ACW Extra – Legend of the Green Flame, Chapter 4 (of 4)

Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame, Part Four
“Chapter Four”
Writer – Neil Gaiman
Art – Kevin Nowlan & Jason Little
Letters – Todd Klein
Colors – Matt Hollingsworth
Assistant Editor – Frank Berrios
Group Editor – Bob Schreck
Executive Editor – Mike Carlin

Happy Thanksgiving, Gang!  My absolute favorite day of the year… hopefully it’s some of yours’ too!

Little did I realize when we started this Action Comics Weekly journey that I would be writing the final chapter of the run on Thanksgiving Day.  That’s some amazingly weird timing.  My math was so messed up when we began, I was sure this project would be over before Halloween!

Oh well, whattayagonnado?

Not much more of a pre-ramble today… I’ve got a certain 24 lb. visitor occupying space in my fridge that I’ve gotta spend some time with… during tomorrow’s compilation post we’ll spend some time wrapping things up (and also have a look at the preliminary poll results for Best ACW Feature… EVER!

Chapter Four opens with Superman and Green Lantern waking up… this time, it looks like they’ve arrived inside a Power Battery!  Hal helps his pal to his feet, and the Big and Small Fellas find themselves stood before… the Green Flame!

The Flame proceeds to speak to them… retelling some Oan history to explain its origin… and its reason for nabbing the heroes at this juncture.  Ya see, some forty-million years ago the Guardians created the power battery… and in so doing, chose science over magic, banishing the latter from the structure.  The Flame then achieved sentience… and in the time of Kai Lung, a lamp-maker named Chang created the ring and lantern.  Hal recognizes the lamp as once belonging to Alan Scott… the Flame, however, doesn’t take kindly to the inference that it was ever “owned” by anyone.  Instead, it refers to Alan Scott as having been a “slave” to the Flame.

It then offers Hal a similar “slavedom”… If he is willing to cast aside his current (science-y) ring and embrace magic, it will endow upon him the greatest power.  Hal ain’t diggin’ the idea so much, but the Flame continues it’s sales pitch… well, actually, the Flame makes it clear that this wasn’t so much an “offer”, but a “demand”.  Just then, the Phantom Stranger arrives on the scene.

The Stranger reminds Hal that the Flame can be controlled… and, in fact, was controlled by Alan Scott before.  The Flame pleads with Hal to ignore that trenchcoated interloper…

… but, he doesn’t!  Hal then recites Alan Scott’s old Green Lantern Oath… which, uh, doesn’t so much roll off the tongue like Hal’s.

Bada-bing, bada-boom… the Green Flame has vacated the room, and the heroes find themselves back down that hallway in the Museum… looking right at their physical bodies!  The Phantom Stranger proceeds to take Alan Scott’s Lantern… and tells the Fellas that they’ll be returned to their bodies (and to the normal flow of time) pretty quickly.

We shift ahead a little bit, and rejoin Hal and Superman sitting atop the Museum continuing their chat from before.  This recent situation helped Hal put all of his woes into perspective… and he realizes there’s more to life than complaining about everything.  He decides he’s going to drop in on Mogo just to say hi.  Since this is Hal, and wherever he goes… tragedy follows, I suppose we should say a little preemptive prayer for Mogo’s health and happiness now.

The heroes drop to the street level where… heyyy, there’s a theater marquee getting its sign swapped out!  Looks like Fatal Attraction is about ready to head to VHS.  Now, where have we seen this before?  Waitasec, a “Fatal Attraction Retrospective”?  I thought this was supposed to be happening in the late-80’s?  Oh well, whatever the case…

… you likely already know where this scene is headed.  “ACTION” is left on the marquee as Hal symbolically hands Action Comics back to the “big guy”… he then delivers a Kentian wink in our direction.

Welp, that’s a wrap… in more ways than one.  All of the stories of Action Comics Weekly have now been told.  We’ll save the comparison between the Maggin and Gaiman stories for the compilation post, and just look at this one as a chapter… and a complete story.

As a chapter it’s… I dunno, kinda rushed.  Maybe that’s telling of my tolerance for magic-based stories… maybe that’s why I’ve never really able to glom onto stories featuring the Phantom Stranger or the Spectre… they always seem so “with one snap of my fingers, the bad stuff goes away” for my liking.  That’s kind of what we get here.  The Phantom Stranger shows up… tells Hal to control the Flame, and so… he does.  Bingo-bango, all’s good in the hood.

Resolutions like that make me feel sort of like I’ve wasted a whole bunch of time reading the story up to that point, ya know?  It’s like… why bother building tension and conflict, when some cosmically-powered side character can just show up and fix the problem without any actual effort?  What I’m trying to say is, it’s hard for me to truly invest in stuff like this.

Now, as a whole story… Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame was… okay.  Nothing really socks-rocking, but a decent little buddy-story between Kal ‘n Hal.  It’s cool as a novelty and an oddity, but… I feel like if you go into this expecting NEIL GAIMAN’S Superman and Green Lantern epic, you might come out of it a bit disappointed.  It’s not a bad story… it’s just a story.

I enjoyed seeing Kal ‘n Hal chatting… though, it was mostly Hal kvetching and Clark kinda just trying to get a word in edgewise.  That’s the kind of dynamic I see them having though, so it worked for me.  In a lot of my personal interactions, I kinda feel like the “Hal” of the conversation… just muddling through whatever’s going on in my head, while a calmer other-person kinda just absorbs it all… while probably repeatedly asking themselves why they’re still hanging around me!

The ending here, just like in the Maggin script, was pretty clever.  Makes me wonder who came up with it first.  In the Afterword of this book, DC Editor from back in the long ago, Mark Waid confirms that DC did buy Gaiman’s script: “We paid Neil for the script and then, with deep regret, simply filed it away.”  I gotta wonder: Did Neil’s original script included the Fatal Attraction bit?  Did Maggin come up with it first?  Did an editor just think it was clever and ask each writer to use it?  I tells ya what, we axe the important questions here at Chris is on Infinite Earths!

Whatever the case, it feels more “right” with Hal being the one to symbolically “hand” Action Comics back to “the Big Guy”.  For all intents and purposes (and for better or worse), Action Comics Weekly was Hal Jordan’s book.  He was the headliner, and probably the main draw for the casual comics fan.  I understand why they made it Deadman in the Maggin script… but, it works so much better (on so many levels) with Hal being the guy.

Overall… a good enough story, which kinda jives with my feelings on Action Comics Weekly as a whole.  It was “Good Enough”.  Not going to blow anybody away… and there will be bits and pieces you won’t care about… but, there’s enough about it to like that I can say it was good enough.

Tomorrow we’ll wrap this whoooooooooooole thing up!

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