Friday, July 10, 2009

Green Lantern #71

Green Lantern #71 (On Sale: July 10, 1969) has a very simple but very dramatic cover by Gil Kane.

This one is going to be more than just your normal recap of an issue. There are some things about this issue that are indicative of DC Comics in 1969. Let's start with the first of the two Green Lantern stories, "The City That Died!" by John Broome, Gil Kane and Joe Giella. First off, when you look at the excellent Gil Kane cover it is very hard to believe that the interiors were penciled by the same artist. Joe Giella does everything in his power to quash the vibrancy and life right out of Kane's pencils. He is completely unprepared to handle Gil Kane's expressive faces and dynamic, powerful anatomy. Likewise, there is something very wrong with John Broome's script, something essential that is missing, as you shall see.

Hal Jordon visits a school for handicapped children in Solar City while there trying to land the toy account for the Wilson Chain Stores. His boss has promised him a bonus if he can land the deal and Hal plans on turning the money over to the school for their building fund. His only competition is Olivia Reynolds.

Hal pitches his companies line of toys to the Wilson executive but when it is Olivia Reynold's turn she strips down to s skimpy outfit and garners not only Mr. Wilson's attention but his dinner invitation as well. A little despondent, Hal heads off for his hotel, but along the way his car stops. Soon all the cars in Solar City are stopped as are everything electrical. Hal switches to Green Lantern to investigate.

As Green Lantern Hal works the city, providing emergency energy for medical facilities and stopping an armored car robbery, when he notices that even people are now passing out on the streets. Using his ring Hal pin-points the source of the strange power drain, forty miles beneath Solar City. Diving down Hal finds a pit of boiling metal, which, and this is where Broome really lets us down, seems to be the cause of the problem. Hal closes the pit and all is back to normal in Solar City. Wow, this is about as thin a threat as you can come up with.

With the threat to the city averted, Hal learns that old man Wilson, who must of had a great time with Olivia, has chosen her company over Hal's. However, all is not lost as the city wants to give Green Lantern a reward and though he does not accept payment for his services, he makes the suggestion that the money be given to the handicapped children's school. This lightweight piece of fluff was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Green Lantern Vol. 4 TPB.

The letter page is interesting in this issue for two reasons. First, it contains a letter by Irene Vartanoff. If you read enough DC comics around this time you know that eventually there became the thought that Irene was not a real person, but was actually a name DC editors used to concoct fake letters and eventually leading to these "Yes Grandma, there really is an Irene Vartanoff" messages after she appeared at one of the early conventions. Second, there is a letter by Don McGregor where he re-plots Green Lantern #68 to include the scene Gil Kane had depicted on the cover. This was of course years before McGregor would write Sabre, Detectives, Inc., Nathanial Dusk, Black Panther or War of the Worlds to name but a few.

This brings us to the back-up story, called a Green Lantern Brother Story, "Hip Jordan Makes the Scene!" and it is by John Broome, Dick Dillin and Murphy Anderson. If that name doesn't tell you something really inappropriate, old fogey stick-in-the-mud and decidedly un-hip is about to be shoved down your throat by DC, nothing will. Some of these people where absolutely clueless about where young people in America were in 1969. It is the annual family reunion of the Jordan clan held at the palatial home of millionaire Titus Jordan and the fun of the evening (Uncle Titus thinks that nephew Jim's wife Sue's new dress looks like a bathing suit, etc,) is interrupted by the appearance of cousin Doug "Hip" Jordan, the long-haired hippie black-sheep of the Jordan family.

Some want Hip thrown out but Uncle Titus says he can't do that because he is family, though he does suggest that Hip take a bath because, you know, all long-haired hippies were dirty in DC comics. Now Sue thinks that her husband Jim is really Green Lantern and demands that he change into his suit and check Hip out. She pulls out a Green Lantern costume from a past year's masquerade party and argues that Jim needs to put it on. The argument is heard through the fireplace by Hip who decides he does not want to mess with Green Lantern and jumps out the window beat a hasty retreat.

Unable to convince Sue that he is not Green Lantern Jim puts on the costume to humor her and takes a run around the house in a pretend search. However, Hip thinks Jim really is Green Lantern and that he is tracking him, so he knocks him out and decides to use Green Lantern as a way to win over the Black Scooter gang he has been trying to join for a while, because at DC all hippies are criminals and gang members. Well, when it is discovered that Jim, Hip and Uncle Titus's Rolls Royce are all missing Hal get into the real Green Lantern costume and locates Jim, unconscious in the back of the Rolls which is just stopping at the Black Scooter gang's hideout (Black Scooter? This is the best Broome could come up with? Scooter???). Thinking Jim is the real Green Lantern they tie a bomb around his neck and give Hip the detonator. Just then the real Green Lantern arrives, but gives up his ring when Hip threatens to blow up Jim.

When Hip reaches for the ring, he is paralyzed, as Hal commanded the ring to do before giving it up. Hal then beats the rest of the gang up with plain fists. Hip and the gang are taken to the police and Jim asks Green Lantern if he will show up at the reunion to prove to Sue that he is not Green Lantern. Later Jim wonders why Lantern did not show up as he stands next to Hal. Really, this kind of crap makes me want to puke. This insulting piece of junk was also reprinted in Showcase Presents: Green Lantern Vol. 4 TPB. If you happen to read it, check out the artwork. I don't know how often Dick Dillin and Murphy Anderson worked together, but what a great team they made; I prefer the inks on this story to most of the inking done on Dillin during his long run on Justice League of America.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

1 comment:

Norman Boyd said...

That's the first time I've seen this cover, never mind contents, but I completely agree with your assessment of Giella's inks here. I always felt I was putting up with Dillin on JLA run, but these Anderson inks do help enormously. Keep up the great work!