Friday, September 21, 2018

Retro Review: Showcase #22 (1959) - "S.O.S. Green Lantern!"

Beware My Power

Written by: John Broome
Art by: Gil Kane
Cover Price: 10¢
Release Date: October 1959

Whether or not he is "your" Green Lantern, there is no real question that Hal Jordan is the most popular character to put on a green power ring.  He was the figurehead of the book's redesign and the new space cop angle pushed the book forward during a time when the comic industry was struggling with declining sales and that crazy Comics Code they were dealing with.  So, after a couple of Green Lantern retro reviews, I decided it was about time to dive into Hal Jordan's first appearance.  Here we go...

The issue opens with the wreckage of a downed spaceship.  Inside, Abun Sur, an alien Green Lantern knows he is dying so he has his lantern send out for the most suitable replacement.  If you have seen this origin story in any sort of way, you get the point.  For the most part, it has remained almost entirely intact through the tons of retellings.  I guess that is a tribute to how good it is.

Meanwhile, we see Hal Jordan working on a flight trainer (of his own design!) at the Ferris Aircraft Company.  It's a quick hello as he is engulfed in green light and whisked away to Abin Sur.  It only takes a page to introduce Hal and get him to the wreckage.  I feel that this scene would take an entire issue nowadays!

Abin Sur tells Hal the what's what through a telepathic connection and for some reason, I read it as if Abin is trying to be patient with the dumb human as he describes the power battery, his backstory and the rules of the ring.

We get a lot of stuff crammed in here...the yellow impurity and the 24-hour charge are explained and Hal takes it all without question.  In fact, he might accept a little too much, but it all works out, right?

Then, Abin Sur dies and John Broome obviously knows the reader is more interested in the new Green Lantern than the old dead one.  Abin Sur and his ship are disposed of through narration and then Hal picks up a mountain cliff.  He says he can will the ring to do anything...and he picks up a cliff for his own amusement!  The issue ends with Hal deciding he needs a secret identity and so he will be called the Green Lantern.  Remember, the guy will go for years with a boxing glove as his most inventive construct...imaginative he is not!

This is another classic.  It's more of an origin of the new space-centric Green Lantern with Hal being the guy with the ring, but it works!  It's easy to say that now, but I think anyone reading this in 1959 would have known that something special was happening here.  Plus, it was something more than those romance comics that were all the rage back in the day!

Bits and Pieces:

A classic first appearance and revamp of the Green Lantern book all rolled up into one.  Hal Jordan may just be along for the ride here, but what a ride it started.  The art is fantastic and the story has stood the test of time!


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