Hal Jordan meets a relative of Abin Sur who arrives on Earth in a parallel to the incident which saw Hal named Green Lantern of Sector 3814.
Green Arrow must track down a mad archer who shoots both Black Canary and a grasping lawyer.
They’re the strands which writer Denny O’Neil plays with in this look back to Seventies Green Lantern. So how do they come together? They don’t. Not unless you count Hal and Ollie telling one another about their day at the end of the book. Which I don’t, meaning that what we have here are two short tales shoved into the one ‘story’.
Of the two, the Green Arrow script is better, being merely weak. Neither Ollie nor Dinah shows any interest in who shot her until Mr Walk-On Part Lawyer is also pierced – they simply wander out of A&E and continue with their day. Detective Ollie eventually tracks down Argy the Archer by dint of Argy leaving a note on a roof revealing his identity to him. This lets Ollie visit Argy at home, and take his bow away from him. Dramatic.
Argy, you see, is a gibbering loon, talking at his dead father about how he’s better than Olly thinks he is. He met Olly at a monastery to which Green Arrow retreated after accidentally killing a man, and felt slighted after misunderstanding something Olly said.
Given the quality of this script, I don’t doubt it.
Hal, meanwhile – actually, no, it’s ‘Fifteen minutes earlier’, for no particular reason – must fight off a bunch of unknown attackers in a strand that’s nowhere near as good as ‘weak’. Defeated, the gunmen ‘explain’ that their leader told them that ‘only by slaying our enemies can we be ennobled’. We don’t learn who the leader is, or where exactly these events are occurring, beyond the Southern hemisphere. Abin Sur’s lookalike ‘Klatch mate’, Zu Sur, then, well, see for yourself (click to enlarge image):
Yes, he realises that he’s been dead since being shot a few minutes earlier, something we weren’t actually shown. What the message is, we’ll never know.
O’Neil very nearly got there: the vibe of the narrative isn’t so far away from the feel of the Relevance period, with its ultra-earnestness and naive hippy sentiments; Hal is every bit as dumb as he was back then; Black Canary is made to look useless … even the separate plots isn’t unprecedented. But the script lacks polish, with the Hal strand especially making no sense – as with O’Neil’s work on last week’s DC Retroactive 1970s Wonder Woman #1, the story lacks any sense of a strong editorial hand. I’m guessing that the soldiers killing only because they’re told to is some kind of heavy-handed social comment, but who knows? O’Neil is one of the most experienced comic book writers and editors still with us, but that doesn’t mean his scripts don’t need occasional tweaking (click on image to enlarge).
Am I taking this too seriously, when I shouldn’t be ‘sweating the outcome’? Should I be happy to see something vaguely evoking the Seventies without wanting a great story in a book that costs $4.99? I don’t think so.
The saving grace of this book is the Mike Grell artwork, moodily coloured by Allan Passalaqua. Grell wasn’t actually working with O’Neil in the Relevance period – Neal Adams and Dick Giordano handled the art. The pair got together later for a series of science fiction and superhero stories in which Hal adopted an annoying space starfish named Itty Bitty. Really. But I’m always glad to see Grell, and he’s on great form here, showing that he can still evoke Adams with the best of them, while having come a long way since his awkward – yet promising – first steps in the DC Universe. I am surprised, though, that given how Grell went on to become a respected writer himself, he apparently thinks this script is OK.
For our money we also get a reprint of ‘No Evil Shall Escape My Sight’ from GL #76, the book’s first teaming of Hal & Ollie, and O’Neil & Adams, in the story that kicked off the short-lived Relevance period. Hal gets a stupid lecture about not caring for Earth’s non-White people, and Ollie and a Guardian of the Universe jump into a truck together. It’s a bona fide classic, even if it has been reprinted ad nauseum.
I like Grell’s cover, but Hal’s cosmic crotch doesn’t bear close examination. Look to the light!