Green Lantern (vol.2) #95 (June-July, 1977)
“Terminal For a Tragedy”
Story – Denny O’Neil
Penciller – Mike Grell
Inker – Vince Colletta
Colorist – Luz Berube
Cover Price: $0.35
Here’s another from the “Get a load’a that cover” collection! Let’s just get right into it!
The issue opens with both of our hard-traveling heroes finding themselves dealing with the stickiest of wickets. In space, John Stewart attempts to carry an unconscious Hal Jordan away from the pull of a neutron star… and Oliver Queen finds his on-again off-again Black Canary bound to a set of gears just ready to tear her in two! John questions himself, citing a lack of experience for his (seeming) failure to save Hal, while Ollie is greeted by a Colonel Krisp… who offers to spare his Pretty Bird, if he agrees to… if the cover hasn’t given it away, kill the President of the United States! This being 1977, I’m guessing the shadowy President goes by the name of Carter.
Ollie’s all “nuh-uh”, because he’s not an idiot. Krisp pleads his case, claiming the current President to be just as traitorous as all of his recent predecessors, because… get this, he offers aid to “lesser nations”. The horror! As you might imagine, this doesn’t persuade Ollie in the slightest. He plays along asking why Krisp isn’t employing a gunman rather than an archer… for expediency sake, if nothing else. Krisp explains that due to metal detectors, an archer is the only way to go.
Ollie refuses again… and so, Krisp threatens to tear Dinah in half. Ollie pretends to consider it… even agreeing to do it, just before elbowing Krisp in the gut. A pair of heavies are sicced on him, and the gears that hold Dinah begin to slowly spin. Oliver launches himself into the gears in attempt to slow them down… which, proves to be rather futile.
Back in space, John finds that he and Hal now are now in the pull of something beside a black hole… they are yanked toward a spacecraft. Thankfully, it’s a friendly one. The pink alien on board welcomes the Lanterns, and straps Hal to an examination table to see if he might be of any help. It turns out that Hal is suffering from a disease… of the soul! The only way to cure it is for the affected to do astral-plane-y battle with their deepest fear. John’s all “no dice”, because… Hal’s fearless! The alien’s all “That’s adorable” before loading Hal into a Telluratron MRI machine.
Hal is inserted into the machine as the pink alien starts tapping buttons on the control console… which endows Jordan with artificial energy with which he might do battle with his worst fear… which turns out to be… Hal Jordan himself!
Back with Ollie, Colonel Krisp approaches the Emerald Archer as he tries holding the gears at bay. He reveals that he is holding a button… which, if he releases… the gears will begin moving again. Ollie knows he’s outta luck, so he agrees to kill the President. He insists that he craft a new bow for the job, however… as he’ll need to fire from 200 yards away. Krisp is cool with it, and even assigns some of his henchmen to help.
Back in space, we witness some wicked Hal on Hal violence. The yellow Hal embodies all of flesh ‘n bone Hal’s insecurities and feelings of inadequacy… which makes me think of how this would never fly in a post Green Lantern: Rebirth (2005) world… having any human weakness would totally harsh Hal’s current Fonzie-ness. Hal ultimately wallops his alter ego, and crawls out of the strange MRI tube.
We return to Earth, where the President is holding an outdoor meeting with a group of folks. The only item on the agenda is a doozy… World Peace! Colonel Krisp is among the guests… and is keeping his right hand in his pocket… to hide the Black Canary death button he carries with him 24 hours a day. 200 yards away, Green Arrow readies himself to take his shot.
And… he does! It looks like Ollie is employing a trick arrow here, as it releases a cloud of vapor as it burrows into Jimmy Carter’s chest. The entire collective of World Peaceniks appear to be dead… including Colonel Krisp… who still has his finger on the button. Some military types in a circling helicopter witnessed the entire affair, and prepare to open fire on Ollie (and the Krisp-geek who is with him). He reveals to the geek that this was a suicide mission… the arrow he fired wasn’t going to kill anyone… just paralyze them. It probably still hurt poor Jimmy though, just sayin’. Anyhoo, it would freeze Krisp’s hand, so he couldn’t let go of the button. He figures the military or police would be able to find Black Canary and free her when they come to investigate the “murder”.
The geek attacks Ollie… and it doesn’t go so well. He is almost immediately shredded to ribbons by the helicopter fire. Just as Ollie prepares himself for his most fatal of fates… the cavalry arrives, in the form of John Stewart and Hal Jordan!
The Lanterns box off the ballistics and save Ollie’s life. Time passes, and everything is straightened out. Ollie and Dinah are reunited, and just as it’s about to get “mushy” Hal, and his tiny little plant-pet Itty vamoose.
It’s so funny how things “escalate” in comics. It’s unlike anything in the world. Our main threat here is like “You wanna save your girlfriend? Okay, all ya gotta do is… kill the President!” Okay, wow. Ol’ Colonel Krisp don’t mess around, does he?
The whole story feels sorta like a writer’s workshop exercise. It’s as though Denny wrote himself into a corner with both plot threads. First… how are ya gonna make Ollie not actually kill the President… but make it look like he did? Second, Hal Jordan is widely known as being “fearless”… so, how do you make him face a fear that doesn’t exist? I think O’Neil handled both quite well… maybe a bit convenient, but well enough.
Colonel Krisp is a pretty terrible villain. I mean, if you hire a dude to kill anyone (much less the President!) against his will… would you let him out of your sight while he prepared his arsenal? That just seems ridiculous. Also, we’re to understand that this fella’s got his finger on a button 24/7? That’s gotta cramp like hell! I’m lucky if I can hold a spoon long enough to eat a whole bowl of soup… couldn’t imagine the dedication the Colonel has to his buttony cause.
To our cosmic half… this bit showed a side of John Stewart that I’m not entirely familiar with. Seeing him in awe of Hal Jordan… and so insecure in his own abilities struck me as kinda weird. Not saying it isn’t right… just feels different from the character I know. I’m used to John being confident and headstrong. No real bearing on the issue… just an observation from a fan who came in many years after this issue hit.
Hal facing off with… himself? Interesting, while at the same time… kind of a cliche. Of course, the man without fear would only fear his own insecurities. Stands to reason… decent enough way to pull Hal out of his jam. Also, Itty appearance!
Overall, I really enjoyed this. Mike Grell delivers some excellent art here. Really wasn’t sure about the clean-shaven Ollie… but, he makes it work. I gotta say, Grell’s Black Canary… really nice! The entire package, art-wise was a ton of fun. I’d recommend checking this issue out if you come across it. It doesn’t look like this one has been made available digitally… and given what appears on the cover, I’m not sure I’d be holding my breath (though, I’ve been wrong before!).
Before we wrap up and since we’re on the subject, I wanna make mention of the most comprehensive resource for all things Grell… our pals Ruth and Darrin over at Warlord Worlds cover Mr. Grell’s work on Green Arrow, Warlord, and Jon Sable: Freelance. Of late, they are also including discussion of his work on Legion of Super-Heroes. It’s always a great listen… and definitely worth your time.