Issue: Green Lantern #77
Title: Journey to Desolation
Credits: Neal Adams (cover, pencils) Denny O'Neil (script)
Cover Date: June 1970
Synopsis: As Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen and their Guardian of the Universe companion (does this guy ever get a name?) continue their journey to find America, they stumble across a mining town named Desolation, and straight into an ambush. Ollie and Hal bail out of the truck and engage their attackers in battle. Ollie makes short work of his opponents with his mad archery skills, but Hal's ring mysteriously fails him at a critical moment in the battle.
After questioning their attackers, GL and GA realize that the attack is a case of mistaken identity. The leader of the group, Jacob, explains that the group is made up of disaffected miners from the nearby town of Desolation. Desolation is ruled by a ruthless mine boss name "Slapper Soames" (you'd think he would have used some of his power to pick a better nickname...) who keeps the townsfolk in conditions little better than slavery. The miners have finally risen in revolt in response to Slapper's latest affront: trumping up charges against local troubadour Johnny Walden. Johnny will hang at down if nothing is done.
After a brief argument (where Hal again shows a naive trust in anything resembling authority, legitimate or not) Ollie and Hal agree to help the miners attack Slapper Soames and save Johnny Walden.
Unfortunately for them, Slapper has built himself something resembling a modern bunker, complete with artillery and hired thugs in the form of Nazi war criminals (must be a profitable mine...). Regardless, the battle is joined. Initially, the miners do well. After all, they have 2 highly skilled superheroes on their side. Things start to go south when Hal gets a message from the Guardians that his ring has been partially depowered (since he's not working his regular beat) just in time to get in the middle of a firefight and wander into a cloud of knockout gas (thanks, Guardians!)
Meanwhile, Ollie gets pistol whipped and brought into Soames' headquarters. Luckily for Ollie, he was only playing possum. He manages to defeat most of the mine boss's thugs before being betrayed by Jacob. Jacob, it turns out, is working for Soames. He's leading the miners in revolt only so Soames has an excuse to kill off the feistier ones, leaving the rest more docile than ever. Just as Ollie is about to be shot, Hal intervenes and melts Jacobs gun.
The bad guys defeated, Ollie laments that even with their victory, the miners don't really have much to look forward to... the end.
Thoughts: Alright, one thing right off the bat. As soon as Hal complained about his "power beam" not "going far enough," I made all kinds of jokes in my head involving erectile dysfunction drugs (if your power beam remains erect for more than 4 hours, contact your local Guardian immediately...). Aside from that, I thought the issue was great. I think part of it was that the situation they faced was actually a serious problem. Company towns like Desolation existed all over the Old West, even into the 20th century. Of course, I doubt situations quite like that existed in 1970. Still, the issue was well done, and managed to avoid sounding quite as preachy as the last issue.
Green Lantern's crisis of conscience continues, and continues to remain believable. His naive trust in anything resembling authority is a bit of a stretch, however. Green Arrow gets to demonstrate his usefulness in a fight in this ish (and his vulnerability to pistols in the back of the head) so as a fan of the Emerald Archer, I found that pretty satisfying. Neal Adams continues to please with his art, especially that incredibly melodramatic cover!