Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 5 Paperback – May 3 2011
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About the Author
Denny O'Neil was the guiding force behind the Batman mythos during the '80s and '90s. He has also penned, amongst others, Amazing Spider-Man, Batman, Daredevil and The Hulk. Neal Adams illustrated Deadman, Batman, Superman and notably Green Arrow and Green Lantern for DC; The Avengers, The Inhumans and the X-Men, for Marvel. Mike Grell is a comic book writer and artist. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The series collects the oft-reprinted and legendary "Green Lantern/Green Arrow" run (Green Lantern #76-88, 89) by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams. For those unaware of the backstory: Green Lantern's sales numbers were not doing so well and the book was facing the serious prospect of being cancelled. Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams were brought onto the book and they took the series into brand new, if not controversial, direction.
The sci-fi elements of the series were abandoned and Hal Jordan (one of the few Silver Age heroes without a full-fledged sidekick) was given a partner in the form of Green Arrow. O'Neil and Adams had already radically changed Oliver Queen in the pages of "Brave and the Bold", giving him a beard, stripping him of his wealth, and giving him a new hippie friendly ultra-left wing personality. With Jordan, the space cop Green Lantern as a conservative foil, the two became the "Hard Traveling Heroes".
The first issue of the retool (Green Lantern #76) has Hal Jordan get dragged into a fracus involving a young man attacking an older man, only to have the people in a nearby apartment belt Jordan with trash. Adding to insult, one of the people hurling trash at Jordan is his fellow Justice League member Green Arrow. Arrow identifies the "victim", as a corrupt slum lord who has spent years neglecting the building he owns, and was now going to evict the tennents in order to tear down the building to make room for a parking lot. Green Arrow is joined in his shaming of Jordan, by a bitter, mean spirited black man who accuses Jordan of "only caring about aliens" and not about the injustices faced by black people. This leads to Hal and Ollie becoming reluctant allies; together they engage in a convoluted scheme to entrap the slum lord into trying to have Green Arrow killed.
The Guardians of the Universe, not happy that Hal roughed up the slum lord when he tried, and failed, to convince him to change his ways through pleading, summon Hal to Oa for punishment. Green Arrow then promptly attempts to shame the Guardians by evoking the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy, to point out that America is in dire need of help beyond the strict rules of engagement that the Guardians require from their Green Lanterns. The Guardians agree to forgive Hal his traspasses, in exchange for taking a member of the Guardians on as a sidekick as he and Hal tour America, fighting crime and injustice along the way.
Hence began the O'Neil/Adams run, which featured Hal and Green Arrow traveling the United States. The space opera aspects would return, though in muted tones (most notably, Sinestro showing up minus his power ring and Black Hand as a secret mastermind figure). The ultra-liberal tone of their first issue would also be balanced out as issues continued: Green Arrow would often be proven wrong in several stories, with Hal Jordan and his (amped up) conservative ways proving just as effective as Green Arrow's increasingly vigilante-style forms of justice. John Stewart would debut as a token black Green Lantern, while O'Neil would begin the long running Green Arrow/Black Canary romance.
The high point of the O'Neil/Adams run however, would be the legendary two part storyline from Green Lantern #85-86. In these two issues, the high and mighty Green Arrow, who lorded his moral superiority over Hal Jordan, gets taken down SEVERAL notches. While galavanting with Hal, Oliver's sidekick Speedy has been spending his days getting high on heroin.
The O'Neil/Adams run sadly did not boost sales for the series, which was ultimately cancelled with issue #89. However, the publicity of the run did save Green Lantern from obscurity as seen in the second half of this volume. Green Lantern was moved to the pages of The Flash, as a back-up strip. O'Neil and Adams would stick around for a couple of strips, removing Green Arrow from Hal's life and a solo story involving Hal Jordan rescuing a feminist mountain climber in a battle of the sexes tale.
But for those stories would be the except to the rule, as the sci-fi aspects of the older Green Lantern stories would return in full with these never before reprinted stories. Hal Jordan would spend four years in the wilderness, appearing only as a back-up and in the pages of the Justice League of America, before DC would resurrect his ongoing book in 1976.
As mentioned above, the back-up features here are the main selling point for this volume. The O'Neil/Adams run has been reprinted countless times over the years, leaving the back-ups as the new material for longtime Green Lantern fans. And in the event that we never get any further Showcase Presents volumes, volume five provides a viable ending point in the tale of the Green Lantern, concluding the collection of the original pre-cancellation run of the series and the Flash back-ups.
See, that's the problem when you let your personal politics get in the way of a good story. Superman or GL or Martian Manhunter can stop an alien invasion or a meteor about to strike the earth or the sun from going nova, but they can't solve problems like political corruption or racism or drug addiction. If they did, we'd have a dictator from on high, and the comics which present that scenario usually take it as a bad thing, and I agree with them. We have to work on that ourselves, and as long as we're dealing with the crooked timber which makes up humanity,we're never going to solve them completely.
And if I wanted to read a comic book to just make me depressed at the end. . .no, I don't think I ever WOULD want to read that. Why would I? What's the purpose? To get us to realize that racism and political corruption and drug abuse are BAD? No solution or progress ever presented, just despair as we're supposed to wallow in how horrible America is.
Oh and BTW, if our superheroes want to lecture us about pollution destroying the planet, then how's about providing a clean renewable source of energy which doesn't produce pollution and which can actually run a modern society? Was Krypton overwhelmed with pollution? How's about Oa? Or Thanagar? Really convenient that they A) can lecture us about pollution, B) have the perfect solution for us at their disposal, and C) refuse to share it with us. Until you provide us with that wonderful alien technology which makes those bad fossil fuels obsolete, we're going to use what we have, thanks.
Look, I love comics, and they certainly can convey great messages about heroism and deeper messages, but when the writer is so. . .ham-fisted (as another reviewer rightly called this), then it really detracts from the story. If you strive so hard to be "relevant," you're quickly going to become dated and run into some real problems with your story-telling.
Here is a question you should ask yourself before reading, "Do I really want our main hero to constantly be made a fool by almost every character he meets and especially his "friend" Green Arrow?" For me the answer is no. I found GA to be really annoying in this book. On the bright side, Black Canary's appearances are refreshing. It seems between volumes, GL has become a joke to the masses and nobody, I mean nobody, has any respect for the guy. The villains don't even seem to fear him (and I'm talking street thugs and teenagers.) He's even down on himself half the time.
I was looking forward to the debut of John Stewart, but the Blacksploitaion-like feel ruined that story for me. I also found the Speedy story to be almost laughable for reasons I can't get into without spoiling the story. What saves this book for me, besides the short form stories, is the excellent artwork. Yes, Neal Adams is the standout - and the best artist to work on GL up to this point, but the others in this volume are no slouches either.
It may sound as if I don't recommend this book, but I do. I just want give others a word of note before reading. This is an excellent series and with the next volume I should start seeing the comics I had rolled up in my back pocket as a boy, yay! For more views on the stories in this volume, check out Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection - Volume 1 and Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection - Volume 2.
For people new to DC's Showcase Presents, or for that matter, Marvel's Essential line, these are in black and white. True, this may seem a disadvantage (especially to a hero who's super-power is the color green, LOL) but I feel for those who are actually drawn (no pun intended) to the artwork and not just bright colors are actually getting a better deal. In a sense you are closer to the artist in this format. Sometimes with color you lose detail and depth. Besides quicker volumes and lower cost, we have a much better probability of seeing an entire series printed. I'm still waiting for Golden Age Green Lantern Archives Volume 3.