A Tribute to the of
I succumbed. Along with half the populace of the country, I answered the call of the original webmaster and took in Spider-Man, despite my being a die-hard DC fan. I will grudgingly admit that the competition did come up with a few interesting characters and Spidey certainly must be one of them. Still, I must take issue with the notion that Peter Parker is somehow easier to relate to than Superman or Batman, both of whom were given sly references in the movie. As young Parker was sketching ideas for a costume he drew the words "Utility Belt?" He then crossed them out. [FYI: In the comics he did use a belt-pack, concealed under his costume, to store spare cartridges of web fluid. As seen on page 31 of the Bronze Age  Battle of the Century: Superman VS The Amazing Spider-Man.] Hmph. Later his aunt May was chiding him about all the activities going on in his life. "You're not Superman, you know." Sly grin. Hmph, again. Still, the movie was pretty good and Spidermania is definitely spreading like mad. Even Joe Kubert, long time artist of Hawkman and Sgt. Rock, among others, is getting into the act in an unexpected venue. Kubert's studios now have the contract for doing artwork for the Army's Preventive Maintenance Monthly magazine and the March issue has the web head squaring off with Doctor Octopus gracing the cover and a 10 page story inside the magazine featuring the characters as well. Check out the cover scan. If you want my opinion on the great success of the movie (and who wouldn't?), I would offer this: We need and want heroes. Someone made a notation to that effect at the guest book awhile back and I am in full agreement. Lucky for you, dear reader, you came to the right place. We've got heroes galore for you here at the Silver Lantern and you're bound to find one you like, so stick around.
For this review, I'm going back to one of our favorite heroes and the main focus of this site, the great Green Lantern. If you go through the archives and look at review #24, which coincidentally is of Showcase #24, containing the Silver Age Green Lantern's first appearance and origin story, you'll notice a promise in there to review Green Lantern #16. Time to make good on that promise as we look at a pretty significant issue. One that contains not one but two important stories. Follow along with me now as we check out first the Silver Age origin of Star Sapphire and then the equally intriguing story of "Earth's First Green Lantern!" (No, it isn't Alan Scott.) This Julius Schwartz edited issue is dated October of 1962 [FYI: This issue rolled off the press in Sparta, Illinois on 08/16/62. Also on this date, Richard Starkey better known as Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best as drummer for The Beatles.] and features the artistic talents of Gil Kane and Joe Giella.
"The Secret Life of Star Sapphire!", written by John Broome, begins with an interesting splash page depicting two airborne combatants, each firing a burst of energy at the other's shield. The thought cloud coming from GL's opponent states, "I don't want to defeat Green Lantern--but I must!"
The tale opens with Carol Ferris taking a little spin in her jet aircraft, taking advantage of the instruction she's received from her employee and suitor, Hal Jordan. Carol is deep in thought, pondering her conflicting interest in both Jordan and Green Lantern, when the aircraft is abruptly gripped by an invisible force, dragging her back to terra firma with a somewhat rough landing. In the next instant we discover female boarders on the craft, decked out in early Roman-style centurion garb. One of the women tells the groggy Ferris, "Do not fear! All will be explained, your highness!" The pair further explains that they are from the planet Zamaron, which translates into "Land of Lovely Women" and that they are here to find their new queen. Carol further learns to her growing amazement that Zamaron is inhabited only by an advanced race of women, all of whom are immortal with the exception of their queen. The queen must, by tradition, be the exact image of her predecessor. This explains the Zamaron women scouring the universe for their new royalty. They go on to say that they will now transport Carol to their planet where she will be crowned Queen Star Sapphire. While flattered, Miss Ferris is not too excited about this new job. She tells her future subjects that she is in love with Green Lantern and cannot accept the position. Haughtily, they reply that she needs to realize that the women of Zamaron are far superior to any lowly male and they will provide a way to prove their point.
Soon, in a sort of performance hall, a large and ornate organ is played that produces a stream of energy. Miss Ferris is informed that she is about to be arrayed in the queen's hunting and exploration costume. Moments later, she is wearing the very outfit you see on the cover scan. Quite the little number for a hunt, eh? Directly after her costume change, she is temporarily granted some of the powers through the star sapphire in her newly bestowed head gear, most notably at first, that of flight. Carol is instructed to seek out Green Lantern and to defy his certain attempt to imprison her. This will prove the superior nature of the powers from Zamaron. Compelled by forces she cannot understand, the queen elect flies off to do their bidding.
The scene shifts to an office at the Ferris Aircraft company where a worried Hal Jordan is consulting with his friend and confidante, Thomas "Pieface" Kalmaku, the Eskimo mechanic for the company. Donning the familiar emerald and black uniform, our hero charges his ring at the battery of power, repeating that famous oath: "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!" Freshly recharged for another 24 hour period, Hal takes to the skies to search for his boss and lady love, Carol Ferris.
Moments later, he encounters a strange flying figure who issues him a challenge. Star Sapphire reveals she is about to commit a crime in the city and defies GL to try and stop her. While stating her challenge, the reader is given a glimpse into the conflicted mind of Carol Ferris as she helplessly obeys the commands given her by the Zamarons to lead Hal on this endeavor. He follows her as she flies quickly to an exhibit where a valuable antique mirror, planted by the Zamarons is scooped up by Carol. Continuing his pursuit, Green Lantern fires a power beam from his ring. Miss Ferris counters with a repelling ray from her hand, sending the Green Gladiator sprawling backward and into a projecting ledge on a nearby building. In the very act, her thoughts again reveal her internal struggle: "I seem to be two people--one wanting to conquer Green Lantern--the other at the same time wanting him to defeat me!" The famed power ring saves GL from further harm as he yields to Earth's gravity and Carol makes her escape.
As our hero regains consciousness, he muses that the woman wearing the star sapphire seems familiar to him. If you only knew, Mr. Jordan.
Back aboard the Zamaron spaceship, the natives gloat at the ease with which she defeated her prized male. Carol pleads for another opportunity, telling them that his defeat was only due to an accident. Disgusted with her continued loyalty to the inferior species, they never the less relent and grant her request. She is sent forth yet again and a telepathic thought is beamed to GL instructing him to go to the Coast City Art Gallery if he wishes to find Star Sapphire. He immediately alters his course where the newly christened Star Sapphire is taking a priceless miniature painting that was once again planted by the women of Zamaron as part of the ruse. As she emerges from the building a green cage envelops her for a moment, but only until she can use her power of teleportation to free herself from the trap. Then the battle is on anew with powerful forces engaging. Hal thinks she's as tricky as any foe he's encountered and so gorgeous, but he mustn't let her beauty distract him. Right-o, Hal. Carol, on the other hand, can think only that she must defeat him, but truly doesn't want to. As the aerial battle rages on, she is instructed telepathically to use a new power; that of mind over matter. She forms a shield, but the mighty will of the Green Lantern is able to crush it with a pincer created by the power ring. In the next few moments, GL senses that her source of power emanates from somewhere distant, so he seals her in a radiation proof enclosure, rendering her powerless.
Monitoring the events from their craft, the Zamarons frantically try to increase the power to their queen nominee to no avail. Carol then loses consciousness. The moment Green Lantern removes the barrier, the figure of Star Sapphire disappears. Reappearing aboard the Zamaron vessel, the appalled women dismiss her as an unworthy monarch, but prior to continuing their search, they remove her memory of what has transpired and then send her back to her aircraft, where she is soon found by the Emerald Warrior. To his great surprise, a star sapphire is lying at the feet of the groggy Carol. She has no explanation for him as to the origin of the gem and after he delivers her safely home, he ponders the strange coincidence. The story then ends. This yarn is a revamp of a tale published some 14 years eariler in All-Flash #32. Follow this link to an informative Golden Age Star Sapphire page.
On to the next story where the dramatic introduction speaks for itself: "Before I--Hal Jordan of Earth--became Green Lantern a man from another planet wore my colorful uniform and wielded the awesome might of the power ring! His name was Abin Sur and it was he who selected me to succeed him as Green Lantern! But why was Abin Sur in a spaceship when he came to Earth--when the power ring could fly him anywhere through space? Here, for the very first time is the story of Earth's First Green Lantern!"
This tale, written by Gardner Fox, begins much like the last one, with Hal and Pieface hanging out at Ferris Aircraft. Hal is resuming his civilian identity after recharging the power ring when Pie warns him not to leave yet as his Green Lantern mask is still affixed to his face. Jordan states that if the connection was made between he and Green Lantern, he might suffer the same fate as his predecessor, Abin Sur. Pieface suggests that Abin Sur's lack of a mask and use of a spaceship would be important entries in his Green Lantern casebook and asks Hal to elaborate.
Soon we are transported back to that fateful day when Hal was summoned by the power of the ring to Abin Sur's side as he lay dying and searching for a worthy successor to wear the uniform and ring of the Green Lantern. Hal then tells his young friend that a recent case ("Prisoner of the Power Ring!" in Green Lantern #10, January, 1962) gave him the idea to question the ring as to why its previous possessor was using a spaceship when he came to Earth. The ring told him that while Abin Sur was on a routine patrol on the planet Athmoora, he discovered that the people were far behind the evolutionary process, still stuck in the neo-medeival stage rather than the dawn of the atomic era. Using the ring, Abin Sur learned that the inhabitants had been affected by energy beings called Larifars that robbed them of the part of their intelligence known as the I-factor, retarding their progress. Realizing that the I-factor, responsible for conceiving new ideas and gaining new knowledge, was critical to ! these and other peoples, the Green Lantern sought out these Larifars, finding them on the planet Pendara. They attack Abin Sur with telekinetic force, but he soon subdues and imprisons them in a bubble which he soon places into an orbit around that system's sun. Unknown to Green Lantern, one Larifar had gone ahead to another world and when his fellow beings didn't arrive, it went in search of them. Finding the emerald bubble prison, the other Larifars tell their comrade the source of their imprisonment. Realizing the only way to free the other Larifar's is with the power ring, but not having a physical body, the remaining energy being deduces it must capture Green Lantern and compel him to free the other Larifars.
Abin Sur had mentioned in passing that his home world was Ungara. Armed with this knowledge the lone Larifar seeks out that world and draws Green Lantern forth by creating some natural disasters. Abin Sur responds to them, leaving his post as a professor of history at a local university and averts the disasters happening on his home planet. Unknown to Abin Sur, he is being discreetly observed by the energy being, Balzona, who memorizes his features. A few nights later, while Green Lantern sleeps, the Larifar enters his body and takes advantage of the uncharged state of the ring. Soon taking over Abin Sur's body Balzona commands him to free his fellow energy beings. Forced to comply, Abin Sur is still able to devise a plan and convinces the creature that he must use a spacecraft to get to the globe or risk using up too much of the ring's power. As he leaves his home, Abin Sur discreetly grabs the unseen power battery and boards the spacecraft. Once they are on course, Balzona leaves Abin Sur's body. Green Lantern soon discovers a world with a brilliant green radiation belt surrounding it. Using it to his advantage, he flies into it, charging his ring under the cover of the green glow enveloping the ship. With the ring freshly charged, Abin Sur removes the mental domination of the Larifar and is soon able to capture him in a new globe of emerald energy. Unfortunately Abin Sur is unable to enjoy his victory for long as moments later, while flying past the Earth, his ship is battered by the yellow radiation bands surrounding the planet and is temporarily blinded by them as well, forcing a crash landing that leaves him mortally wounded.
"The rest you know, Pieface--why I always use a narrow, radiation-free corridor when I leave the earth to go into space. How I was made Green Lantern and now why Abin Sur was in a spaceship and why I conceal my Green Lantern identity with a mask!"
Now, of course, we understand, too and can appreciate more fully the heroism of Abin Sur, Earth's First Green Lantern.
I enjoyed both these stories a great deal, though I think I liked the second one better than Star Sapphire's first appearance. Maybe that was due in part to the blatant lifting of the Amazon theme in that story, right down to the very similar sounding Zamaron name. Despite that, there was some great story-telling in this issue and I've been impressed ever more with Gil Kane's artistry and attention to detail. I particularly noticed, for example, in the first story that Hal's hair was often blowing in the wind of his flights. A good, solid entertaining effort through and through so it's a solid 9 on my famous rating scale.
A big thank you to those who have written to me recently. It's always a pleasure to hear from our readers and I issue my invitation yet again to express yourself. Drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org. More importantly, come back in roughly two weeks for the next edition. Thanks for your continued patronage and...
Long live the Silver Age!
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