The Green Lantern Archives Volume 1

The Green Lantern Archives Volume 1
The Green Lantern Archives Volume 1 review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 1-5638-9087-9
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 1998
  • UPC: 9781563890871
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

Introduced in 1958, editor Julie Schwartz and writer John Broome’s second updating of a 1940s hero replaced mysticism with super-science, while retaining a power ring. It’s initially in the possession of an alien policeman whose spaceship crashes on Earth leaving him mortally wounded. The ring materialises thoughts and Abin Sur commands it to locate his replacement on Earth, someone honest and without fear, like test pilot Hal Jordan. The dying alien bequeaths his ring, the lantern-shaped Battery of Power and his profession to the astonished Earthman.

In six pages ‘S.O.S Green Lantern’ establishes characters, scenario and the narrative thrust of a series that would increasingly become the spine of DC continuity, leaving room for another two adventures in that premiere issue. ‘Secret of the Flaming Spear!’ and ‘Menace of the Runaway Missile!’ are both contemporary thrillers set against the backdrop of the aviation industry when the Cold War was at its height.

‘Summons from Space’ sends Green Lantern to another world to save an emerging race from a deadly threat at the behest of the as-yet-unnamed leaders of the Green Lantern Corps. ‘The Invisible Destroyer’ pits the Emerald Gladiator against the earthbound, but eerie menace of a psychic marauder living on atomic radiation.

Another spy-ring feature in ‘The Secret of the Black Museum!’, but Hal’s social life takes centre-stage in ‘The Creature That Couldn’t Die!’, when the threat of an unstoppable monster paled before the insufferable stress of being his own rival. Hal’s boss Carol Ferris, left in charge of the aviation company by her father (a radical concept in 1960 when most women were still considered faint-fodder fluff) won’t date an employee, but is happy for him to set her up with the glamorous, mysterious Green Lantern.

All tales so far are dynamically drawn by Gil Kane and inked by Joe Giella, in a visually arresting and exciting manner, but ‘Planet of Doomed Men’ is inked by the uniquely gifted Murphy Anderson. His fine linework elevates the tale (more emergent humans in need of rescue from another monster) to the status of a minor classic. Giella returns for ‘Menace of the Giant Puppet!’ in which GL fights his first – albeit rather lame – super-villain, the Puppet Master.

Next is ‘The Secret of the Golden Thunderbolts!’, which features the Antimatter Universe and the diabolical Weaponers of Qward, a twisted race who worship Evil, and whose “criminals” (i.e. people who won’t lie, cheat, steal or kill) want asylum on Earth. It’s also inked by Anderson, and is an early highpoint of tragic melodrama from an era where emotionalism was actively downplayed in comics. ‘Riddle of the Frozen Ghost Town!’ is a crime thriller highlighting the developing relationship between the hero and his Inuit (then “Eskimo”) mechanic Tom ‘Pieface’ Kalmaku.

The Qwardians return in ‘The Amazing Theft of the Power Lamp!’ and Hal’s love-life again spins out of control in ‘The Leap Year Menace!’, whilst the hero is trapped in the antimatter universe in ‘The Diabolical Missile from Qward!’. They’re nicely balanced by the light-and-frothy mistaken-identity caper ‘Secret of Green Lantern’s Mask!’, crafted by a veritable raft of pencillers including Kane, Giella, Carmine Infantino, Ross Andru and Mike Sekowsky.

GL’s second official super-villain Hector Hammond arrives in the closer, ‘The Power Ring that Vanished!’, a saga of romantic intrigue, mistaken identity and evolution gone wild.

Featuring introductions by Kane and later writer Gerard Jones, these sf-themed costumed drama romps are also found combined with Volume 2 in Green Lantern the Silver Age, or in the first black and white volume of Showcase Presents Green Lantern. They’re a great read for most ages.