Christmas Past – Green Lantern/Green Arrow #113 retro review

I hope everyone is having a happy Holiday Season. Anyone for an Ollie Jolly Christmas?

Let’s go back to the late Seventies, when the Green Lantern title had recently returned from an extended break – those O’Neil/Adam relevance issues looked great, but they didn’t half preach their way to cancellation. When the book got another chance after well-received back-up strips in The Flash, O’Neil, the lesson learned, pretty much ignored the real-world stuff for straightforward superheroics.

And that’s what this seasonal issue provides, behind a stunning cover by José-Luis García-López. Don’t expect that blurb to anything more than melodramatic nonsense – a curse is mentioned but there’s no connection to the power ring.

The story opens with a cheery image of Hal and Ollie on a Christmas card, but the jollity is rather offset by the dour story title, ‘… that they may fear no more’. That seems to be a reference to a biblical verse, Jeremiah 23: 4: ‘I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.’

We meet Hal as he’s doing his Seventies Smokey and the BJ and the Bear bit, driving his big rig. There’s a terrible snowstorm and an approaching car is about to hit. What time is it?

It’s Green Lantern time!

Hal doesn’t know these guys, but keep reading…

While the band members head for Hal’s truck, our hero prepares for more trouble. And since he’s being watched, he’s probably a wise man.

Hal takes The Slog to a nearby snow lodge where, wouldn’t you know it, his pals Dinah and Ollie are staying for a holiday break.

A trip to the shed to collect firewood turns painful for Hal…

… and the party atmosphere is shattered.

Oops. Caught by surprise, the Battling Bowman and his ‘pretty bird’ are overcome. And then, talk of a curse.

And what is this curse?

With the pregnant Marcy abducted by the superstitious Bleach clan, desperate measures are called for.

Remember that shaky ground and the mysterious sparks from earlier?

Meanwhile, the horrible hillbillies have extra problems.

Happily, the heroes aren’t far behind!

It’s Green Lantern to the rescue!

With everything calm once more, Hal challenges Granny Bleach.

Marcy, meanwhile, has been delivering a Christmas gift.

Aw – a child is born.

Awe – Green Lantern vs the volcano.

And awful – the presentation of the mountain people. Even as a kid, reading this comic when it appeared in 1978, superstitious, toothless, gun-toting, cornpipe puffing hillbillies were a cringeworthy cliche. And while Denny O’Neil showed that Ma Bleach wasn’t necessarily wrong – this is Earth One, of course there are curses – she still comes across as a fanatic, hiding in the trees, waiting for strangers her boys can make squeal like a pig.

It’s interesting that O’Neil brought back Granny Bleach and her clan after their similar appearance in Batman Family a few months previously. I wonder if they ever appeared in any of his other books – were these stories backdoor pilots for a Bleach and the Bold team-up book?

The ‘punk rockers’, too, had appeared previously, back in GL/GA #108, and the narration in their last panel hints that O’Neil had this story planned.

Art by Neal Adams and Bruce D Patterson

They were a lot less sympathetic there, robbing a store to get money to pay for ‘drums and guitars and make-up’. But they seem to have changed so, like the ‘not genuinely evil’ Granny Bleach and her boys, get to survive the volcano.

I enjoyed reading this again, mainly for Dinah and Ollie – they’re such great company and their open hearts are a big part of that. They’re also super-competent and all-round fun. Who wouldn’t enjoy tree trimming GA style?

Hal, too, is on good form, focused on saving everyone and looking great while doing it. Well, apart from the first two up-nostril shots… the third, bigger one is far more successful, as illustrator Alex Saviuk, paired with inker Frank Chiaramonte, nods to Hal’s original artist, Gil Kane. I do like Saviuk’s style, it’s breezy, clear and energetic, bringing to mind not just Kane, but, occasionally, Green Lantern’s other famed artists, Neal Adams and Mike Grell. Which isn’t to say Saviuk doesn’t have a signature look, his work is immediately recognisable. GL/GA was Saviuk’s first regular strip as a professional, kicking off a long career, and it’s easy to see why he did so well.

While I did have quibbles about ‘…that they may fear no more’, reading it again put a big smile on my face. Every one of the 17 pages is engaging and they combine to make a nice seasonal tale. Did it tickle your tinsel, too?

2 thoughts on “Christmas Past – Green Lantern/Green Arrow #113 retro review

  1. As soon as I saw the 3 male musicians and the pregnant one it was SUPER easy to see where this was headed. Still, not a bad read for both back then and now actually. Solid meat & potatoes story that’s not too clever or tries to be ground-breaking, just a nice easy, enjoyable read.
    Like you, I do appreciate O’Neil using those same characters again when they’d usually just be easily disposable and forgotten, so like as you said, maybe he had more plans for them, maybe he just plugged a whole with already existing characters rather having to come up w/ new ones.
    Ha, “Bleach and the Bold.” Makes me legit surprised Morrison hasn’t rediscovered them and used them in the present day already.

    Anyways, Happy Holidays and Christmas to you and yours despite these unwanted circumstances. Hope the holidays still find you happy, healthy and above all, safe.

    Like

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