Thursday, September 25, 2008

Green Lantern vol. 1 #85

Issue: Green Lantern vol. 1 #85

Title: "Snowbirds Don't Fly"

Credits: Neal Adams (art) Dennis O'Neil (story)

Cover Date: September, 1971

Synopsis: As Oliver Queen is walking down the street, he's ambushed by a group of junkies looking to steal some money for a fix. He fights them all off, channeling his anger at Black Canary for breaking up with him into an epic smackdown.

All is well until one of the junkies shoots him with a crossbow. Wounded, Ollie crawls along the sidewalk, ignored by a passing couple, and a police officer. Finally he collapses in an emergency room and receives help.

Once he's patched up, he asks to see the arrow, only to find out that its one of his own!

Intrigued, he decides to investigate the local drug hierarchy. He calls in Hal Jordan as backup, since the arrow through his shoulder will make archery impossible for a few weeks. They hassle a junkie they find in the basement, and from him get the local of a couple of the lieutenants in the organization.

They pay the dealers a visit (one of which has a collection of ancient weapons, including crossbows) only to find Ollie ward Roy in the room with them! Ollie assumes Roy is there undercover and doesn't say anything. The dealers give up the head honcho, and the two heroes run off to confront them.

Unfortunately, the dealers are craftier than the Emerald heroes gave them credit for, and they manage to conk Hal on the head with a wrench. With GL down for the count and a um arm, Ollie is quickly overwhelmed. The dealers decide not to kill them, but to shoot them full of heroin and then call the cops, disgracing the heroes.

Luckily, Roy followed and manages to talk a stoned Hal into getting them the hell out of there. Back at Ollie's place, Hal wonders why anyone would use drugs, since he's come off the high and feels terrible.

Roy tries to explain that its possible a young man who's father figure ran off to go gallivanting around the country might turn to dope as a replacement. Ollie, oblivious, sees Hal of, only to walk back into the room to see Roy shooting up!

Thoughts: This is it guys. This is the storyline that made this run famous. As a matter of fact, I first found out about it because it was featured on a history of comics special on the History Channel. This issue manages to avoid hitting the reader on the head too hard, but you can still tell that O'Neil and Adams were really trying with this one. Obviously drugs were and are a massive problem, so the message is definitely good, I just wish the creators had found a slightly less heavy handed way to do it.

Still, the image of Speedy (wasn't the name just asking for it) shooting up in Ollie's living room is a definitely a powerful one, especially since Roy's turn to drugs was precipitated by Ollie running off on his quest to save America. Irony!

3 comments:

Ray F-Seattle, WA said...

It's difficult to get the full effect of this storyline viewing it through 2008 eyes.

In 1971 people wouldn't even admit there WAS a drug problem. Those that did drugs were considered criminals and degenerates. There was no consideration as to WHY they turned to them.

The youth of the country felt completely disenfranchised from the establishment.

I first read these stories when I was 10 (1972-73)and the fact that Drugs were shown being used by a hero was a strong statement.

BentonGrey said...

This is, perhaps, the best storyline in this series......not that there is really a great deal of competition. For what it did, what it said, and when it said it, the story is remarkable. There is generally a better, more subtle style to it than its companions in this run, although that isn't always the case. When the kids just randomly begin monologuing about why they use drugs......well...it is a bit much. Still, the only real flaw in this story is a flaw that has been ever present in the rest of the issues, but never highlighted quite so strongly. The characterization of Ollie and Hal leaves fairly little to admire...there is little truly heroic about them in these stories, and Ollie comes off especially bad when dealing with poor Roy in this arc. I understand it is a story about alienation and the generation gap, almost as much as it is about drugs, but wow, they really turn up the jerk-quotient on GA. In the end, what can I say, except once again repeating my mantra for this series: "Good idea, bad to mediocre execution."

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