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A tale of bridging communication gaps to make friends. Sometimes the key is just finding the right langauge and method of communication…  The cover and the splash panel give the set up pretty well, so I omitted a few pages here. 

This is from the original Green Lantern series, issue #24. My copy is kind of beat up and has been re-stapled. Even so, good luck finding a cheap copy.

 Green Lantern is zipping about space one day and sees a planet that has a giant continent shaped like him.  It fires yellow missiles at him. (G.L. is powerless against yellow for a really goofy reason, for all you uninitiated.)  When he touches down, the land and water seemingly attack him.  He is also haunted by ghostly projections of his foes and friends.

Suddenly, a voice speaks to him from the green beam of his mighty lantern ring, using it like a radio beam to communicate to G.L.

 It turns out the whole “attacking” scene was just a misunderstanding.  The planet itself was trying to communicate.  (The planet tells all the pages I left out, but from his point of view now.)

Like they do in dreams, things happen fast in the comic book universe.  One minute you’re making friends, the next minute disaster threatens the entire planet.

You gotta love a happy ending.  Especially after the classic existential angst of an organism, alone, isolated in his thoughts.  This was the stuff of Camus and Hemingway.  Usually we learn about literature like this from really dense old books.  Imagine how much more young students could grasp adult literary themes by learning them from an engaging and entertaining medium like comics! 

The planet takes Green Lantern’s name, and this has literary precedent too.  Jack “Call of the Wild” London has a short story about the friendship of two men.  One is from an island where the custom of adopting another man’s name cemented a deep bond between the two – a vow to take care of the other man’s life as if it were your own.  If I remember the footnotes correctly, London discovered an island where the people practiced this custom during his South Sea voyages.

Now this is the cover story, but the issue here (Green Lantern #24) is best known as being the first appearance of the now-perennial G.L. foe, Tiger Shark.  Here is the 3-page “origin” that shows how atomic disasters create super-powered evil.  Remember, it’s science fiction.

All I can say is: Great origin, terrible panties.

These early G.L. issues are heavy on the psuedo science.  This issue covers molecular bonding, magnetism, atomic energy, evolution, and more.  But DC liked to include some real science tidbits for the kids, like this page below.  I give early G.L. a thumbs up for being entertaining and educational. 

One final note: On the letters page, a fan’s letter describes a process where he submitted an idea for a cover of the book.  He recounts how DC liked the idea, and adapted his idea into the actual cover for Green Lantern #22: The Master of the Power Ring.  As a reward, they gave him a copy of the original artwork for that cover!  The editor’s reply thanked him and told readers that they could submit ideas, too.  DC would send them the original cover artwork if the idea was used.  This was in 1963.  Anyone want to take a guess at how many of those original covers were given away?  And how many still exist?