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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 219: Green Lantern #89

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be looking at four writer/artist duos, as voted on by you, the readers! This week features Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams! Today’s page is from Green Lantern #89, which was published by DC and is cover dated May 1972. This scan is from Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern/Green Arrow #7, a reprint series which was released in 1983. Enjoy!

Ollie is quite the clothes horse!

The final issue of Green Lantern that O’Neil and Adams worked on together (before their “hard-travelin’ heroes” thing moved to back-up stories; this is actually the final issue of the series, as well – can you imagine DC going four years these day without publishing a Green Lantern comic, like they did in the 1970s?) is “… And Through Him Save a World …”, which takes their GL/GA Conservative/Liberal thing to its logical extreme, when the two heroes meet Jesus. Well, not really, but close enough. Jesus, in this case, is kind of a douchebag. But you’ll have to read the issue to find out about that! For now, let’s just check out the first page.

Unlike a lot of his Batman stuff, O’Neil pulls back on the narrative captions and uses more dialogue, mainly because he has two characters to work with instead of a lonely avenger of the night. So once he tells us that Oliver Queen – Green Arrow – is a champion laugher (let’s hope he puts that on his résumés), he jumps right into the story. You’ll notice right away that he’s setting up a class dichotomy in this book – the use of the word “tenement” in the narrative box is an important code word, as it implies that Ollie’s apartment isn’t in the nicest part of town. You’ll notice that Adams ignores this code word and draws Ollie’s place as a fairly nice pad, but O’Neil’s use of the word is there to alert us to the fact that Ollie is a bit more leftist than we might expect.

When Hal comes in, O’Neil and Adams immediately paint him as the “square” one. I’ll get to Adams’ contribution, but Hal’s question about Charlie Brown is deliberately goofy, just as O’Neil wanted. O’Neil was in his early 30s when he wrote this, and based on other stories he was writing at this time, I have to believe he thought anyone who was still reading “Peanuts” was pretty square. Hal’s clueless query is another indication of the class differences between his heroes. Even though they’re the same age, Hal feels “older,” because he’s out of touch with what’s cool. Ollie sets him straight by telling him the basics of the story we’re about to read – some dude named Isaac (the Jesus stand-in) is standing up for the ecology by acting on his beliefs instead of “moaning.” The way he strikes back against the mean corporations poisoning the earth is why Ollie is laughing.

Adams does his part to show the differences between Hal and Ollie. Even though he makes Ollie’s apartment a bit too nice, the psychedelic painting on the wall (which might be Black Canary, but might not) is a nice way to indicate that Ollie is a bit more hip than Hal. The most crucial difference between the two is that Hal is in his uniform and Ollie isn’t. This clearly sets up the contrast – Hal looks more conservative and law-enforcing, because he’s technically a policeman. Adams has to draw him standing, of course, because he’s entering the room, but he still stands straight and tall, with no slouch whatsoever, and even his left hand is rigid. Ollie, by contrast, is wearing a funky outfit and chillaxing in his chair. Of course he has the facial hair while Hal is clean-shaven, and while Hal looks slightly constipated, Ollie is enjoying himself. It’s a nice contrast between the two men. According to the credits, Cory Adams colored this, but I don’t know if that’s the original colorist in 1972 or someone doing the recoloring in 1983. It looks like original coloring, more than the stuff we’ve been seeing from the 1990s and 2000s, but I don’t know. Whether it’s original or not, the coloring sets the two men apart as well – Hal’s green is fine, but the other parts of his uniform are almost gunmetal gray (plus the inks are quite heavy there), giving him a more serious look than Ollie, with his lush blue and reddish-brown. I don’t know if this is reflective of the original coloring, but it’s a nice touch.

It’s hard to figure out where to go once you’ve had your two heroes meet Jesus, but O’Neil and Adams would be back with more adventures of their mismatched characters! We’ll check out another one tomorrow! Until then, there’s always the archives!

15 Comments

It’s a little more complex than that; after all, Ollie’s response to Hal (who has absolutely no reason to be in costume at this point) is “better than that!” instead of “Don’t be such a square”.

Which means that the two of them are close enough friends, despite everything else, for Hal to know Ollie gets a chuckle out of such an “unhip” thing as Peanuts. O’Neil did a better job of writing these two than most give him credit for, with all the “agitprop” bashing of this series, usually directed at Ollie, who got badly served by a lot of hacks after this.

Well, Ollie’s place is so nice because despite his railing against THE MAN, Ollie himself was raised with the finer things in life, and still demands that wherever he lives, he lives in comfort. Boo-jwah prick.

Actually, I think (despite Becca’s cool read on it), Denny actually was a Peanuts fan. IIRC, he’s the one who wrote the Batman “Dark and Stormy Night” story that Brian featured in a Legend a while back.

I’m not sure if the coloring is the original or not. I have the first 2 issues of this ’83 reprint, and they may have recolored them for the better paper it’s printed on. Cory Adams is presumably a relative, and may have been at Continuity, who may have recolored this.

Becca: That is a good reading of it. I was thinking more that O’Neil was having Hal mention Peanuts so that the reader would know how uncool he is, rather than Ollie.

Travis: A quick Google search shows that Len Wein wrote that story, but O’Neil certainly could have been a Peanuts fan. That doesn’t mean he thought it was cool, especially in the early 1970s. And again, he’s writing a character, so maybe he thought it would indicate how uncool someone was. I like a lot of uncool things that I would have no problem making my “uncool” characters enjoy!

Greg Burgas:”When Hal comes in, O’Neil and Adams immediately paint him as the “square” one. I’ll get to Adams’ contribution, but Hal’s question about Charlie Brown is deliberately goofy, just as O’Neil wanted. O’Neil was in his early 30s when he wrote this, and based on other stories he was writing at this time, I have to believe he thought anyone who was still reading “Peanuts” was pretty square.”

Was PEANUTS regarded as “pretty square” in 1972? After all, the strip’s 60s aesthetic highwater mark wasn’t that long ago. At the very least, I would argue that it was more hip than, say, BLONDIE.

I always thought that starburst or whatever you want to call it around Hal’s head was totally unnecessary.

Not to presume Greg’s position, but by that time, Peanuts Had become very establishment, at least; the Broadway show, the TV specials, at least one movie (don’t remember when Snoopy, Come Home came out), and, last but not least, the Gospel According to Peanuts were all already out. It wasn’t Blondie or Dick Tracy, but it was as establishment as you can get — or worse, co-opted.

BeccaBlast:”Not to presume Greg’s position, but by that time, Peanuts Had become very establishment, at least; the Broadway show, the TV specials, at least one movie (don’t remember when Snoopy, Come Home came out), and, last but not least, the Gospel According to Peanuts were all already out. It wasn’t Blondie or Dick Tracy, but it was as establishment as you can get — or worse, co-opted.”

Co-option is a subtle thing. One certainly could argue that PEANUTS, with its massive multi-media penetration, was co-opted, its subversive qualities defanged. On the other hand, I think that we tend to underestimate just how subtly subversive ( for its era) PEANUTS was. For example, the 1965 A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS was a pretty pointed jab at the commercialization of Christmas,and Shulz’s use of The Gospel of Luke was quite daring for a network cartoon.

Agreed — perhaps that’s why Dolley Madison and the Gospel According to Peanuts were so rankling — in seven years, it had gone from subtly subversive to middlebrow pap. If Schulz was indeed manic-depressive, it’s easy to understand why…

Since O’Neil wasn’t afraid to portray Ollie as a jerk, although a charming rogue of a jerk when he was on his game — sort of like Travis Pelkie — Ollie probably hadn’t figured this out yet.

DC’s real champion of overwritten hipness was Mike Friedrich on JLA.

Pete Woodhouse

August 7, 2012 at 9:38 am

Greg/Travis: Cory is an Adams family member, his son I think, so I would wager it’s from 1983. I have a few 1983 reprints plus most of the original GL/GA issues (minus ones like the opening #76 & the John Stewart debut as they’re far too expensive).
The page on first glance seems recoloured, but much more sympathetic than modern efforts.

Joe: Indeed, Friedrich headed DC’s hip holy trinity of Friedrich, O’Neil and Steve Skeates, who between them wrote much of the “relevant” socially-conscious stuff. Friedrich had this curious JLA story that co-starred Harlan Ellison (“Harlequin Ellis”) on some sort of quest for inner peace thang. Not sure what the hell it was on about!

I always thought that starburst or whatever you want to call it around Hal’s head was totally unnecessary.

It pops the dark-haired Hal’s head out from the background, so I’d say it was pretty necessary. In comic books, especially in this era, contrast is the name of the game.

I happen to own a copy of the original issue, and the color choices aren’t especially different from what you see here. Ollie’s chair is red, and the poster behind him is pink & purple instead of pink & blue. Looks less garish because it’s printed on newsprint, though.

Oh, and there’s no colorist credited in the issue, but that’s not too unusual for that era.

Becca: “a charming rogue of a jerk when he was on his game — sort of like Travis Pelkie ”

Hey, what?

Unfortunately I’m nearly never on my game, so it’s all jerk, baby!

I actually find Mike Friedrich’s JLA quite a fun read, but it’s impossible to take seriously. And the last panel of that “Harlequin Ellis” story is among the most embarrassing things ever seen in a comic book.

Leslie Fontenelle

August 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm

“When some people laugh… they laugh!”

Definitely not O’Neil’s finest moment.

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