Monday, March 3, 2008
Spotlight:: Green Lantern #78
Issue: Green Lantern vol. 1 #78
Title: "A Kind of Loving, A Way of Death!"
Credits: Neal Adams (cover, pencils) Denny O'Neil (script)
Cover Date: July 1970
Overview: As Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and their Guardian companion continue their journey, we make a brief segue to that Blonde Bombshell, Black Canary. We meet up with Canary as she confronts a small gang of bikers on an isolated dirt road. The bikers decide that they really like Canary's chopper, and that they should go ahead and take it from her. This turns out to be a giant error, as the issue points out, Black Canary is one of the world's greatest martial artists. She quickly drops the entire gang, but one of the bikers recovers enough to run her down.
The scene then switches back to Hal and Ollie, as they come upon an Indian Reservation. Starved, they grab some beans from the town's only restaurant, just in time to stop the very same bikers from taking what they want and killing the proprietor. Ollie uses a net arrow to capture one of the toughs who tried to escape on his bike, but notices something odd about his ride. It is the very same motorcycle that Superman made for Black Canary! (The editorial note tells us this happened in JLA #75) After interrogating (read: beating the crap out of) the dastardly biker, they get the story out of him. Just as they're leaving, the owner of the restaurant they ate at makes a snarky comment about the white man's abuse of his people. Unaware of this aspect of humanity (which both Ollie and Hal are ashamed of) the Guardian decides to stay behind while Ollie and Hal go looking for Black Canary.
They manage to track her down near the road the bikers left her on, but all is not right. She seems enthralled by a strange man name Joshua. After failing to convince her to come with them, Hal and Ollie back off to try and decide what to do. Hal and Ollie have a brief falling out (and fistfight) when Hal suggests that Dinah might just not like him anymore. Furious with Hal, and himself for losing control, Ollie runs off, only to find Joshua and his followers at the firing range. As his followers (all women, natch) practice their shooting, Joshua rants and raves about how white people cannot coexist with people of other races. Being a horrible racist is bad enough, but he then instructs the women under his thrall to attack and wipe out the nearby Native American village.
GA sets off a flare arrow to summon help, but is struck down by a bullet grazing the back of his head. Hal arrives in time to disarm and capture most of the women, but Joshua and Dinah manage to escape. They find a wounded Ollie on their way back, and Joshua orders Dinah to finish him off. She tries, but a flood of memories wash over her: her husband Larry, who was killed by Aquarius, her time with the League, and finally, her love for Oliver Queen. Now free of Joshua's influence, she drops the gun, while Hal drops Joshua.
Ollie recovers, and comments that even though Joshua used his powers to enthrall Canary and the other women, that he must have found something within them to work with. The potential for bigotry is within all of us, and it is up to us to resist it. Dinah helps Ollie back to the truck, while Hal reminds the reader that Joshua was not the first of his kind, nor will he be the last.
Thoughts: Alright, so this issue was a bit heavy handed. You can tell that Adams and O'Neil were really trying on this one. Their message is a good one of course, but it got in the way of the story in several places. Green Lantern fans will definitely rejoice in this issue, as this is the first of the O'Neil/Adams run where Hal does NOT blindly trust authority to the point of absurdity. It was great to see Black Canary, and the splash page of her memories was the high point of the issue for me (see below, almost reminds you of Ditko, eh?). I like that we're reminded yet again that Black Canary (and by extension, women in general) are not helpless damsels in need of rescuing. BA drops those bikers like a bad habit. It was only when one of them ran her over that she got into any trouble.
Also: Get a load of that cover! Nothing says 1970 like Hal Jordan back-handing a hippie!
Next week: Another Adventure Comics story (I don't own Green Lantern #79...yet, its on the way)