On Thursday it was back to the 7-11 for a look at what new comic books had appeared upon the spinner rack in the back corner. This had become a regular weekly pilgrimage for me, one that I took with absolute regularity barring those times when some other requirement or responsibility prevented me from doing so. It was a short bike ride away, and those trips inevitably brimmed with potential and possibility. What new wonders would I find? And would I have enough cash to purchase everything that I wanted? As I moved into buying more Marvel books as well as my regular DC purchases, that became a recurring concern. I started scavenging loose change from the corner of my father’s bureau and skipping lunch at school, saving the money to be spend on more nourishing comic books. I could always eat when I got home, after all. Eventually, I would pick up a Pennysaver paper route that delivered only two days a week, but which brought in enough money on a regular basis for me to be able to buy pretty much anything I was interested in as far as new comics went. But that was still a year or so off.
Green Lantern was a favorite character of mine, second only to the Flash in terms of the DC heroes. No doubt this was in part due to teh fact that the Emerald Crusader had been a regular back-up feature in FLASH during the years when I was just starting to follow it. He also teamed up on a semi-regular basis with the Scarlet Speedster, and so had his tacit approval. For a few short moments (during periods when the Flash’s adventures were beginning to feel dull or repetitive) he even eclipsed Barry Allen momentarily in my heart. Thos periods never lasted, though. Hal Jordan was a strong number two, but could never entirely bring home the gold. (Perhaps due to his ring’s ineffectiveness against anything yellow.) So a new issue of GREEN LANTERN(/GREEN ARROW) was pretty much an automatic buy for me. I was never quite as wild about Oliver Queen in those days–he was the cost of doing business, since if I wanted to read about Green Lantern, he often seemed to be in the picture as well.
Looking back at these stories with the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that writer Denny O’Neil felt the exact opposite. Denny was very much at home with the down-to-Earth Emerald Archer and his political outlook, whereas the more star-spanning Green Lantern often felt like O’Neil’s cost of doing business, the price he had to pay in order to write about Ollie. As a GL fan, I found this frustrating. I still liked the series, but I was way more invested in what Hal had going on at any given time, and would be frustrated by how many pages in a given issue were turned over to Ollie. (In part, this no doubt has to do with the fact that I would have been hopeless with a bow and arrow, but give me a magic ring and watch my dust!) Anyway, this dichotomy made GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW a bit of a schizophrenic reading experience–and this issue is a good example of that. It tries to simultaneously present a more grounded Green Arrow adventure that’s interwoven with a more colorful Green Lantern episode, and winds up with a mix that doesn’t work great for either one. It isn’t a bad story per se, it’s just that either plotline would have been far stronger if it had been the only plotline.
This was the third part of a three-issue adventure designed to write out Green Lantern’s little alien starfish pet Itty, who was a hold-over from the aforementioned FLASH back-up strips. don’t know that three issues were really needed to kick the little guy t othe curb, but that’s what O’Neil and editor Jack C. Harris chose to do, so here we are. There are two tracks going on simultaneously already. Last time, the plane that Green Arrow and Black Canary were on crashed in the arctic wilderness, possibly the doings of a strange bloblike monster that had been pursuing them. So at first, their story is very much THE THING, with them attempting to stay one step ahead of the creature’s seemingly-lethal grasp in the snowy wilderness. At the same time, Green Lantern is conveying his defeated foe Sonar back to his homeland of Modora. Alas for the dopey Lantern, in Modora Sonar is a national hero, their Captain America, and the courts don’t simply refuse to convict him, but they arrest Green Lantern himself for violating their airspace. Not content to have his enemy locked up by the State, Sonar appears, brandishing an explosive device intended to detonate the cell in which Hal is chained up.
So how does Green Lantern survive? Does he use his wits? His moxy? Does he have an ace up his sleeve/?Nope–it all comes down to dumb luck! Their recent battle disturbed the nearby mountains, and so Sonar appears in Hal’s cell telling him that a massive avalanche threatens to devastate Modora unless he can prevent it. Hal holds out for a pardon in writing before getting off his backside and taking care of business–and from there soars away to investigate Itty’s grave. He finds it disinterred, which troubles him, and he realizes that Itty must not have been dead at all, but rather in a state of metamorphosis. Itty must be the creature that is presently stalking Green Arrow and company! Meanwhile, Green Arrow and Black Canary have been joined by Hal’s cousin Air Wave, a novice super hero. He was able to ride a radio beam to their location, but there isn’t enough radio chatter in the air for him to zap back out again in search of assistance. Fortunately, one of the other passengers has a kid’s walkie-talkie, and estimating its range at no more than five miles, Air Wave sets off in broadcast form, to try to bring back help. Meanwhile, the crash survivors continue to play a cat-and-mouse game with the blobby creature.
Airwave manages to reach civilization and he calls Carol Ferris back at Ferris Aircraft, hoping that he can reach Hal to come to the rescue. Hal isn’t there, but fortunately he arrives just at that moment, and his cousin is able to give him a download of the pertinent details. Hal is sharp enough, too, to realize that it’s Itty who is jeopardizing his friends. Back in teh wilderness, Black Canary has twisted an ankle because the girl always twists her ankle in stories like this one, and Green Arrow is exhausted from having to carry her through the snow away from the ever-advancing Itty. But right when it looks like curtains, Green Lantern appears to scoop Ollie out of Itty’s fatal grasp.
Green Lantern implores his pet not to go teleporting away again–he’s worked out what’s going on. It turns out that Itty needs calcium in order to complete his metamorphosis, and so he’s been driven to consume teh calcium within human beings. Hal simply uses his ring to whip up a big batch of calcium for Itty, and the blobby monstrosity absorbs it, becoming something more humanoid and new. The mature Itty teleports himself away before we can get a good look at him, returning to the stars where he won’t be such a bother to the writer and editor. And that’s game over for this story. As I said at the top, either individual thread could have supported a whole issue by itself potentially, but stripped down as they needed to be here, all of the incident was a bit too sketchily laid out. Not O’Neil’s best by any measure.