I picked up this issue of GREEN LANTERN on one of my weekly comic book runs to the 7-11. It has to be said that, after issue #100, I really wasn’t enjoying GREEN LANTERN all that much. I really liked the character, having first been exposed to him in his back-up series in the pages of FLASH. But the resurrected GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW, while it had dispensed with the sort of relevancy stories that had put it on the map when that switchover was first made in the early 1970s, was still just a bit too ground-level focused for me in terms of what I wanted from a GREEN LANTERN run. This was often due to the need to give Green Arrow (and frequent third hero Black Canary) something meaningful to do.
This story had been conceived to write out Green Lantern’s little alien starfish pal Itty. I’m guessing that this was the preference of new editor Jack C. Harris, since it was Denny O’Neill who’d introduced Itty in those aforementioned Green Lantern back-ups and previous editor Julie Schwartz who had Denny bring the tiny alien into this relaunched series once he took over ramrodding it. I had always liked Itty well enough, so I was kinda sad to see him go. But if I’m honest, I didn’t really care all that much either way.
The issue opens with another character carried over from a different writer: Air-Wave. I liked Air-Wave. He was a super hero in training, the young cousin of Hal Jordan who shared a name with him, and the son of the golden age Air-Wave, Larry Jordan. He was trying to use his father’s equipment to get into the super hero game, but he was both young and inexperienced, so Green lantern arranged for his buddy Green Arrow to give the kid some training. Leaving Air-Wave to practice out back, Green Arrow goes into the house to join Hal and Dinah, where it is confirmed that, for no particular reason, Hal’s little pal Itty has perished. There’s no cause of death that Hal can determine, so everybody assumes that it must be natural causes and the decide to bury him. They do so in a full-size grave, which seems like a bit of overcompensation when burying a critter no larger than a finger, but whatever.
Green Arrow, being Green Arrow, insensitively uses Itty’s demise in an attempt to motivate Hal into investigating Professor Ezra Drok, who is experimenting with Thermaquartic Energy that may pose a risk to the environment. Hal tells Ollie that Drok hasn’t done anything yet, he’s broken no laws–but the ever-righteous Green Arrow doesn’t care about due process when it’s somebody he’s after on the line. He invokes his age-old argument that Green Lantern and his bosses, the Guardians of the Universe, are out of touch with the regular people of Earth, and he stomps off to go take care of what Hal won’t. This can only end well.
Green Arrow heads out to Drok’s headquarters, where he finds a protest in place against the impending experiment. Ollie finds Air-Wave among the protesters–he thought it might be instructive to attend a protest march. Inside the building, despite the warnings of some of his fellows, Drok insists on going ahead with his plans. He activates his device, which will pull quarks up to the surface from the magma layer of the planet, quarks that he believes will contain enough energy to solve the nation’s energy crisis. But when he does activate the machine, the entire area is bombarded by strange purple capsules. They appear to be harmless, but their eruption causes panic both inside the building and out. Green Arrow sends Air-Wave into the building to find the source of the difficulty while he remains outside to quell the panic-stricken protesters as well as some opportunistic pickpockets.
Air-Wave attempts to catch one of the purple particles and it winds up distending his energy form, making him helpless. Fortunately, Green lantern has noticed the chaos, and it’s well within his purview to intercede now. He tries to power ring the cloud of particles, which has now organized and is moving towards Coast City–but his power beam is completely refracted and dissipated by the particle cloud. The best he can manage is to put a lid on any damage the cloud causes until if passes through Coast City and into the ocean beyond. He figures it won’t be able to do much harm there, so he turns and heads back to Drok’s lab in the hopes of discovering a solution. Elsewhere, we can see that something is crawling out of Itty’s newly-filled grave.
In a particularly fun bit, Drok tells Green Arrow that he demands Ten Million Dollars or else he won’t call off the purple cloud. But Green Arrow sees through him immediately–he has no control over that swarm, he’s just as mystified by it as anybody else, and being opportunistic. So he decks the guy. (This whole scene serves to make Green Arrow right in his earlier argument, despite the fact that by any reasonable measure of his own yardstick, he was in the wrong. So it’s a scene that I have a bit of a problem with, despite it being a lot of fun. Green Arrow was never permitted to be wrong in these situations, a bit of a blind spot for O’Neil’s handling of the character.) Green Lantern arrives, but as mentioned earlier, Drok has no idea what the purple swarm is and now to stop it. But GL has a brainstorm and heads out.
Reasoning that the particles were contained when they were deep in the Earth, Green Lantern scoops up a big chunk of dirt with his power ring and encases the cloud in it. There’s a chain reaction, and the cloud explodes and dissipates. The crisis is over for the moment. Returning home, GL is praised, albeit half-heartedly, by Green Arrow, who nevertheless needles him about not getting involved until it was almost too late. And Hal stands there and takes it, as though Ollie is right. I think it was this treatment as much as anything else that put me off of this run of GREEN LANTERN–no matter how heroic Hal was in any given story, he was always treated like a stooge by his lefty Emerald friend, in a way that I didn’t consider fair or reasonable. Anyway, everything is back to normal –except the thing that crawled up out of Itty’s grave is now making its way to the house. To Be Continued!
The letters page this time out includes a missive from series artist Alex Saviuk. The story in GREEN LANTERN #100 had been his first published DC work, and so he writes a lovely little thank you note to editor Julie Schwartz and DC art director Vince Colletta about his excitement at finally getting to realize his dream and see his work in print. Alex would have a long career in the field, in particular doing extended runs on WEB OF SPIDER-MAN and the Spider-Man Newspaper Strip as well as a number of the core DC titles.