BHOC: GREEN LANTERN #102

This was another book that I picked up on my weekly trips to 7-11 on Thursdays when new comics would drop. Green Lantern was at this point one of my favorite characters, primarily due to his stories in the back of FLASH. I wasn’t quite as wild about the GL/GA incarnation of the character–while I liked Green Arrow just fine, I didn’t really need him around to enjoy a Green Lantern story. This cover commits one of the recurring cardinal sins of 1970s comics: the cover image shows the cliffhanger of the issue. This happened with alarming regularity in the 70s and it pissed me off every time. The hook of the cover was to find out what was going to happen in this situation, so finding out at the end of the book that you had to seek out a subsequent issue to get your answers felt like a cheat and a con.

Writer Denny O’Neil, I suspect, felt the opposite to the way I did. He’s made no secret over the years that his preference was always for the more human-level characters such as Green Arrow, rather than the uber-powerful and unearthly Green Lantern and his like. Denny, though, was a bit trapped here by his own success. His version of GL/GA with Neal Adams ad made the book an industry legend, and with it brought back from extinction, he was the obvious writer for it. But times had changed and the sort of relevance/social commentary tat had driven the original GL/GA wasn’t what was being asked for now. Consequentially, Denny found himself having to come up with more cosmic adventures with which to challenge the Lantern and yet find an interesting role within them for the Arrow. It’s a balance he wasn’t able to hit with regularity, and even as a reader I could feel him favoring Ollie over Hal. I was relieved in a couple years when Green Arrow was jettisoned from the series and it became a solo GREEN LANTERN title once again.

Te story this opens in deep space, with a figure that seems to be Green Lantern coming across a firefight in space. The Emerald Warrior intervenes, but is shot dead by one of the ships–and we see that this isn’t our Green lantern, Hal Jordan, but rather another of the 3600 GLs who patrol the universe on behalf of the Guardians. Among the two warring starships, there is only a single survivor of the fight, and he directs his crippled ship towards Earth, colliding with and damaging a dam as it makes planetfall.

Fortunately, truck driver Hal Jordan happens to be in the area and he hears about the crippled dam over his CB radio. Becoming Green lantern, he races to the scene in time to shore up the dam and prevent a disaster. But upon seeing him, the surviving alien recognizes his uniform as that of a Green Lantern and opens fire on him. Much like his fellow ring-slinger before him, Hal is shot down by bolts his power ring is helpless to deflect, and while he isn’t instantly killed like his comrade was, he finds himself paralyzed and floating in the river, only minutes away from drowning.

But that’s a bit of false drama, as GL recovers in a few seconds and heads off after the alien. meanwhile, on Oa, we learn that the Guardians have detected the formation of a Time-Null zone above Earth. This handy plot device is perilous, and they try to warn their Earthbound Green lantern about its presence. But the zone interferes with their communication–so as Hal tracks the alien into space, he gets trapped in the zone, frozen in a single instant of time. Meanwhile, Green Arrow’s relationship with Black Canary is on the rocks, and this has Dinah re-evaluating her life and er choices. So when the alien goes on television to offer crew positions on his starship, she decides to take him up on his offer.

There’s a mental test tat all applicants need to take, but Dinah aces it easily. Ollie comes out to try to convince her to stay, but, failing that, he takes the test as well, but it’s a no-go. He’s not permitted to join the crew. Undaunted, he dons his green Arrow gear and makes his way aboard the ship as a stowaway, his instincts telling him that this all can’t be on the up-and-up. And it isn’t. The alien is using the brain-energy of his supposed crewmen as fuel for his vessel–they’re captives to be used up, not crew at all.

Green Arrow emerges from concealment and tries to put a stop to this. But while they’re wearing those brain helmets, the earthlings are all under the mental domination of the alien, and they swarm Green Arrow, overpowering him by seer numbers. Ollie can’t bring himself to even fight back against a mesmerized Dinah. And so, the alien opens an airlock, intending to have Green Arrow hurled out of the ship into the void of space–and there, in a tiny panel at the bottom of the page (and without Green Lantern even in evidence) we are To Be Continued. This makes me wonder whether this two-parter may have started life as a longer single-issue story and was broken in half in order to make it fit. No idea. But I can tell you that I thought this wrap-up to the issue was unsatisfying all around.

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