A Tribute to the of
I learned something the other day, courtesy of Mark Waid. You see, I have a copy of the "lost" 1963 Green Lantern 80 page Giant Annual, (published in 1998) thanks yet again to the webmaster and the inside leaf has a page worth of narrative by Mr. Waid entitled, "A Capsule History of Green Lantern." Lots of fascinating tidbits are in there discussing GL's origin in the Silver Age, contrasts with the Golden Age Green Lantern and behind the scenes stuff. Now this will probably be old news to some of you, but I discovered for the first time that Hal Jordan's face was modeled after Paul Newman. Here I thought the only superhero inspired by a move star was Captain Marvel, who of course was based on Fred MacMurray. Learn a fact a day.
So, while this Annual is overflowing with some wonderful, classic stories that I fully intend to explore here over time, I decided to select the first one, which originally appeared in Green Lantern #9 dated November-December, 1961. Hal is pitted against one of his most formidable foes for the second time when he goes toe to toe with the renegade Green Lantern, Sinestro, in "The Battle of the Power Rings!". The creative team lines up as follows: John Broome, Words and Gil Kane & Murphy Anderson, Pictures.
If this is the first time you've encountered Sinestro, former member of the Green Lantern Corps, you may note that he has a rather elongated form and his skin is scarlet-colored. He reminds me somewhat of Mercury, the Metal Man, but maybe that's because for a while there, Gil Kane did pencils for the Metal Men, too. In fact, Metal Men #30, available in the archives, is an excellent example of his work in that magazine. The splash page for this story shows Sinestro and Green Lantern relentlessly blasting away at each other with their respective power rings, but the ring on Sinestro's hand has a yellow beam, the natural weakness in all the power rings in the Green Lantern Corps. Our hero seems to be in trouble. Let's turn the page.
…where we find our favorite Emerald Gladiator in flight over Coast City. He's headed for the railroad yards where word has it the Packer Gang is going to strike. I'd like to briefly make mention here of my admiration for Gil Kane's artistry and attention to detail. While I have only good things to say about Curt Swan's work on Superman, the Kryptonian sometimes reminded me of Arthur Fonzarelli from the old Happy Days television show; never a hair out of place. When Gil Kane put Green Lantern into flight, odds are that his brown locks were going to be waving in the breeze, greatly adding to the notion of motion. Speaking of motion, GL is about to begin a motion he wasn't planning on as his famed power ring abruptly sputters and he begins a rapid descent. Fortunately he's able to land safely, but he thinks to himself that it's not the first time this week that it has happened. The ring doesn't fizzle out completely, but has temporarily lost a good deal of power for no apparent reason. Despite that, he soldiers onward and soon discovers the gang, who immediately open fire on our hero. Luckily, the power ring performs at full capacity and Hal is soon leaving the police station after depositing the hoods there. He has a vitally important meeting to attend and is anxious to be on his way. First, though, he stops by t he Ferris Aircraft Company where he is employed to recharge his ring at the concealed battery of power stored there, a necessity every 24 hours. The familiar oath is uttered and then he discovers he is not alone. Just to make things doubly exciting, his ring seems to be fused to the power battery. It is the work, of course, of Sinestro, who gloats that his ring is obviously superior and he then explains how he escaped the bubble prison from their last encounter, which was the first time they engaged in battle. Our editor, Julius Schwartz informs us that it was in Green Lantern #7, "The Day 100,000 People Vanished!" (July/August 1961) It seems Sinestro had concealed his own power ring, which draws its power from a genuine power ring. Thus, he absorbed the energy from his bubble prison and escaped. He spent the past week on Earth in disguise, plotting a method to charge his ring to an ultra-high potency for a sinister plan. The disguised villain from Korugar has been secretly tailing Green Lantern and absorbing power from his ring, explaining the odd lapses. His ring has also informed Sinestro that Jordan plans to attend a meeting with all the Green Lanterns of the universe. He, not Hal, will attend and use the opportunity to destroy his sworn enemies, the Guardians of the Universe. Hal struggles furiously to free himself and then pulls a surprise maneuver by pulling his hand free of the ring and lunging toward his foe. Despite the short distance and his intense determination, he cannot overcome the yellow beam of Sinestro and he crumples to the floor.
In the next moment, the renegade Green Lantern forms a barred cage of yellow around the fallen Jordan and implants a command as additional insurance: "Green Lantern, you can never break out of that cage formed by my yellow beam! Remember that—you can never break out of there!" The next step is to use his ring to alter his physical appearance to match that of the Green Lantern of Earth and to head for the meeting on the planet Yquem, located in the central part of the galaxy.
Our next panel takes us to the meeting, where the Green Lantern Corps, presumably all 3600 of them, are in attendance at the first galaxy-wide conference of all power battery possessors. The meeting is to gain information and to share experiences, and we are introduced to a few of the unique members of the Corps, including Green Lantern of Xaos, a world where insects rule and the human race is unknown (he looks like a green clad grasshopper), Green Lantern of Barrio III, a planet of crystal life-forms, ultra-sensitive, with 13 senses instead of the usual 6 of humans (this guy looks a little like a ball of Baccarat with a Mohawk) and Green Lantern of Aeros, a water-world inhabited by various forms of fish life. It is explained that despite the tremendous diversity in the group, all are capable of communicating through thought projection. Soon the bogus Hal Jordan arrives and the meeting officially begins.
The floor is given to the crystalline Green Lantern of Barrios III when the startled group notices a weird, massive creature advancing on them menacingly. Together, the Green Lanterns focus their power rings on the beast to subdue it, but the disguised Sinestro, who has created this illusion, hangs back and uses the diversion to absorb the collective power being brought to bear. He then quietly exits.
As the villain departs Yquem, he leaves a yellow cloud to envelop the planet, effectively stranding the Green Lantern Corps there. He muses that if not for the property in the power rings that automatically protect their wearers he'd have destroyed them, but he has loftier goals in mind.
We now rejoin Hal who is dealing with his incarceration. He's discovered that the command Sinestro gave him seems to have paralyzed his will, hindering his ability to escape. Furthermore, his ring is still stuck to the power battery. In frustration he thinks back over the precise phrasing of the command and has an inspiration. If Green Lantern were commanded that he could never get out, perhaps Hal Jordan can. Testing his theory, he begins to strip off the familiar green and black uniform. Now that he is no longer Green Lantern, he manages to wriggle free of the cage. His good fortune continues as he liberates his ring from the power battery after once again donning his costume. He then makes a determined trajectory through the atmosphere. In the noblest tradition of the true hero, these are his thoughts: "…as soon as I find Sinestro I'll prove that my ring is stronger than his! Good has to be able to defeat evil! And Sinestro is pure evil!"
Meanwhile, back on Oa, the home of the Guardians of the Universe, the same Sinestro is working his way ever closer to their citadel, burning through each force field with his supercharged yellow beam. Just as he's breached the final barrier, Hal, following a hunch, arrives in the proverbial nick of time. Soon the duel is on and it looks as if the ring of Sinestro will prevail as it absorbs the energy from Jordan's ring, the power beam reaching ever closer to the Emerald Warrior. Thinking quickly, Hal takes a desperate chance and brings his willpower to new heights, believing that if he really pours it on, the yellow ring will collapse from being overcharged. In the next moment, that is precisely what happens when the ring on Sinestro's finger shatters, allowing Jordan to shackle him to a nearby tree. Moments later, the rest of the Green Lantern Corps arrive and learn of what has just transpired on Oa. Oddly, there is no explanation as to how they overcame the yellow cloud on Yquem.
The next over-sized panel displays a spectacular scene as the assembled members of the Green Lantern Corps simultaneously charge their rings at the massive green central power battery. Feature if you can a green lantern several stories high and all these figures suspended in front of it, drawing the energy into their rings. An awesome sight to behold!
Shortly after that task is completed, a final joint endeavor as the combined ring-power of the assembly encases Sinestro in a green capsule that is launched into space at terrific speed. One of the Guardians estimates that the path of his orbit, which will encompass the entire universe, will require 18 billion years to complete. The final narrative poses this interesting question, though: "But is this really the end of Sinestro—or will his super-evil mind find some way to avert his fate? This is a question that only time—and a future issue of Green Lantern—will tell!"
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. A great deal was packed into a fairly short (12 pages) tale, but I had a little bit of a beef with the way they disposed of Sinestro. It struck me as a bit tired and overused. Those of you who have been with us here for a while should know what I mean, too. In Showcase #55 when Doctor Fate, Hourman and Alan (Green Lantern) Scott take on Solomon Grundy, they ultimately re-create the energy bubble he was originally imprisoned in (see All-Star Comics #33, "The Revenge of Solomon Grundy!" by Gardner Fox dated February/March, 1947) and shoot him off into space. In Green Lantern #40, super fiend Krona had been placed into an energy packet and condemned to an endless loop around the universe. In other words, this method of incarceration was old hat. Some things I appreciated were Hal's resourcefulness in escaping the yellow cage and his sheer iron will when he tried to take on his enemy without the aid of his ring. He displays a great ability to think on his feet and also exhibits exceptional courage. Marvel's Daredevil is touted far and wide as "The Man Without Fear," but he didn't hit the scene until 1964. Showcase #22, containing the Silver Age debut of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern was with us in 1959 and as most of you already know very well, Abin Sur's stringent criteria for his successor called for both honesty and fearlessness. I would submit to you that this is the original man without fear. I think this was a well-above average story deserving of a rating of 9.
The Silver Lantern aims to be your best resource on the web for all things pertaining to the amazing Silver Age of DC comics and we'll continue to bring you some of the greatest and even less than greatest stories here every couple of weeks. We solicit your help, though, in the form of opinions, requests and feedback of all sorts, so drop a line to my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for joining us.
Long live the Silver Age!
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