Monday, September 22, 2008

Originally uploaded by googum
My internet is still down at home, so after minimal posting this week, I might be down to reruns. Still, I had this in my flickr stuff and had never gotten around to it before, since I had some thoughts about Green Lantern that I never nailed down. Well, no time like the present! The scan is from Green Lantern Corps #217, written by Steve Englehart, art by Joe Staton and Mark Farmer.

I last read Green Lantern regularly when it was Green Lantern Corps, in 1987, probably starting after the 200th issue: Hal Jordan had returned, Guy Gardner was still out there being a complete a-hole, and earth suddenly had a crapload of aliens with power rings roaming about. Even that, and the quagmire Millenium crossover couldn't save it: the book was cancelled with issue #224. That issue sucked: Flodo Span dies, most all Green Lanterns lose their rings, Hal Jordan looks like he's waving the shattered power battery a jaunty goodbye on the cover...I'm going to have to dig up that issue to harsh on it separately.

I like Steve Englehart's work, generally; but the GLC stuff seems really sporadic. Like he'll bring something good, then something bad. He has a good cast going, classic Lanterns Hal, John, Katma, and new greats Kilowog and Salaak. Then he has C'hp, a funny animal-style chipmunk; and Arisia, who's only character trait was that she was underage and really liked Hal. REALLY liked.

Arisia's history and origin and status has been changed several times, but back then, she was very obviously a preteen girl with a crush on Hal. A preteen girl with a power ring, and enough willpower to turn herself into an adult that could date Hal. (This was well before the internet, and Barely Legal magazine; and I'm not sure anyone said boo at the time.) Retcons have changed Arisia's age to older than Hal, but alien, but not statuatory.

Like several old-school GL's through Emerald Twilight and the Kyle Rayner years, I think Arisia was dead, or gone, then back. Salaak and Kilowog were in the same boat; the big K getting a memorable death scene fighting the insane Hal Jordan/Parallax in Twilight, then a less memorable return towards the end of Kyle's tenure. (Seriously, I probably have the issues in question, but have no idea how Kilowog came back.)

Both the last issue of GLC and Emerald Twilight share an intention of changing the focus to a single Green Lantern, instead of a corps of hundreds. Which is completely missing the point, but whatever...but that explains why characters like Arisia, Salaak, and Kilowog had to be lost or killed for a bit: when Kyle first got the ring, he was supposed to be a know-nothing rookie; having three or more friendly aliens there to give him pointers would have undercut that.

Let's talk about Kilowog for a bit: I had kind of forgotten, but he's a bit of a tool in those early appearances. As near as I can recall, the notion of Kilowog as the GLC's drill sargent is a recent addition. When he joins the earth-based Lanterns in #201, he's just kind of there, doesn't really give a reason or seem to have anything better to do, and earth seemed to be a happening spot.

Shortly thereafter, Kilowog goes to Russia, because he's apparently from a non-corrupt communist society. Dumb. He creates the Red Rocket Corps, which is both cool and stupid at the same time: no prime directive for the Green Lanterns, eh? Nothing wrong with giving one faction of warring primates advanced alien technology? Never seen Star Trek, Kilowog? Of course, he's then shocked when the head Soviets turn out to be corrupt. Ass.

Still later, tying into the scan pictured a little, Kilowog reveals that his homeworld was destroyed, but his people were saved on his ring. Yeah...that's the trouble with a series based on a magic wishing ring, isn't it? There's a world within the power ring, it can keep you alive, it can automatically protect you, it can form illusions, it can age you or make you younger; it can do just about any damn thing, just not consistently. Kilowog restores his people, only to have them destroyed not five minutes later by Sinestro and his pet evil sector of space. (Which, I'm almost positive, was from an Alan Moore story, and is probably due for a comeback, if it hasn't already.)

I have a vague feeling that this too has been changed somewhere, and there is a whole planet o' poozers out there somewhere. Partly, because Kilowog rarely seems to act like the last survivor of his race; and mostly because if he was the last one, wouldn't Kilowog have kicked Sinestro's ass inside out by now? Repeatedly? At any rate, the big guy was one of the few GL's to be used in any useful fashion after the disbanding of the Corps: Guy Gardner, who of course still had a ring, would recruit Kilowog as the Justice League's handyman, which would go a long way to making him the big lug we now know and love. (Kilowog, not Guy, although that issue does make Guy a lot less of a one-dimensional buffoon, too...)

Back to the scan: the three new Lanterns there, Flodo Span, Olapet, and Driq; were all pretty much screwed in the last issue of Green Lantern Corps. Then again, just about everything in the closing arc kills it for me: Sinestro, found guilty of so many, many crimes; is put to death by the GLC. But, the Guardians had left a failsafe in the power battery, back when the females of their species left them en masse to become the Zamarons. Fearing what might happen if they succumbed to jealously, the Guardians left a failsafe in the main power battery on Oa, to prevent them or their Green Lanterns from fatally retaliating against their ex-girlfriends' new boys, the male Sinestro.

There is so, so much wrong with this.

First, admittedly after breaking up with the Smurf-like Guardians of the Universe, anyone might look good; but Sinestro is not a handsome guy, and I have to believe he's a prime example of Korugarian manhood. Second, why the hell would the Guardians even let Sinestro become a GL? It would be like hiring your ex's boyfriend...then being surprised that he's an evil bastard, insult to injury. Lastly, the failsafe could've been avoided if the GL's had simply shot Sinestro, let Kilowog snap his neck, pushed him out an airlock, etc: instead, the GL's "will" him to death with their rings.

The remaining dateless Guardian acts all embarrassed about not mentioning the failsafe that's destroying the power battery, the rings, and the corps; but it still seems like the sort of thing you might wanna write down somewhere. Like maybe a big warning label on the side of the battery. In, let's see, 3600+ languages.

As Green Lantern rings across the galaxy start to go out, Driq is one of the first to go: he had been dead for quite some time at this point, and it was implied that he wasn't still going because of his indomitable Green Lantern willpower, but because his power ring refused to let him go. Which makes me wonder, was Driq recharging his ring, or was it nudging him along? Was Driq even still in there? Is that normal for a power ring? Sadly, we may never know.

Hal and Flodo Span go into the power battery to try to save it. Of course Hal's ring won't quit, he's Hal. But poor Flodo's ring dies, and him with it: turns out he was an "abstract life-form" generated by the ring. The Guardians must be supercool about weird crap like this: this would be like General Motors turning out a car, that drove itself out of the factory and decided to become a cop. We'd call it "Christine" and bazooka it to death, I'm thinking.

Meanwhile, John Stewart fights Goldface. Yay! No, Goldface sucks. Sucks sucks sucks. Hal gets to try to save the universe's number one peace-keeping force, and John has to wrestle an armored guy with a mask that looks like a golden mime. Of course, looking back, this was the start of several years of crapping all over John: loses his ring, loses his wife Katma, gets his ring back, accidentally blows up some planet, he's got Guardian level powers in Mosaic, oops, now he's a Darkstar, then he's paralyzed, then not...DC has characters that went to Vertigo and back that were treated better. Of course, after the Justice League cartoons, John's star has risen.

Ah, who else, as long as I'm rambling? There was Salaak, who is being used to some good effect in the current books, as a crabby administrative type. And Ch'p, the Green Lantern squirrel. Look, Ch'p is either one of those things in comics that you're going to love, or absolutely hate, like MODOK. Remember, in the 80's, MODOK wasn't cool, he was an embarassment. (That's another post, if I ever get back online!) Not unlike MODOK, Ch'p was killed off in particularly ignoble fashion: hit by a truck in Mosiac. Poor Ch'p is also one of the few GL's mentioned here to be killed and stay dead, although in a book like Green Lantern, any alien killed like Ch'p, Katma Tui, or Tomar-Re; can be replaced by another of their species either interchangeably, or as a new character like Soranik Natu.

Woof! I started some of this post years ago, which is why it goes on a bit, but this is what happens when I've got some downtime but can't scan. New strip on Wednesday, but we'll see what, if anything else, we can come up with...


SallyP said...

You know I love the Green Lanterns...but there WAS a fair amount of silliness involved, I hate to admit it, but it's true.

Arisia was killed off by Major Force while working for Guy at his Bar, but it turns out that she was really just very very sleepy. For several years. Kilowog was killed by Hal/Parallax, but he somehow came back for Kyle. I HAVE those issues, and I still don't understand it. Salaak was sold into slavery with a bunch of other former Lanterns, but was later rescued by Guy in his Warrior guise. Driq was dead and a villain in Starman, but I'm not sure if that was retconned or not. They brought back Katma Tui in the last issue of Mosaic, but it didn't stick, since nobody has seen her since. Ch'p alas, is still dead.

I...I have to go and lie down now.

googum said...

Nobody knows how Kilowog came back. Obviously, he's a Skrull.

I remember an issue of Green Lantern Quarterly that takes place right after the JLI issue where Kilowog and Guy trash the GL headquarters in California, then repair it with their it falls apart when the 24 hour charge is up. Never got that bit either, but letting that go: the headquarters collapses on Arisia, who is alone and scared on an alien planet, and freaks out and I think turns back into a 14 year old...not great. And while collapsing headquarters can be serious, it was a throwaway bit of slapstick in JLE.

SallyP said...

Heh. I actually thought that part, where Arisis is in the headquarters reading the note, and starts to hear the creaking sound was hilarious. I rather wish they had left it there, instead of showing what happened in GL Quarterly, or whatever it was, I can't remember at the moment. Kind of sucked all the joy right out of it, when she freaked out.

Sea-of-Green said...

Actually, Kilowog was brought back via black magic by a bunch of ex-Lanterns who were REALLY ticked off at Hal Jordan/Parallax and wanted to wipe every trace of him out of the universe. Kilowog was resurrected as their tool of revenge because the ex-Lanterns felt, collectively, that Hal's betrayal of Kilowog was the worst betrayal of all. So, Kilowog cruised the universe for a time as the "Black Lantern," until Tom Kalmaku regenerated OA. Kilowog then abandoned seeking revenge and resided on OA until Kyle Rayner, as Ion, brought him completely back to life. Kilowog as the Black Lantern didn't occur in the comics, but rather in the trade book, The Last Will and Testament of Hal Jordan.

googum said...

So, like I said, Skrull...

(That would've made more sense!)