BHOC: GREEN LANTERN #103

I was continuing to follow GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW regularly, even though I wasn’t quite enjoying it as much as I felt I ought to–certainly not as much as those short Green Lantern stories that used to run in the back pages of FLASH. As much as anything, I think this was due to the odd mix-in of Green Arrow and his world into the Emerald Crusader’s adventures. I liked Green Arrow fine enough, but he really worked best in a totally different milieu, and so the series constantly felt as though one of its leads was in the wrong place dealing with the wrong stuff. This cover is a good example of that. How incongruous is it to see Green Arrow and Black Canary held at gunpoint by an alien on a spaceship?

This was the second part to a two-part story that had begun in the previous issue–an issue that had vexed me for having pulled that specious sales trick of having the cover image be the cliffhanger–the same cliffhanger that we pick up from here. So while I was interested in seeing how the heroes would get out of this situation, I had already been burned by this story, and so I definitely went into it with my hackles raised a little bit. When we left off, Green Arrow was on a ship in space, about to be hurled out of an airlock into the void. And Green Lantern, the only person who might save him, was trapped in a convenient Null-Time Void that had cropped up.

So how does Ollie survive? Well, last issue, when he battled the mind-controlled Black Canary, the cable on the helmet that was turning her into a mindless thrall (to say nothing of a battery for the ship they were on) got pulled out, and she springs into action, clobbering the aliens holding Green Arrow from behind and giving him the break he needed to turn the situation around. But at that moment a second space ship shows up and blasts the first ship into immobility–causing the evil alien captain who had abducted the Earth humans to abandon ship in an escape capsule. The other ship tries to shoot down the escaping capsule, and its shots penetrate the Time-Null field where Green Lantern is stuck in a second of time. This jolts him back to awareness.

Green Lantern is able to will himself out of the Time-Null zone now that he is aware of what is going on–and seeing the larger ship firing on the escape capsule, he protects it–then immediately turns and goes back to Earth without communicating with either party or finding out what’s going on. What a cop! The larger ship takes this opportunity to scoop up the adrift vessel that Green Arrow, Black Canary and the civilians are aboard in a tractor beam–and so when the escaped alien captain asks the United Nations for asylum, the pursuing aliens demand he be handed over to them, and use the captive humans as hostages. This is finally enough to get Green Lantern off his ass, and so he charges up his ring and heads off into space, doing what he should have done five pages ago. But as he approaches the hostile ship, the alien leader tells the Lantern that if he turns his Power Ring energies on their craft, all of the humans aboard will be destroyed.

This leads to the most memorable and frankly implausible sequence in the whole story–likely the bit that the tale was crafted around in the first place. Green Arrow fires a shot at the larger alien ship, causing one if its inhabitants to come outside to see what struck them (as though the impact of any arrow would register on a craft that must routinely be repelling asteroids and the like.) Then, armed with the factoid that scientists believed that the human body could withstand exposure to the cold void of space for as much as ten seconds, Green Arrow launches himself out of his ship towards the other, with no protection whatsoever. Rather than being flash-frozen and expiring almost instantly, Green Arrow instead is able to bridge the distance, tussle with the explorer alien, get inside the other ship’s airlock, and close and re-pressurize it so that he can breath, all within ten seconds, and with no ill-effects to himself other than being slightly knackered. As a kid, I can remember trying to work out if this could actually work, and really wanting to believe that it could–even though I knew in my heart that it absolutely couldn’t.

From there, Green Arrow fights his way through the alien ship to the bridge, where Commander PI-X-SQUARE is running things. It’s clear in this story that writer Denny O’Neil was more comfortable and happier writing Green Arrow than his more space-faring and cosmic partner–even though this whole conflict fits more squarely into the Lantern’s world, it’s the Arrow who carries the action, while Hal stands around a lot, sidelined either by the convenient appearance of a plot device like the Time-Null Zone or because he can’t figure out any way to get around the threat to the other humans. As I was buying the series for Green Lantern, this situation vexed me. It’s no wonder I was feeling dissatisfied with the book. It’s somewhat amazing that I stuck with it during this period to be honest.

The story wrap-up takes place in pretty much a single page: Green Arrow has single-handedly defeated the Alien Commander and his troops, and he lowers the field, allowing Green Lantern to board. GL tells the alien leader to get lost and not come back, and he pretends to do so in response to the Lantern’s threats–but he’s obviously more cowed at having been beaten by a guy with a bow and arrow. Green Lantern does get to deliver the captive humans back to Earth, where they learn that the UN Council decided that they would hand the other alien over to the invaders. That’s a moot point now that they’ve run away, but it’s enough to make Green Arrow reconsider his recent decision to run for Mayor of Star City–which seems like a quick and easy way for O’Neil to abandon this plot threat that had been started by other writers.

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