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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 225

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the comics posted so far!

I think some folks have never seen the famous moment from Green Lantern (Volume 2) #76 within the context of the issue, which was the debut of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ acclaimed run on the title. So here ya go!

Enjoy!

The basic concept of most of this issue is that Green Lantern’s oath that “no evil shall escape his sight” is not exactly accurate, as there were social evils going around right in front of him, as he sees when he visits Star City and sees a group of citizens assaulting a rich guy.

He quickly stops the mob and is surprised at the reaction he receives…

Green Lantern then tries to reason with the slumlord, but he is given the high hand and Hal soon finds himself punching out the slumlord’s enforcers. He is then called back to Oa where the Guardians are pissed off at him going way off mission. They then assign him to go do some mindless grunt work (clear out an asteroid belt).

Meanwhile, Green Arrow tries to take down the slumlord on his own, but after he gets evidence that the slumlord tried to kill him, the evidence is destroyed.

Hal decides to say “screw it” to the Guardians and comes back to Earth. He and Green Arrow compare stories, then decide to team-up to take down the slumlord…

Fair enough story, but then there is an “explosive epilogue” that ties in with what the book was saying earlier about Hal’s oath…

This was a strong introduction to the “Hard Travelin’ Heroes” concept, which was a novel idea at the time.

And boy, Neal Adams’ art was amazing.

25 Comments

Maybe they could give Supes a ride.

I forgot just how much of a BAWWWWWfest this comic was, groundbreaking or not.

Also, why is Ollie saying that America needs the most help? Aren’t there plenty of other countries that have worse problems than ” Disillusioned kids ripping up campuses “?

Check out the bottom of page 20. If you recolored him slightly, that DA would look like Obama.

Thanks for providing the context. I still can see where people would think this story is too preachy or idealistic, but it WAS just the one book at the time, which was a book that was failing anyway. And I didn’t realize that a Guardian in human form came along on the Hard Travelin’ adventures. Cool.

Why, from this feature and CBLR, I’d think you’re celebrating DC’s 75 anniversary, Brian :) Hey, why not use the 75 moments to come up with things to spotlight elsewhere?

Quick question: Did the comic at the time refer to its storyline as “Hard Travelin’ Heroes” during the O’Neil/Adams run? I’ve heard this phrase many times recently on the site in various posts. Before I’d heard it described as “the relevant era”, etc. P.

The setup is as heavyhanded as the payoff. It really is off-putting the way O’Neil forces the action here, forces Hal to bow his head to the patently stupid arguments being leveled against him – “Oh well I suppose the Green Lanterns really are like Nazis.”

I was reading A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf a few months ago, and in one section (on Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte) she writes something to the effect of “A writer allowing her own prejudice to enter the voices of her characters does a disservice to her writing. The attitudes of a great author of fiction (Woolf cites Shakespeare and Jane Austen) are largely undetectable in his or her writing.” While I don’t know if I necessarily agree in all cases, I think her point is well-demonstrated in this moment from O’Neil’s GL/GA. In this scene, we’re jarred out of the story by O’Neil’s politics, O’Neil’s anger erupting through the characters. Green Arrow steps outside himself for a few pages and lets O’Neil use him as a mouthpiece. Hal, in a sort of wish-fulfillment for O’Neil, stands all but mute through the tirade and when offered a chance to rebut, is barely able to muster “I can’t.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we could bring people around to our politics and philosophy this easily?

Are we in reruns? I mean, these ARE cool comics, and all, but several of the last week or so have surprised me. We’re into…the 3rd year of this feature? And just getting around to this one? I’m not unhappy or anything, just…surprised, I guess.

Man, these are really, really dated.

They still work in their own context, and especially considering the target audience was probably a bunch of 12 year olds.

Considering I have debates like this all the time with people online, the dialogue works for me. I’d say it’s true to life for people engaged in heated political arguments.

As far as I’m concerned, this comic blew most of the Silver Age out of the water. Superheroes who fight mad scientists, giant robots, or talking gorillas seem silly when you realize how limited the stories are.

True, GA’s speech in the epilogue is heavy-handed. I’d probably rewrite that part. I’m talking about the debate leading up to pg. 6, which is clearly the “cool moment.”

Since Superman is now walking across America for a similar reason, maybe he should’ve consulted with GL and GA. Together they could’ve come up with a good reason for limiting themselves to the US rather than seeing the world.

P.S. Obviously O’Neil changed Hal Jordan’s test-pilot personality to make him less cocky and sure of himself. I think you just have to accept that as part of the package. Maybe there’s an untold story lurking here: How GL lost his mojo before the events of GREEN LANTERN #76.

Well, wait, Rob, look at pages 3 and 4. Hal’s pretty cocky there. “Not yet, sonny” “There’s no need to thank me, people, I was just doing my duty” “You want a riot, mister”

Then he sees the tenement conditions, and the older guy asks him about the black skins. Hal’s not so cocky that he can’t at least question himself and his motives. That’s why he IS a hero.

But GA is heavy handed, probably a little bit intentionally. I’m guessing O’Neil leaned more in GA’s political direction, so he sets him up to be “more right”.

Cass,

Major points for the Woolf quote. :)

What do i do for the Black Skins?

Uh…let’s see…i saved the city and the planet from X-number of threats today…yesterday… traveled back in time to save the species last week…

uhm…what else?

I’m not god man…even Jesus was mainly focused on the Jews…sheesh…

you tell me what you want from me and we can go from there…

Did you ask John Stewart this question?

Would you ask Tom Petty that question?

Why is Hal Jordan playing with several clown action figures on p.22? And what exactly was he doing with them, given how startled and guilty he looks as they fly out of his hand and lap?

Yeah, why does Hal have the clowns? Was he a traveling salesman or something?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 15, 2010 at 8:38 am

@Rob Schmidt: Astonishingly, Gerard Jones did just such a story in the revived Green Lantern title in the early 1990s, revealing that a Qwardian ray from another 1970s story had sapped Hal’s will around the time of these stories.

The GL/GA stories really are quite dated, especially the early installments, but to Denny O’Neil’s credit the stories did develop a little more nuance as they went on. By the third one, “Ulysses Starr Is Still Alive,” Green Arrow is being portrayed as doing stupid things for the right reasons. As it turns out, dressing up as a revered Native American leader mostly just embarrasses the present-day NAs when Ollie tries to rally them that way. And stories like “The Population Explosion” focused on Hal and Dinah more than on Ollie, letting someone else get to be right.

The next few issues were rather more superheroic: battles with Sinestro and Black Hand took on feminism and industry, but in ways that made Hal the hero and the politics into symbolic material rather than painfully direct commentary. And the only political commentary in the bizarre story of the psychic child Sybil is that Neal Adams drew Sybil and Grandy to resemble Nixon and Agnew. (I suppose I’ve also always suspected there’s a “silent majority” joke in Nixon-Grandy’s use of wasps as a murder weapon.)

And then the dynamic really shifts in the famous drug storyline showed that Ollie had his own narrow-minded, ignorant side; his neglect and indifference drive his foster son into heroin addiction, and when Ollie finds out, he just kicks the kid out onto the streets. Dinah and Hal have to help Speedy through withdrawal because Ollie’s too busy being self-righteous. There a wonderful moment where Ollie briefly considers whether he’s been a crappy foster dad, and then angrily decides it’s everyone’s fault but his own. Considering that Roy gets to deck Ollie at the end, it’s pretty clear the readers aren’t meant to agree with GA.

The last regular issue of the series seems like a cringeworthy story, with an ecoterrorist that the story very directly makes into a Christ analogue, right down to the crucifixion. But Isaac damns Ollie for polluting the air with a gas arrow even though it saves Isaac’s life, and later he can’t answer when Hal points out that his sabotage nearly got people killed earlier in the issue. Isaac and Ollie both come off as somewhat hypocritical. They still get to be right in the big picture, but they aren’t portrayed as better than Hal or anyone else on a personal level.

The final arc, pirnted as a sries of backups in The Flash, is largely apolitical, and entirely about Ollie screwing up and redeeming himself. Interestingly, his flaw in that story is the way his insufferable self-righteousness turns into self-destructiveness when he turns it on himself. Ollie’s so busy angsting in that arc that he nearly lets Dinah, the supposed love of his life, die because he’d rather retreat from the world to throw a pity party for himself after accidentally killing a man in the line of duty. The fact that Ollie kills because of an old injury (from the drugs arc) links the whole thing to his demonstrated personal flaws. The last GL/GA story by O’Neil and Adams had Hal saving GA from himself, in a nice echo of that first, painful story.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 15, 2010 at 8:40 am

@Travis Pelkie: Hal was a traveling sales rep for toy company at this point in the series. He went through a series of jobs in the late 1960s and 1970s after Julius Schwartz and John Broome had him quit as a test pilot for some reason I can’t recall. He also tried being an insurance investigator and, in a very 70s turn, a trucker in these decades.

Omar is awesome.

I hope Hal had a CB radio. And a mullet.

I know that GL/GA has been reprinted several times, but has it all been collected recently? It’d be a good collection to come out now, with the Superman homage and Neal on Odyssey. Although, I think Neal Adams has some sort of “special” deal with DC so that he gets a bit more money than some people. His reasoning, I believe, is that he’s NEAL F’in ADAMS.

The setup is as heavyhanded as the payoff. It really is off-putting the way O’Neil forces the action here, forces Hal to bow his head to the patently stupid arguments being leveled against him – “Oh well I suppose the Green Lanterns really are like Nazis.”

You know, between this scene to recent scenes like Aquaman lecturing Superman and Batman in Superman/Batman and Superman being lectured in the prelude to Grounded, I’d love to see a post or series of posts dedicated to the hilarious really simplistic, nonsensical moral arguments being leveled against superheroes and superheroes being rendered guilty, ashamed and utterly unable to respond. It seems comics are full of them!

I’d love to see a post or series of posts dedicated to the hilarious really simplistic, nonsensical moral arguments being leveled against superheroes and superheroes being rendered guilty, ashamed and utterly unable to respond. It seems comics are full of them!

It’s not just comics. This trope actually has a name, the “Brody slap moment,” after the scene in JAWS where the grieving mother yells at Police Chief Brody about not closing the beaches and then hauls off and lets him have a good one across the chops.

After reading the especially egregious example in Superman #700, I was actually playing with doing a history in comics of that idea — the “Brody slap” column — but couldn’t make it go. It would have mostly been a point-and-laugh piece and I don’t really enjoy doing those.

I should amend that to add that there are good ones and bad ones. Certainly, the Brody slap moment in JAWS is earned. But in superhero comics, they mostly aren’t.

Omar’s right, this issue was kind of cringe worthy but it got much better. I think the whole run gets a bad rep from some people because they’ve only read this issue and not the rest of them.

Matthew Johnson

August 16, 2010 at 8:09 am

Hey Brian, could you put up the riposte to this scene (I think Gerard Jones did it) where an alien asks GL when he’s going to do something for the green, blue and purple skins?

I hate it when writers try to claim that Hal should be doing more, or should be more evenhanded in how he protects people,etc. He’s charged with protecting 1/3600th of the universe, for Pete’s sake. Do the writers have any idea how large that is? It’s a miracle he gets any sleep.
“And then the dynamic really shifts in the famous drug storyline showed that Ollie had his own narrow-minded, ignorant side; his neglect and indifference drive his foster son into heroin addiction, and when Ollie finds out, he just kicks the kid out onto the streets. Dinah and Hal have to help Speedy through withdrawal because Ollie’s too busy being self-righteous. There a wonderful moment where Ollie briefly considers whether he’s been a crappy foster dad, and then angrily decides it’s everyone’s fault but his own. Considering that Roy gets to deck Ollie at the end, it’s pretty clear the readers aren’t meant to agree with GA.”
But even that story suffers from (a) O’Neil deciding to make a pharamaceutics CEO the head of a heroin ring (because pharamaceutics CEOs often become heroin dealers) and (b) Speedy’s ,um, too speedy recovery.

This issue & this run has taken a lot of stick in these forums recently. Maybe the execution from our perspective 40 years later is off, but this kind of thing had never been done in comics – these guys were treading new ground. Sure, comics were heading this way ever since Stan Lee introduced wide-ranging and more ‘realistic’ character foibles and emotions (why is Peter Parker a loser who can’t pay his rent, can’t get or keep a girl, take care of Aunt May, keep college studies/job; while worrying about campus unrest etc etc).

O’Neil & Adams’ GL/GA simply a reflection of the times – massive social upheaval in the 60s – feminism/the pill; MLK Jnr ‘I have a dream’/race riots/ending of segregation; Vietnam & the protests/campus shootings; the hippie movement – ‘turn on tune in drop out’ – drugs & mystical/eastern influence; 1st widespread awareness of environment issues, concerns about pollution…
… Then comics (and society) forgot the ‘relevant’ stuff, compare the cynicism & introspection from early 70s onwards post-Charlie Manson/Altamont/ the MLK & Kennedy brothers assassinations, & the whole post-Vietnam /Watergate loss of faith in America & its institutions (see Eng’hart/Buscema Cap America run).
Phew! Anyway, hope that makes some sense!

I know DC in this period sometimes resembled a dad dancing at a wedding or a teacher ‘trying to be down with the kids’. The ‘relevant’ comix era (I guess c.1968-74) was an important stepping-stone in ‘comics growing up’ towards what it is today (for better or worse).

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