Green Lantern (vol.2) #60 (April, 1968)
“Spotlight on the Lamplighter!”
Writer – Gardner Fox
Art – Gil Kane & Sid Greene
Cover Price: $0.12
Today we’re going to discuss a special issue… not so much for the story (just wait!), but for the fact that this was the first Silver-Age issue of a comic book that I’ve ever bought!
Picture it, Autumn, 2001… a much younger (and thinner) Chris enters a comic shop in downtown Phoenix, and is shown a box of “reader copies” of Silver-Age DC Comics. I was on a pretty big Green Lantern kick at the time, and was trying to back-fill my Kyle Rayner appearances, before tackling pre-Emerald Twilight. When I saw this, I figured… hey, why not? And for the price they’re asking… man, only $7.50. Lemme tell ya, the fact that I paid that makes me squirm in my seat a bit… my “limit” these days is far lower. But, whattayagonnado, I was 21… and had some cash burning a hole in my pocket.
We open at Quickway Loan Company, where accountant Arthur Blount is preoccupied by his pending death. Ya see, he has an unnamed disease… and his only hope of survival is raising enough dosh to fly to Rome to be operated on by a specialist. As he continues to write in his ledger, his movements become more forced… almost as though he’s fighting off paralysis. Well, actually that’s exactly what he’s doing. We see him seize up just as… *snicker* the Lamplight arrives on the scene! Looks like he’s behind the paralysis… and to be fair, if I saw this geek I’d probably freeze up myself. Anyhoo, he melts his way through the vault door to loot the joint. After swipin’ the stuff, he asks Mr. Blount to tell the world that the Lamplighter was there! Several minutes later, Blount is once more able to move.
We jump to the following morning at the Evergreen Insurance Company, where “Ace Claims Adjuster” Hal Jordan is getting an earful from his boss. News of the Loan Company robbery has hit, and da boss wants Hal to get to the bottom of it before they pay out. It’s so funny how Hal jumps from job to job here… so weird.
Anyhoo, Hal pays Mr. Blount a visit to… well, interrogate him. He flat out asks if he stole the money… but he’s only doing so so he can use his ring as a lie-detector. He concludes that Blount is telling the truth about everything… and sets out to track down this strange “Lamplighter”. Oddly, the ring-sling energy is… invisible during the sweep.
We jump to a jewelry store where well-to-do Mr. Talbot is looking to purchase a whopper of a ring for… well, that’s something we’ll talk about later. Anyhoo, he sends mousy shopgirl Cindy to the vault for something “more expensive”. Then, suddenly… the Lamplighter shows up! He traps the patrons within diamonds, and makes Cindy beautiful… stunning her before a mirror! Luckily, Green Lantern quickly makes the scene.
What follows is… a weird fight. This is like watching two kids play-fighting. I’ve used this analogy before, but it’s like one kid pretending to shoot another, only to learn he’s wearing a bulletproof vest… then the other uses a “flamethrower”, only to learn the first is wearing flame retardant underwear… and so on. Hal and the Lamplighter keep one-upping one another, and it’s pretty kooky. It’s like, LL makes the air “solid” and changes his atoms to helium to float out of the range of a punch.
After some more back ‘n forth, Hal creates a… er, lampshade with a very Jordanian theme to trick the Lamplighter… and it works! This ends the skirmish (it really just ends with a punch), but for whatever reason, Hal doesn’t get to apprehend the baddie.
We pick back up with old miser Jabez Morley. He’s busy counting his money, while outside a long-sunken pirate ship is being raised from the drink. In the crowd is… (duh) the Lamplighter, and he’s here to rob the ship of it’s doubloons!
Back at the Insurance Company, Hal is working with a client. His ring lights up indicating that Lamplighter has resurfaced… and Hal makes like Don Knotts, before running off to do the oath and confront his foe.
Here’s where it gets weird (yeah, I know)… The Lamplighter has trapped all of the passersby in gold, sorta like he did (in diamond) with the jewelry store patrons earlier. After recovering from a punch from Green Lantern, he encases our man Hal in gold! Uh-oh… yellow! Well, just wait.
While Lamplighter begins robbing the boat, he is once again attacked by… Green Lantern. B-b-b-but how? He was encased in yellow! Well, I’m glad you asked… he used his power ring to… shrink himself down to microscopic size, and slipped between the molecules of his golden candy shell. Wait, what? That’s a thing he can do? Hmm… okey dokey. Anyhoo, Lamplighter attempts to change Hal’s fists into feathers with his staff… but misses! Instead the beam goes into the Miser’s apartment, transforming all the cash into feathers!
The confused Miser… throws the feathers out the window. Wha? Okay… that’s random. At the same time, Green Lantern uses his special finishing move… a punch to the face. I guess we can assume this time around he actually managed to arrest the Lamplighter.
This issue wraps up with an epilogue… Arthur Blount visits his doctor and learns… he’s completely cured! The Lamplighter-induced paralysis somehow flipped the “diseased elements” of his body to healthy ones. At the jewelry store, Mr. Talbot visits shopgirl Cindy, who is back to her mousy self… and proposes to her! Was the expensive ring for her all along (no)… did he dump his girlfriend for Cindy (maybe)… is he just a collector of expensive jewelry (probably)… who knows?
Finally, the Miser… the feathers he tossed have turned back into cold hard cash… and the folks on the street are pocketing it. We’re not supposed to feel bad for the Miser, are we? Anyhoo, that’s it!
Well, that was weird!
Not much to unpack, while at the same time… a bunch of silliness to address. Something I left out of the synopsis were multiple “blindness” puns… hinting to the fact that the Lamplighter is blind. While that explains his outfit, it kinda gets lost amid the wackiness of making constructs, flying, and being tricked by Hal’s optical illusions. I mean, Hal made a lampshade that tricked him… which wouldn’t be a thing if he were blind… right? Maybe they just forgot… or maybe he’s just really near-sighted? I dunno. Whatever it is, it didn’t work for me.
Hal being a claims adjuster… I dunno, it just makes me giggle a bit. Not that being a claims adjuster is anything to scoff about, it’s just not what I’m used to from Hal. I’d love for him to go back to drifting from job to job and place to place… seems like a fun concept for a superhero book. Just a drifting dude/dudette taking odd jobs and trying to start over every few issues… I could really get into something like that.
Now, Hal’s powers are always a bit convenient… but I never really call them on it. The ring is an easy way to change the direction or tone of a story… battles and events can begin and end with a flick of the ring. We know that, we accept that. Buuuuut, I didn’t think it could shrink it’s wearer down to a microscopic size. I mean, that’s a pretty awesome power… one that you’d figure Hal and others would use with regularity to get out of a jam. Just such a weird thing to happen for a quick throwaway scene. I dunno… far be it from me to question Mr’s. Fox and Kane… but, still… so weird!
We get a bit of a morality play here… I guess? We meet three rando’s in Evergreen City, two of whom are “good” while the third isn’t? Not really sure what the point of any of that was. It didn’t add all that much to the story… besides a couple of pages. Blount gets cured… but we don’t know anything about him other than the fact that he was sick to begin with. Outside of basic human empathy, there’s nothing explicit to root for here. Shopgirl Cindy didn’t strike me as a particularly “good” person either…she came across as vain and narcissistic. Her ending has her making out with an equally vain and narcissistic beau. So, uh… let the punishment fit the crime, I guess? I dunno. The old Miser… I mean, we don’t know him from a hole in the wall either… all we know is that he kept his money in a mattress because he didn’t trust banks. Outside of basic human jealousy, there’s nothing explicit to root against here. I guess this is just playing to our baser emotions… who knows?
Otherwise… this was a weird, but fun issue. A bit formulaic, and featured some oddly convenient “upping the ante” style fight scenes… but, I definitely enjoyed my time with it. Overall, if you’re into Silver Age weirdness, this is certainly one to check out. It has been reprinted in SHOWCASE Presents: Green Lantern, Volume 4 but has not yet been made available digitally… and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, unless Lamplighter becomes a recurring villain on Arrow or something. Fingers crossed, I guess…