A Tribute to the of
I hope no one noticed. With any luck, the catastrophe only caused a few people to scratch their heads and think it was yet another speed bump on the information superhighway.
Here at the Silver Lantern, we had a full blown cataclysm a few weeks back. The details are still a bit sketchy, but apparently Tripod, our host, decided to do some purging and suddenly The Silver Lantern was gone! No warning, no argument, no appeal. Gone. Finito. Kaput. The webmaster and I had a litter of kittens as we tried to figure out what to do. I was particularly vexed since I'd just gone on a bit of a tear and had a couple of Sage contributions in the can and ready to go. We sent some pretty pointed e-mails demanding an explanation but nothing was forthcoming. Fortunately, after a couple of days one of those highly personalized "blanket" e-mails came forth apologizing profusely for a program glitch that knocked off many websites with impunity and absolutely no regard. Nothing was lost, thankfully and we're back in business, but it was looking pretty hairy there for a little while.
This edition of The Silver Age Sage marks a significant milestone. This is the 24th installment and since they get knocked out approximately bi-weekly that means it's our one year anniversary! I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who join us regularly and especially those who take the time to write. It seems only fitting that the focus comic this time around be the silver age debut of the one and only Green Lantern, the featured character of this website. The revamped GL made his first appearance in Showcase #22 in October of 1959. After the great success in breaking the Flash back in Showcase #4 (also available in the Silver Age Sage Archives) Julius Schwartz was again tapped to reintroduce a Golden Age classic character to a new generation of readers. "S.O.S. Green Lantern!", the first of three stories in this issue of Showcase was written by John Broome with pencils and inks provided by Gil Kane and Joe Giella, respectively. This creative team was also responsible for the two remaining stories in this landmark issue.
Our splash page shows none other than Hal Jordan, test pilot, being pulled along in a pilot trainer by a green tractor beam toward a crashed spacecraft. The introductory text gives you a feel for things, too. "Hal Jordan had a fine reputation as an Ace test pilot whose remarkable lack of fear was known to all his associates! But Hal never dreamed his reputation was so wide-spread that an unearthly being would single him out to receive the greatest gift in the universe!"
The story opens at the site of the crash in a desolate spot in the Southwest USA (Roswell, New Mexico maybe?) A figure is lying inside, pondering his fate. He knows he is dying. His name is Abin Sur. He is humanoid in appearance, save his scarlet-colored skin and he wears the uniform of the Green Lantern Corps. Earth is not his home planet, but it is within his area of responsibility. Succession in the Corps is a little different than other orders, it seems. He instructs the battery of power while touching his ring to it to seek out a deserving successor. Most importantly of all, he must be without fear. With that, a bolt of emerald energy rises from the ship and begins to criss-cross the Earth, following the will of Green Lantern.
Fade to the Ferris Aircraft Company where Hal Jordan, our intrepid test pilot, is sitting in a trainer of his own design. The next thing you know, Mr. Jordan and his trainer are bathed in a green glow and are scooped up and transported to the alien craft. Hal enters the ship and is greeted telepathically by Abin Sur. After explaining his situation, Abin Sur quickly instructs Hal Jordan on the nearby power battery. It is given only to selected space-patrolmen in the super-galactic system and is to be used as a weapon against forces of evil and injustice. He then beams his ring at Jordan to determine if he meets the test of both honesty and fearlessness. Satisfied, he further explains that his soon-to-be fatal crash was the result of his ship passing through the Van Allen radiation belt 500 miles above the Earth. With his lifeforce continuing to ebb, the Emerald Warrior goes on to explain that the power battery has a yellow impurity in it, causing the companion ring to be powerless over yellow objects. If the impurity were to be removed, the battery would no longer be functional. He removes the ring from his finger, placing it onto Jordan's and with his final breath explains the necessity of re-charging it at the battery every 24 hours. Hal disposes of the craft and Abin Sur and dons the uniform of the Green Lantern Corps, vowing to live up to the great responsibility he has received. In six short pages, the origin of the Silver Age Green Lantern is told.
The second story, "Secret of the Flaming Spear!" puts our new hero into action. The story opens at Hal's place of employment, Ferris Aircraft Company. He is shown interacting briefly with the attractive but very business-minded Carol Ferris, daughter of the owner of the company. As Hal invites her out for dinner and dancing, a public address system blares forth with a distress call from Flaming Spear, an experimental aircraft. The pilot reports frozen controls and naturally he's locked in a death dive. Hal slips away quickly and charges his power ring at the battery of power, uttering the familiar oath we all know so well. "In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night, No Evil Shall Escape My Sight! Let Those Who Worship Evil's Might, Beware My Power--Green Lantern's Light!" He then flies up to meet the craft. Using his will power, he lassos the plane with a beam from the ring, safely depositing it back on terra firma. When asked his identity, he informs the pilot that he is Green Lantern. Unlike his predecessor, Hal wears a small green mask that covers his eyes and nose, just a touch like the Green Hornet. What I could never figure out was what kept it on his face. Before leaving, Hal discovers some tampering to the aircraft and with the help of the ring, traces the odd radiation trail until it abruptly peters out. Realizing that radiation travels in a straight line, he deduces that if he holds a steady course, he'll find the origin of the beam. Just prior to his arrival, we're taken to a house where the generator sits under the watchful eyes of three men who have purposely attempted to crash Flaming Spear. When GL bursts through the wall in a green glow, the bad guys give a less than subtle plug for another familiar hero. "Wh-what's that? It ain't a bird--" "It ain't a plane!" "And it sure ain'tSuperman!" They each draw a pistol and start blasting away, but the power beam from Green Lantern's ring makes short work of the projectiles, harmlessly exploding them in mid-flight. One of them grabs a lamp in desperation to throw at Hal and when he tries to stop it he gets a painful reminder that the yellow lamp is impervious to his beam. He comes to a few moments later and resumes his pursuit, only to be temporarily thwarted again. The getaway car is yellow, too! He then changes tactics and punctures the tires. Rounding up the gang is child's play at that point and he turns them over to J. Edgar Hoover's boys at the FBI.
Segue back to the office and Hal walks in on Willard Ferris and his daughter Carol. Willard announces to Hal that he has decided to take an opportunity to travel the world on a two-year sabbatical while the reins of the company are turned over to Carol. After Ferris departs, Hal takes Carol in his arms and asks if their date is still on. Carol quickly informs him that from now on, their relationship will be strictly business. Jordan tries one more time with a smooth line that us guys should take note of. "No harm in mixing business with pleasure." Sorry, Hal. Nice try. By the way, my lovesick friend, if it weren't the late 50's, you'd have been looking a sexual harassment case square in the face with that kind of office politics. ;-) His final miserable thoughts before the curtain closes on this story were, "My power ring can do anything for me except get me the one thing in the world I want most--Carol!"
The third and final story in this issue is the one featured on the cover. "Menace of the Runaway Missile!" As you may remember from the cover scan, the missile is, naturally, yellow. Another masterful bit of foreshadowing as to what Green Lantern will be facing in this latest adventure.
The story opens with Hal back in the saddle again. This time it's a rocket sled and his thoughts are not exactly on his work. "I've got to summon up enough courage to ask Carol for a date--tonight!" The smitten Jordan sneaks up on his new boss, Ms. Ferris and wraps his arms around her from behind. She asks him if he has an appointment. Not one to take a rebuff easily, he follows her to the filing cabinet and puts his hands on either side of her head, hemming her in. (Psst! Hal, I must advise you, this is big-time harassment!) Mr. Smooth says he has a grievance that can only be discussed personally with the boss, over dinner of course. This time he plants his fanny on her desk. Oy! Talk about being unable to take no for an answer. She snuffs things with the information that she has other plans to attend the Celebrity Ball and that she's looking forward to meeting Green Lantern. Hal leaves directly afterward, smug in the knowledge that he'll be with his lady love after all, only in a slightly different suit. At the Ball, GL monopolizes Carol for every dance, and her thoughts, known only to her and you, dear reader, reveal that she's becoming enamored of the mysterious man in the green and black leotard. He leads her out to the terrace and plants a passionate kiss on her when he suddenly spots a missile, bound straight for Earth! He flies off to intercept it and leaves Carol suddenly alone and more than a little miffed. Green Lantern tries a couple of maneuvers but cannot affect the yellow colored craft. He then realizes that the tip of it is red. He quickly forms a huge green net to snare it before it collides with the city center and is successful in arresting it's descent. As the missile is being removed by trained technicians, the Emerald Gladiator confers with an Army Colonel, who assures him that it isn't Army property. Hal also learns that the building it had zeroed in on with it's explosive payload holds the nerve center of a Government Hydrogen power project. GL decides to check out the local aircraft spotting stations for clues as to the missile's launching point. He is soon sent to a thickly wooded area and discovers a camouflaged complex beneath with the help of the power ring. Inside, he finds the perpetrator and hauls him in, discovering he is a scientist who had ambitions of being the first to harness hydrogen power, thus compelling him to eliminate the competition. Our triumphant hero zooms back to apologize to Carol, only to find that she's in full ice-queen mode. She tells the baffled Romeo that he obviously wasn't into their kiss as much as he could have been, or he'd have never left his eyes open. The door slams shut and our hero laments to himself that not only is Hal Jordan in the doghouse with Ms. Ferris, but now Green Lantern is as well. The third and last story ends with that note. Green Lantern is a successful hero, but can't win in the battle of the sexes.
So there you have the auspicious beginnings of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. Each story was short, but filled with action. We get a chance to see how our new hero starts to deal with the drastic changes in his life as he learns to use the awesome new power given to him. As with other characters in the DC Universe, he was given a weakness so that he wasn't completely invincible. In later tales the full reach of his territory and responsibilities become more apparent and he gains much more skill with the abilities that are his. About the only unanswered question I have in this collection of stories is why Abin Sur used a spacecraft when Hal demonstrated how easily it was to fly with only the aid of the power ring. [Sage's Note: Shortly after this review was written, my good friend the webmaster informed me that the answer to my question can be found in Green Lantern #16, October, 1962. That being the case, the issue has been added to the list of future reviews. Watch for it. :)]
Beyond that, it's a great springboard to an imaginative and exciting character that easily merits my maximum rating of 10. Exactly like the Flash, GL was soon given his own title and then branched out to be a charter member of the Justice League and continued to grace the halls of DC comics from that point forward.
Now, last time around you may recall that I mentioned a little giveaway that we were going to do to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Silver Age Sage. Our prize will be a copy of the Silver Age DC Classics reprint of the comic that was just reviewed above. Interested? Here's all you have to do to get into the drawing. Simply sign up for the free mailing list here at the Silver Age Sage.
Your name will go into a random drawing to be held on May 1st, 2001. The magazine will be shipped to the lucky winner with our compliments.
If you have questions or comments, we welcome both at the guest book, my e-mail address of firstname.lastname@example.org or even the poll below if they're brief. Best of luck and thanks for joining us. Be sure to come back in about two weeks for another review and for the name of our lucky winner.
Long live the Silver Age! This feature was created on 05/01/00 and is maintained by B.D.S.
©2000-2001 by B.D.S.
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