The Golden Age Green Lantern Archives Volume 2

The Golden Age Green Lantern Archives Volume 2
The Golden Age Green Lantern Archives Volume 2 review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 1-5638-9794-6
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2002
  • UPC: 9781563897948
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

When we left the original Green Lantern in Volume 1, he’d just earned a solo quarterly title, but maintained his strip in the All-American anthology. This volume collects the Viridian Vigilante’s appearances over late 1941 and the first half of 1942.

Alan Scott is ensconced as radio announcer at the APEX Broadcasting System, where he fruitlessly pursues feisty reporter Irene Miller, and as Green Lantern has a trusted sidekick in the flabby form of Doiby Dickles, a rotund, middle-aged Brooklyn-born cab driver.

The action starts with ‘The Adventure of the Underfed Orphans!’, unusual for having a title, wherein Alan and Irene investigate food poisoning at a municipal children’s home, and uncover a shocking web of abuse and graft leading to the upper echelons of City Hall and the grimiest gutters of the underworld. It’s drawn by the Emerald Avenger’s co-creator Martin Nodell (sample art left), who alternates on art with Irwin Hasen (sample art right), and typifies Bill Finger’s stories featuring corporate scandals and lowlife criminals, but always having a human heart.

That’s exemplified by the longest story here ‘The Tycoon’s Legacy’ by Finger and Nodell. It’s four chapter “novel-length story” that has radio engineer Scott promoted to roving man-with-a-microphone, promptly rushing to the assistance of a poor but honest lawyer and a porter swindled out of a five million dollar bequest. Both cases deliciously intertwine like a movie melodrama, and also feature a framed man freed from the asylum to challenge the swindling estate executors who had trapped him there. Events take a murderous turn just as Alan’s emerald alter ego becomes involved, and before long Green Lantern is cracking heads and taking names in the hunt for the mastermind behind it all – a man known only as ‘Baldy’. Finger is a master of this type of socially redeeming mystery thriller, and one can wonder what he could have accomplished with such a prodigious page count on his other “Dark Avenger” assignment Batman and Robin.

With America freshly put on an all-encompassing war-footing, superheroes at last tackled the world’s latest monsters full-on, and with great verve and enthusiasm this blistering compilation concludes in another novel-length epic deliciously crafted by Finger and Nodell. It features a Sargasso Sea enclave of mariners from many eras who have, over the centuries, evolved into a truly egalitarian, pacifist society, U-Boats and Hitler himself.

There’s a case to be made for superhero comics never being more apt or effective than when they were wholeheartedly combating fascism with explosive, improbable excitement and mysterious masked marvel men. The most satisfyingly evocative and visceral moments of the genre all seem to come when gaudy gladiators soundly thrashed – and please forgive the contemporary offensive colloquialism – “Nips and Nazis”, and the staggering denouement depicted here is one of the most expansive and breathtaking ever seen.

Completed by the stellar covers by Nodell and Hasen, this riotous vintage assembly of classic Fights ‘n’ Tights fare is enthralling, engrossing and overwhelmingly addictive – even if not to every modern fan’s taste.