If I am not mistaken, this issue of GREEN LANTERN represents the first oversized and up-priced anniversary issue that I ever encountered. Up until this point, while a particular title might mention the fact that it had reached the arbitrary milestone of a centennial issue (or, later, a 50th or even 25th issue) the actual product would be the same as the surrounding issues. But starting with this issue of GREEN LANTERN, anniversary releases became larger, more spectacular, and more noteworthy. Which is a little bit ironic, considering that this issue was only done in this manner to help burn off some inventory.
Rather than present a super-long story with the book’s two leads Green Lantern and Green Arrow teamed up, as was typical of the series, this issue contained two stories, one for each character. And that’s because neither of them had originally been commissioned for this anniversary issue. The Green Lantern story, for example, had initially been purchased for GREEN LANTERN #94–when the title was shifted over to editor Julie Schwartz, he wanted to go back to featuring the Emerald Crusader as a solo hero, but he was overruled by the new publisher Jenette Kahn. In fact, GREEN LANTERN #93 had been commissioned as a Lantern solo adventure, and only had a Green Arrow page tacked on to the end of it when the choice was made to keep them together.
This story did two things of note. First, it introduced Hal Jordan’s new occupation. Riding on the popularity of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and other trucker-inspired media, Hal buys a big rig and becomes an independent truck driver in this issue, complete with omnipresent CB radio. At the time, this seemed sensible to me, albeit faddish. Today, it’s just a weird choice. Te second thing the story does is to introduce a new hero: Air Wave! Air Wave wasn’t actually a new hero at all, he was the son of the original Air Wave who had been active in the 1940s. Here, the notion that the golden age Air Wave would have lived on Earth-2 is ignored entirely.
Te story is written by Denny O’Neil, but feels more like the work of Bob Rozakis, who would go on to write a solo Air Wave strip in the back of ACTION COMICS in the months ahead. Green Lantern stumbles upon the new Air Wave as he’s trapped in the ether after practicing with equipment developed by his now-dead father. The two heroes fight and then team up in the classic tradition–and the guy they’re up against, Master-Tek, is a mercenary saboteur with an advanced arm weapon who’s targeting the nation’s communications system. When the Lantern goes down, it’s up to Air Wave to prove that he has what it takes to be a genuine super hero.
And the close of the issue reveals another surprise, although the coincidence of it (given that Green Lantern and Air Wave met completely accidentally) is a bit hard to swallow: not only does Air Wave work out that Green Lantern is really Hal Jordan, but he reveals to GL that his name is Hal Jordan, too! His father, Hal’s uncle Larry Jordan was the original Air Wave of the 1940s. I don’t know why, really, but I liked Air Wave. It could be as simple as being present for is inaugural story, but I had a real soft spot for him, to the degree that an Air Wave back-up story might be the deciding factor in whether I purchased an issue of ACTION COMICS.
Speaking of Bob Rozakis, for this anniversary issue he put together this clever, stripped-down index to the contents of all 100 issues of GREEN LANTERN. It’s a page that I studied, tracking which stories I had read so far, and which stories I wanted to read based on their titles.
The second story in the issue featured not only Green Arrow but also Black Canary as his equal partner. This is the manner in which the two characters were connected for a solid decade, until Green Arrow got his own ongoing title again in the mid-1980s. This particular story had been prepared as an issue of 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL, DC’s 1970s short-lived try-out title. With that book having gone the way of the dodo, the decision to burn off the story in this oversized GREEN LANTERN issue was made.
The story by Elliot S! Maggin picks up on a plot idea that he’d first put forward in the very first story he sold to DC: the idea that Green Arrow, as Oliver Queen, would run to get elected as the Mayor of Star City. This plotline was abandoned originally after GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW was cancelled, but here Elliot brings it back, reintroducing Ollie’s political mentor from that story and attempting to get things moving once again in that direction. He wouldn’t have much better luck with it this go-around either, as things turned out.