ACW #635 – Green Lantern

Action Comics Weekly #635 (Green Lantern)
“The End”
Writer/Plots – James Owsley
Pencils/Plots – M.D. Bright
Inks – Romeo Tanghal
Letters – Albert DeGuzman
Colors – Julianna Ferriter & Amory Williams
Assistant Editor – Dan Raspler
Editor – Denny O’Neil

Well… here we are, my friends… the final Green Lantern chapter in Action Comics Weekly!  It’s a pretty surreal feeling… I mean, Green Lantern and Superman have been our two constants over these past thirty-five weeks… and to think, our “flagship feature” won’t be with us for the rest of the run!

Well, Green Lantern and Superman will star in the last-ever Action Comics Weekly (both versions), so all’s not lost.  We’ll see Hal again… in about seven weeks.

We open with Hal hoofin’ it away from Malvolio… if you recall, last time out, Big Mal destroyed Hal’s Power Ring, leaving our hero rather defenseless against any further assault.  Hal provides us with a bit of exposition via his internal monologue… he headed into space in pursuit of that Wooden Bethel Shrine (remember that?), and ran afoul of Malvolio… a 300 year-old man whose father was a Green Lantern (who Mal himself murdered).  His mother was an Earth woman.  That about catch us up?  Anyhoo, Hal attempts to put a little space between he and the big bad, to buy himself some time to consider his options.

Hal finds himself in a sort of armory… where all of the guns appear to be made of gold.  Great!  Thinks he, if these weapons are gold… Malvolio won’t be able to effect them.  I… uh… thought we already learned that Mal’s Power Ring works a little bit differently than the rest of the Corps?  I didn’t imagine that, did I?  Whatever the case, Hal “suits up”…

… and before long looks like the prototype for many a Liefeldian character yet to come!  Just like many of those Liefeldian characters, Hal Jordan proves to be a rather lousy shot with his giant cannon.  Missing Malvolio with every blast, he does manage to punch many holes into the side of the golden space station… almost getting sucked into the vacuum of space in the process.  If not for Malvolio saving his bacon with an emerald construct, anyway…

Hal flops down to the ground right in front of the baddie… and he’s down to his final weapon, a golden bow and arrow.  Malvolio laughs… and, uh… I can’t really blame him.  After some tough-guy talk, Hal draws back… and releases, right into Malvolio’s heart!

Now, here’s the rub.  Hal, stood over the prone body… takes Malvolio’s Power Ring, and heads back toward Earth.

Back in the station… Malvolio wakes up, plucks the arrow from his chest, and gets back on his feet.  He’s… pleased.

Ya see, he wanted Hal Jordan to take his Power Ring with him back to Earth… that was the whole point of this.  Suddenly, the golden space station disappears, and Malvolio stands in complete blackness.  Where he’d sadly remain… even until today.

Well, that’s a wrap for the Green Lantern feature!  We’ve gone from the brutal murder of Katma Tui… to the arrest of John Stewart… to an appearance on Oprah… to the introduction of the Freak Show… to the break-up with Arisia… to an intergalactic peace summit with Priest… to the Bethel Traveler, and a tangle with Captain Atom… and finally, to Lord Malvolio.  It’s been a weird arc, hasn’t it?

It’s hard to talk about the biggest takeaway from this chapter without diving headfirst into the crazy amount of possibilities, and “back doors” it presents.  What we have is Hal Jordan returning to Earth… wearing the Power Ring of a madman!  While pretty much all of this bit was swept under the rug… it did actually get a passing mention a few years later in Green Lantern (vol.3) #25 (June, 1992).

Green Lantern (vol.3) #25 (June, 1992)

So, even in the post-Emerald Dawn landscape, Malvolio’s Ring was still a thing.  Haven’t the foggiest idea it wasn’t ever brought up again after this… but, it’s there!  And so, it could be argued that… when Hal went cuckoo-bananas during Emerald Twilight, he was wearing Malvolio’s Ring!  This fact was not lost on many USENETters of the day, who held to the possibility that Hal’s eventual retribution would be facilitated by the return of Malvolio (and not via the introduction of a giant yellow fear bug from outer space).

In fact, James Owsley… then, Christopher Priest held firm that Malvolio was the key to undoing the whole Parallax mess!  In a USENET post, dated April 26, 1996 he would shed much light on Malvolio, including:

“Malvolio’s ring is DC’s instant way out of this Parallax business.  They’ll never use it, but it is there.”

While we’re already looking the USENET post… let’s dig a bit deeper:

Regarding Malvolio’s vital stats:

“Born in England in the year 1612.  His father was an offworlder, a Green Lantern from Space Sector 1634.  There was no GL of Earth at that time. Malvie’s dad was a big blue-skinned guy.  He fell in love with an Earth woman (probably against the Guardians’ wishes)”

Regarding his Alan Scott-esque Uniform:

“There was a reason for that, but I honestly can’t remember.  I believe we were going to asset Scott’s uniform was actually based on Malvolio’s”

Is there any connection between Malvolio and Alan Scott?


Did Malvolio’s Power Ring work on wood?

“Malvolio, like Priest, doesn’t need a ring.  See, Denny O’Neil (my GL editor at the time) and I agree the limitations of Hal’s ring were (ironically) imposed to keep him from going nuts.  That the limitations were mostly mental or post-hypnotic. Malvolio didn’t know any of the rules. He doesn’t know his ring can’t work on yellow, so Malvie’s ring *can*.  In fact, Malvie, like Priest, can connect to the GL force without a ring.”

Did it work on yellow?

“It *did* work on yellow.”

What of Malvolio’s father?

“Malvolio was/is insane.  A congenital defect. He has major ego problems.  Although he worshipped his dad, at some point he realized his dad was an idiot and that he, Malvolio, alone should have the power of the ‘green flame’.  He killed his dad in his sleep–an incredibly ignoble gesture, and something that fuels Malvie’s insanity all the more.”

What’s his connection to Priest (the character, not the dude)?

“Malvolio was never a Green Lantern.  His father was. Malvie killed dad and took his ring–but he was never a member of the Corps … On behalf of the Guardians of the Universe, Priest fought Lord Malvolio … Priest was booted out of the GL Corps by the Guardians because he refused to kill Malvolio.  Instead, Priest imprisoned Malvie and the little fathead pipsqueaks took Priest’s stripes.”

Explanation of “Malvolio’s World”…

“Here’s where it gets loopy, and yes, it’s probably my fault:  ‘Malvolio’s World’, the mountain retreat, the alien scientist–everything we saw in that arc (we discussed this last week)–was an illusion.  Malvolio was in JAIL, imprisoned by Priest and looking for a way out. He brought Hal there and created all this B-S for one purpose only… to get Hal to put on Malvolio’s ring, which Parallax wears today.”

Well… the dude (Hal) who’d become Parallax wore it when he went nuts, but close enough.  At this point, Kyle Rayner was wearing a “reforged” version of that Power Ring.  Kyle would eventually get a short-lived super-baddie called Oblivion… who some, back in the day, thought had ties to Big Mal.

What’s next for Malvolio (as of 1996)?

“I’ve tried no fewer than six times to bring Malvolio back.  DC has no interest in the character. In 1992 I pitched ‘The Freedom Fighters’, a super-heroic (sort of) team consisting of Ray, Black Condor, Phantom Lady, the Hawks, Starman and Arion the Immortal.  The team’s unlikely warped Professor X? Malvolio. DC declined it.”

A lot of interesting information there… in particular, the idea of “Malvolio’s World”.  As we saw during this final chapter, everything faded to black at the end… everything Hal (and by extension, we) saw was a fake… an illusion!  Everything there was in service of Malvolio ensuring that Hal took his ring back to Earth.

That’s really just about all they ever wrote on Lord Malvolio… outside of the Sleepers Novel, during which (from what I understand) he made some sort of pact with Adolf Hitler, and battled Alan Scott.  I don’t consider the novels to be “canon”, so… it is, what it is.  The entire Sleepers trilogy is available in audio format from Graphic Audio, if anyone’s interested.

And so, that does it for Hal, Mal… and the entire ACW-GL feature!

Tomorrow: The Compilation of 635… already!

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