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Five Goofiest Moments in Green Lantern #31-35

Every week, I’ll examine the five goofiest moments from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book series. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

This week, we look at Green Lantern #31-35, written by John Broome (#31), Gardner Fox (#32-35), penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Sid Greene.

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!).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Just like last week, we see a super-villain waaaay too confident, to a hilarious degree…

“I don’t need to see him actually hit the ground. I’m sure I’ve won.”

I love how they explain that Green Lantern couldn’t milk an injury for attention, but Hal Jordancould!!

The Silver Age was known for its characters getting excessive powers out of nowhere, but Hector Hammond CREATES AN ACTUAL DUPLICATE OF A GUARDIAN to fight Hal Jordan!!!

Gardner Fox at least plays with the idea a bit in the end of the issue when it occurs to Hammond that hey, why not use these powers to get myself out of the chair (and the reason it doesn’t work is really quite clever. Honestly, Fox’s stories are awesome)?

The way Hal escapes the Guardian is pretty funny. Fox had just recently began to heavily push the Earth-2 concept, but here, we see Hal use it as an escape route!!

In Green Lantern #32′s secondary story, Hal travels to another world, where a bad guy takes control of his ring through telepathy…

And I love he escapes the control…

I like that Fox even hangs a lantern on the concept – “it just so happens that the telepathy was in a straight line so that the yellow leaf worked to block it.”

This bit just amused me because while we all know Schwartz (and Fox) loved to sneak real facts into comics, extensive footnotes in back-to-back panels just seemed a bit too much…

Also, Fox breaks out some awesome pseudo-science in this bit from #35…

Speaking of that alien world where Hal used the yellow leaf to bail himself out, I love the list of the heroes of that world that Hal tried to save.

“Strong Girl”? For serious?

Even for Hal “I smash my head into things all the time” Jordan, losing the power setting of his ring is particularly embarrassing…

I didn’t even know that the rings HAD a setting!

In the lead story from #35, Hal decides to use his fists instead of his ring. However, Hal’s fists are apparently enough to knock a dude THROUGH A BRICK WALL!!!

By the way, that dude Hal is hitting? Wait until you see his origin…

So he’s a clown who invented devices to allow him to walk on air so that he could impress an aerialist who dies when she gets hit by lightning during a show?!? Awesome.

I’ve already spotlighted the weird story that John Broome did about the reporter who is convinced that Hal’s brother, Jim, is Green Lantern. In their wedding in #31, Broome takes it to a whole other level…

Gotta love that psychosis.

I love how haphazardly the yellow weakness was applied early on…

He can’t fly through yellow-tinged FOG? Awesome.

In #34, the Guardian duplicate has to stop Hal. So how does he stop Hal? Giant iguanas that shoot ray beams, of course!!!

5. Hal Jordan, Attorney-at-Law

Gardner Fox was a really, really smart guy. He was a lawyer before he became a writer. However, this sure reads funny…

They even give the case citation! Awesome.

4. Yellow weakness? What yellow weakness?

In #33, Doctor Light uses creatures made out of light to stop Hal…

But wait, how can Hal’s powers affect yellow light?

He explains it later on…

I love it. He didn’t affect the yellow, he affected the area AROUND the yellow! Of COURSE!

3. The Man in the Golden Mask

I don’t think I need to explain the goofiness of this series of panels…

2. For the Birds…

It is hard to get goofier than Hal switching brains with a bird…

Hal flapping his “wings” is awesome.

1. Gardner Fox couldn’t stop at just two Earths!

In this early appearance of the Multiverse, Gardner Fox shows Hal being sent to another Earth through “yellow” Espian radiation…

That is some awesomely goofy stuff right there. Gardner Fox was amazing.

28 Comments

seeing these issues proved Gardner sure had a unique sense of humor with green lantern from being switched with a bird plus surely when Hector used his fake guardian Hal might call oa. plus the Airilist talk about another crazy bad guy. not to mention Hal being able to beat things made of yellow including with his ring.

“I could never love a man who was not a greater aerial performer than I!”

Why is that, exactly? I mean, I know it’s Otto’s ridiculous fantasy, but still, what’s the logic behind that?

The part that I find most amusing is that the gold mask is supposed to make Hal susceptible to magnetic control when gold is not a magnetic metal.

The panel where Hal punched a guy through a wall was so awesome that it made my day.

it’s bad comics like these that make me appreciate modern comics more.

Awesome stuff as usual Brian.

Are you ever going to cover modern stories like from 2000 onward? I found it really enjoyable when you had the installment covering Avengers Unplugged from the 90s and I’d love to see what you do with a more recent book like Cry for Justice or something.

In the very first episode of The Adventures of Superman tv show, one of the members of Jor-El’s science council wore a Captain Marvel costume recycled from the movie serial. Well, the same thing happened here. The Aerialist’s costume, except for the cowl, color of the cape, and chest symbol, is a dead ringer of the Captain Marvel uniform.

Let me second T’s suggestion, I’d love to see similar articles about modern comics.

And regarding this week’s offering, MAN that’s a bad comic. I know, it was written for children, but yikes. And the pseudoscience wouldn’t even be so painful if it didn’t coexist with all the cute footnotes about actual scientific concepts. As it stands, it has no educational value and might have actually created problems for any young reader who looked at all the science-fact footnotes and assumed that the book’s science was accurate and/or well-researched. I mean, if we’re going to excuse bad writing by claiming “it was meant for kids”, then isn’t there something reprehensible about littering the story with gibberish pseudoscience and then attempting to legitimize it with a thin veneer of science-trivia sprinkled over the footnotes? If it’s meant for kids, shouldn’t the writer have been more careful about what he was teaching, or at least dropped his pretense of scientific accuracy altogether? Because as it stands, it’s the worst of both worlds; the “science” contained in these stories is ultimately worthless, but the writer’s constant reminders of scientific trivia repeatedly snap the reader out of the story by attempting to make sense out of nonsense.

So it’s not science-fiction but it never allows itself to be fantasy either, attempting instead to have their cake and eat it too. In the end all those scientific footnotes feel like desperate pleas for validation, “This is TOTALLY sci-fi I’m writing here and not just fantasy stuff I pull outta my ass.”

Great article! I wrote a similar one a while back – 10 STRANGE Facts about GREEN LANTERN at http://blog.inetvideo.com/2011/06/14/10-strange-facts-about-green-lantern/

Always a fun read.
A lot of goofiness in these issues, but the bit of pseudo-science may actually be related to real science (just ahead of its time): Using DNA in place of silicon for creating computers has been an area of considerable interest over the last decade and a half.
See “DNA computing” on wikipedia for more info. It’s not exactly what Fox was describing but in some respects also not terribly far off.

Very funny to see that Hal comes so very close to actually using the phrase “Infinite Earths”. So, was the appearance of Earth Three the first time we learned that there were more universes than just the two? Or was the infinite universe theory already tossed out there?

@HammerHeart: notwithstanding the gibberish quotient, I think the pseudo-science was a net plus in promoting a sense of wonder about the natural world.

On a related note, if Brian ever wants to pick on a modern comic for complete pseudo-science gibberish bull____, he need look no further than “Mister Terrific” #1. (Maybe the later issues were just as bad; the first was so revolting that I didn’t stick around to find out.) And to think it came from the mouth of “the world’s third-smartest man”!

The “Five Goofiest Moments in Green Lantern #31-35″ includes 14 honorable mentions, making this article actually 19 goofy moments. I’m not saying don’t show all 19, but stop calling it “Five Goofiest Moments”. It makes is seem like you are too lazy to order any of them over 5. Either increase the number, or remove it all together and just be “Goofiest Moments”. I will respect your picks more with a little more truth in the title.

Thanks

Stop lying to us, Cronin! I have half a mind to give up comics forever with these deceptive post titles.

And regarding this week’s offering, MAN that’s a bad comic. I know, it was written for children, but yikes. And the pseudoscience wouldn’t even be so painful if it didn’t coexist with all the cute footnotes about actual scientific concepts. As it stands, it has no educational value and might have actually created problems for any young reader who looked at all the science-fact footnotes and assumed that the book’s science was accurate and/or well-researched. I mean, if we’re going to excuse bad writing by claiming “it was meant for kids”, then isn’t there something reprehensible about littering the story with gibberish pseudoscience and then attempting to legitimize it with a thin veneer of science-trivia sprinkled over the footnotes? If it’s meant for kids, shouldn’t the writer have been more careful about what he was teaching, or at least dropped his pretense of scientific accuracy altogether? Because as it stands, it’s the worst of both worlds; the “science” contained in these stories is ultimately worthless, but the writer’s constant reminders of scientific trivia repeatedly snap the reader out of the story by attempting to make sense out of nonsense.

So it’s not science-fiction but it never allows itself to be fantasy either, attempting instead to have their cake and eat it too. In the end all those scientific footnotes feel like desperate pleas for validation, “This is TOTALLY sci-fi I’m writing here and not just fantasy stuff I pull outta my ass.”

I dunno, Les, I think that you really have to read the whole comics to appreciate how good these comics are. I’m essentially omitting all of the good stuff, ya know (not ALL of the good stuff, but a large chunk of it)? So yes, Gardner Fox was undoubtedly a goofy comic book writer, but his stories were clever and they had a lot of good character bits. John Broome wasn’t as good as Fox, but he definitely had his moments, as well. Heck, I did not even show any of the most famous story in this five issues, the famous “Green Lantern Rings for Sale” story from Green Lantern #31 by Broome. That story was just a cleverly told tale of Hal Jordan stopping an alien invasion by pretending to go crazy, but only in such a fashion that the Guardians couldn’t take his ring away because he wasn’t doing anything HARMFUL.

Very funny to see that Hal comes so very close to actually using the phrase “Infinite Earths”. So, was the appearance of Earth Three the first time we learned that there were more universes than just the two? Or was the infinite universe theory already tossed out there?

Hmmm…I think it might actually be the first alternate Earth outside of Earth-2. At least as written by Fox, who tended to be the go-to guy for alternate Earth stories at the time.

Yes, stop the deceptions Brian! I came here to read five moments and five moments only. If you persist in giving us more than five moments I will report you to the police. Or my mother. Probably the latter because she is scary!

Also, I’m going to start a petition to get Strong Girl her own book. Magicko too.

Goofy stories or not, that Gil Kane art is sweeeeeet.

Mock Strong Girl all you want, but is it really any dumber a name than “Super Man” when you really stop and think about it? We forget how dumb Superman is as a name just because we’re used to it and it has become iconic.

Yeah, maybe I was too hard on this book, sorry for the earlier rant. I do feel that sometimes we suspend criticism too quickly with these “classic” comics, though; a lot of terrible old comics sometimes get a pass because they were “made for kids” but the truth is that some of those old books were genuinely bad enough to make even a kid cringe.

But the truth is that Gardner Fox’s attempts to juggle goofy pseudoscience and actual scientific concepts has bothered me since I was a kid and first learned that one of Fox’s oddball concepts was completely made-up; I remember that it felt like I had been deceived (hey, I was a kid), and as a consequence I never looked at Fox’s scientific footnotes without skepticism again. So don’t mind me, Gardner Fox pseudoscience is a longtime pet peeve of mine. It just annoys me, due to an entirely personal experience; and to be completely honest, I gotta admit that Fox’s pseudoscience wasn’t really any worse than the pseudoscience behind many characters I love, such as the Thing or Black Lightning. So it’s not entirely fair to single out Fox for making stuff up.

Two things:

I look forward to saying “pulled the ‘light wool’ over his eyes” at some point in the future. I’ll work it in somehow.

Also, an eagle firing a revolver has to be the most awesome thing I’ve seen all week.

1. If you ever work in the DC Universe, don’t get a job as a high-wire performer.

2. The splash page of the Green Lantern-as-a-bird issue could very well be the first appearance of Grant Morrison in the DC Universe. And in the (Silver Age) Question’s suit, no less.

Brian Cronin – “losing the power setting of his ring”

Except the panel calls it a “power-element” which I take to be the device in the ring that actually creates the green beams/boxing gloves/etc., while the ring itself just houses it. (Kind of like losing the stone from a ring.)

Brian – “I think it might actually be the first alternate Earth outside of Earth-2. At least as written by Fox, who tended to be the go-to guy for alternate Earth stories at the time.”

Why does everyone forget the Stone Giants’ Earth from JLA #15?

For that matter Magic-Land from JLA #2 was a parallel Earth in all but name.

Earlier in the same year that Earth-3 debuted, there was a JLA story that involved Despero creating a series of alternate earths to trap the League (in JLA #26).

Also, Wonder Woman visited a parallel earth and teamed up with her counterpart there way back in 1953. (WW #59.) Not by Fox, though–that one was Kanigher.

Oh here’s another suggestion: How about top 5 goofiest moments in Marvel’s Civil War or from one of the Frontline minis? That would be awesome….

Also, I’m a big fan of the Honor Team of Thronn, despite that being (to the best of my knowledge) their only appearance. I’d say I’d like to see them brought back, but I’d hate to see what would happen to Strong Girl and her pals in the Johns era–and of course in the New 52, there’s no telling whether they ever existed or not anyway.

“Brian Cronin – “losing the power setting of his ring”

Except the panel calls it a “power-element” which I take to be the device in the ring that actually creates the green beams/boxing gloves/etc., while the ring itself just houses it. (Kind of like losing the stone from a ring.)”

The stone in the ring is referred to as the setting. I figured that is how he meant it. You can have a ring with a diamond setting, a ruby setting etc. Since the stone or setting is what supposedly provided the power (according to this story) he calls it the power setting. And Yeah, I always figured that the ring was made from one solid piece of whatever it’s made out of, and not that it had a setting.

Silver Age Comics: teaching our youth important lessons, like “falling objects continue to accelerate”, “faking an injury is a good way to get attention”, and “expository thought balloons are a tedious narrative crutch”. Also: “Guardians never interfered with Lanterns before Hal Jordan”. Wait, what? Guardians are COMPULSIVE meddlers.

I’m sure that guy behind the 15-cent roller coaster is just an enthusiastic barker, but he also looks wonderfully like a guy with a bum leg taking a spill. Probably Hammond’s doing.

I don’t even want to know what a “giant atom” is. Whatever actually got published can’t compare to what I’m visualizing. Man, I hate close-ups of Hal’s mask. They’re creepy as hell.

Why is Golden Blade’s emblem a black labris? Does that mean she’s a lesbian? With a golden pimp cane? Maybe that’s why Strong Girl’s emblem is the same as Blade’s helmet and she looks thoroughly submissive? Magicko looks like Harvey Korman, getting a migraine from hanging around the rest of this “honor team”, but seriously, I’m starting to think they’d be a lot more interesting than the JLA was at that point.

Stuck-by-lighting-while-performing-acrobatics is one of the leading causes of death for girls who have refused to sleep with Zeus. I like Clown-Boy’s plan to woo his girl: “I shall prove that I am better than her at her chosen profession, and that I did it without a bunch of stupid training or rehearsal. She’ll have to love me then.”

James, Jack, and Judge Jeremiah Jordan? I take back anything bad I may have ever said about Coast City being blown off the face of the earth. That town needed to go.

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