Tuesday, November 20, 2012
THE SECRET ORIGIN OF GREEN LANTERN
packaged with possibly delicious candy - no one seems to remember -
and sold by the Leaf Candy Company as “Comicbook Candy” circa 1980.
As previously noted, each 16-page booklets consists of a cover, 14
pages of story and a back cover advertisement for a DC Super Heroes
Collector Album. The miniature comics are 4-1/4" tall and 2-3/4"
wide. A photo of the display box from which this 1980 product was
posted at the head of last Friday’s bloggy thing. The Grand Comics
Database has indexed these booklets. Because of that, we know a
lot about them. But not everything.
According to the GCD, Dick Giordano confirmed that he was the inker
of this cover and suspected he penciled it from a layout by Carmine
Infantino. Someone at the GCD opined “it also seems to have a Curt
Swan look,” but I still don’t see that. Neither the cover scene or
the villainous Doctor Polaris appear inside.
This mini-comic is a fine recap of Green Lantern’s origin. It also
mentions the Guardians of the Universe, Carol Ferris, Tom Kalmaku
and concludes with the Green Lantern oath. I’ve long thought this
oath was one of the best written bits in comics. Alas, neither the
GCD or yours truly knows the identity of the author of this secret
origin of Green Lantern. Indeed, at this time, we know only that
Paul Kupperberg wrote the Aquaman booklet and Bob Rozakis wrote the
ones for Flash and Wonder Woman. Any 1980s writers want to claim
credit for any of the others?
The art is by Joe Staton (pencils) and Steve Mitchell (inks). Both
have confirmed these credits. I think they did an excellent job on
a difficult task; these tiny comics are the worst showcase for an
artist’s work I can imagine.
The GCD believes - but isn’t certain - that Joe Orlando edited the
booklets, but offers no opinions as to the letterer and colorist of
this particular issue. I’m open to suggestions.
UPDATE: Anthony Tollin tells me he is certain he colored this Green
Lantern mini-comic and pretty certain his wife Adrienne Roy colored
the Batman one.
Hawkman’s secret origin is winging its way to my next bloggy thing.
Our Rawhide Kid Wednesdays will resume in January.
Going through the boxes of comic books loaned to me by a friend, I
randomly chose to catch up on Legion Lost. The last issue of the
title I had read was issue #7, so I thought I’d have a half-dozen
or so issues to read. I thought wrong.
Legion Lost tied into Superboy and Teen Titans and something called
The Ravagers, the last of which is a contender for dumbest title of
a super-hero comic book ever. I hadn’t read Superboy since issue
#1 or Teen Titans since #7, so, counting the Teen Titans Annual, I
had 19 issues to read. This turned out to be as far away from fun
as I could imagine.
Legion Lost stars seven Legionnaires who are trapped in the past.
None of them are the good ones. Superboy stars a version of that
character who is the second most unpleasant version of Superboy in
history and that’s only because he hasn’t yet ripped off anyone’s
arms or beheaded them. Teen Titans either doesn’t have good Teen
Titans or doesn’t have good versions of good Teen Titans. And the
less said about The Ravagers the better.
So we have unlikeable characters - lots of them - in stories made
of brutal action and ponderous plots. If this is what DC readers
truly want, if this is the kind of storytelling that sells comics,
then I understand my lack of interest in and respect for most “New
52" titles. I don’t think I need to read another issue of any of
Much more to my liking is Craig Yoe’s The Creativity of Ditko [IDW;
$39.99], a 200-page oversized examination of the work of one of our
greatest comics artists. The book reprints several stories Ditko
drew for Charlton Comics interspersed with single pages from some
of his other works and essays/memories by comics professional who
worked with Ditko, one of his most avid fans and the daughter of an
artist with which he shared a studio.
Ditko has always said his work speaks for him. Seeing his stories
reprinted at 11" by 7-3/4" makes that work darn near shout for him.
The Charlton stories from the 1970s are the most assured and most
impressive, amazing visuals in the service of quirky scripts that
shine because of Ditko’s handling of them. Most of the choices are
excellent, though the book inexplicably concludes with two weaker
efforts from the 1950s. It’s like the editor miscounted the pages
of the book and had to throw together another 10 pages.
There will never be a complete picture of Ditko the man because he
has been an extremely private person all his life. But this book
brings the picture we have of him into somewhat clearer focus. The
pieces by former DC editors Mike Gold and Jack C. Harris expose an
impish quality to Ditko that occasionally - too occasionally for my
own taste - transferred into this art. By contrast, Amber Stanton,
the daughter of fetish artist Eric Stanton with whom Ditko shared
a studio, reveals the more rigid and unyieldingly anti-social Ditko
from which the artist’s Ayn Rand-inspired screeds were born. It’s
presumptuous of me to say this, but I do so wish the impish Ditko
had conquered that other guy.
Every book on Ditko will be a flawed book on Ditko because of his
refusal to participate in them. He’ll never open up to those who
would tell his life story as did other greats like Jack Kirby and
Joe Kubert. That said, The Creativity of Ditko and the fine series
of Ditko books produced by Blake Bell and Fantagraphics Books are
as good as we’re likely to get. I recommend all of them and hope
Ditko can at least appreciate his powerful work has had such impact
on his fans that we can’t get enough of books like these.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella