A Tribute to the of

It must be tough to be a comic book writer today.  Here you are with a well-known character, typically with decades of history, despite some of the revisionist stuff that has happened like Crisis and Zero Hour storylines and you follow in the footsteps of legends like Gardner Fox and John Broome among many others.  That's got to be a lot of pressure.  I would presume, furthermore, that you go back to the well, both to learn about this character and find some inspiration and hopefully not do something that has already been done a dozen times and ideally attempt to be true to the spirit of the hero.  No easy task.  Still, they try.  I sampled a recent series, mainly out of curiosity, but also to see how things stack up these days.  JLA 107 through 114 chronicled the JLA vs. the Crime Syndicate of Amerika.  (No, that "k" is not a typo.)  It took 8 issues and therefore 8 months to get through the storyline and I cringed every time I forked out over $2.00 for each edition.  I could still hear my old man's derisive comment from when I was a kid, too:  "Twenty-five cents for a funny-book?!"  I'm glad he wasn't there to see me drop roughly $20.00 for a story.  I'm not telling him, either.  Anyway, I finally get to the end and surprise, surprise; the Justice League prevails after going through all manner of trial and tribulation to include trips to the anti-matter universe and encountering people from Qward, etc.  The CSA was based on the original characters, but there were some significant differences.  Ultraman and Superwoman were married and Superwoman (whose name was Lois) was having an affair with Thomas Wayne, aka Owlman and at one point we even see them buck-naked in bed together with body parts strategically placed to still keep up with whatever now passes for the Comics Code Authority.  Johnny Quick owes his speed to some sort of injectable drug, so he's basically a fleet-footed junkie, and they're still dominating their world and are bored that they don't have a challenge.  Sound at all familiar?  I suppose all this is considered "cutting edge."  I found it all mostly disappointing, but I did draw one conclusion.  Despite their destruction in Crisis, the Crime Syndicate was a good enough concept that they wouldn't stay gone.  All these decades later, Gardner Fox's creations live on.  Not a bad legacy.

So, after all that I thought this would be a good opportunity to delve into a classic Green Lantern tale originally published in Green Lantern #2, the September-October 1960 issue, cover by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. The story was reprinted in DC Special #17, cover by Mike Grell dated Summer, 1975 and again in Green Lantern Archives #1 released in 1993.  It's entitled "The Secret of the Golden Thunderbolts!" and is written by John Broome with Gil Kane and Joe Giella providing interior art. Editorial functions executed by Julius Schwartz. It's the first time we are introduced to the anti-matter universe of Qward.  Let us explore…

Things open "…in a certain West Coast city…" where the local populace is trying to figure out the strange circular holes they're finding around town, seemingly dropped at random, almost like those old holes you saw on the old Looney Tunes that were placed around at whim.  They find them in the streets and in the sides of buildings, as if a large drill had been punched through the material. 

Segue now to a familiar scene where a frustrated Hal Jordan, looking at the object of his desire, Carol Ferris, daughter of the founder and heir apparent of Farris Aircraft Company, and thinking once again that he doesn't seem to even be on her radar screen while his alter-ego, Green Lantern, most certainly is her desire.  As he ponders this odd conundrum of being in competition with himself a voice interrupts his thought process.  He turns to see a somewhat odd-looking man (to me he sort of looks like a Caucasian version of Abin Sur) who tells him that it is of the utmost importance that he contact Green Lantern.  Hal says that GL is a busy man who can't be bothered with every little problem that arises and the stranger bids him to look into his somewhat bulging eyes, where Jordan is somehow now privy to a vision by doing as he's invited.  "I am not of your world, Mr. Jordan!  I am from the universe of Qward…an anti-matter universe occupying the same space-continuum as yours, but on a different space-time level!

We soon learn the man's name, Telle-teg, and that his world of Qward is not only anti-matter, but that it is somewhat topsy turvy to our world in that it is governed by laws of evil.  Honesty is illegal, while theft and other behavior of a criminal intent on earth is the ideal.  Telle-teg and a few friends are honest men and are therefore outcast or living double lives.  Telle-teg himself is a record keeper of the Weaponers of Qward at their citadel, but they do not know he is not evil.  He has recently learned of a transformer bridge the Weaponers have created, linking their world with ours.  Through radio-wave broadcasts, he has learned of some of Earth's history, to include the story of the pilgrims, who left their homeland to escape persecution and to live lives according to their conscience.  He suggests they could do the same.  Rather than risk the lives of his friends, however, Telle-teg finds the location of the bridge and decides to try it himself and see if they could exist in the plus world.  He goes to the location of the portal, uses a flare to distract the guards and plunges through, into nothingness, feeling numb and strange.  Moments later, he finds himself emerging.  He reasons that somehow, during his brief journey, his atomic structure was reversed to allow him to exist in this matter universe. 

Telle-Teg quickly immerses himself in the language and culture of the Earth until he garners nary a second glance when he is out in public.  He has decided that this is indeed he and his friends' promised land, but then, a complication.  As he began to go back to the portal to retrieve his friends he spotted a distinctive shadow of a Destroyer of the Weaponers, sent to…well, destroy him.  He managed at the last second to dodge the Qwa-bolt hurled at him, but the bolt left a perfect circular hole in the nearby building.  Somehow he managed to escape, but he decided that the only one who could help him was Green Lantern, bringing him to this point.

Hal is both amazed and intrigued and asks Telle-Teg to tarry for a moment as he just might know how to reach Green Lantern.  The test pilot ducks into his dressing room in the airfield hangar and removes his street clothes revealing the uniform of a member in good standing of the Green Lantern Corps.  Soon a very familiar ritual takes place as he touches his incredible power ring to the power battery from which he takes his name.  The oath is recited, ensuring a full 24-hour charge:  "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!"  When he meets up with Telle-Teg, the anti-matter man shouts a warning and points to a Destroyer, poised on the hangar roof with his Qwa-bolt in hand.  The Destroyer wears a winged helmet with visor and carries a quiver of what appear to be lightning bolts on his belt.  He also carries a shield.  The overall figure looks sort of like a futuristic fusion of Hermes and Zeus.  Our hero looks on and realizes a couple of things.  First, that the man's story must be true and second that the bolt he's hurling is golden, which is the same as yellow, the one weakness in his power ring, which means he cannot use his emerald energy to defend himself from it.  Telle-teg, meanwhile, leaps at GL and knocks him out of the path of the destructive bolt that immediately creates another perfect circular hole in the tarmac.  Immediately, Hal fires an emerald fist toward his foe, but the Destroyer counters by raising his shield, also of gold and deflects the beam right back at the Emerald warrior.  Jordan manages to duck out of harm's way and changes tactics, using the power ring to render himself completely invisible.  He then uses his beam to ensnare the Destroyer, but is distracted when he hears a groan from Telle-Teg.  Hal realizes the man from the anti-matter world is hurt, probably nicked by the bolt that he saved GL from.  Our hero then sees that the Destroyer has worked himself free of the green beam and is making a break for it.  Hal returns his attention to Telle-Teg, only to discover that he's passed away.  Hal marvels that he sacrificed himself to save him.  Restoring himself to visibility, the Emerald Gladiator resolves to fulfill Tele-Tegg's wishes as a tribute to his sacrifice, by bringing his friends back from Qward.  Unfortunately that means he has to find a way to locate the bridge.  It then occurs to Hal to use his ring as a sort of makeshift Geiger counter to follow the trail left by the Destroyer. 

Soon he locates the bridge, looking like a hole into nothingness in the side of a hill and unhesitatingly flies through.  Momentarily he emerges in the anti-matter world, having undergone the same transformation and he immediately uses his power ring to disarm the guards.  He immediately begins his search for the place where Telle-Teg's friends meet, going by the description he'd provided. 

Meanwhile, the authorities are closing in on the renegade band of "good-doers" and are demanding that they surrender or perish.  Talk about your dilemma.  The men inside realize that if they surrender they'll be in a ray-cell for life.  They do not emerge, however, so a disintegrating beam is fired at the dwelling, but not before a bubble of emerald force is put into place, protecting them.  GL then goes on the offensive in creative ways, conjuring a hail of tiny steel pellets to bombard the evil authorities, effectively scattering them.  Then a Destroyer appears and the ring creates a figure resembling a charging football tackle, smashing into the Destroyer and removing that threat.

Next, Green Lantern collects Telle-Teg's friends and transports them through the bridge to Earth.  Once safely on the other side, he uses the power ring to seal the bridge.  The grateful refugees of Qward thank GL and in return offer some information.  A startled Emerald Warrior soon learns that a plot is afoot by the Weaponers of Qward to gain possession of all the power batteries in the plus universe.  Unfortunately the Qwardian knows no further details.  The Green Lantern of Earth then transports the refugees to an asteroid suitable for habitation so that they can live in peace and safety and he then returns home to ponder the information he's received, suspecting that he's not heard the last of the Weaponers of Qward. As originally published, text accompanying the final panel confirms GL's suspicions as we're advised to look for new developments with the Weaponers of Qward in future issues of Green Lantern. In the DC Special reprint, the mag to keep an eye on has been changed to Justice League of America, namely issues 125 and 126.

If I've encountered the Weaponers outside the recent JLA series that I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I don't recall it.  One exception is the Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 where they (at least the Destroyers) were in attendance and at one point attacked the Anti-Monitor with their destructive bolts.  Obviously this creation of John Broome's had some staying power as well.     

I enjoyed this rather brief tale from Green Lantern's adventures.  It had the usual elements that I appreciate with some good science fiction and introduction to yet another world, opening up plenty of possibilities for future stories, which it obviously succeeded in accomplishing.  The rating for this tale is an 8 on the 10-point scale and I look forward to seeing how the Weaponers were dealt with in the future as I continue to mine the Silver Age.

As always, I appreciate you joining me for the ride.  Hopefully when you come back in about two weeks for the next edition of this feature I'll have had a chance to take in the new "Batman Begins" movie and will share some thoughts with you on that.  In the meantime, I'll extend my usual invitation for your thoughts, comments and feedback via e-mail at professor_the@hotmail.com.    

Until next time…

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2005 by B.D.S.

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