Green Lantern Corps #210 (March, 1987)
Story – Steve Englehart
Pencils – Joe Staton
Inks – Mark Farmer
Letters – Bob Lappan
Colors – Anthony Tollin
Editor – Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $0.75
Not much of a preamble today… just bracing for an international incident. Who let Guy Gardner into the Soviet Union, anyway?
We open with Kilowog and Guy flying directly toward one another just ready to start clubbering. Guy ain’t too keen on a Lantern working for the Commies, and makes it quite clear that he is prepared to go to war over such a thought. Speaking of war, we get a glimpse into both a Soviet and American War Room, as they observe this pending international incident… and just maybe, World War III. We get to see an out-of-touch Ronald Reagan, because… well, that’s the kinda thing that we get from comics in the 1980’s. We shift from War Room to War Room for a bit… which is kind of confusing. The art isn’t entirely clear which one is which, if not for the < brackets > surrounding the Russian words, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up!
Anyhoo, Guy and Kilowog continue pounding on one another for awhile more, when they are suddenly swarmed by over a half dozen Rocket Reds. They all unload into Gardner, putting him down into the snow. Kilowog does not appreciate this showing of unsportsmanlike conduct, and begins (verbally) laying into the Reds.
Using the commie-conflict to his advantage, Guy takes the opportunity to strike. He wraps up the Rocket Reds along with Kilowog in emerald construct ribbon, and plants them into the ground. He then manifests a cork that he seals them in with. It’s a tough one to explain, but it looks really cool.
Gardner joins his captives in his trap… where he is informed that if he harms any of them, John Stewart and Katma Tui would be killed. Ya see, John and Katma went off to the Soviet Union to keep an eye on Kilowog, remember? Theirs was a peaceful mission, however, they are now pawns and potential collateral damage. Neither Kilowog nor Guy are very happy to hear about this… it seems like they may have a sorta-kinda common enemy at the moment.
Meanwhile, back at the Green Lantern Citadel in the Santa Monica Mountains, Hal Jordan receives a call from… well, the President of the United States. He gets the news that Guy Gardner went to Russia… and that’s not good news for anybody. Even though this interrupts a killer game of badminton between Ch’p and Arisia, the Lanterns suit up and go east. I just love the Lanterns in casual attire!
Another visit to the Soviet War Room shows us that General Secretary Gorbachev cannot tell the difference between some Green Lanterns and missiles on a radar screen. Lucky for him, President Ronald Reagan has called to touch base… unfortunately, he shuffs the call off on one of his underlings. Gotta get that dig in at Reagan being an actor, as well!
Anyhoo, Guy and Kilowog bust in to the Soviet compound… with Guy rescuing John and Katma, and Kilowog attempting to confront Gorbachev. Since instead of using the front door, Kilowog decided to crash through a wall… Gorby is justifiably nervous. He immediately deduces that this is an American attack, and instructs his men to “launch the missiles”. Well, well, well… Guy Gardner (and Kilowog) just caused World War III!
Luckily the rest of the Lanterns arrive just as the missiles launch. They break off from formation and attempt to block the missiles, without the United States getting wind of their launch… otherwise, there’s likely to be a whole lot more missiles going airborne.
On the ground, Kilowog has Gorbachev by the collar. He is upset… he trusted him… he left the Green Lantern Corps to help him and his cause… and the whole time, the Soviets had an ace up their sleeve and were sorta playing him for a fool. Rocket Red member, Josef enters and instructs Kilowog to stand down… and release their leader. Kilowog hesitates for a moment, and attempts to reason with Josef… which results in him getting blasted through a wall!
A battle rages between the two… and it’s quite well done. I can’t say for sure whether or not this was by design… but, the fight goes on for four-pages non-stop. With each page, there’s fewer and fewer word balloons. It’s as though at first they were open to reasoning with one another… but as the battle drew on, it became more about the actual physicality. Very nice touch… unless of course, I’m reading too much into it… which, ya know… I do from time to time. Anyhoo… the two eventually fight each other to the ground… they both lay prone next to one another.
Kilowog is the first to stir to his feet… and he gets blasted by Josef’s ray. Kilowog tries one last time to reason with his former friend… begs him to quit the Rocket Reds… to escape with him and the Lantern Corps… but, it’s not to be. Josef says he will never desert his motherland… and so, Kilowog… kills him. He lifts him up and slams him head-first into the ground. I mean, I think he kills him here… or at the very least, intended to…
Hal and the Corps arrive on the scene. John and Katma have been rescued, and World War III has been averted. Our issue ends with Kilowog knelt over Josef’s motionless (lifeless?) body.
Boy do I love this era of Green Lantern (Corps). Just such a great mixture of characters. I mean, I used to haaaaate Guy Gardner when I was a kid… haaaaaate him. Now, he might just be my favorite. He’s just so over the top… but true to his own sense of justice, even to the point of, ya know… starting World War III, which is to say, quite possibly the end of all life on Earth.
Hal’s ending monologue and statement are likely the main crux of this issue, and this storyline. War is Hell. People will act in ways they otherwise may not if they feel like they are doing so for a national pride… or if they are trained to think that those who oppose them are evil. Tale as old as time… but, sadly still relevant.
Kilowog seemed to be fishing off two piers here. He threw in with the Soviets because they “put the group first”, just like they did on his destroyed home planet. He is also still a Green Lantern, who at this point, appear to be sort of in league with the United States government… well, sort of but not really… I mean, they’re stationed in California… which sort of makes them American… I guess. I dunno. Either way… it’s as though neither groups Kilowog is dealing with appear to trust him all that much. It’s sad really. ‘Wog is doing everything he can to help everyone… and nobody seems to appreciate it.
I’m never a fan of any sitting United States President being portrayed as doddering or clueless. Even if I don’t agree with a given President’s politics, I just think it’s (no pun intended) bush league writing to slag off on them in superhero fiction. Reagan is portrayed here as a bit aloof… he doesn’t know who or what a Guy Gardner is… and it’s implied that he didn’t pay attention during his briefing. I’m not saying that the President should be portrayed as flawless… but, let’s keep it even keel here.
The bits with Josef were pretty striking. I’ll say I did not read the issue before this (#209), and I probably should have… I’m not sure how close Josef and Kilowog got while he was helping to assemble the Rocket Reds… however, from what we see here, I’d guess they were at least pals. There’s a certain poignant sadness in Josef just unloading on Kilowog, all the while, Kilowog is trying to tell him that they are on the same side.
The (potentially) killing blow was an incredible scene. It’s as though Kilowog knew that their battle was only going to end when one of them could no longer fight… and so, he did what he had to do. In that situation, it was either Josef or himself… and he made the only choice he could. I haven’t read ahead yet (and it’s been years since I last went through this run) so I do not know if Josef survived the fight… not sure I want to know, either.
My only real complaint would be the art… only during the War Room scenes, though. It isn’t made as clear as I would like which room we’re in. I guess I’ve been reading comics too long, where I barely even notice the “this isn’t in English” < bracket > system. I had to read those panels a few times to ensure I knew which continent I was currently on! This can all be written off with my being too dense, but I think a little clarity wouldn’t have hurt.
Overall… this is a run of Green Lantern (Corps) that definitely deserves a spot in your longboxes. It looks as though this was being released in trade paperback format at the start of the decade… however, did not make it this far into the run… so it’s single issues only (for now). Well worth checking out!