Monday, March 31, 2008

Spotlight: Green Lantern #79

Issue: Green Lantern vol.1 #79

Title: Ulysses Star is Alive!

Credits: Denny O'Neil (scripts) Neal Adams (cover, art)

Cover Date: September, 1970

Synopsis: Our story begins with two well dressed gentlemen about to shoot a Native American man in the woods. Green arrow and Green Lantern arrive just in time to stop them, and are justifiably curious as to what is going on. The suits explain that they have a claim to the reservations timber reserves, and this man had been fighting them on it. GA and GL argue over what to do, and both decide the other is wrong.

Green Lantern decides to head to the city, where Abe Star, son of the chief mentioned in the title was last seen. He is said to posses the last copy of the agreement between the natives and the government, granting them sole rights to the timber on their reservation. GL arrives just in time to see the man's apartment building burn to the ground. He is only barely able to save him, and learns that all his documents went up in the fire. Still determined to prove Ollie wrong, to prove that breaking the law is not necessary to get justice, Hal flies to Washington to visit a friend in Congress...

Ollie decides on a different tack. Dressing himself up in a glowing yellow native costume (where do they get these things?!) he pretends to be the ghost of Ulysses Star, the last great chief of the tribe. He manages to get both the tribe and the lumberman to believe that he is a vengeful ghost. The lumberman decide to attack the next morning anyway.

The fight goes down at the border of the contested forest. The natives have Black Canary (still on the reservation, recovering from the events of last issue) on their side, but are outnumbered by the burly lumberjacks. Just then, "Ulysses Star" shows up, tipping the balance back in favor of the natives. Before anything can be resolved, Hal arrives and breaks up the fight. Ollie is incensed that Hal is interfering, and they get in a knock down, drag out fight. Nothing gets resolved, however, as a log slips off its moorings and whacks them both on the head.

The story ends with the native leader heading back to Washington with Hal's friend in Congress. No one is confident that anything will be done soon, but they decide they must try. The two suits from the beginning of the story are dragged off in cuffs, having been implicated in the apartment fire from earlier in the issue. Hal, Ollie and the Guardian discuss the nature of man and his seeming inability to give up violence, and the issue ends,

Thoughts: I really liked how this issue detailed each hero's approach to solving the problem, with Ollie going for theatrics and direct violence, and Hal choosing to find evidence and work within the system. It turned out neither approach really worked without the other, and I think it made our heroes realize that neither of them were wholly in the right. I also liked that Black Canary is still around, giving aid to the needy and fighting for what she believes in. The kid's got spunk.

Now, I know that O'Neil and Adams were going for relevance and cultural sensitivity here, but you can tell from this issue that they were still products of their time. I mean check out that cover! That's not offensive or anything! But hey, at least they were trying...

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