By Tim Stone
(timdstone in the Raging Bullets section of the Comic Geek Speak Forums)
Published by DC Comics 2004, originally published as individual issues of Green Lantern #76-82 in 1970 & 1971.
Writer: Dennis O’Neal
Pencils: Neal Adams
Inkers: Neal Adams / Dick Giordano / Frank Gaicoia / Dan Atkins / Berni Wrightson
Colors: Cory Adams / Jack Adler
Letters: John Constanza
In 1970 most comic books featured heroes that were embedded deep within their own universe with very little outside influence from the “real world”. DC Editor Julius Schwartz asked Denny O’Neal to take a look at jump starting Green Lantern because the book’s sales had been slipping. O’Neal thought, “What would happen if we put a super-hero in a real-life setting dealing with real-life problems.”
His take on Hal Jordan was that he was basically a cop. A incorruptible cop with noble intentions, but still a cop, a “crypto-fascist” who took orders from his superiors and did his duty with no questions asked. (Remember this is 1970).
Jordan needed a foil, someone to widen his view of the universe. In Justice League of America, the Green Arrow had recently lost his fortune and in the Brave and the Bold Neal Adams had given him a new wardrobe and lifestyle, so why not, O’Neal thought, give him a new characterization as well. “He would be a hot-tempered anarchist to contrast with the cerebral, sedate model citizen who was the Green Lantern.”
In recreating these characters, O’Neal & Adams started making the DCU a deeper place. More than just the flat 2-D world it had been, one that looked at the world outside, and reflected it in its pages.
The first story sets the tone for the O’Neal-Adams run, the classic, “No Evil Will Escape My Sight”. It begins with Hal stopping a young “punk” who is attacking a well-dressed man. Ollie hits Jordan in the head with a can and goes on to show him that the “well-dressed man” was actually a crooked landlord who was kicking the “punks” out of their homes in order to tear them down to build a parking lot.
This issue contains one of the most re-produced panels in comics. Jordan is questioned by an white-haired African-American man, “… and you done considerable for the purple skins! Only there’s skins you never bothered with…the BLACK skins! I want to know how come?!” Jordan has no answer.
After confronting and attacking the crooked landlord, Hal is summoned to Oa where he is told by the Guardians that the man had committed no crime and should not have been punished. Hal struggles with the Guardians orders, realizing that everything is not clear cut, black & white. This sets up a confrontation between Queen and the Guardians, eventually the Guardians send a representative Hal calls “Old Timer” to join he and Oliver as they set out in an old pickup truck across America to search for themselves as the Hard Traveling Heroes.
Other stories in the book include: “Journey Into Desolation” where our heroes take on big business when they come into a mining town ruled by the owners of the mine. Hal finds out that his ring no longer protects him from bodily harm as it once did.
In “A Kind of Loving, A Way of Death” Ollie and Hal have to rescue the Black Canary who has been hypnotized by the madman, Joshua. Canary joins the team and tags along throughout the rest of these stories. Later in the book, Hal is rescued by the “Old Timer” guardian who is accompanying them on their travels. The guardians put him on trial for interfering, strip him of his powers and sentence him to live out his life on their home planet (not Oa) as a mortal.
This book feels very different from others of this era, much more modern, the characters are much deeper and very consistent in their beliefs. I would have guessed that it was written post-crisis. The art is excellent and benefits from the higher quality paper and reproduction standards of the trade format.
You can’t read this book without reading Vol. 2, which contains the classic issue where GA finds out that Speedy is a heroin addict.
I give this a solid 8 out of 10 overall, and I think its about the best silver age book you can get.