Sunday, 7 June 2015

Back Where It All Began - 75 YEARS OF GREEN LANTERN

In 1940, while much of the world was headed on a devastating course towards World War, a new hero burst into life in the pages of All-Americans Comics to “shed light upon dark evil.”  And 75 years later the legacy of this self-same hero continues to do just that.  In that time we have been introduced to literally hundreds of character baring the moniker of Green Lantern but I thought it would be a fitting 75th anniversary tribute to take a look back at where it all began.

All-American Comics #16 has a cover date of July 1940 but according to that wonderful reference source Mike’s Amazing World of Comics the issue actually hit newspaper stands on May 21, 1940.  The book was a collection of humour and adventure romps that included original stories alongside reprints of older strip comics.  The cover art of most previous issues promised readers a rollicking good adventure but nothing compared to the thrilling noir of a masked, cloaked Alan Scott leaping perilously across an exposed girder straight into the muzzle of a loaded tommy gun.  The character’s origin tale is a whistle-stop tour of everything that ever went into a ‘boys’ own adventure’.

The Green Lantern opens with an explosive train crash orchestrated by a crooked businessman seeking revenge after losing out on a new construction contract.  The only survivor of the crash is his rival who is protected by the supernatural light emanating from a mysterious green railway lantern. The lantern speaks to the survivor, Alan Scott, in “an ageless, toneless voice”, recounting the details of its own magical history.  It first came to earth as a flaming meteor with prophetic abilities and was duly carved into a lantern shape by Chinese lamp maker with a reputation for sorcery.  Fearing the lamp was cursed, the lamp maker’s associates killed him and burned his possessions own to meet their only dreadful end to the mystic green flame.  The lamp next turns up many years later to grant sanity to a patient in a mental asylum.  The patient remoulds the lamp into a modern railway lantern which finally passes into the hands of Scott during that fateful train journey.  The lantern imbues him with extraordinary powers and recruits him to fight evil.  All this this in 3 pages of a comic book!  They don’t write ‘em like that anymore…

Despite the many developments and new directions introduced with Green Lantern over the course of the last 75 years it is pleasing to note some of today’s core character traits were established in this very first story.  The Lantern explains the nature of its gift to Alan, “Power shall be yours if you have faith in yourself.  Lose that faith and you shall lose the energetic power of the Green Lantern, for will power is the flame of Green Lantern”.  Without these words, penned by legendary writer Bill Finger, Geoff Johns might never have created the emotional spectrum and the landscape of the modern day Green Lantern universe might look very different indeed.  How could artist Martin Nodell have know, when he devised this character at the age of 25 under the pseudonym Mart Dellon, that it would go on to become his most famous creation. Nodell didn’t want his works in comics to stigmatise his chances of an advertising career.  And while we are discussing credits, much respect should be paid to Sheldon Moldoff for bringing us the gripping noir cover mentioned earlier. 

Under the green flame’s instruction Alan Scott fashions a ring from its metal that manifests his powers for 24 hours before being recharged at the green flame’s lantern source.  His first act as a newly appointed superhero is to swear vengeance on the saboteur responsible for the tragic deaths of his fellow train passengers.  The ring immediately flies him through the air to the villain’s hideaway.  It spirits him straight through the wall where he confronts the crook and his startled henchmen.  The flames protective green aura renders Alan impervious to bullets and a steel blade but he unwittingly discovers the green energy’s ‘Achilles heel’ when he is struck over the head by a simple wooden billy club.  This flaw in Green Lantern’s power set was published a full 3 years before Kryptonite was officially introduced to the Superman mythos and would be the forerunner to the Silver and Bronze Age Green Lantern Corps’ weakness to exert the powers over anything coloured yellow.

Of course, the hero was not down for long and Scott immediately bounced back with a flying kick that Bruce Lee would be proud of and a round of good old fashioned fisticuffs that soundly took care of his would be attackers.  Powered by his ring, he whisked the criminal’s leader high into the sky and threatened do drop him.  Not surprisingly the bad guy spilled everything and signed a confession before promptly dying of shock.  Poetic justice is served and Alan feels destiny pulling him towards a life fighting evil wherever he finds it.  The saga ends with our protagonist declaring he will become a dreaded figure sporting a costume so bizarre that he will never be forgotten.  With that he dons the famous Dracula cloak and the red and green swashbuckling garb that has been the original Green Lantern’s signature style ever since.

But what would Green Lantern be without his oath?  The traditional GL oath has seen some changes and variations over the years but the solemn vow to shine brightly over evil has its roots right here in All-American Comics #16, “…And I will shed my light over dark evil… for the dark things cannot stand the light… the light of The Green Lantern".

I’m sure Martin Nodell and Bill Finger could never have imagined how far Green Lantern would go.  All of his earliest appearances pitted him against hoodlums and petty criminals.  He stared down the barrels of revolvers and machines guns and slugged his way to victory with a tasty right hook.  It seems another world from the cosmic level dramas of Zero Hour or Blackest Night, from Kingdom Come or Lights Out.  But all of these stories owe a huge debt of gratitude to an 8 page pulp adventure from 1940 that intrigued and delighted its young readers and kept them coming back for more.  Then again, maybe the journey from street level vigilante to galactic peacekeeper is not so unpredictable after all.  For even in this very first story the mighty power of Green Lantern came from a meteor that crashed to Earth from space.  Perhaps it’s only fitting that one day it would return to the stars once again.


You can enjoy the early adventures of Green Lantern for yourself in DC Archive Editions: The Golden Age Green Lantern, Volume 1, available from Amazon and all good comic book stores everywhere.

If you enjoyed this post please do keep coming back to Flodo’s Page through June and July 2015 when we will have some other great surprises to celebrate 75 years of Green Lantern.

If that isn't enough for you (and let's face it - why would it be?) be sure to check out these other amazing Green Lantern fansites and podcasts who will be celebrating GL’s 75th birthday right along with us:

For more anniversary awesomeness with everybody’s favourite Emerald Gladiator make sure search the hashtag #GL75TH across social media platforms.

Until next time, “Beware Our Power!”

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Construct of the Week #34

Construct: Travel Pants

Generated by: John Stewart

Appeared in: Green Lantern #14 (vol.3), 1991

Friday, 15 May 2015

Status: Dissipated

There have been many poignant moments in Green Lantern comics. Death and Lanterns are never far apart, as this long list of fallen heroes posted at the GL Wiki goes to prove.

But for my money, the saddest moment of them all comes in Green Lantern #224 when a brave little gas bubble sacrificed himself to protect his fellow Corpsmen and to save the universe from certain destruction (for the second time!).  In this, the final issue of GL volume 2, the Corps inadvertantly cause the destruction of the central power battery on Oa.  Mere minutes before they had taken the impactful decision to execute the renegade Lantern Sinestro for crimes of genocide.  What they did not realise is that the Guardians of the Universe had built a failsafe into the battery that prevented wielders of the green light from harming anyone from the Sinestro's home world of Korugar.  The reasons were noble in their intention but the disgraced former GL had somehow corrupted the Guardian's programme in the final moments before his death causing the power source to become a ticking time bomb of universal destruction.

To make matters worse, the only people who could explain what was going on and how it could be stopped where the Guardians themselves. Unfortunatley they had recently retreated to another dimension to meditate and reflect on the purpose of their immortal lives.  It was for this reason that Flodo Span had volunteered to give up his corporeal being in order to transport Hal Jordan to that other dimension.

The only problem with his plan was that Flodo would need his power ring to restore himself after the jump and with the central battery in meltdown there was no way he could get the vital recharge he needed.  This was going to be a one way trip and Flodo was only too aware of the risk involved.

It's strikes me as sad that Hal, a simple passenger on the duo's transdimensional journey, is too busy admiring the wonderous sights around him to realise that his companion has given his last moments to ensuring the Earthman's mission is a successful one.

According to the mythos and every website that has ever passed opinion on the subject in the days since Joey Cavaleri and Gil Kane originally penned our dramatic saga, Flodo is gone. Dissipated means dead.  Steve Englehart was obviously so sad that he quit the book at the end of the previous issue despite a three year unbroken run. I guess he just couldn't stand to see Flodo go.

But I like to think the gaseous hero has not disappeared for good. Instead he is floating around out there.  An infinite number of sentient particles that may some day breach the dimensional border once more and find his way back to Oa to take his place among his brethren and don the power ring he so richly deserves to wear.  For Flodo Span is a being without fear.  He is Green Lantern.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


Welcome back to another round of Super-Blog Team-Up where the brightest minds in blogging, vlogging and podcasting (and me!) come together to bring you their own unique take on a theme of great geekery that is close to all of our hearts.  This time out the hot topic is:
So strap in, throw back the hard top and get ready to enjoy the crazy ride.
Regular visitors to Flodo's Page will be familiar with our recurring segment, 'Construct of the Week' (not delivered weekly).  The ring-wielding Green Lantern Corps are famed for being able to create hard light constructs of anything they can possibly imagine. Giant rescue workers, winged Pegasus' (Pegususes? Pegusi?), boxing gloves in multiple sizes - you think it, you got it!  Nowadays the standard power set of a ring is basically producing constructs, flight and communication.  But back in the silver-age, when comics didn't have to make sense or retain any continuity from one issue to the next, it seemed like a GL power ring really could do anything at all.  Not just construct an object or translate an alien language.  If a Lantern wished it so the ring would make it happen.

In tribute to the fabulous, freewheeling storytellers of that bygone silver-age I have compiled a Top 10 countdown of my favourite Green Lantern Ring-Slings ...That Don’t Appear In Modern Continuity!!!


Who needs to be the world's greatest detective when you can booby-trap the loot and follow an energy trail all the way back to the bad guy's hide-out.  While the Dark Knight is out searching for clues, your well prepared Emerald Gladiator is sipping Pina Coladas by the pool, waiting for his ring to... well, ring.

Protection from mortal harm was a standard piece of GL kit back in the day.  It might have taken some of the fun out of things for the average super-villain or all those editors who love a good cliff hanger but I can tell you now, you won't hear any Green Lanterns complaining!

Forget David Copperfield.  You want a local landmark rendered invisible then Hal Jordan is the man you should be talking to.  Size not an issue, all landmarks considered.

Nowadays the gift of intangibility is reserved for The Flash or the likes of Dead Man and all those in the Justice League Dark fraternity but time was locking yourself in an impregnable vault surrounded 10 inch thick walls of steel only meant one thing - that you had nowhere to run when our favourite GL came calling.  Doors are for dweebs!

All things considered GL was essentially a one man Justice League.  Super strength - check.  Travelling at light speed - check. A little too intimate with a certain young trout at the local aquarium - chec... hey, wait a minute!  One thing is for sure.  If you needed a giant superhero or one who could shrink down to the size of a sub-atomic particle you need look no further than the one size fits all Green Lantern Corps.

Magnetize your enemy so that they stick to the metal walls of their space ship.  Brilliant!

The age old dilemma of how to protect your secret identity from the girlfriend.  Easy when you are Green Lantern.  Just transform your pal to look like you.  "Watch where you're putting those hands, Tom!"

Travelling through space and time is all in a days work for GL.  Makes you wonder why he doesn't just travel back to yesterday and put a Power Ring Burglar Alarm on the loot.  "Two more Pina Coladas please, waiter!" 

The human mind is a delicate thing.  The most qualified medical professionals tread ever so cautiously in their investigations of the sub-conscious and the mystery of mental perception.  And that takes far too long for busy hero with a day's heroing ahead of him.  So if you really want to put a quick fix on the old noodle the only thing to do is shoot an energy beam at it.  Job done, what's next?!

What is the one thing that is even cooler than being an intergalactic space-cop?  Being a freakin' robot intergalactic space-cop, that's what!  The thing I don't understand is why Green Lantern ever turned himself back into a human again.  Ok, there is the little problem of your hand falling off every time you put the old KAPOW! on somebody, but what's a little welding matter when you get to be a FREAKIN' ROBOT INTERGALACTIC SPACE-COP?!! Exactly.

Not enough Top Ten nerdtasticness for you yet?  Then get clicking on the links below for even more Super-Blog Team-Up 'Ultimate Top Ten'!!!  What are you waiting for?!  And tell 'em Flodo sent ya.



Thursday, 26 March 2015

Are You a Guy's Guy?

The year was 1993.  The continuity was somewhere between The Death of Superman and Zero Hour.  Guy Gardner had been drummed out of the Green Lantern Corps and was dealing out his own brand of justice with a yellow ring he had stolen from the lifeless hand of Sinestro.  DC Comics were trying every trick in the book to grab the attention of their readers.  They even released a story with two titles!  The arc running through the eponymous Guy Gardner #11 - #14 was subtitled ‘Guy Gardner: Year One’ …and ‘Yesterday’s Sins’.  Our hero (anti-hero? deluded fool?) faces his worst nightmare as he is forced to relive his childhood.

As part of their marketing campaign for the book DC printed a short quiz based on Guy Gardner’s own history in the letters columns of related titles.  The catch was that none of the answers had been published yet and you had to read GG: Year One to learn the answers.

But that was then and this is now, so I thought it would be fun to test the knowledge of visitors here at Flodo’s Page and dare to ask the question, “Are you a Guy’s Guy?”  (Remember, this was waaayy before the New 52 and all that namby-pampy ‘cop with a heart of gold who had to make the tough calls in life and sacrifice his own future for that of his fellow man’ Guy Gardner.  This was ‘self-righteous jerk with a heart of jerk’ Guy Gardner).

The questions:

1.       Guy has a relative we’ve never met before [as of GG #11].  This is his…

   A.      cousin, Roy Harper.

   B.      brother.

   C.      sister.

   D.      None of the above.  Guy ain’t got no relative.  He was raised by wolves.

2.       When Guy was a kid he…

   A.      spent time with his dying grandfather.

   B.      collected GENERAL GLORY comics.

   C.      did his homework and ate his veggies.

   D.      fed Alka-SeltzerTM to his pigeons, and watched them blow up.

3.       The terrible secret of Guy’s past is that…

   A.      he was adopted.

   B.      someone in his family was a drug addict.

   C.      his parents were killed by a super-villain.

   D.      Hal Jordan was his idol.

4.       In GUY GARDNER: YEAR ONE, Guy teams up with…

   A.      all four new Supermen.

   B.      a group of new Green Lanterns.

   C.      the gardner guy.

   D.      Rex the Wonder Dog

5.       Guy will…

   A.      be replaced in the JLA by his really evil twin!

   B.      become leader of the JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE.

   C.      change his costume, adding a cape and a domino mask!

   D.      have a sex change, thanks to some nasty aliens, and be “Guy no more!"

So how do you think you did?  Some easy.  Some not so easy.  And at least one for true nerds only!  Check your answers below and tweet me or sound off in the comments section at the end of this post.

The answers:

1.       A. Guy’s mysterious relative turned out to be his ‘golden-boy’ brother, Mace.

2.     B. Guy collected General Glory comics - a fact that in later life led him to inadvertently restoring the long-lost powers of General Glory himself.

3.       B. Guy’s terrible secret is that his brother Mace, the apple of his father’s eye, is actually a no-good dope fiend!

4.       B. In Year One Guy teams up with a never before seen band of Green Lantern misfits led by the [now] legendary Lost Lantern, Graf Toren.

5.       A. The premise behind Guy being captured and made to take the unwelcome walk down the memory lane of his childhood is so that his enemies can download his memories into an evil clone.

And yes, once they found out, the JLA were just as horrified at the thought of two Guy Gardners lose in the world as you are!