A Tribute to the of

Here it is, readers! The 19th anniversary of the Silver Age Sage. All hail the webmaster, creator of the Silver Lantern and the man behind the suggestion for this particular effort. You see, this year is also (in case you’ve been dwelling beneath a rock lately) the 80th anniversary of the first appearance of the Batman in Detective Comics #27 and furthermore, it is the 60th anniversary of the debut of the Silver Age/Hal Jordan Green Lantern. You’ll soon see why an Elseworlds story, “Batman: In Darkest Knight” by writer Mike W. Barr and artist Jerry Bingham is an ideal candidate to mark both character’s anniversaries.

A darkened room containing a wounded, brooding man. The captions reveal that in his head, he’s speaking to his father, asking for guidance. How does he make them afraid? Abruptly, an apparition appears. It is a familiar one to those of us who know the lore. Abin Sur has chosen Bruce Wayne to assume the mantle of Green Lantern.

Bruce and Alfred work their way out onto the grounds and spot a wrecked spacecraft. Entering, he finds the corporeal Abin Sur, who bestows the ring and charge to join the Corps. He then dies of his injuries and Bruce Wayne, clad in the uniform of the Green Lantern emerges with the alien’s body.

Using the power of the ring, he places the craft into the cave below Wayne Manor and with the aid of the knowledge given him by the ring, charges it at the battery of power, reciting a familiar, but slightly altered oath: “In brightest day, in darkest night, no evil shall escape my sight, let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!” He buries the alien in the floor of the cave, carefully placing a marker in the process and now vows to his father that he will go forth and honor this oath.

Shift scenes to the Acme Chemical Processing plant, where the Red Hood and his thugs are holed up and Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent, along with Gotham’s finest, are waiting them out. Just then, an emerald light revealing a figure aloft above the scene. Bruce Wayne has added a cape and cowl to the uniform so that his identity cannot be discerned.

Jumping into action, the new Green Lantern is still learning about his abilities. The power of his will channeled through the ring is very nearly intoxicating, but he is also learning about limitations, like the color yellow thwarting his power. As he tries to mop up the gang, an errant gunshot causes a chemically fueled explosion, but emerging from the disaster, Green Lantern has managed to save the gang in a green force bubble and to further contain the damaging results of the explosion. He turns them over to Commissioner Gordon. Admonishing the Red Hood before flying away, the newly dubbed Green Lantern has left a less than pleased Police Commissioner in his wake, who comments that he doesn’t like vigilantes, especially with more power than they know how to use.

Later in the cave, a large blue visage appears above the power battery in the cave. The Guardians of the Universe are calling on the newest member of the Green Lantern Corps. The Green Lantern of Sector 2814 is ordered to go to the planet Korugar in Sector 1417 and to deal with the renegade Sinestro.

Flying to Korugar, Bruce’s thoughts betray his inner conflict. He is determined to take care of his own planet and to honor the memory of his father, even if it means incurring the wrath of the Guardians. Now, however, it is time to deal with Sinestro. The battle is on and despite his inexperience, Bruce Wayne triumphs, taking into account other lessons he’d learned from mentors, such as taking advantage of an enemy’s anger and overconfidence.

To his shock, however, rather than being grateful, the inhabitants of Korugar are crestfallen that their “benefactor” Sinestro has been vanquished. “Now who will take care of us?” They then begin to bow down to this new figure of power, but one of their ranks suggests that this is not the right pathway. Her courage inspires Green Lantern to empower her to be the new GL for that Sector and endows Katma Tui with the necessary uniform and powers prior to departing Korugar.

Now on Oa, the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 meets the Guardians face to face along with Tomar Re. It is not going particularly well as they are demanding more respect than he is willing to give. He is upbraided for installing a Green Lantern to replace Sinestro without their sanction, but he suggests that Katma Tui cannot be any worse than Sinestro.

Soon Sinestro is banished by the council of the Guardians to the anti-matter universe of Qward, but not before he threatens Bruce Wayne. Once on Qward, Sinestro is greeted by a local, who reveals a yellow power ring.

Shifting back to Earth and Gotham City, Green Lantern has appeared in the office of Commissioner Gordon to ask a favor. He needs to learn the identity of a gunman working the Park Row district some 25 years ago. His mind goes back to that fateful night when his parents were murdered before his eyes. He is determined to avenge them, but is receiving no cooperation from the Commissioner, who feels he is an unchecked wild card who is only fomenting fear in Gotham City.

After GL departs, the Commissioner decides to check into the files and finds three major crime victims in that timeframe, including Thomas and Martha Wayne. Just then, another glow, but this time it is Sinestro, intent on his own vengeance. Gordon pulls his service revolver, but of course is no match for the new yellow power ring and Sinestro induces a heart attack on the Commissioner and then departs with his intel.

The latest scene is a dingy motel room. A knock at the door and a young Bruce Wayne asks the surly gent inside if he recognizes him. The dawning comes to Joe Chill and the boy transforms into Sinestro, who has come to find out just how his enemy came to be. He uses his powers to invade the murderer’s mind and then hatches his schemes, leaving the lifeless husk of Joe Chill in his wake.

Next, we find Green Lantern at the offices of police HQ, looking over the material Commissioner James Gordon was reviewing before his untimely death. The D.A., Harvey Dent is in attendance as well. Having gathered his own intelligence, he soon locates the body of Joe Chill, even detecting a yellow aura leaving no doubt as to how he died, but before he can ponder matters much further the figure of Sinestro is blasting his way through a wall and addresses him as Wayne. His appearance has changed. He has assimilated some of Joe Chill’s consciousness and is now garbed in a formal purple suit, not unlike a particular Batman arch-villain we all know.

The battle takes place in the skies over Gotham, but the internal bickering between Sinestro and Chill is leading the figure to the offices of Harvey Dent. A ring blast there and then off to a destination in space.

Days later, with no sign of Sinestro/Chill, GL is on patrol and encounters the dangerous duo of Star Sapphire, sporting a uniform a bit more like Catwoman, complete with cat o’ nine tails and the transformed Harvey Dent, who in this story is Eclipso in a classic Sinestro styled uniform. A short battle ensues and the pair use cosmic powers to escape.

They are back with Sinestro, where he is up to some mischief on another planet in the sector while the Guardians are again summoning the Green Lantern of Sector 2814. He is commanded to deal with a situation on another planet in the sector, but flatly refuses, telling them that with Sinestro on Earth, that is his priority. Removal of the mantle and ring are threatened and Bruce Wayne simply says, “You’ll have to take it.” Sinestro, monitoring from afar is elated at the conflict between GL and the Guardians, but one of the blue-skinned leaders has a plan and soon, Clark Kent is receiving a communication from Oa, as is Queen Hippolyta and a certain police scientist.

Later, GL is confronted by four other members of the Green Lantern Corps, Tomar Re, Katma Tui, Killiwog and Arisia. Surrender of the power ring is their demand. As the struggle rages amongst the Green Lantern members, Sinestro and his minions enter the Batcave to sabotage the power battery, but Sinestro is soon confronted by three costumed figures who, in our world, would be Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash, but here, each has a slightly modified costume and a green power ring.

Back to the battle in space as the other members of the Corps take on Bruce Wayne/Green Lantern, but he continues to hold his own. Meanwhile, back in the Batcave (Lantern cave?) the heroes and villains battle it out and the heroes are coming out on top. Alfred then picks up the power battery and says, “Master Bruce…” just before the lantern gives off an intense green beam of energy that Bruce somehow senses. Even though Tomar Re is holding his ring, it still responds to the indominable will of the Green Lantern of Sector 2184 and it has soon bound his fellow GL’s and returned to his finger so that he can rush home.

At that home, the baddies have been trussed up while Wonder Woman tries to attend to Alfred when the terrible trio begin to do a fade-out. Once Bruce arrives, he finds this world’s versions of Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash in the cave along with the deceased Alfred. After a brief explanation that they’d been recruited by the Guardians, GL first lays Alfred to rest beside Abin Sur and then prepares to pursue Sinestro and company, offering up the cave to his new compadres as a temporary HQ, reasoning that he will be gone for a while.

In the closing panels, the members of the Corps are reporting their failure to the Guardians and seeking further instruction, but the reply is simply to return to their home worlds. “…there is no need for discipline. All proceeds as was intended. You have done well.” They then monitor Bruce Wayne’s departure into deep space as he goes on his hunt for Sinestro, wrapping up this Elseworlds tale.

I thoroughly enjoyed the way Mike W. Barr wove familiar elements of history into this tale, demonstrating both his understanding of them and his imaginative ability to work it into something new, different and fresh. Furthermore, ever since I had the privilege of covering another Batman Elseworlds tale, the original one, in fact, Gotham by Gaslight for BACK ISSUE #67, I’ve had a particular appreciation for these stories. So, hat’s off to our benevolent webmaster for the suggestion, not to mention his couple of decades of toil on the Silver Lantern and of course marking this year’s milestones for two of our favorite characters.

Don’t forget to come again on May the 15th for the latest installment of this ongoing feature. In the meantime, you know the drill. Drop me a line any time with questions, comments and feedback of all sorts: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you next time and, as always…

Long live the Silver Age!

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