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CSBG Archive

Into the back issue box #52

You know, for such an iconic cover, this comic is kind of lousy. But does it hook the first-time reader? That’s what it’s all about!

01-24-2010 11;18;05AMLet’s check out some ground rules for these posts! Okay? And … we’re off, with Green Lantern #127. The story is called “Battleground: Oa!” and it’s written by Denny O’Neil, drawn by Joe Staton, inked by Frank McLaughlin, lettered by Milt Snapinn, and colored by Anthony Tollin. It was published by DC (I know, big shock) in April, 1980 (and the indicia claims it’s “volume 18″ – did they call each new year a volume?). According to the readers of this very blog, Brian Bolland’s cover is the 73rd most iconic in DC history. It is, unfortunately, the best thing about the issue!

O’Neil does a nice job on the first page with getting new readers involved. We get a “Marvel-style” recap of Hal Jordan (“a man born WITHOUT FEAR,” according to the text) and how he’s Green Lantern (must be that lacking fear thing) and then some recapping of the situation: There’s a war between the weaponers of Qward and the guardians of the universe, and Green Lantern is trapped inside the central power battery on Oa, while the guardians are helpless. Salright? Salright. Outside the battery, the weaponers are waiting for General Fabrikant to arrive, because by that time, they should be able to control the “entire energy supply” in the galaxy. Wow! Meanwhile, Hal is inside, trying to get out. His power ring is dead because, as he explains in a thought balloon: “On the inside, the battery’s large field cancels the ring’s smaller one!” O … kay. But then the guardians use their telepathy to make the ring “speak,” telling Hal to break the link between them (they’re all holding hands, and Hal is Red Rover). When he breaks the link, they can use Hal’s body and his ring as “transformers” to broadcast to the other Green Lanterns throughout this arm of the galaxy. Well, that’s good! They broadcast out, and we get a big splash page of all the GLs they’re contacting. I’m sure most readers know who they are, but I only sort-of recognize that orange fish-headed dude and the red chick:

01-24-2010 11;27;40AM

So the weaponers scan a big manta ray Green Lantern heading toward them, so they “dispatch” “him.” How’d they know it was a “he”? Either way, I guess brains aren’t a big requirement to get a power ring, because the manta ray GL thinks to himself, “A missile approaches! It could be friendly — from the guardians!” He blocks it, but when it crashes into his ring-made wall, several smaller missiles shoot out around the wall and blow him up. I mean, do pilots during war say, “Hey, a missile! Maybe it’s friendly!” If someone is shooting a missile at you, I think it’s safe to say that’s it’s hostile. I’m just saying.

Anyway, down on Oa, Sinestro shows up and tells them that he’s ready to assume command, because General Fabrikant said he could. They tell him they were only using him to delay Hal, which kind of pisses him off. He stalks away, and the weaponers turn their attention to the other GLs who are approaching. They launch the “yellow vortex” at the GLs, who are “pulled irresistibly into the whirling center …” Some manage to escape, but many are killed before they can get to the surface. One insect thing manages to get to the central battery and touches it with its ring before it dies. The guardians explain that Hal can put his ring to the other ring, which will allow them to access its power, as it’s outside the battery. Hoo-ah! So Hal escapes, takes the insect thing’s ring (which, of course, fits him perfectly), and is ready to rock!

Meanwhile, up in the yellow vortex, a very funny scene (well, to me) takes place. The red (or is she magenta?) Green Lantern says, and I quote: “The yellow mists are eating through your force fields! In the cold and void of space, we won’t last a moment! We can’t escape … nor survive! We can only wait … for the end! I fear we won’t wait long!” I just love the fatalism – you know Hal wouldn’t give up like that! Wouldn’t a Green Lantern be a bit more active in trying to find a solution? She’s just floating there saying, “Well, we’re going to die. Too bad!” Sheesh, Denny, I know chicks shouldn’t get power rings because they should be pumping out male babies and making muffins in the kitchen, but come on!

Back on Oa, the weaponers aren’t happy that Hal is loose. He gives them a spanking with his dual rings, but then he’s caught by a yellow energy net. However, it’s all good – Sinestro comes to the rescue and releases him! Yes, Sinestro is so peeved that the weaponers dissed him that he’s willing to help the guardians. He and Hal bust into the assembly hall from where the yellow vortex is controlled, so they can rescue the other GLs. Then we get a weird scene: In the teleporter, a small figure appears. One of the weaponers shouts “General Fabrikant!” before Sinestro knocks him out. Neither Sinestro nor Hal saw anyone in the teleporter. We’ll get back to that. The yellow vortex, in the meantime, is gone, and the worthless Green Lanterns who couldn’t be bothered to try to free themselves enter the battle. As they defeat the weaponers, on the next page is a two-panel interlude. Check it out:

01-24-2010 11;32;30AM

Okay, obviously Fabian (Fabian? really?) was the “General Fabrikant” we saw a page earlier, but what the hell? This is obviously wrapping up a plot point from an earlier issue, but while O’Neil has done a fairly good job getting us up to speed on the rest of the story, he drops the ball here. I have no idea if it’s important, but it seems kind of weird that this is all we get.

Hal wants to keep beating on weaponers, but the guardians tell him it’s all over. He says, “Then we won?” and the guardians, sages that they are, tell him, “No! Wars are never won, regardless of who might be the victor! The very act of war is itself a horrible defeat!” Oh, guardians, you’re so wise! Hal wants to go find General Fabrikant, but the guardians tell him they must tend to the wounded. Hal says they also must mourn the dead, as he looks out over a destroyed assembly hall and some dead Lanterns. On that cheery note, O’Neil is out!

For the climax of what seems a fairly big plot (at least three issues), this ending is rather anticlimactic. The weaponers seem rather ineffectual, and I have no idea what’s going on with Fabian/General Fabrikant. O’Neil does a decent job showing a potential new reader what the deal is with Green Lanterns themselves, which is nice, and we get some idea of who Hal and Sinestro are, so there’s that. We also understand what’s going on even if we don’t know much of the history between the weaponers and the guardians. But the issue itself is fairly dull. Say what you will about current Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns (and I have), but he understands the importance of bombast, and that’s definitely missing from this comic. O’Neil knows how to be bombastic, too, but he fails in this issue. It’s the end of what appears to be a fairly big war between the guardians and weaponers, but even the deaths of the Lanterns doesn’t seem all that impressive – the big manta ray dies, as I pointed out, because he doesn’t think a missile is hostile, while the other GLs hang out in the yellow vortex fretting about their fate before Hal and Sinestro save them. And the weaponers fall apart pretty easily. Maybe they were just overconfident.

As a gateway comic, there’s nothing wrong with this. A first-time reader wouldn’t be too confused, I reckon, although they might be bored. A new reader might not return to Green Lantern after this, but there’s no reason for them to swear off comics forever, either!

21 Comments

Wait, so the red lady said “I fear we won’t wait long!”? Shouldn’t she be kicked out of the GLC or wedgied or should all the other Lanterns scream and yell like when someone said the secret word on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse or something?

RE: The manta ray thing – I guess something too stupid to be afraid would be qualified to wear a power ring, but is that such a good idea?

I read this storyline when it first came out and I recall it fondly. A lot of that has to do with what had come before with this book. First of all, the art: I came to this book because of Mike Grell and wound up saddled with lackluster work from Alex Saviuk and Don Heck. Then Joe Staton came in after them. Now, Staton was a bit cartoonish for my tastes and he was certainly no Mike Grell but when paired up with Dick Giordano and later Frank McLaughlin, the art was slick and suited Denny O’Neil’s cosmic epic.

Which leads to the 2nd point: preceeding this run of stories, this book was definitely lost in the wilderness with O’Neil trying to shoe horn Green Arrow in (long, long past the heydey of the early ’70’s series with Neal Adams) and it clearly wasn’t working. Making the book a Green Lantern solo title again freed up Hal to return to space faring cosmic stories. In my time reading comics up to that point, I had not seen anything quite on this scale from DC: a space epic with a vast and varied cast of GLs against the backdrop of two universes.

Looking back, it may come off as a bit quaint, maybe even slow compared to modern comics storytelling. But at the time, I thought it was cool (certainly better than anything O’Neil had done in the title in over two years) and it set the stage for all subsequent epic sweeping Green Lantern Corp storylines, from the 3 issue mini series written by Mike Barr and Len Wein (Staton/McLaughlin on the art again) which introduced Nekron to everything Geoff Johns has done from GL: Rebirth and onward.

If there is anything lacking here, it may be due to Denny O’Neil being more comfortable with street level heroes and he was on his way out the door to go to Marvel. (Interestingly, his replacement was Marv Wolfman leaving Marvel for DC; he would bring a more Marvel-like sensibility to the series. Talk about your bombast!)

Still, this story, taken in context with the series at the time, was a major shot in the arm for the character and the series.

The one-eyed guy at the middle of the bottom row is the vegetable GL from Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing,

I do have to say I personally prefer this column when it’s batshit-insane-unbelievably-awful obscure 90s books as opposed to ok-ish Green Lanterns

i always though the story line was a little sign that the legedary o neil was running out of steam working on green lantern espicialy making a little kid the weaponers general . not to mention the way that one green latern said we are not going to last long in cold space talk about proving un worthy of the ring.

wil: I totally agree! I pick these at random, however, so I never know what I’m going to get. We can just cross our fingers!

It wasn’t spelled out in this issue so it’s still a fair complaint/point of mockery, but the fact that the little insect Green Lantern’s ring fits Hal perfectly is part of established GL continuity – rings automatically fit their wearer’s digits/appendage/whatever and change size as necessary. Might not be worth pointing out, but heck – I have a free 30 seconds…

Daniel O' Dreams

January 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I like how they stole the little grasshopper guy from Bolland’s cover for that splash with The Guardians contacting the GLs in space.

>> I guess something too stupid to be afraid would be qualified to wear a power ring, but is that such a good idea? <<

One word: Gnort.

The number of Green Lanterns on that cover who are now Black Lanterns would probably depress me.

I am sick of trolls and haters pretending they are “journalists” when they write their crap reviews. This issue of GL was the way comics NEED to be done. And hey there IS a reason why super heroines arent viable- they just make better supporting characters, MALE super-heroes are what has driven the industry, and they always will. It isn’t sexism, its realism! I love this era of Green Lantern, and if DC were smart they’d kill off John Stewart and Kyle whatshisface so we could have the ONE TRUE LANTERN.

Finally, someone with the guts to say what we were all thinking.

I can say in all honesty that I have pretty much never thought, “Hey, you know what comics need to do? They need to be more boring and focus on a narrower, blander range of characters.”

Or: speak for yourselves, gents.

Note to self: The internet can make delivering a deadpan joke very, very difficult.

whoa, whoa, whoa. Seriously, all things considered… even if you disagree with me (the TRUTH will always hurt… for example, John Stewart exsists as a character in the GL mythos because of the movie Shaft, plain and simple).. i dont deserve to have my inbox flooded by the fact someone here used my info to sign a comic con petition dozens of times, with nonsense remarks about Stan Lee or whatever. grow up people! it was immature and NOT clever. Who will take credit for this? Be a man!

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stan_lee/signatures?page=26

Gabriel: That sucks. I would get in touch with Brian, because he might know who it is. It would be nice if someone owned up to it, because that’s a shitty move.

I haven’t the foggiest, and I don’t know how I’d be able to track it, as it happened on some other site. That’s unfortunate, Gabriel, I’m sorry someone is taunting you this way, especially as your comment wasn’t really all THAT bad, especially compared to some of the stuff that occasionally gets posted in the comments section.

Then again, seeing as how you once posted in the comments to a different post “I’m Still Farting….” and then replied to yourself under a different name to ask why no one was commenting on the farting post, noting that you could “almost smell that butt…,” well, I can’t help but wonder if the veracity of your claim is not a bit on the iffy side.

so that’s how it goes. No, I am expressing true opinions- how DC has let the ball drop on one of the best GL mythologys ever- and you bring up innane stuff like that. That wasn’t even me!!! I don’t have time to waste on immature nonsense, Brian. Because my opinions are unpopular, the person doing this knows noone is going to side with me- thats all it is ! Because my opinions are unliked, noone is going to want to believe someone is messing with me. Because im not part of the MAJORITY, right ???

Fair enough, thank you for letting me know to be done with you, Gabe.

Don’t look at me, I’m too lazy to engage in petition shenanigans, especially considering that mocking numbnuts directly in comments is way more satisfying and immediate.

“The one-eyed guy at the middle of the bottom row is the vegetable GL from Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing,”

Doesn’t this comic pre-date that run? Which is to say, this is where Moore (or the artists) got it from?

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