A Tribute to the of

As all aficionados of DC’s Silver Age are aware, some of the defining characteristics are the revamped heroes of the Golden Age and often with major modern additions, particularly with the added guidance of legendary editor Julius Schwartz’s fascination with science, science-fiction and the weaving of those facts and presumptions into the stories. Julie, of course, began with the Flash and quickly moved on to other characters, to include the Green Lantern, vastly different from his Alan Scott predecessor.

This seems to be a good time to explore GL’s adventures again, with issue #38 of his self-titled book from July of 1965 (on-sale date of May 27th of that year) edited, of course, by Julius Schwartz, with cover art by the unbeatable team of Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson along with Ira Schnapp lettering. “Menace of the Atomic Changeling!” was provided by the immortal Gardner Fox with Gil again on pencils with Side Green inks and Gaspar Saladino lettering. Let’s check out this 11+ page effort.

One of the particularly appealing aspects of this story is that it’s a team-up of Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan with one of his peers who we’d see again and again over the years, fellow Corps member Tomar-Re of Xudar. The splash page shows them having a tough time with the shape-shifter antagonist. Let’s turn the page to see how we got there.

A familiar trope greets us as Hal Jordan, dressed to the nines, is calling on his boss, Carol Ferris of the famed Ferris aircraft company to escort her to the company ball. Hal is feeling pretty skippy, not only to be wooing Carol, but to have bested his rival for her affections, his alter ego of Green Lantern. Just as he’s about to knock, however, his hand abruptly sports a familiar white glove with an emerald ring. He’s turning into his heroic identity and even flying into the air when the visage of Tomar-Re appears, urging his fellow Green Lantern to stop resisting and come to his aid.

It turns out the Tomar-Re is actually on Earth, battling a changeling and that his 24-hour charge to his power ring is about to expire. Hal swiftly rushes his colleague to his hangar dressing room at Ferris Aircraft so he can have access to his power battery. Interestingly, Tomar-Re utters a different oath during the charging process to the one we’re all familiar with: “…and I shall shed my light over dark evil---for the dark things cannot stand the light—the light of Green Lantern!

Following the ritual, Tomar-Re explains the dilemma at hand, after first instructing Hal to command his ring to prevent the Changeling from duplicating his body. “…or you’ll be as good as dead!” Tomar-Re elaborates that the creature came from the dead planet of Krastl near Xudar when it entered an underground tomb.

Later, an archaeologist named Ixnal entered that same tomb and discovered an artifact in the form of a large stone statue. Thrilled at his discovery, he barely has time to enjoy the triumph when the statue begins to alter its form. The thought balloon reveals that it is seizing the opportunity to change from an inanimate form to a living one, duplicating Ixnal, who is overcome in the nuclear explosion that resulted from the changeling’s efforts. When Ixnal’s assistant arrives in the chamber, the imposter decks him and rushes to the nearby spaceship, glorying in the fact that it can at last leave the planet of its origin where it was created by a nuclear holocaust.

Soon after this rampage, Tomar-Re returns to Xudar from a mission when he spots Ixnal’s assistant and becomes aware of what has happened. Ixnal remains in a coma, but the personnel attending to him are even more concerned that the changeling is running amok. Indeed the creature is having the time of its life, adapting to other bodies of Xudar inhabitants, seeming to feed on their emotions and memories, absorbing them as it goes from place to place.

As Tomar-Re attempts to subdue the creature, his power ring is ineffective. The changeling informs him that he cannot be taken down due to the fact that it's true shape is unknown. “Just as you cannot will your ring to find an object if you don’t know where it’s hidden—neither can you overcome me with it—because you don’t know what I really look like!

With that, the creature continued to hopscotch into different forms from insect to animal to sea life, taunting Tomar-Re and leaving comatose victims in its wake. It also teased just enough information about itself to frustrate the Green Lantern. “I came into spontaneous being after the terrible nuclear war that destroyed all animal and vegetable life on the dead planet where I was found! Because my true form is unstable, I change my shape every so often! This I do by blowing myself apart and re-grouping my atoms to resemble anything I can see!

Part 2 opens with the creature changing itself into a spaceship and flying off while Tomar-Re continues to try and battle it. He pursued it across the cosmos until realizing his power ring was about to run out of juice and then contacted his nearest colleague, Hal Jordan of Earth.

As they join forces, the two GL’s locate a hunter near the spot where the spacecraft landed, obviously the latest victim of the shape-shifter. They continue to follow a trail of comatose bodies until they arrive at a playhouse where they locate it in a prop storage room, reveling in the easy pickings within reach on the stage and in the audience.

As the duo descend on the menace, they form a power-ring created green cage, but the changeling simply looks around, notes a nearby aquarium and changes itself into a tidal flow of water. Jordan creates a massive green sponge as a counter move, but the creature merely redirects itself to a nearby electric wire with worn insulation and comes at our hero as a bolt of electricity. Before it can strike, Tomar-Re uses his power ring to shrink Hal out of harm’s way, giving Gil Kane an opportunity to combine the traits of his two best-known characters of Green Lantern and the Atom in that panel (on page 10).

The changeling’s next move is to become a blinding beam of sunlight, which the GL’s counter with a solar panel. The creature’s next move is to become a massive mirror, similar to the reflective surface of the solar panel. Tomar-Re and Hal Jordan line up on opposite sides of the mirror to smash it, but unfortunately the green projectile Hal had fashioned bursts through the mirror and kayo’s his ally.

Green Lantern battles on, experiencing much the same frustrations as his colleague with the changeling constantly moving from object to object within the prop room, seemingly unbeatable. Then, GL has an idea, secretly forming a stuffed tiger with his ring with an order to become non-existent the moment the changeling exploded itself prior to another shape shift. “Now let’s see what happens when my foe tries to change itself into something that is nothing!

The tiny mushroom cloud lingers and Hal deduces that the true shape of the creature is that nuclear explosion cloud. Reviving Tomar-Re, they soon witness the revival of the stage doorman from his coma. By neutralizing the changeling, all its victims are now out of the thrall of the processes it had subjected them.

With the vanquished cloud now safely encased in a power-ring generated container, Tomar-Re whisks it away from Earth and back to the dead planet where it was released, to leave it forever entombed and harmless. Another case in the files of Green Lantern is closed.

The Green Lantern title is another fine example of the great Silver Age of DC comics and I always enjoy a team-up, even if it’s not with a couple of my favorite heroes. The Green Lantern Corps is always fertile ground in which to grow an exciting story. A solid 8 on the 10-point scale for this fun tale.

Be sure to come back for a new review on the 15th of April, which I hope will not be a time of mourning for you tax-filers in the U.S. Remember to take the opportunity to share any thoughts or feedback at my handy e-mail: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you again and…

Long live the Silver Age!

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