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Ten Goofiest Moments in the First Ten Issues of Green Lantern

With the release this weekend of Green Lantern, I figured I’d devote two days to goofy moments related to the film’s release. Here is a link to yesterday’s piece, where we looked at the Hard Travelin’ Heroes era of Green Lantern/Green Arrow. Today, let’s look at the first ten issues of Green Lantern.

All ten issues were written by John Broome and all ten issues were penciled by Gil Kane (although a few other artists pitched in for one of the stories in #4) and Joe Giella inked most of the stories, with Murphy Anderson inking a handful.

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Not only were these writers certainly never imagining people still reading these comics decades after they were written, great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).

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Imagine if modern Hal Jordan was given opportunities like this bit from #3?

I think Antonio Cromartie would be given a run for his money (just because I am a sweetheart, I will give you this link to explain the Cromartie joke to non-NFL fans).

This trick from #1 is a neat one. I have no idea how it is supposed to work (I just imagine a guy spinning the door like mad and then changing his clothes in front of everyone), but it sounds good!

In #3, one of the few good guys from Qward looks to Green Lantern for help. Luckily, for some reason, a newspaper columnist wrote about the Hal/Carol/Green Lantern love triangle.

How hard up is that newspaper for gossip?

In #5, I just adore the one guy at this party where Hector Hammond is making a scene…

“He’s mysterious.”
“He just showed up recently.”
“He is really smart.”
“I don’t like him.”

Awesome.

I love this bit from #7 where we learn that Sinestro has a predisposition to be evil…

So the dude’s name is Sinestro, he has a pre-disposition to be evil due to a quirk in his brain, and you STILL make him a Green Lantern? Good job, Guardians!

Who would ever want to escape from Sinestro’s energo-sac?

In #5, Hector Hammond discovers a meteor that evolves things around it. This leads to two hilarious bits.

1. The professor he shows it to is like, “This can’t be real! These are how plants will look like in a thousand years!” How the hell does he know that?

but even more hilarious…

2. Is Hammond going “undercover” as a student but not bothering to cover up his gray hair. And the professor still falls for it!

I love the idea (from #1) that Carol just calls up her dad, “Hey, can I marry Green Lantern?”

And she takes the idea ever further by determining that she will ask this guy she barely knows to marry her in issue #3!!!

At least she and Green Lantern at least do have some sort of relationship. What is Hal thinking in #6 talking about marriage like that?

And I love his logic that her lying about being with Green Lantern is some coup for him.

10. The Silver Age was anal, too…

In #10, we actually see an entire issue devoted to Hal explaining how he came up with the oath…

after three stories…

Yikes.

9. Can’t argue with the logic…

In #9, reporter Sue Williams is positive that Hal’s younger brother Jim is Green Lantern, and she goes to great lengths to prove it…

but that’s nothing compared to what her plan is…

Yes, she’ll marry him if that’s what it takes to find out his identity!

You might think that that is a bad reason to marry someone, but in the Silver Age of DC it is practically the most romantic reason. After all, Iris West absolutely despised Barry Allen and she still married him (and by the way, Sue did, indeed, end up marrying Jim. Somehow she has not been killed off yet.)

8. Thanks for the favor!

In #1, Hal Jordan almost crashes his plane…

we then learn it is because the Guardians were making an “energy duplicate” of him…

Good job avoiding interfering with his normal life, Guardians! You almost killed the guy!!

7. Just trust me, it worked…

This is an…interesting use of Hal’s powers in #7.

“Yeah, the Carbon dioxide moved the..uh…atomic…uhm…mechanism of the clock, yeah, that’s the ticket!”

6. Judicious use of editor’s notes

I love this bit in #6 where Julie Schwartz quickly explains away a power of Hal’s RIGHT AFTER he uses it!!!

Hilarious.

5. Speaking of amusing editor’s notes…

So, in #1, the Guardians erase Hal’s memory of them (for some weird reason that is never really explained)…

So that’s on page 9. On page 12, they recap what we read THREE PAGES EARLIER!!

I know kids are dumb, but they’re not THAT dumb, are they? Wait, never mind, don’t answer that!

4. Carol “Fickle” Ferris

In #4, some bad guy is impersonating Green Lantern at a party…

Damn, that’s cold, Carol!

3. Not quite as cold as the way Julie Schwartz talks about Carol…

Check out how Schwartz explains Carol Ferris to new readers in #7…

“Yeah, she’s his boss, but really, who’s kidding who? Her role is in the kitchen…wait, I mean…her role is as Green Lantern’s romantic interest.”

2. This is the guy who took out pretty much the entire Green Lantern Corps?

Early on, Hal was far less of a bad ass, as seen by this bit from #5…

and this one from #7…

“Green Lantern is vulnerable to the color yellow…and his own incompetence!”

1. I hope the DC relaunch somehow uses this plot…

From #7, I think I’ll just let it speak for itself…

34 Comments

Number two reminds me of the one issue of the original JLA series where John Stewart had to substitute for Hal on a mission. The reason? Hal slipped in the shower and knocked himself unconscious.

Number one is really great!! That ring is kinda magic :D

“His eskimo greasemonkey” = Classic :D

Peace

Carol’s plan to propose is at least vaguely justified by the old “leap year” tradition mentioned in the last panel there, in which women could propose to men. But I’m pretty sure that custom was 20 years out of date even when the story was published.

John Broome, Gardner Fox, and Julius Schwartz tended to build plot points around things that were dated and obscure even when they were youngsters. Depending on the day, I find it alternately charming or painful…but always, always goofy.

So, what disproportionate act of violence did Hal commit to escape from his fan club?

Also, why didn’t Hal, either as himself or GL, just tell Carol that GL didn’t feel that way about her?

The first Christopher Reeve Superman movie had that revolving-door changing trick. (It also had another scene in which he simply dived from a building and turned into Superman on the way down. I still haven’t figured out how that worked.)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm

I’m surprised you didn’t start with the showcase issues – that is a hot bed of goofy!

Then again, I imagine every entry would just be made up of the last panels of each story – which is nearly always Hal crying because Carol doesn’t love him.
(The exception probably being the time he took super secret plans to lunch with him – for no apparent reason – and managed to get his jackets front pocket picked. Damn that was goofy).

Travis Pelkie

June 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm

In the DCU, on job applications for female reporters, is there a box or line to fill out with what superhero she will try to uncover the identity of, or attempt to marry? Jeez. Lois, Iris, Sue here.

I don’t think it’s that odd that there’d be a newspaper story about GL and Hal being rivals for Carol’s hand. What’s goofier is that of all the pages in the paper that the Qwardians could read, they focus on the society pages.

And that Hammond at the party scene is awesome. It reminds me of the first Peanuts strip.

Travis Pelkie

June 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm

And Omar’s comment hadn’t showed up when I typed mine, but is that leap year tradition possibly where Al Capp got the idea for Sadie Hawkins Day?

To be fair “I don’t like him” guy was on the money.

Bill Oppenheim

June 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Was hoping someone would notice that’s Gil Kane art,not Infantino.The Giela inking accounts for the similarity.

While these stores aren’t THAT goofy (when compared to other DC Silver Age comics anyway) I do feel that the art is less unrealistic than in those comics (just compare that sexy Carol with the Lucy Leball-looalike Lois Lane of the time for example) which makes the stories FEEL stranger than they should.

Green Lantern is easily knocked out because he is unable to read the YELLOW captions warning him that harm is about to befall him!

And is Pieface still part of the DC universe? Was he ever a Justice League member like Snapper Carr was?

Gil Kane was the regular artist on Green Lantern not Carmine Infantino in the early days. Infantino and Mike Sekowsky did some issues in the 50s and 60s, but Kane was the man in the first 10 issues. Kane designed the uniform which still stands out.

@IAM FeAR

Thomas “The Artist Formerly Known as Pieface” Kalmaku got the Power of Heart* during the Millennium crossover event in the ’80s and was part of the short-lived New Guardians team/comic. Between the racist nickname** and the character being pretty well ruined by that debacle, he hasn’t turned up much since. The only time I remember seeing him since then was a flashback story that retconned “Pieface” into an insult that someone else called him prompting Hal to leap to his defense (in other words – at least assuming the next person to write him considers that story canon – now Hal never called him that and he did’t like being called it).

*(I’m joking. It was “the power to bring out the best in people,” which made the kid from Captain Planet seem credible in comparison)

**(I know they’ve come up with various explanations for why he was called Pieface, usually (once you get out of the Silver Age) trying to make it as non-racist as possible. But come on. Even if that name legitimately wasn’t intended as racist, is certainly SOUNDS racist – or at least like a derogatory comment on his appearance – which is why they don’t use it anymore, except as an insult that OTHER people called him.)

What goes on? WHAT GOES ON?

Gil Kane was the regular artist on Green Lantern not Carmine Infantino in the early days. Infantino and Mike Sekowsky did some issues in the 50s and 60s, but Kane was the man in the first 10 issues. Kane designed the uniform which still stands out.

Oh man, did I write Infantino? Sorry about that, that was just a brain lapse on my part. I definitely meant to write Kane. Thanks for picking it up!

Yay-bo! Another fine article!!

Carol might be fickle in #4, but to be fair, Green Lantern did apparently get an entirely different face when the mask was removed?

The Pieface stuff and unabashed sexism in some of these is staggering. All in the first 10 issues?

Just… wow. I almost wish some writer would create an new character on an indy title as an experiment to try this kind of stuff and see if he could get to ten issues without there being some kind of public outcry. A sociological experiment, if you will.

And, the folks “in” on the experiment could start a betting pool to see what issue the media got a hold of the story. Fun for everyone.

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I actually can’t believe Hal is smoking a cigarette in that dinner scene with Carol. Nowadays only bad guys and edgy heroes smoke, with few exceptions. Jim Gordon …

I wonder how many non-Constantine, non-Wolverine, non-Penguin comic characters historically smoked. Having weird thoughts of Bruce Wayne with a pipe.

And the best part is that these just scratch the surface.

I love reading John Broome’s stuff because it really is hilarious in an Ed Wood type of way, but man is he a terrible writer.

Didn’t Vic Sage, the original Question, die of cancer in the 52 series, brought on by a lifetime of smoking?

comicbookreader

June 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm

@RetroWarbird: Weren’t Nick Fury, Howard the Duck, and even Ben Grimm often portrayed as cigar smokers?

Sandor_Clegane

June 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm

T. – That strikes me as an unfair assessment. These were books written for kids under 10 – in the early 1960s. Sure, by today’s standards they’re quaint and rife with unlikely coincidences, weird plots and wacky characters. But even then…even today’s kids tend to dig that kind of stuff.

And underneath all that wackiness are stories rife with imagination, invention and fun.

Really, DC is still mining John Broome’s (and Julius Schwartz’) ideas to great effect 50 years later, long after both have passed on. That’s a fine testament to their talent and the staying power of their work.

I wonder how many non-Constantine, non-Wolverine, non-Penguin comic characters historically smoked. Having weird thoughts of Bruce Wayne with a pipe.

Both Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers used to smoke pipes. I was actually a little disappointed that Byrne didn’t include that in his WWII-set Cap/Batman crossover.

Well this was the early Silver Age, and all comics depictions were totally dictated upon by the Comic Code. Carol’s character at the time was no different from Lois or Iris But at least the Green lantern editors and writers made this infatuation morph into one of GL’s greatest foes, Star Sapphire. This predisposition of women towards marriage was played out all over in comics those days like in the various romance comics or in comedy centric ones like”Archie”

I remember a cover having Green Lantern selling selling power rings, no different from that of Superman jumping off a plane wearing a helmet and carrying a rifle without a parachute. Silly yes but there was a childlike quality in those early Silver Age stories.

“Pieface” is and was a product of its time. No racial slurs were intended. In actually this was I believe intended to be a affectionate nickname as Thomas was supposed to be Hal’s Best Friend and Confidant

BTW, the Gil Kane Cover Art still stands out even today. And yes, GL’s costume is still awesome!

..

Racial slurs often aren’t “intended,” but they’re still racial slurs.

Reading early issues, it quickly becomes clear that Green Lantern’s arch-enemy is actually falling tree branches.

T. – That strikes me as an unfair assessment. These were books written for kids under 10 – in the early 1960s. Sure, by today’s standards they’re quaint and rife with unlikely coincidences, weird plots and wacky characters. But even then…even today’s kids tend to dig that kind of stuff.

And underneath all that wackiness are stories rife with imagination, invention and fun.

Really, DC is still mining John Broome’s (and Julius Schwartz’) ideas to great effect 50 years later, long after both have passed on. That’s a fine testament to their talent and the staying power of their work.

Oh, I totally get the context of the original stories. I can totally enjoy stories written for kids under ten in the late 50s or early 60s. I love Gardner Fox’s work under Julie Schwartz, I love Robert Kanigher, especially when he was doing war comics, I love Bob Haney, and to a lesser degree I can enjoy the Weisinger Superman books, but to me even in the context of being written for 10 year olds in the 50s and 60s, Broome is just not a very good writer in my personal opinion, although I respect the fact that art is subjective and others may disagree.

Yeah, his stuff is being mined by later generations, but I think most of what makes Green Lantern work is other people’s contributions…Gil Kane’s wonderful art, Schwartz’s oversight and providing of general direction, the Lensmen sci-fi concept applied to a superhero, the original concept of Green Lantern by Marty Nodell, etc. Broome’s contributions don’t really add much in my opinion, his science is horrible and his characterizations are flat, and unlike his other Silver Age DC peers and to a great extent Stan Lee, I don’t get a feeling he’s being at all tongue-in-cheek and self-aware in his goofiness, he’s totally playing it straight and earnest. Don’t get me wrong, the fact that he plays the goofiness so straight is exactly what makes his books so fun to read, I get a great laugh out of them. Even in his later interviews Broome admitted his weaknesses as a writer.

RetroWarbird, I think Tony Stark is depicted with a cigarette in a few of his earlier appearances.

Pieface getting the “power of heart” in MILLENNIUM is one of the reasons Englehart will never be an unassailable god of comics to me. He was a great writer in the 1970s, but when he was off, he was awful.

“Imagine if modern Hal Jordan was given opportunities like this bit from #3?”

Someone should erase the words from the thought balloons and substitute them with Mark Waid-written thoughts. “They’re only 17! They’re only 17!”.

I can see Superman or the Flash using the revolving door trick to change costumes, as they would move so fast it would just be a blur. Of course by that standard they wouldn’t even need the door, as they can both move so fast that they are a blur anyway. In fact by using the door, it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out the last guy to enter just before the door spun at 1,000,000 miles per hour and the Flash ran out, must have been the Flash. Anyway, I don’t see how Green Lantern could do it, as I don’t understand that he has any super speed.

“good-humored face”…Eskimo…Pie…. Oh, just shoot me.

I bet the Guardians drag out that “brain quirk” excuse every time a Lantern goes bad. “Not our fault. He had the power virus.” They’re the NYPD of space. Another good disqualifier for becoming a wielder of godlike power: being able to touch your hips with your elbows. Cripes, was Sinestro’s race descended from stick insects?

I wonder why Indelible lipstick never caught on in real life.

The Guardians can make energy duplicates of their ring jockeys? Wouldn’t it be a hell of a lot simpler and safer to send out those duplicates instead of having the Lanterns risk life and limb constantly?

I’ll be honest, I pretty much expected clocks on Qwaard to run backwards and spoil Hal’s plan. That’s got the kind of sIlver-age logic I usually brace myself for. “Yes, this is an anti-matter universe, so our clocks move anticlockwise of course! Also, I have a mustache because I’m a woman.”

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