Waiting For The Trade – Showcase Present: Green Lantern Volume 1

Writer: John Broome

Penciller: Gil Kane

Inkers: Joe Giella

Letterer: Not listed

Collects: Showcase #22-24 and Green Lantern #1-17 (1959-1962)

I’ve been getting into Green Lantern over the past few years with my level of interest probably peaking during Sinestro Corps war, but the big problem I have is that I don’t like Hal Jordan that much. He’s not my Green Lantern. As I was a late bloomer when it came to the wider DCU Kyle was in his crab-mask when I first really became aware of GL as anything other than a seemingly daft character who made boxing gloves, and is often the case with these things (be it “your” Doctor Who or “your” James Bond) the first character stuck.

I’ve read GL: Rebirth and liked it but not so much that I read anything more with Hal in it until Sinestro Corps War. Following that and in the lead up to Blackest Night (in trade-form anyway) I decided to immerse myself in some classic GL to see if it helped me build up a rapport with the character. And what better way than a $9.99 (or due to UK rip-off currency conversion £7.99) 520 page Showcase volume as a taster.

When reading it I found myself surprised by both the familiar and the unfamiliar. The volume features multiple appearances by Sinestro (including his original Qwardian ring) and even has Star Sapphire appear, these are things I was expecting further down the line. And the general rules of GL such as Oa and the GL Corps (although I don’t believe they’re explicitly named that on any occasion) are all here, although you can tell a lot has changed. Back then Hal’s oath was one he made up himself and even gets its own origin story!

What surprised me was how unfamiliar Hal Jordan was. When I think of Hal he’s a scrappy test pilot wearing a bomber jacket. Men want to be him, ladies want to be with him…the whole clichéd 9 yards. But the Hal we meet here is very different, yes he’s a test pilot but he comes across to me as more of a gentleman than a jock. In a reflection of the times (I assume, I’m not that old) when not in GL costumer or flightsuit he is always wearing a suit and tie, I don’t think the bomber jacket ever makes an appearance. He’s also less of a ladies man and more a besotted love interest for his boss, Carol Ferris.

In fact the romance theme is really strong through this book and was another surprise. Carol is portrayed as a bit of a simpering sop, utterly smitten with Green Lantern but also willing to string along Hal Jordan. And given that for most of the volume she’s the Managing Director of a research aeronautics company her only train of thought whenever we meet her is her love for GL…how times have changed.

The other main supporting character is Thomas “Pieface” Kalmaku, who I had heard was very “of the times” and quite racially insensitive but to be honest other than his nickname being based on the fact he is an eskimo/inuit I thought he was well handled, surprisingly so. He’s Hal’s confidant and doesn’t come across to me as a caricature at all.

The very nature of a GL book is very dependent on colour, particularly at this point in his history when he had a vulnerability to the colour yellow, and the Showcase format with its black and white reproductions does suffer a little from this. Hal looks blond throughout and it’s only through the very exposition heavy dialogue that you know when he’s being faced by something yellow.

The art is strong throughout, very approachable even for someone like me who can struggle with silver age pencils and the plots are cheesy but really good fun through.

Rating:
Reviewer: Dave Williams

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