Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be looking at four writer/artist duos, as voted on by you, the readers! This week features Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams! Today’s page is from Green Lantern #89, which was published by DC and is cover dated May 1972. This scan is from Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern/Green Arrow #7, a reprint series which was released in 1983. Enjoy!
The final issue of Green Lantern that O’Neil and Adams worked on together (before their “hard-travelin’ heroes” thing moved to back-up stories; this is actually the final issue of the series, as well – can you imagine DC going four years these day without publishing a Green Lantern comic, like they did in the 1970s?) is “… And Through Him Save a World …”, which takes their GL/GA Conservative/Liberal thing to its logical extreme, when the two heroes meet Jesus. Well, not really, but close enough. Jesus, in this case, is kind of a douchebag. But you’ll have to read the issue to find out about that! For now, let’s just check out the first page.
Unlike a lot of his Batman stuff, O’Neil pulls back on the narrative captions and uses more dialogue, mainly because he has two characters to work with instead of a lonely avenger of the night. So once he tells us that Oliver Queen – Green Arrow – is a champion laugher (let’s hope he puts that on his résumés), he jumps right into the story. You’ll notice right away that he’s setting up a class dichotomy in this book – the use of the word “tenement” in the narrative box is an important code word, as it implies that Ollie’s apartment isn’t in the nicest part of town. You’ll notice that Adams ignores this code word and draws Ollie’s place as a fairly nice pad, but O’Neil’s use of the word is there to alert us to the fact that Ollie is a bit more leftist than we might expect.
When Hal comes in, O’Neil and Adams immediately paint him as the “square” one. I’ll get to Adams’ contribution, but Hal’s question about Charlie Brown is deliberately goofy, just as O’Neil wanted. O’Neil was in his early 30s when he wrote this, and based on other stories he was writing at this time, I have to believe he thought anyone who was still reading “Peanuts” was pretty square. Hal’s clueless query is another indication of the class differences between his heroes. Even though they’re the same age, Hal feels “older,” because he’s out of touch with what’s cool. Ollie sets him straight by telling him the basics of the story we’re about to read – some dude named Isaac (the Jesus stand-in) is standing up for the ecology by acting on his beliefs instead of “moaning.” The way he strikes back against the mean corporations poisoning the earth is why Ollie is laughing.
Adams does his part to show the differences between Hal and Ollie. Even though he makes Ollie’s apartment a bit too nice, the psychedelic painting on the wall (which might be Black Canary, but might not) is a nice way to indicate that Ollie is a bit more hip than Hal. The most crucial difference between the two is that Hal is in his uniform and Ollie isn’t. This clearly sets up the contrast – Hal looks more conservative and law-enforcing, because he’s technically a policeman. Adams has to draw him standing, of course, because he’s entering the room, but he still stands straight and tall, with no slouch whatsoever, and even his left hand is rigid. Ollie, by contrast, is wearing a funky outfit and chillaxing in his chair. Of course he has the facial hair while Hal is clean-shaven, and while Hal looks slightly constipated, Ollie is enjoying himself. It’s a nice contrast between the two men. According to the credits, Cory Adams colored this, but I don’t know if that’s the original colorist in 1972 or someone doing the recoloring in 1983. It looks like original coloring, more than the stuff we’ve been seeing from the 1990s and 2000s, but I don’t know. Whether it’s original or not, the coloring sets the two men apart as well – Hal’s green is fine, but the other parts of his uniform are almost gunmetal gray (plus the inks are quite heavy there), giving him a more serious look than Ollie, with his lush blue and reddish-brown. I don’t know if this is reflective of the original coloring, but it’s a nice touch.
It’s hard to figure out where to go once you’ve had your two heroes meet Jesus, but O’Neil and Adams would be back with more adventures of their mismatched characters! We’ll check out another one tomorrow! Until then, there’s always the archives!