Green Lantern (vol.2) #31 (1964)

Green Lantern (vol.2) #31 (September, 1961)
“Power Rings For Sale!”
“Pay Up–Or Blow Up!”
Writer – John Broome
Penciller – Gil Kane
Inker – Sid Greene
Letterer – Gaspar
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.12

Now here’s a cover that’s haunted me for quite some time.  This iconic (to me, and perhaps only to me) issue is one of those that I never thought I’d own.  Any time I happened across a stack of Silver-Age Green Lantern, this would be the issue I’d rummage for… and up until this weekend, it’s one I’d never even seen in person!

I guess a (formerly?) avid Silver-Age DC collector just sold their collection to my local shop because, ho-lee cow… the comics I found this weekend blew my mind!  Most of them were Superman comics, which, from my experience is what you mostly see when you look at folks’ Silver-Age collection… buuut, there was a small stack of Green Lantern too… and wouldn’tcha know it, they had the one I’ve been looking for!  Now, this wasn’t a cheap-o bin buy… though, if it was… ooh boy.  It also isn’t a book I bought myself, it was a gift from the wife… making it all the more special!

Let’s get right down to it!

Our opening splash shows Green Lantern being observed by alien Grolls.  They are attempting to control him for their own means, and from the looks of it… it might just be working!  The story proper begins with… Piefa–, er, we’ll just call him Tom… on a count of that’s his name, talking to a “Medico” about how weird his buddy Green Lantern has been acting of late.  The example his gives is his using his power ring to shoot off fireworks, which… I dunno, sounds a bit benign.  If you’ve got evidence of him acting strange, ya may wanna share a more outlandish instance.  GL arrives to allow the Doc to take a look at him.

After an hour-long examination, all the Doctor can conclude is that the Lantern might be a bit tired.  Hal denies being tired, then conjures up a crisp $100 bill to pay the man.  Tom knows right away that using the ring for personal convenience goes against the Green Lantern Corps code of conduct.  Lemme ask this, tho… for the rest of his life, Hal’s going to have to will that bill into existence, doesn’t seem like a “personal convenience” to me!

Tom asks Hal to fly them back to the power battery so they can check in with the Guardians.  Tom the tattletale in full effect here!  This actually marks the first time that Tom is seeing the Guardians, so that’s pretty cool.  Anyhoo, they connect… and Tom informs the little blue dudes that Green Lantern’s acting erratically.  Almost immediately, the Guardians posit that Hal is being controlled by the Grolls in order to take over the Earth… damn, they’re good.  They then say, “Ehh, Green Lantern’ll take care of it…” and close off communications.

We jump ahead a few hours, and rejoin Tom as he’s checking the validity of a new rumor… Green Lantern is selling duplicate power rings for a buck’a pop!  And, hey wouldja lookit that, he totally is!

After clearing out his inventory, Hal takes to the skies to perform some sky-writing.  This is all being observed by the Grolls, naturally… and they choose now to enact their final control measures over Green Lantern!

He is blasted by an energy bolt, after which he bathes the street… the city… the country, well, they whole dang planet in green energy!  This turns every human into “living automatons”, and makes Earth ripe for the picking for the Grolls.

Upon arrival to their new digs, the Grolls request… er, demand an audience with Green Lantern, so they can order him to “off” himself with his own power ring… being under their control, Hal does just that!  Well, not really… he just turns himself invisible.  In his new unseen state, Hal focuses in on the power of all the duplicate rings he’d made and sold… so that he may combine them with his own and produce a super-amplified power beam!

The Grolls see what’s up, and proceed to roll their blue energy cannon from their yellow spacecraft (too bad for them they didn’t invert their color scheme!)  Hal melts the cannon down with the quickness… then sends the evil aliens on their merry way.  Tom saunters up thankful that his buddy was in control the entire time… and just playing along to catch (and, er, release) the alien would-be conquerors.  Hal says the aliens promised to play nice, so he spared their lives.  Hmm… first, I didn’t know Hal ever killed… second, I’m guessing they retreated to their yellow spaceship, Hal knew he was powerless against them… and they just jammed out.

We wrap up with Hal explaining that in order to make himself immune to the Grolls cerebro-radiation he had to blast himself with large doses of his own power beam.  Ehh?  Really?  Then to “play safe” he made (and sold) the duplicate rings… and gave them a 24-hour charge.  Hmm… we’ll talk more about that below.

Our second story begins with Hal bidding adeiu to Pi… Tom, as he’s about to head home for his brother Jim’s wedding.  Jim’s the brother with the crazy fiancee/wife who is convinced he’s (Jim) secretly Green Lantern… but we’ll get there.  When he hits the burbs, his brothers (Jack is there too) inform him that the ceremony might have to be postponed!

They ‘splain.  Apparently, a mad-scientist (extraordinaire) J. Charles Gantner has threatened far and wide (at least in this sleepy little hamlet) that if he is not given the lofty sum of one-million USD, he’s going to wreck the town with lethal amounts of radiation.  Welp, that could put a crimp in their day.  To illustrate his power and intent, he will give a demonstration later that night!

The Jordan boys tune in the radio for some follow-up and learn that Gantner demands the cold-hard cash be dropped off over a “certain” canyon at midnight… well, that narrows it down.  Hal knows this is certainly a job for Green Lantern… luckily, he remembered to charge his ring!

The brothers Jordan chat a bit more… after all, not much Hal can do until midnight.  Jim Jordan decides this is a great time for a standing-in-the-living-room-shave, and pulls out his electric shaver.  Wouldn’cha know it, at that very moment Gantner decides to give his “demonstration”… suddenly all of the electrical appliances in town go crazy!

Next we shift over to… oh boy, Jim’s fiancee Sue’s hotel room.  She is a pip!  In the face of atomic disaster, she’s more annoyed that her wedding is going to have to be postponed.  She’s amazing!  When Hal and Jim arrive to check on her, she pulls Hal aside to talk about her fiance secretly being Green Lantern.  Hal, naturally, plays dumb.

We jump to midnight, and Green Lantern has arrived at a “certain” canyon… where he sees a… yellow helicopter, that flies through a… yellow fog!  Can’t win for losin’ today, Hal m’man.

He deduces that the scientist might just be hiding inside one of the canyon’s mountainous peaks… and so, he tunnels his way in.  Turns out, he was right!  Too bad he gets kayoed before he can do much of anything.  That happened to poor Hal a lot back in the Silver Age.  Anyhoo, Gantner figures the dosh ain’t coming… so he may as well get ready to irradiate the town.

Meanwhile, Jim and Sue are out driving… right by that “certain” canyon.  Sue is absolutely reaming Jim about his cowardice… after all, he’s Green Lantern, right?  He should be doing something about this Gantner… think about their weddi– er, town!  Think about the town!  Not wanting to hear it anymore, Jim meekly exits the car to have a look around… and somehow winds up riding a “will-hidden” mine-shaft elevator deep into the mount.

Now, here’s where it gets weird…er.  Jim winds up in Gantner’s lab facing off with the man himself.  He’s actually facing off with the business end of Gantner’s handy laser ray… which looks a bit like the one the Grolls had in the last story!  This is where Jim thinks… hey, maybe I can tap into my will power like Green Lantern and stop myself from being turned into a fine powder on the cave floor!  At that moment, Hal groggily wakes up… and blasts Gantner with his power beam.

Since Jim had his eyes closed… he actually believes that he kayoed the bad Doc with his own will power!  He drags Gantner’s limp body out of the mountain… only strengthening Sue’s case that he is, in actuality, Green Lantern!

The story (and issue) ends with the ceremony… in which Sue looks like the smuggest bride I’d ever seen, and the start of their marital bliss… which is, as you might imagine, rather heavy on Green Lantern accusations.

Man, I’m really starting to fall in love with Silver-Age DC… not something I thought I’d ever say!  To a younger (leaner) Chris, Silver-Age DC was full of silly, disposable, and interchangeable little stories… and, while that’s not entirely untrue… I’m coming to find that there is a place for ’em in my heart.  Had a whole lot of fun with both of these wacky stories.

Before we hop into ’em, there’s something I noticed… there were a lot of editorial footnotes throughout this issue.  I guess when “continuity” only extends to a single book’s three-year history… it’s easy to keep track of and cite things.  Interestingly enough, the footnotes wouldn’t cite the issues by number, but instead by release date… Such as: “Editor’s Note: District Attorney Jack Jordan was first introduced to readers in ‘Green Lanterns’ Brother Act!’–in the December, 1961 issue of Green Lantern!”  So weird!  Guess it wasn’t until collectors came along that issue numbers mattered all that much.

One more thing before hitting the stories… I can’t help but think of this cover as something of a missed opportunity… for the deluge of rings DC was selling during Blackest Night!  I mean, picture a (American) fumetti-style ads with Dan Didio or Geoff Johns shilling the rings of the emotional spectrum!  Or, maybe an homage with Black Hand selling ’em… I think that would’ve been a lot of fun.

Okay, into the stories… insane, but fun!  I mean, we’ve got Tom Kalamaku scheduling a doctor appointment for Hal… who, though acting wildly erratic, sits still and allows himself to be examined for a freakin’ hour.  Just so weird.

Let’s also discuss Hal “playing safe” for a sec.  To throw the baddies off the scent, and to give him some power he can draw from later… Hal makes (and sells) a bunch of duplicate power rings… with a 24 hour charge.  Okay.  Now, d’ya think any of those poor dopes knew that 24 hours later they’d best not be flying?  Prob’ly not.  Also, did Hal keep all that cash?  Gotta figure he made a cool 30 bucks there.  Funny things to consider… things that we’re obviously not supposed to think about critically, but whattayagonnado?  I mean, we could also look at the potential for disaster temporarily mentally enslaving the Earth’s entire population may bring… buuuuuut, we won’t.

His explanation of blocking the Groll-control by bombarding himself with his own energy blasts… I know I’m using the word “weird” a lot, but… c’mon.

Onto the second story.  Dr. Gantner… buddy, for a mad-scientists with delusions of becoming a millionaire… why would you threaten some little hamlet?  I mean, Coast City isn’t that far a drive… and there’re millions of people there!  Yeah, yeah… another thing we’re not supposed to think about…

Let’s chat a bit about Hal’s new sister-in-law, Sue.  What a crazy fun character she is!  I really dig the storytelling here… she’s convinced that Jim Jordan is actually Green Lantern, and there isn’t a whole lot to do to convince her that she’s wrong.  In fact, every time he does try… he only winds up strengthening her case!  I had a lot of fun with this second story… probably dug it even more than the opener!

Overall, this is a great early Green Lantern issue, which has been reprinted a number of times and shouldn’t be difficult to come across if you are interested.  www.comics.org has a great listing of where you can find it:

I am rather surprised that it has not yet been made available digitally!  I’d make a snarky remark about a CW superhero show or DC film here… but I can’t think of any!  Any way you can find it, this one’s certainly worth checking out!

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