Friday, March 10, 2017


Script: Denny O’Neil | Art: Neal Adams | Editor: Julie Schwartz
Inks: Dick Giordano (#82-83) & Berni Wrightson (#82 assist & #84)


My theory last week that the "social relevance" angle was a six-issue experiment seems to be borne out by this installment, which is a simple, message-free superhero adventure featuring Sinestro using Green Arrow and Black Canary as bait to spring a trap for Green Lantern. The entire tale is set at night, giving it the moody atmosphere I most associate with the O'Neil/Adams team from their Batman stories, and that, combined with the presence of a genuine supervillain, makes this easily my favorite installment of the run so far.

A few observations: Apparently Sinestro has a sister, who aids him here in his scheme. No idea if this was her first appearance or not. Green Arrow notes that he “used to be rich”. I was well aware that the classic version of Oliver Queen was a wealthy playboy a la Bruce Wayne, and that by the eighties he had been stripped of his wealth, but I had no idea that aspect of his character had been done away with so much earlier. I always figured it was an invention of the Mike Grell/"Longbow Hunters" era of the character. And lastly, it suddenly occurs to me that Black Canary only ever uses judo against her enemies in these stories. I haven't seen her use her sonic scream at any point. I assume the character must have lacked that ability during this period, but I've no idea whether it was a power she’d once had and lost, or whether it simply hadn't been created yet.


This is what you might call an “offbeat adventure”, as Green Lantern and Green Arrow must come to rescue Black Canary at a school where, in her civilian guise of Dinah Drake, she's come to teach physical education. The school is secretly controlled by Grandy the cook and a little girl with psychokinetic powers named Sybil who he forces to do his bidding.

Along the way, GL is reunited with his one-time boss and girlfriend, the former Star Sapphire, Carol Ferris, who is now a paraplegic thanks to Sybil. Oddly, even though early in the story Carol indicates she's engaged to Jason Belmore, the school’s headmaster, when GL unmasks and reveals his love for her on the final page, she has no qualms about reciprocating -- apparently dumping her fiance right then and there for Hal Jordan.

It's another dark, mysterious O'Neil/Adams adventure. I find that these guys are at their best doing gothic stuff, rather than shedding a spotlight on the topical issues of the day. That said, I'm not necessarily sure "gothic" fits Green Lantern all that well -- though in my opinion neither does driving cross-country in a pickup truck to cure society's ills. We also have some more mopey Green Lantern as he once again talks about how brash and overconfident he used to be, but declares that's no longer the case since Green Arrow opened his eyes to the world. It's a take on the character I still don't appreciate.


I assume the sales figures and reader letters must have come in by this point, indicating that the socially revelvant stories were a success, because this issue begins with a title page blurb announcing that the month's story is “plucked from the fears of a nation.” In it, Green Lantern is lured to a town called Piper’s Dell by his old enemy, Black Hand, and winds up hunted by the town’s brainwashed citizens. Green Arrow comes to his friend’s rescue and together they defeat Black Hand and rescue Carol, the bait which lured GL to Piper’s Dell in the first place.

Black Hand describes Piper’s Dell as a “company town”. Everything there is made of chintzy plastic and the citizenry are all susceptible to suggestion thanks to various villainous innovations of Black Hand’s mysterious benefactors. So... is this-- was this something people feared back in 1970? That "progress" would lead to a point where we'd all become zombies or something living in plastic towns? This must be a reference very specific to its timeframe, because I'm not sure I've ever seen or heard anyone voice this concern with any amount of seriousness in my life.

Overall it's a pretty boring story, though we do get some furtherance of both the Green Lantern/Carol Ferris and Green Arrow/Black Canary relationships (and I should note that my observation way back in issue 78 was wrong -- it wasn't Frank Giacoia’s inks that made Neal Adams’ Black Canary so hot after all; rather, Adams seems to delineate her in a much sexier fashion than pretty much any other female I've ever seen him draw), and there's some terrific archery by GA on display here as well.

Plus I think this is the first story I've ever dad with Black Hand in it, so there's that. Between this story and the Sinestro tale two issues earlier, I appreciate O'Neil remembering that, while the title has Green Arrow listed as co-star, this is still technically Green Lantern’s series, so his villains should probably be putting in appearances here and there.

Oh, and lastly -- O'Neill seems to be having a bit of fun here withe name of one of his frequent collaborators: the citizens of Piper's Dell all wear little pins called "Kalutas", and the town has a loud foghorn which periodically blows with a loud "KA-LOO-TA!" sound effect. It's a pretty funny tribute to Michael Kaluta.


  1. Well Doctor Who mined the fear of plastic objects and consumerism in not one but two stories about aliens called Autons in the early 1970s, so clearly SOMETHING was in the air. There was a generalized fear of mass produced items, usually made of plastic, putting smaller companies out of business, and the "creepy town where everyone is hypnotized" was right next door to the fear that the evil Commies were going to take over America by converting us all. O'Neill seemed to be playing in the same ballpark.

    1. Thanks, Jack. I always appreciate insight like this for stuff I can only experience secondhand. I hadn't considered the Communist angle, either.

      I wonder if O'Neil and Adams have any interest in doing a modern-day sequel to this story about Amazon putting everyone out of business?!

  2. Denny O Neil got some criticism for "Nightmare", who saw the depictions of Gorgons, misandrist Amazons, and Harpies as a misogynist stab on Women's Lib.
    Black Canary's Canary Cry first surfaced earlier than this series, in her induction into the JLA in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA#74. The development has had many retcons:
    1. Dinah got it after being exposed to radiation by Aquarius in the previous issue, the same radiation that killed her husband, motivating her to leave the Justice Society and Earth-2 for the JLA and Earth-1.
    2. This is actually the Black Canary's daughter, being granted the sonic power as a baby by the Wizard (as revenge against her mother), and brainwashed into believing she is the original, who died from Aquarius' radiation after #73 and replaced before #74 (It's COMPLICATED, thanks to Roy Thomas in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA#220).
    3. Dinah was granted her power as a teen via the magics of Dr. Fate, as a request from her trainer 'uncle' Wildcat (his own infant son was kidnapped by a supervillain, and he wanted Black Canary's girl to have some protection).
    Adams purposely modeled Sybil's face after Nixon and Grandy after Vice President Spiro Agnew.

    1. Thank you for Black Canary backstory! I know I had read before that she had a convoluted pre-CRISIS history, but I was unaware just how confusing it was.

      I should've noted the Nixon resemblance; it's really obvious and I saw it in the story but didn't really think to comment on it. I appreciate the Agnew explanation, because while I could tell he was supposed to be someone, I didn't recognize him.

  3. Correction: Critics saw the issue as misogynist stab. O'Neil admitted he didn't handle the writing of that issue well.


  4. // Sinestro has a sister //

    Whose name should clearly have been either Conestro or Sintesto.

    Yeah, Oliver’s wealth had become a thing of the past by this point. All the (non-reprint) GA stories I read in the ’70s — co-starring with GL, in backup stories, as part of the JLA — were informed by his liberal, man-of-the-people bent and near-broke status; for a while he was an opinion columnist, around which time he ran for mayor. His World’s Finest run, during (sigh) the giant-size Dollar Comics days, had the guy who now lived in Oliver’s mansion discovering the secret entrance to its hidden cave and deducing Oliver’s secret identity as… Batman.

    1. I'm voting for Conestro because it rolls off the tongue better, but both are equally funny.

      (So is Sinestro of Hispanic descent? Hmm...)

      GL running for mayor starts up right near the end of this O'Neil/Adams run, though it's in a backup story written by Elliot Maggin.

      That WORLD'S FINEST story sounds great. I'm going to have to look it up.