Green Lantern (vol.2) #116 (1979)

Green Lantern (vol.2) #116 (May, 1979)
“My Ring… My Enemy!”
Writer – Denny O’Neil
Penciller – Alex Saviuk
Inker – Dave Hunt
Letterer – Ben Oda
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Jack C. Harris
Cover Price: $0.40

Today we’re going to discuss a semi-recent pickup.  I grabbed this from a dollar bin during a local shop’s Labor Day blowout along with several others.  When I posted the “haul” on Twitter, my buddy Mark from I’m the Gun informed me that this was a prrretty important issue for Guy Gardner.  I knew of Guy’s trials and tribulations, but had NO idea that they happened in this very issue!

Been wanting to discuss it ever since, so let’s get right down to it!

We open in Star City shortly following Ollie firing off his “Arrow Signal”… which is pretty much exactly what you think it is.  This draws the attention of his Hard-Travelin’ homeboy Hal, who has popped in to see what’s up.  Turns out the skies have turned red and a giant eyeball has appeared above the city.  Hal attempts to sling some ring… but it’s a no go!  His emerald beam recoils and wraps itself around him at though it were a ticked-off boa constrictor!

When it finally does uncoil, it sends Hal careening into a brick wall… and, if ya can believe it… Hal is kayoed.  That almost never happens to him!  Okay okay, it almost always happens to him… We learn that the entire scene is being monitored… hmm, red skies… monitor… Nah, this time we’re being watched by a Professor Ojo, who is responsible for the presence of The Eye… however, not responsible for Hal’s wonky ring!

When Hal begins to stir, he informs Ollie that his ring has been acting up for a little while now… and in order to get to the bottom of it, he’s gonna have to head to Oa!  Ollie wants to join him on the cross-universe trek, to which Hal grows deadly serious… proclaiming this to be his problem, and his danger.  Whooooa, reel it in Hal.

Lantern then zips out to space where he keeps his big rig… he was an over-the-road trucker at this point in his life.  He grabs his power battery to drop off in Ollie’s spare room before heading off.

The following morning, Ollie knocks on his guest room door to invite Hal out for some crazy chili-infused eggs.  When Hal doesn’t answer, Ollie lets himself in… and sees Green Lantern charging his ring… then going to pieces!

The image vanishes, leaving Ollie wondering what he’d just seen.  Just then he meets… the “new Green Lantern” Guy Gardner!  Not sure how he got inside Ollie’s house… maybe Dinah let him in?  Also, not sure why Ollie has a large portrait of… Superman (?) or is it Aquaman (?) on his wall!

Guy clarifies that he’s just filling in for Hal while he’s off planet.  Ollie asks about John Stewart, and we learn that he’s third-in-line at this point.  Guy asks Ollie to show him the superheroing ropes, and he charges up his ring.  It’s so weird seeing Guy in the classic GL togs… mask and all!

Meanwhile, Hal is heading toward the fringe of the Milky Way when his ring konks out.  I guess that’ll happen when you leave your power battery at Ollie’s place.  He winds up landing… and stranded, on a desert planet with a red Sun.

Back in Star City, the Eye in the Sky reappears and so the Harder-Travelin’ Heroes take the fight to it.  An arrow shot dead-center does very little… only instigating a counter-attack in the form of a ray.  Guy is able to push Arrow out of the way of falling debris, then takes aim at the Eye.  Turns out his (likely miscolored, yellow) power beam is acting nearly as wonky as Hal’s!  The fellas collect themselves, and decide to retire for… you guessed it, a bowl of chili.

Back with Hal… he continues his trek across the desert wasteland.  Suddenly the ground opens up and he falls into a sinkhole… right into a Guardian-filled bunker!  When they saw him coming they made sure he made landfall on the desert side of the planet… (didn’t even know there was a “desert side”, that might’ve come in handy during Emerald Twilight!) because their sensors indicated that his ring-charge was whacked and they wanted to ensure he wasn’t a threat.  They examine his ring and deduce that the problem is with his power battery.  He is given a new one, and is instructed to destroy the old one ASAP.  Most important for this story in particular… one effect of the defective power battery is “time distortion” in which future events appear in the present.  Let’s remember that!

Back at Ollie’s, Guy chokes down some of Queen’s Famous… which is probably one of the best panels/captions I’ve seen in some time.

After swallowing… and likely a handful of Rolaids, Guy heads back to the skies.  Ollie posits that he’s been “bitten by the hero bug”.  We join Guy as he once again confronts the Eye in the Sky… this time blowing it to bits with but a blast!  He’s so psyched to be a Green Lantern that he can’t wait to… recharge his ring! (record scratch!)

Hal returns to Ollie’s and tells he and Dinah about his trip and his defective power battery.  Ollie informs Hal that he could’a sworn he saw that power battery (and Hal) explode… though, he suggests (as he coolly sips his coffee) that it might’ve been Guy.  Hal recalls what the Guardians told him about “time distortion” and punches a hole through Ollie’s wall into the guest room where Guy is staying…

… Just in time for Guy to complete the Oath, and go to pieces!  Hal is beside himself with grief, while Ollie’s all… “hmph, I guess it was real!”

Well there ya have it, Guy Gardner gets in touch with his inner Patsy Cline and falls to pieces!

Talk about a bait and switch cover though… right?  I mean, that’s pretty clearly intended to be Hal… but whattayagonnado, they’re tryin’ to sell comic books ova hea’!

Really had a good time with this one.  It really doesn’t feel like a Bronze Age story though… at least in the way it’s told.  Everything feels so “matter of fact” that if not for the art (and ending), I might confuse it for a Silver Ager.  I mean, Hal goes to space… and arrives exactly where he needs to… and he’s just given a new power battery.  Bada bing, bada boom.  Guy knocks the Eye outta the Sky and just can’t wait to recharge his ring.  Just so “easy”.

Let’s talk about how weird it is seeing a clean-cut Guy Gardner!  We never see him deferring to anybody… I mean, he busts Batman’s chops regularly… and here he is letting Green Arrow show him the ropes… and eating his chili!  Definitely not used to seeing our man Guy as a sorta “golly gee” sidekick!

Ollie’s aloofness is something I gotta mention.  He just feels so disconnected at times… and it’s hilarious!  His whole world revolves around a certain pretty lady, and bowls of chili!  I chuckled out loud toward the end when Hal asked if he was sure the Lantern that blew up with the power battery was him… and he responded with “Well… could have been Guy, I guess!” as he sips his coffee.  Then… after seeing Guy vaporized he’s all “It was real, huh?”  I’ll concede that I might be projecting a Seinfeldian “that’s a shame” kinda tone to him here… but, it’s a hoot regardless.

Overall… this issue was great fun, and I would recommend it.  This whole “second” (that is, without Neal Adams) O’Neil run on Green Lantern (co-starring Green Arrow) is full of these underrated little stories, and I think any fan of either character would have a good time with these!  Unfortunately since this isn’t from the O’Neil/Adams run… it’s not yet available digitally nor has it (to my knowledge) been collected in trade.

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