arrives, the entire town is apparently deserted, but though Hal doesn't know it, all the people are invisible, intangible, and can't be heard by Hal, though they certainly try to get his attention. A smart kid uses his willpower to get Hal's ring to glow, leading Hal to search the area and find all the townspeople in "the plane next to our own", or a slightly misplaced dimension.

Hal goes in search of the thief, and it's apparent that he caused the population displacement. He can keep on hopping dimensional planes, and does so after attempting to kill GL. The cover scene comes into the story when he arrives on plane "plus four" filled with "gigantic stinging bacteria". He drags GL there with his device, and of course, a yellow barrier (sigh) keeps Hal trapped. But he hopes that planes of existence curve back on themselves and moves forward through the planes until he arrives back at his original starting point and easily captures the thief, who didn't realize he'd been followed. Hal rescues the population and all is well.

I don't think they ever explain where the thief got his machine. He's a burglar, one assumes he came across it and stole it during one of his burglaries. It's a fun way to create some nice visuals with the empty town and the "bacteria" creatures, and it allows a fairly mundane crook to challenge Hal, however briefly.

The Amazing Transformation of Horace Tolliver!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Joe Giella

This is another flashback story to Hal's early days learning to use the ring. He relates the story to Tom about how he felt sympathy for Horace Tolliver, an incredibly meek man who was pushed around by everyone. The ring acted on Hal's subconscious desire to help and sent a beam Tolliver's way. As near as I can tell, it gave him a store of internalized lantern energy, so he's immovable at one point,and can fly at another point. Tolliver sees it as the power to make his wishes come true, and he does just that, becoming rich and confident.

Hal figures out what must have happened and goes to see Tolliver, who doesn't want to lose his newfound power, and is able to shoot a power beam from his fingers. The thing that came to my mind at this point was Parallax, not that Horace Tolliver had that kind of power, but just the idea that Green Lantern power can be contained in someone's body and used without a ring. The idea is clearly a lot older than 1990s Green Lantern since it's right here in this 1964 story. Tolliver is ultimately no match for Hal, who tracks him to the bank vault where he removes the power and erases the memory of having it from Tolliver's mind. But it appears the incident still affected Tolliver and made him more confident, leading him to improve his life. Hal still feels bad about the whole thing, despite the happy ending, because he feels that he abused the trust of the Guardians by using his ring in such a way, accident or not.

This was better than I expected, and the whole "internalized green lantern power" is far more significant than it was intended to be at the time. I like that Hal made a mistake and had to correct it, and that he's still bothered by it. Don't tell me these 60s DC characters don't have flaws. It's still a small-scale story about wish fulfillment, but it demonstrates Hal's moral character by showing the petty, selfish goals Tolliver uses the power for in contrast with Hal, who tries to adhere to his calling and responsibility as Green Lantern.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Green Lantern #28
April 1964

The Shark Goes on the Prowl Again!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Joe Giella

I wasn't a fan of the Shark last time around, so I wasn't enthusiastic about his return. I find it implausible that Carol, Hal, Tom and Terga all know how to surf too, though it's interesting that the four of them go on a vacation, or at least a beach trip together when Hal and Carol aren't a couple. When Carol fades into the water, Hal dives in and summons his GL uniform and "combs the waves" looking for her with a giant rake, but he finds the Shark instead. The Shark escaped being turned back into an actual shark by "becoming his uniform" and giving his uniform his form. This is what annoyed me about the Shark last time, that he can essentially do anything with his mental powers, no matter how little sense it makes. It is amusing to see his folded up costume sitting on a chair beside the shark tank thinking about his next encounter with Green Lantern though.

Hal tracks the Shark to where Carol, Tom and Terga are being held prisoner and a fight ensues. Hal does better this time around, with his use of sound to cause the Shark pain and disrupt his mental powers being fairly effective. Hal continues the indirect attacks but ultimately loses and is knocked out. When the Shark tries to take his ring, Hal slugs him, knocking the Shark out. The story tries to get some tension out of "who will wake up first?" and of course, ultimately it's Hal, though just barely. He slugs the Shark, knocking him back into unconciousness, and devolves him back to an actual Shark, reading his mind and making sure it's the real Shark this time. Later Hal reveals to Tom that he figured the Shark would try to take his ring if he won the fight, so Hal told the ring to make him punch the Shark if this happened. I can almost buy it, as Hal understanding his enemy, but I honestly think the Shark being able to do about anything leads to Hal needing to engage in some very contrived actions in order to win. And that "invisible yellow aura" is still just absurd. I know, these are comics where the absurd happens constantly and normally I just roll wtih it and enjoy the story. But the aura is a bit too much.

The House That Fought Green Lantern!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Joe Giella

Returning from space with a low charge on his ring, Hal still takes the time to help the police stop some thieves. I had expected at this point to see another variation on Hal having to foil a crime before his power runs out, but no, he stops the crooks and then recharges his ring with a minute to spare. But the story is not over, and when GL follows up he learns the men that were captured were a decoy and had none of the loot. The actual thief has escaped. Hal tracks him down to the old Corliss house, rumored to be haunted. Hal does indeed find the thief quickly, but runs into power ring problems as he enters the house. All his constructs are tiny and he can't figure out why his ring isn't functioning normally as he dodges traps set to snare intruders. The ring works normally once he leaves the house, and he captures the thief and recovers the stolen money. The culprit, and I am not kidding here, was the vibrations from the grandfather clock affecting the gem in the power ring. I think even Gardner Fox realized how contrived this was, because Hal assures the readers in the final panel that this was "a freak accident - that will probably never happen again!"

A bank robbery is small potatoes for someone with Green Lantern's power, to the point that Fox had to find a way to reduce Hal's power to give him a challenge. The mystery of why the ring isn't functioning correctly is a good one at first, but the answer is disappointing.

Neither of the stories in this issue are bad, but I think they're both weaker than usual, making this one of my least favorite issues since the series began.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Continuing Batman #79...

The Batman of Yesterday!
Script: Bill Finger Pencils: Bob Kane, Lew Sayre Schwartz Inks: Ray Burnley

It has been a long time since we've seen Professor Carter Nichols for a "time travel via hypnosis" plot. I did a scan back through my reviews, and it looks like January 1951, "Bodyguards for Cleopatra" was the time he turned up. A train derailment and robbery of gold has Batman investigating, and when Walter Fraley found some long-lost buried gold of Captain Lightfoot, Batman and Robin think it's the stolen gold, recast, but can't prove it. So rather than find evidence the normal way, it's time to time travel and see where the treasure was originally buried, back to 1753 Gotham City.

Once in the past, Batman and Robin are on the trail of Captain Lightfoot, notorious highwayman. What they find out is that he's actually a vigilante with a secret identity, just like them, trying to stop a crook named Vorney who is trying to stir up trouble so he can sell guns to the Indians. Batman and Robin help Lightfoot out, and they adapt to the times by putting bat wings on their horses (an 18th century Batmobile, you see!) and they're ultimately able to prove to the Indians that Vorney is cheating them, and a peace treaty is signed. Turns out that a certificate proving Lightfoot's innocence was his real treasure, not gold, so once Batman finds it in the present day, he's able to prove that there never was gold, and that Fraley stole the gold shipment. Batman of course wants the document for the trophy collection in the Batcave.

I guess I've missed the time travel stories, because this one was more enjoyable than I expected. I like the "Batman of the 18th Century" idea and the idea that there were costumed crime fighters in Gotham long before Batman. Lightfoot would be a fun character to revisit, though I doubt it will ever happen.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Noting these here so I can easily find them again. I skipped the Flash by Waid paperbacks in the hope we'd get the material in omnibus format, and it looks like I lucked out. And having sampled Golden and Silver Age Wonder Woman, I think I'd like to read George Perez's post-crisis version, so I may get that as well.

The Flash by Mark Waid Omnibus Vol. 1 - https://prhcomics.com/book/?isbn=9781779513632
Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus (2022 Edition) - https://prhcomics.com/book/?isbn=9781779517258

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Finally finishing up Batman #79...

Batman - Gang Boss!
Writer: Bill Finger Pencils: Dick Sprang Inks: Charles Paris

I wasn't kidding, Batman! Here's your friend - dead!

I know it's not representative of the actual story, but the splash page of a grinning Batman and Robin playing pool with a bunch of gangsters really did pique my interest for just how this story could possibly play out. And it's not as straightforward as the title and splash page would lead one to assume, which is no surprise. Batman and Robin are escorting seven convicts via plane to a new prison at Gordon's request, but a hurricane at sea forces them down on to an island. Batman and Robin are trapped with the cons, who debate killing them, but one persuades the other to let Batman (who they all know is smart and resourceful) find a way off the island for all of them, then knock him off.

The ante is upped when we learn the island is the hideout of the red-bearded Lars Veking, modern day pirate. He doesn't want anyone interfering with his sweet gig, and he kills Scar when Scar tries to join him. That's a pretty brutal incident even if it does take place off panel, and all we see of the corpse are Scar's legs and boots. The six remaining cons stick with Batman. When Veking's gang attack Batman gives each of the cons an assignment based on their particular skill-set, and they're happy to follow orders, given the alternative. It's a nice demonstration of how well Batman knows his opponents and how he's done his homework. Long story short, Veking ends up causing his own death when a stone carving falls on him, and Batman is able to deduce where Veking's hidden submarine is so everyone can leave the island. When the crooks storm the sub, Batman and Robin hide in the torpedo tubes, get out right before they reach Gotham, and call the police in to round everyone up.

I really enjoyed this one. There's some great (as always) Dick Sprang artwork, a setting outside Gotham City that works well, and I like the gang of crooks up against an even worse crook in the form of Veking. Batman comes across as very resourceful and prepared by making use of the skills of the crooks trapped with him as they fight for their lives, and they are at least pragmatic enough to go along with him, recognizing his skill and ability to think his way out of tight spots.

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Green Lantern #29
June 1964

Half a Green Lantern is Better than None!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

This is the first appearance of Black Hand, who will later be twisted into something quite vile by Geoff Johns in one of his more distasteful villain revamps. Gil Kane inserts himself into the story (he's talking to the reader from his artboard) and introduces William Hand, who speaks directly to the readers as well. It's a novel approach, certainly, though I'm not sure why it was taken here. Maybe it was just a quicker way to get the exposition out of the way and get on with the story. It does kill the suspension of disbelief that we're watching actual events play out when both the artist and one of the characters in the story address the reader, so I'm not sure this approach really works for me.

Figuring that the only way to beat Green Lantern was to use his own power against him, Black Hand designed a machine to collect residual Green Lantern energy from places where GL had been active, which is an interesting concept and fairly clever. Once he has enough he will be able to use a machine he built to send GL to another dimension. How did he build these two devices when he was a self-confessed career criminal? Who knows? He's shown in a room with other high-tech equipment, so Hand is presumably an engineer or an inventor as well as a criminal. But the reader is not explicitly told this, we're left to infer. Maybe this is why Geoff Johns has him find the energy-siphoning device rather than build it.

Black Hand contacts Hal through the power ring and dares him to meet and confront him. Here's where the cover showing Hal missing the right side of his body comes into play, since Black Hand only manages to send half of him to another dimension... the side without the power ring, thankfully. But Black Hand is able to draw on half the green power now, so he can fight Hal with his own power. After some back and forth with GL, and after Black Hand confronts his brothers, Hal bluffs him into thinking he's escaped the other dimension by grafting a mirror reflection to his missing half so he appears whole. This distracts Black Hand long enough for Hal to get the upper hand (get it?) and cart him off to jail.

Broome clearly put some thought into Hand's background and the idea of siphoning GL's own energy or collecting residual energy is clever. I like it. I do think some explanation for how Hand is able to construct these machines should have been attempted, but there's nothing. He just knows how to build them, and that's that. For one of the more out-there cover concepts (Hal sliced in half just one half of him visible and walking around) the story isn't half bad (my second pun of the review!). And I vastly prefer this Black Hand to the one Geoff Johns gave us.

This World is Mine!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

There is no room on this planet Earth for two Green Lanterns! I scorn everything the other Green Lantern stands for! Now - I'll show you my idea of how a real Green Lantern should act!

Carol Ferris is at the Coast City Fairgrounds waiting for Green Lantern to show up as guest of honor, when a giant papier-mache statue of him comes to life and starts smashing things up. Only in the Silver Age would a sentence like that make sense! The real GL is meeting with the Justice League of America, the first time they've appeared in his solo series. Aquaman, the Atom, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Flash are all present. So is Snapper Carr, with his bizarre way of speaking, and he alerts GL to the trouble. Flash wants the entire JLA to go deal with the threat, but Hal wants first crack at it by himself. He takes it on with the JLA monitoring in case he needs help.

What we have here is essentially a sequel to "the Strange World Named Green Lantern" and the threat animating the giant statue is the force that Hal extracted from that planet to save it from being destroyed. The force decided to follow GL back to Earth and get revenge by taking it over. The force is well aware of Hal's yellow weakness and attempts to exploit it in a variety of ways, but Hal is able to alter the color of the form the alien force has taken and then his ring can affect it. The rest of the JLA are impressed with Hal's quick thinking, and Carol continues to moon over Green Lantern as they enjoy the fair.

I had wondered if the Green Lantern planet ever turned up again, and while it only appears via flashback, I'm glad it wasn't forgotten and that we got a follow-up. That and the appearance of the JLA add a little something extra to what might otherwise be a standard "how does Hal overcome the yellow weakness" plot.

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Green Lantern #30
July 1964

The Tunnel Through TIme!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

Dinosaurs and new terrain are appearing in the present day outside Coast City. Decades before Jurassic World, dinosaurs appeared in the modern world and wreaked havoc. Giant bulletproof pterodactyls terrorize the skies and smash buildings and bridges. The press wonders where Green Lantern is, but he's been in space and arrives late to the party. The story cuts away from Earth after Tom fills GL in on events and gives us the cause: intelligent alien Pterodactyls who want to help their distant cousins dominate the Earth!!! I got a good laugh out of the Pterodactyls sitting around a conference table discussing M-energy and time displacement, but hey, I'm willing to go along for the ride.

The alien Pterodactyls mentally enhance an Earth Pterodactyl, who protects his fellows with an energy shield and can control their actions. Even the power ring can't harm them. GL doesn't do so well in his first attempt to fight, but recognizing the mental power of the leader, he goes in with an indirect attack and gets them to follow him into the past. Yes, the power ring can time travel, so add that to the list of things it can do. The intelligent Pterodactyl is so freaked out by the sight of a Tyrannosaur that GL is able to get past his defenses and return him to normal. Returning to his own time, he tells Tom about it and admits that he has no idea how any of this happened. The alien Pterodactyls decide that having failed, they may as well give up.

What a crazy plot. If you turn your brain off and just go with it, it's a lot of fun. This isn't the first time we've seen alien Pterodactyls in Green Lantern. Hal found some on Venus back in Showcase #23, though they weren't intelligent like the ones in this story. And to be fair, I guess if I can accept all sorts of crazy aliens, including the bird-man Tomar-Re, why not intelligent alien Pterodactyls? But I'm still going to chuckle at them all sitting around a conference table, having a meeting.

Once a Green Lantern - Always a Green Lantern!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

I never question what the Guardians tell me, Pieface! - an almost unbelievable line coming from Hal Jordan.

Katma Tui makes her debut. She was already a posthumous character when I first started reading Green Lantern in 1990, killed by Star Sapphire after marrying John Stewart, who was still grieving her death at the time, so it was nice to go back to her introduction and see where it all began. Here the Guardians reveal to Hal that Katma is the replacement for Sinestro. She passed all tests with flying colors but plans to resign, just as her probationary period has ended, and the Guardians, unable to change her mind, want Hal to do so. He arrives on Korugar and is shocked to find a woman GL. We could chalk this up to Hal having only met male GLs up to this point and thus expecting another. But I think it's his attitude about women being more domestic, despite having Carol as a boss, given his thoughts at the end of the story that circumstances might be different for him than for Katma if he ever marries Carol since he's a man.

Katma has fallen in love, and is ready to walk away from the Green Lantern Corps because of it. She feels that she can't be both a Green Lantern and a wife and mother at the same time. That's fair enough, really, given how dangerous the job is. The tension between Hal's attempts to have a personal life and his duties as Green Lantern will be a problem many times in the years ahead. In fact I remember Katma throwing the events of this story in Hal's face when he resigns to be with Carol, and who can blame her for doing so? Hal does manage to change her mind, using her story about fighting a giant amoeba-like creature to make her realize that she's more devoted to the Corps than she realized. He secretly creates a duplicate of the creature which ends up capturing both him and Katma's fiance, and she has to choose who to save first. It comes across as a bit of a dirty trick on Hal's part, as he admits to the Guardians, though the choice to save her fellow Corps member over her fiance was entirely Katma Tui's. The Guardians praise Hal for a job well done as Katma Tui remains a Green Lantern.

So there's definitely a contrast here between Hal's surprise about a woman Green Lantern, and how typical that is now. No one bats an eye. I think John Broome deserves credit, even with the attitudes of the era showing through, for giving us both a woman running a major aerospace corporation and our first woman Green Lantern. I think the story itself is the first time we've seen a character having to choose between love and the Corps, but it won't be the last. We're starting to move into issues that will be explored quite a bit more in the future.

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andersonh1
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Green Lantern #31
September 1964

Power Rings for Sale!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

The cover for this issue is just great: a cheerful Green Lantern, standing on the sidewalk, selling power rings for a dollar. A smiling man in an orange suit is flying away, another man is stepping forward with multiple bills, ready to pay (I guess he wants more than one) while still other people are standing around, gazing on in surprise. And this scene will in fact appear in the story. The splash page depicts GL under the control of aliens, the Grolls, and when the next page starts with Tom having scheduled GL to see a "medico" (which is defined as "a medical practitioner or student" so we don't know exactly what the status of this guy is, he has several certificates of some sort on his wall) because Green Lantern has been acting irrationally. It doesn't take much to put two and two together and figure the alien mind control has something to do with his behavior. That's obvious, right? Maybe too obvious. The medico finds nothing, but Tom is able to get GL to contact the Guardians through the power battery, and they quickly learn that the Grolls are attempting to influence GL by (what else?) radiation that will allow them to control his mind. They start with small doses and work their way up to the major dose.

Here's where the cover image comes in as Hal ends up selling working power rings out of a suitcase on the sidewalk. Tom is aghast that he's doing something this crazy. It's at this point, after GL does some skywriting explaining why he made all of these duplicate power rings (a function of the power rings that we've seen replicated in modern GL comics, where the duplicates have limited power and lifespan, which also turns out to be the case here) that the Grolls fire the big burst at GL. He blankets the Earth with his power beam and takes control of everyone, after which the Grolls arrive and command GL to kill himself, since he's done what they want. But Hal was one step ahead of these guys. He is not under their control, and he uses all of those power rings he sold to tap into the willpower of those wearing them, add it to his own, so he can do what he thinks he could not have done alone: destroy the Groll weapons with the amped up power. That's pretty clever, I have to say. It makes perfect sense of the "what in the world is going on here?" cover for this issue. Turns out Hal was aware of what the Grolls were doing and was able to render himself immune to the radiation, playing along only to trick them and defeat their plans.

I wasn't sure the story would be able to make any sense of Hal's seemingly senseless actions, but in the end it all tied together nicely. I was entertained by Hal's antics, regardless, but a poor explanation for them would have made this a much worse story. Using Tom as our point of view character works well since he acts as the reader's proxy, baffled by Hal's actions and wondering just how to help his friend. This story is, however, repeating a plot from last issue where energy from outer space is shot towards an inhabitant of Earth in order to use him to conquer the planet. Last time it was a pterodactyl, this time it was Hal Jordan. But other than that, the two stories are vastly different, so that one similar plot device is no big deal. I hope Hal fixed it so all those Coast City inhabitants forget they had power rings though... they're going to be ticked when they don't work any more. Not to mention, the Guardians won't be too happy that he was giving their tech away!

Pay Up - or Blow Up!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

The Jordan brothers are back. Hal is on his way to the wedding of his brother Jim to Sue Williams, the reporter who is convinced that Jim is Green Lantern. When Hal arrives, he learns that the wedding may be delayed as a self-proclaimed "scientist extraordinary", J. Charles Gantner, has threatened Coast City with atomic destruction unless he's paid one million dollars. Hal's older brother Jack is the DA, and tells Hal that the plan is to leave a fake ransom, then capture Gantner when he tries to collect. Hal plans to be there to be sure this works. Sue is just mad that this crazy guy had to pull this stunt on her wedding day!

Without going through all the plot mechanics, we get a resolution similar to the other Jordan brother stories where Sue thinks Jim is GL, and Hal secretly helps him in such a way that Jim ends up almost believing it himself. Gantner is captured, and the wedding goes ahead with Judge Jeremiah Jordan performing the ceremony. Sue is happy that no one knows she's secretly marrying Green Lantern. Except of course she isn't, but nothing Jim can say will convince her. The poor guy!

It's a cute little story that's basically the same plot as the others, but actually allowing them to get married is a big step forward for the characters. And they still pop up in the Green Lantern books from time to time to the present day, with the kids always glad to see their "Uncle Hal". I have to say, I'm glad Hal eventually lets Jim and Sue in on the secret.

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