A Tribute to the of

Fer crying out loud, I just realized I haven't reviewed a Green Lantern story since I interviewed Joe Giella (GL #7; Sage #171), who was, by the way, my third interview quite a few moons ago.  Granted, the interviews have taken over center stage here at the Silver Age Sage feature and I always try to link in a relevant book to the creator I'm speaking to, but still, this is The Silver Lantern, so I feel somehow negligent. 

Time to make amends.

The Silver Age Green Lantern's second appearance was once again in the pages of the immortal Showcase, issue #23, to be precise.  The publication date was November/December of 1959.  Cover and interior art was provided by the pencil and ink team of Gil Kane and Joe Giella, respectively.  Both stories were written by John Broome and edited by Julie Schwartz.  I'm going to focus on the second story, which is also the cover story, titled "The Invisible Destroyer!"

I think it's helpful for contextual purposes to remember this was the late 50's and few things were more frightening and at the same time fascinating as atomic power.  This story uses it as the backdrop when, right off the bat on the splash page we see GL trying to save his beloved Coast City from an atomic blast and of course the cover itself shows the malevolent mushroom cloud on the monitor in the background while the Invisible Destroyer himself (itself?) has an atomic emblem on the chest of the uniform.  A little unintentional foreshadowing for when Gil would draw a similar emblem for his other long-time character in DC's Silver Age, the Atom?

The tale begins in the office of Carol Ferris, Hal's boss, love interest and third member of the Hal-Green Lantern-Carol love triangle as she's fascinated with Jordan's alter ego, but Hal is determined to win her affections in his civilian identity.  Carol notes that there is a message in the public notice section of the newspaper summoning Green Lantern to an address.  Hal excuses himself, dons his costume and charges his ring, then takes flight.

Before reaching his destination, however, he spots none other than the Invisible Destroyer on a building rooftop.  GL has read about him in the news and has been anxious to learn about him and to put him away, but especially to find out how he appears to be invisible aside from his uniform.  The Destroyer greets our hero with a disembodied voice, pleased to have finally met up with him and interested in proving who is most powerful.  To Hal's dismay, his power ring has no effect on the Destroyer and soon finds himself in a crushing bear hug.  Just as he's about to black out, however, the villain disappears, seemingly popping out of existence.  It is later revealed after a fruitless search by men from the building that he had entered through a wall without so much as cracking it and took nothing, though the building does contain a cyclotron.

Green Lantern decides there is little else he can do and proceeds to the address, which he recognizes on arrival as the home of a renowned scientist named Dr. Phillips.  Hal had been here before in his test pilot identity.  Phillips thanks our hero for coming and quickly gets to the point, showing drawings he'd done of the Invisible Destroyer with very little thought; doodling while working and also revealing the sketching had been done before the Destroyer had hit the papers.  He then further explains that he has a theory that a part of his subconscious is actually creating the Destroyer.  A sort of subliminal Jekyll-Hyde syndrome.  Hal proposes they try something using his amazing power ring.  He places Phillips into a state of deep concentration and sure enough, the Invisible Destroyer springs forth.  Jordan concentrates his most powerful beam on the creature, but he suddenly upsets a wastebasket, which arouses the professor from his state of concentration and the menace disappears.

After Green Lantern explains what has happened, Dr. Phillips slumps forward, upset at what he's responsible for, but Jordan proposes using his ring to delve into the doctor's brain to try and discern what the Destroyer is planning.  As the beam stabs forth, the Invisible Destroyer again starts to materialize and reveals that it feeds on radiation and plans to set off a full-blown atomic explosion for the ultimate feast.  The Destroyer takes off and Phillips collapses, distracting GL long enough for the foe to escape.  After making certain Phillips is all right, Hal learns that a large amount of nuclear material has been stolen.  Flying swiftly to the nearby Proving Grounds, he finds the Destroyer in a shack, setting off the explosion.  Blasting away to the mushroom cloud, Jordan quickly subdues it with the power of the ring, shrinking it to nothingness.

An angry Destroyer approaches Green Lantern, set on revenge.  The ring still has no effect, but Hal's nimble mind devises a plan on the spot to counteract the energy bolts beginning to emerge from the hands of his opponent:  "Scientists have theorized there is an anti-matter universe to counterbalance our positive matter universe!  If the two should meet, both would be destroyed!  I hope the same happens when anti-energy meets pure energy…"  Sure enough, the anti-energy Hal wills from his ring destroys the Destroyer, solving the problem and ending the 12-page adventure.

I pulled this story from Volume One of The Green Lantern Chronicles, yet another wonderful full-color, soft-cover series of reprints from our dear friends at DC comics, chronicling classic characters in their publication order.  Be sure to get yours, Silver Age fan!  I can personally vouch for them. 

I liked this story a great deal and while Gil Kane's art would get better over time, this was great stuff, ably finished off by the inking of my friend, Joe Giella.  I have long enjoyed John Broome's scripts, but couldn't help but wonder if he wasn't influenced by the 1956 MGM movie, "Forbidden Planet," which had a similar gimmick.  You may recall the classic line from Doc Ostrow when he talked about "Monsters from the Id!"  Interesting how the initials for "Invisible Destroyer" are "ID."  I'm not saying it's plagiarism at all, but the similarities are fascinating to me.

The brief mention of anti-matter also possibly laid some groundwork for GL's future adventures in the anti-matter universe of Qward.

Great stuff and I give it a 9 on my 10-point scale.  No wonder the Silver Age took off like a shot with quality work such as this, and all wrapped up in 12 pages.

We do appreciate your time, dear reader, and hope you continue to make the Silver Lantern a routine destination during your web-surfing forays.  There's bound to be something of interest here for you, so look around and by all means, let us know what's on your mind.  E-mails are most welcome at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Until next time…

Long live the Silver Age!

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