A Tribute to the of

Welcome to the 100th edition of the Silver Age Sage! 

How utterly remarkable that a suggestion by my lifelong best friend, our good host and webmaster, a little over 4 years ago, has led to this, the 100th entry of this feature.  What fun I've had, too.  It's been a chance to re-live happy memories and make new ones.  I've been privileged to swap e-mails with other fans of the genre and have enjoyed the pure, simple pleasure of spending time in these classic wonders.  I've learned quite a bit along the way as well.  I never tire of it and I hope my enthusiasm never wanes as we continue on in triple digit territory. 

After having other milestones here and reviewing some of the very best the Silver Age had to offer, I puzzled and pondered over what issue to use this time around.  The webmaster and I talked it over for awhile and finally decided on what seemed to be a logical selection.  We hope you'll agree and we hope you'll continue to spend time with us here at the Silver Lantern, the finest source of DC Silver Age information on the World Wide Web.  Without further ado, I present for your approval Sage #100:

The super hero comic book.  It's a uniquely American bit of popular culture.  They've been read, traded and discussed ever since the arrival of Superman in 1938.  They've been so prevalent that they even cross over into other mediums of pop culture, such as newspaper strips, radio, television and the movies.  I'm not just talking about super hero themed movies, either.  Let me share an example.  I was watching "Coyote Ugly" recently and the main character's love interest shows her his most prized possession. It's a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man #129, dated February 1974, which includes the first appearance of The Punisher ("The Punisher Strikes Twice!" Rendered by two longtime DC stalwarts Gil Kane on the cover and Ross Andru on the interior pages. You can read the tale here).  He refers to it as the "holy grail."  We-e-e-l-l-l-l, I must take issue with that, and not just because it's a comic from the competition.  I don't have the very latest edition of the Overstreet Comic Price Guide, but mine is only a few years old and in near mint condition, that magazine lists at a mere $190.00.  Action Comics #1, which I alluded to above, with the first appearance of Superman and is the true Holy Grail in comics, goes for 5 figures in the lowest category of "Good" and 6 figures in near mint (lots of luck.)  Furthermore there are numerous denizens of the Silver Age that handily beat that measly $190.00 Spidey comic, one of which is the feature this time around.  If you could find a near mint copy of this comic, it would command 4 figures.  The webmaster's copy isn't any where near that condition, but it is original and has all its pages, if a bit tattered.  Just the same, with pride and ginger care, I present to you Green Lantern #1 from July/August of 1960; on sale May 24, 1960.  This first issue of the rejuvenated GL in his own magazine came a mere 10 months after his try out in Showcase.  This magazine carries two full-length stories and I'm going to review both, starting with "The Planet of Doomed Men!" Written by John Broome, illustrated by the able artistic talents of Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. The one and only Julius Schwartz is behind the editor's desk.

The first panel of the tale finds Hal Jordan in his natural element, the cockpit of a new experimental space plane.  He's putting the bird through its paces when he suddenly has a strange experience.  He abruptly loses all his energy for a moment, putting the craft into a spin, but quickly recovers and regains control.  Baffled, he continues testing the plane, but we then switch to a council where the Guardians of Oa are meeting.  They discuss the fact that the energy duplicate of the possessor of a power battery in sector 2814 will soon arrive and they will brief him on the emergency in that sector.  Soon that greenish (what else?) figure appears and the guardians address him.  They explain that they know the circumstances that led to his possession of the battery of power.  The crash landing of Abin Sur is then recounted up to the point when he commanded the power battery to seek out a worthy successor.  It was then that an ion storm interrupted communications between Oa and Abin Sur.  Following the storm they learned a new being was in possession of the battery and they ask Hal's energy duplicate what transpired afterward.  He relates the details in full, to include Abin Sur's explanation of who he is and what he is about to bestow and how he crash landed in the Southwestern portion of the U.S.  Then, as we all know so well, the ring was passed to this worthy man without fear and a new hero was born.  Once he has finished telling the story, the Guardians unanimously decree him worthy to bear the mantle of Green Lantern and they return his energy duplicate to his corporeal body, but first they erase the memory of this encounter until the time is right for him to know about the mysterious Guardians of the Universe.  After he leaves, the Guardians agree that he is capable of dealing with the emergency and they plan to notify him immediately.

Soon Hal has landed and is in the process of changing out of his flight suit when he sees an emerald glow coming from his power battery, even though he's cloaked it in an invisibility shield.  In moments, thoughts beam to him from the lantern, instructing him that he has a duty to fulfill on the world of Calor where a race of human-like beings are in danger.  Swiftly, Jordan dons his uniform and touches his ring to the power battery, repeating the solemn oath we know so well:  "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!"  Then, with a fully charged power ring and a pocket of air surrounding him, it's off into space toward the planet Calor. 

Upon arrival, he discovers a race of yellow-skinned humanoid beings that appear to be in the stage of caveman evolution.  Using his amazing ring as an interpreter, he soon tries to learn the source of their distress.  They tell him they knew he would come.  He comes to understand that they believe the odd tree that they worship sent him to deliver them from the Dryg.  Unfortunately that last term does not translate, so they show him the nearby valley, filled with exploding volcanoes.  In the next instant, they scatter and GL sees the source of their fear.  It's a 60-foot tall, ape-like creature emerging from the hellish scene.  Green Lantern goes on the offensive, but finds that his will power is being drained by a mental beam from the creature.  It then occurs to the Emerald Warrior to change tactics.  Deducing that a creature that lives in the intense heat of a volcanic valley might be vulnerable to cold, he begins to bombard it with liquid oxygen, whose temperature nears absolute zero.  It takes a few attempts, but the efforts begin to pay off as the creature is unable to focus its mental energies on a counterattack and soon it is fully encased in a block of ice.  Hal then forms gigantic green ice tongs and transports the Dryg to a polar region on Calor where he can no longer menace the natives.  His successful mission completed, he heads back to Earth, hoping to succeed in soon securing a date with his lady boss, Carol Ferris.  Thus ends the first story.

The second feature, also written by Broome, is entitled "Menace of the Giant Puppet!" Gil Kane's dynamic pencils are further enhanced by the inks of Joe Giella. The tale starts, ironically enough, with a lovesick Carol Ferris in her office at Ferris Aircraft, pining away for the man she adores, Hal Jordan's alter-ego, Green Lantern!  She thinks back to the moonlit evening of a few nights ago when they were sharing a park bench when the mood was interrupted by a man falling into the nearby lake.  Carol ponders that she's already secured her father's blessing to marry the Emerald Gladiator…if only he'd ask. 

Meanwhile, in Coast City, that selfsame hero is participating in a charity parade, partly to assist in the benefit, but also to investigate a rash of strange bank robberies.  GL thinks back to the recent past when, as Hal Jordan, he'd been in a bank as it was being held up.  Thinking quickly, Hal does a unique twist on the changing into costume shtick by rapidly going through a revolving door to emerge in full garb.  By the way, Christopher Reeve did that, too in the first Superman movie, after the sight gag of him briefly glancing at a public phone station.  Do you suppose they got the idea here?

So, GL makes quick work of bagging the would-be thief but then discovers at the police station that while the culprit has a criminal record, banks aren't his specialty.  He claims he was being manipulated, like a puppet.  The story matched other recent robberies, so Green Lantern decided to make a public appearance in hopes of flushing this "puppeteer" out into the open. 

In the next surprising moment, our hero hears gunfire and whirls around to see a giant puppet in the parade firing on him.  Reacting quickly, GL uses his power ring to turn the weapon's discharge into confetti, so as not to panic the crowd.  He then relieves the puppet of his weapon and follows the strings to a nearby crane.  The operator, however, is unconscious.  Upon reviving he explains he was struck from behind.  With nothing more to go on, a frustrated Green Lantern leaves. 

We then switch venues to a loft in a building in the nearby factory district where a man is working with some sophisticated equipment.  He is your classic evil scientist, hoping to use his know-how to profit.  He has developed the hypno-ray, which causes those he targets to obey his mental commands.  Much like the hypnosis upon which it is based, though, he cannot cause anyone to go against their nature.  Thus, he has focused on the criminal element to perpetrate his crimes.  He has recently equipped the device with a new Q-circuit that makes it much more powerful.  It is time to test it and the target is Green Lantern, who is currently dancing with Carol Ferris at the Blue Note Club.  The Emerald Gladiator soon feels the tug of the puppet master on his limbs and is forcibly yanked away until he is ultimately pulled to the lair of the villain.  Upon arrival, however, our hero turns the tables, explaining that he merely pretended to be entwined so he could discover the criminal's hideout.  Only as the puppet master reaches for a weapon does Green Lantern realize that he's wearing a yellow costume, over which his ring has no control.  Thinking quickly, he uses his ring to manipulate a length of cord and soon has the man trussed up like a puppet before turning him over to the authorities.

The final two panels show Hal calling on Carol, still determined to win her affections in his civilian identity, despite the fact that she's continuing to harbor hopes for Green Lantern.        

And that, my friends, is the conclusion of the first issue of Green Lantern in his own self-titled magazine.  The two full-length stories did a pretty good job of covering his responsibilities in his sector (#2814, lest you forget) of the galaxy in the first story, in addition to troubles on his own world and we got a good glimpse of the Guardians of the Universe in the bargain, too.   

Now I've got to admit, I was a little surprised that Green Lantern, one of the mightiest heroes conceived, who spends a great deal of his time and talents in the far reaches of space, would be menaced on his home world by…an oversized puppet that you might spot at a Macy's parade.  I was reminded, however, of something I once read regarding the Joker, or perhaps it was the clown in Stephen King's "It."  To paraphrase, it said something to the effect that there's nothing funny about a clown after dark.  I don't think I'm stretching things much between a clown and a clown-like puppet in this case.  Indeed, how often have you seen old movies or episodes of The Twilight Zone that featured a malevolent doll?  Just the thought sends a chill up my spine.  So perhaps it wasn't such a strange selection for a nemesis, all things considered. 

As this is a key issue, indeed a classic and since it features the patron hero of this site I could only give it a maximum rating of 10, even though the running theme of lovesick Hal gets a little thick after awhile. 

Also, as a special bonus in honor of this edition of the Silver Age Sage, we'd like to celebrate with a little giveaway.  From my personal collection, I'm offering a classic 100-page comic to commemorate this, the 100th edition: The Flash #232, dated March/April 1975.  If you're interested, drop me a line at professor_the@hotmail.com.  A random drawing will be held and when you tap in here for the next edition on July 1st, we'll announce the winner.  Best of luck and until then…

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2004 by B.D.S.

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