Saturday, January 30, 2010

Reading My Hardcovers

Ever since Jim announced an opening spot in the ComicsAnd blog rotation, I’ve been thinking about it (unbeknownst to Jim). You see I recently had to return to my home office after being on-site at a different location for 12 years. The change has the potential for some extra free time that I might be able to use to prepare an entry once a week. Of course, I’m back on-site again for a deadline this month, so we’ll see if it works out or not. I guess I need to pass the audition first…

Anyway, we all know of Jim’s extensive HC collection. It’s so good that it makes keeping the 10th commandment difficult. The trouble is he never takes the time to read any of them. Whenever we see what he’s getting on Wednesday and there is some awesome HC coming home to his bookshelf, Jim chides himself that he really should get around to reading them someday.

Now, I understand the compulsion to collect things and to be a complete-ist. I’ve been collecting since 1977 and have over 10,000 comics. I have a minor HC collection consisting of a few Marvel Masterworks, Marvel Omnibuses, DC Archives, and a few newspaper comic collections. I too have read only a few of them. One thing that keeps me collecting without reading is time (I have six children). Well, that explains the “not reading” part, but why I still collect without the intention to read right away is partly the availability of the material. All you have to do is look on ebay or Amazon and see that sometimes an Omnibus will go out of print and then skyrocket in price, so you either get it now or pay later (usually that means never get it at all).

I’ve been selling some of my higher end books at the Baltimore Comic Con for the past few years to Ted of Superworld Comics ( with the primary purpose of using that “freed” money to buy HCs and original artwork. Ted has a superpower of being able to expertly grade a comic book. I slabbed a few of my issues and they came back within 0.2 of Ted’s estimate, if not right on the money. Now, that’s not always good news as I’ve learned that my “high-end” books aren’t quite as good as I always thought. So, why not replace them with HCs?

Enough with the preamble, the point of this post is that due to my increase in “free time”, I’ve started reading some of my HCs. So in stark contrast to Jim’s hoarding without reading, I’m hoping to occasionally elucidate some of what’s actually in these babies…

Today, we’re going to focus on Green Lantern # 9 from Nov-Dec 1961 as published in Green Lantern Archives Volume 2 copyright 1999.

Now, this issue contains the second appearance of Sinestro, his first on the cover and his first use of his yellow ring. “The Battle of the Power Rings!” is a good story, but it’s the second tale, which I want to discuss. “Green Lantern’s Brother’s Act!” is 12-page gem written by John Broome, penciled by Gil Kane, and inked by Murphy Anderson. This team supreme is responsible for most of the Green Lantern stories.

In this story, we are introduced to Hal Jordan’s two brothers Jack and Jim. I think I read somewhere that Hal was based on one of the Kennedy’s (probably JFK) and this trio of brothers seems to provide additional evidence for that theory (no time to actually check it out right now). Jack is the oldest and is running for DA against a corrupt political machine. (Gee, sounds like a recent…umm I won’t go there…) Jim is the youngest and a bit of a card. Neither sibling knows of Hal’s Green Lantern identity. Hal and Jim are determined to help their brother win this election by distributing fliers. Jim has to leave Hal to do the distributing, because he has a date with reporter, Sue Williams to give brother Jack some publicity. Unbeknownst to Jim, Sue only arranged the meeting because she suspects that he’s really Green Lantern and is out to prove her hunch. She thinks Jim’s glasses and jokes are pretenses to hide his identity.

Before we follow the Jim-Sue angle, we’ve got to catch up to Hal. What’s he doing? Why using his superpower to support a political candidate! He rationalizes it this way, “Theoretically, I’m only supposed to use my power ring to combat evil…But if the Outfit we Jordans are out to beat in this election isn’t evil…I don’t know what is!” No platforms are mentioned, so you can pick and choose which party is “evil”. By the time Hal comes back from airdropping the fliers (There must not have been litter laws back then), Sue has now jumped off a roof to get Jim to turn into Green Lantern and rescue her.

Luckily for her, Hal sees her stunt and saves her via a ring constructed parachute. This only reinforces her theory even more. If this sounds familiar, you’d be right as Sue admits that the idea “was swiped from Lois Lane’s routine with Superman”. Now, so far in the series there have been no interactions with other DCU characters, so this comment would work equally well if she was referring to the Superman TV show (from the 50’s) and not the “real” character.

Before Sue can make her next attempt at uncovering GL’s identity, she witnesses Jack being abducted by some gangsters. She tells Jim to turn into Green Lantern to save him. She’s a little miffed that he won’t act with her present, thinking he values his secret ID more than his brother’s life. So, she quickly exits and GL immediately flies out of the house (side window) behind her.

After Green Lantern’s daring rescue of his brother Jack, Sue rushes up to him and kisses him on the cheek with “indelible lipstick, which won’t come off for twenty-four hours no matter what he does!” (Let’s pause and consider why there would be a need for such a cosmetic…) Sue goes to visit Jim the next morning certain that when she sees her “mark” on Jim’s face, she’ll know for sure if he’s GL or not. Jim opens the door with tape on his cheek, covering the spot where she kissed GL. Sue’s dialogue in the next scene is great: “My plot flopped! Well, I’m more determined than ever to learn if he’s Green Lantern or not - - even if I have to marry him to find out!” It’s hilarious. Finally, we even get a rare breaking the fourth wall moment, when GL looks at the reader and says, “All’s well that ends well, - - eh, Folks?”

So, if you have this story in your collection, then take some time to read it today. After all, it’s a blessing to be able to actually enjoy your stuff. If we only collect our hardcovers just to fill up the bookshelf, then what good are they, except to look at them? Of course it’s always nice to get Jim’s hand-me-downs. I can’t wait for him to finish reading that 100 issue run of the Flash! ; )

No comments:

Post a Comment