End of Summer

Green Lantern
In Action Comics Weekly

by Simon Brown

Part 2: To Hal and Back

Greetings! After a month off the topic, we return to Green Lantern in Action Comics Weekly. Where were we now?? Lets see…Katma dead at the hands of Star Sapphire, John imprisoned in an apartheid country, Hal altering his brain with his ring, and Arisia pursuing a carrer as a fashion model. I think that brings up up to speed, and just over halfway through Peter David's run on the feature.

OK, I think last up was Hal using his wits to escape from a yellow lined safe, after being stck in there by some mysterious burglers. He returns home to try to sort out some problems with Arisia, without much luck, so he heads off to find the group he was fighting. While looking for them he gets ambushed by the group of 3 men and women, who call themselves the Freak Show.

In issue #618, Hal takes 4 of the Freak Show down, until the teleporting Castle moves him far from the fight. The group escape, and Hal vows to find them and get even. He tracks their path back to a company run by a Veronica Hawkes. Hal confronts the forthright Hawkes, and her unassuming sister Lillian. Veronica verbally abuses Hal, belittling his requests, but nonetheless allows him to search the factory. A guard shows Hal around the complex, until they are seperated by an automated sliding door. He's then attacked by the Freak Show again. After defeating the speedster "Runaround Sue" Hal decides to take the offensive. When the others arrive they turn their powers on him and he bursts into flame. They rush over to examine the corpse, and find it's only an illusion. Hal then rounds them up, and Siphon tells him that the whole plan was Castle's. He had theatened to kil the Hawkes sisters if he didn't get funding for experiments, and he created the Freak Show. Castle says that Siphon was lying, and teleports away to confront his boss, the deceptive Lillian Hawkes. She has been prtending to be helpless, but is secretly creating super-beings for her own agenda. She shoots Castle, claiming it to be self defense, and because of everyone's perception of her, she convinces them of her innocence.

Suddenly, everthing changes (again). The next issue is #621 and has James Owsley writing, Mark Bright pencilling (and this is 8 or 9 years before Quantum and Woody), with Jose Marzan Jr inking. The story starts with Hal rescuing a spaceship the size of a basketball which is carrying 600 alien travellers. Immediately we see this is a different Hal - he doesn't touch the ship in case he defiles it and offends the occupants' cultural background. Finally, 21 issues in, the Green Lantern feature is starting to live up to it's potential. The only real problem with this story is that it has a cast of strangers, Hal finally has a job (as a test pilot), and a friend Chip who knows his secret - Hal comes full circle, but where and how? Well, without any warning, the introduction to this story was in Secret Origins. Hal meets Chip while looking for a job, and Chip (a huge Green Lantern fan) recognises Hal as GL. Hal takes Chip to Oa where they defeat some alien rabble, and return to earth where Hal gets his test pilot job, and a new group of regular cast members. Anyway, back to the story, Hal saves a plane he's testing without the help of the ring in a way that makes you forget it's been done many times before. Hal returns to the dressing room, puts on his ring and recharges it, just to have the lantern explode and a beam of green light head out into space. With a 24 hour charge and no way of getting more power, Hal has no choice but to follow the green energy. He takes the remains of the battery and follows the beam into space.

Flying through space, he is suddenly forced to stop, as he's at the edge of his sector. When the central battery was operational it let each ring know what was in each sector and the ring could readjust itself across the sector boundaries. However, without the central battery, Hal's ring only knows his sector, and the places outside where he previously took it. Hal decides to return to Earth and enlist the help of Superman, but when he remembers the telling off Superman gave him at their last meeting (GL Special #1) he decides to handle it on his own, and heads off into unknown space.

In Action #623 he arrives on a barren planet with 14 hours' charge left in his ring. He sees an alien on the planet and uses the ring to try and get some answers, but the stranger takes control of the ring's energy and drags Hal into space, jumping him in a space station. Hal tries to make a force-field to protect himself from an attacking robot, only to blow the machine to pieces. He surmises that becase he is in a completely different sector, the ring won't work properly. The living beings on the space station come to meet him, and the alien he first encountered appears, telling him that he has been brought to prevent a war. The alien's name is Priest, and he's brought Hal to help the little aliens against the robots and their masters. He saves most of the group, but there are some deaths, so Hal agrees to help save these people.

To start, Priest begins training Hal so he can get his ring to work properly in this sector. Piest tells Hal that he was a Green Lantern long ago, but resigned to pursue a more spiritual calling. He tells Hal that the ring is not necessary, nor is the battery, but he can tap directly into the power source the battery is charged from. He tells Hal that he can as well, but Hal doesn't believe him, and demands a battery. Priest gives him a bettery with no power core and tells him where to go to find it. Hal heads off into space, and eventually finds the core, but is attacked by some of the aliens who controlled the warring robots. Desperate to recharge his ring he fights them savagely, but his ring finally starts to fade and his life support wanes. The attackers see this, but decide it is a ruse, commenting that he "wears the sign" and "has the power", and turn tail and run. A suffocating Hal tries to put the lantern back together, and just gets his ring to the charge as he blacks out. Returning to Priest he explains that the ring and battery are necessary, as he almost died, but Priest shows him that Hal's battery was stil on the planet, and the one he charged from was a fake. Priest decides that this training isn't going to work, and he urges Hal to help in the ongoing war.

Well, who would have thought 40-something comics would be so hard to abridge? Not me, that's for sure. We'll leave our story here for this month, and return later with the final installment - the run to the end of Action, GL special #2, and the triumphant return of Green Lantern in his own title.

Simon Brown lives in Australia.

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