Tales of My Green Lantern The Back of The Flash Years (1972-76), Part 1

A column article by: Jim Kingman

Green Lantern/Green Arrow #89 (Apr.-May, 1972) was published in February, 1972--shortly before I started collecting comic books. It was the last issue in the highly acclaimed run that began in GL/GA #76 (Apr., 1970), a two-year, 13-issue tour de force of relevant social concerns written by Denny O'Neil (plus a Green Arrow solo story by Elliot S. Maggin), illustrated by Neal Adams (with frequent inking support by Dick Giordano, with separate inking contributions from Frank Giacoia, Dan Adkins, and Berni Wrightson), and edited by Julius Schwartz. In a full-page ad at the back of GL/GA #89, the cancellation of the comic was regretfully announced, but there was also some good news. Green Lantern, my favorite superhero, would be moving to the back of The Flash.

The Emerald Crusader and the Emerald Archer appeared in The Flash starting with #217 (Aug.-Sep., 1972). After a three-part story by O'Neil, Adams, and Giordano, Green Lantern's solo adventures officially began in The Flash #220 (Feb.-Mar., 1973), published in December of 1972 (the same month Green Arrow went solo in Action Comics).

GL appeared in 25 issues of The Flash for a total of 12 adventures, including the aforementioned three-part GL/GA adventure plus three team-ups with the Scarlet Speedster--issues 222, 225, and 235. Issue #235 also featured GL's long-time girlfriend Carol Ferris in only appearance during GL's stint in The Flash.

Green Lantern also returned to a science fiction environment (which he enjoyed for a dozen years before Green Arrow came on board), and it was an impressive homecoming to the genre. Solidly plotted by O'Neil with exquisite artwork by Giordano, the two-part "Duel For a Death-List" (Flash #220) and "Death-Threat on Titan" (Flash #221, Apr.-May, 1973) began in the Arizona desert.

In the story, Green Lantern commented on his "split" with Green Arrow, and he was down to his last $200, which is why he was pursuing a job in Phoenix, Arizona--until adventure interrupted, of course.

Green Lantern was handed a message by a dying extraterrestrial. He soon battled another alien of the same race, who was after the message. After the alien apparently self-destructed, GL read the note. It was a death-list, and all the names on it had been crossed out except the last: Hal Jordan, GL's civilian identity.

From the Arizona desert to Titan, one of Saturn's moons, GL hurtled headlong toward a diabolical plot to destroy his bosses, the Guardians of the Universe. Hal was still on leave from the Green Lantern Corps--dating back to conflicts he had with the Guardians during GL/GA--but he was officially reinstated into the Corps in the second part of this story.

In Flash #222, The Flash and Green Lantern teamed up--after an almost four-year hiatus, excluding shared JLA adventures--to battle the Weather Wizard and Sinestro, the renegade Green Lantern, (Jul.-Aug., 1973). This full-length tale, "The Heart that Attacked the World!" was written by Cary Bates and illustrated by Irv Novick and Dick Giordano.

O'Neil and Giordano then continued GL's solo run in Flash #223 (Sep.-Oct., 1973). In "Doomsday . . . Minus Ten Minutes!" Green Lantern returned to Hal Jordan's car somewhere in the American Midwest and was apparently attacked by a bug-like extraterrestrial before he could recharge his power ring. There was more to this alien than met the eye, however, and while GL would always remain baffled by the extraterrestrial's actions, the reader was allowed access to the alien's thoughts at story's end.

O'Neil shifted gears in Flash #224 (Nov.-Dec., 1973), bringing Green Lantern down to Earth and involving him in some small-town thievery in "Yellow is a Dirty Little Color!"

With April's Flash-Green Lantern team-up a critical success, editor Schwartz wasted no time in pairing the two Justice Leaguers again in Flash #225 (Jan.-Feb., 1974). "Green Lantern--Master Criminal of the 25th Century!" was written by Cary Bates and illustrated by Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. It involved the extreme length that the Reverse-Flash went to, five hundred years, to pull off a crime he couldn't be convicted of.

(Well, actually, he could have been convicted; it wasn't that clever a scheme).

He failed, of course, and another failure by the Reverse-Flash meant that his desire for ultimate vengeance against his nemesis, The Flash, grew even greater.

A real treat for Green Lantern fans came at the end of 1973 in Flash #226 (Mar.-Apr., 1974). Neal Adams returned to pencil an eight-page tale involving contaminated chili. While "The Powerless Power Ring!" was not a great O'Neil story, it was just plain exciting to have Adams back and teamed with Giordano again, if only for one issue.

Unfortunately, 1974 was the nadir of Green Lantern's publishing history. He only appeared in four of the six bimonthly issues of The Flash that were published that year, for a total of 32 pages--and two of those stories weren't very good. In fact, matters for GL got downright weird.

Next: 1974!

Portions of this article originally appeared in Back Issue #18 (Nov., 2006), published by TwoMorrows Publications. 

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