Monday, 3 December 2007

Mangy Furriners!

As I've mentioned before, I'm in the long, long process of cataloguing all my comics. Whenever I have the time, I scan covers, add details of plots and character appearances and a whole host of other material, mainly for fun but partly to contribute to the Collectorz online database.

Doing this also gives me the opportunity to check out comics that, compared with today's, are nowhere near as sophisticated.

Denny O'Neil won awards in the 1970's for his groundbreaking work on Green Lantern/Green Arrow and deservedly so. He was amongst the first to show that superhero comics could be used to tell mature and sensitive stories; sure, they have some rough edges but tales that highlighted the wrongs of drug abuse or racism weren't being told in this medium at the time.

He was also, as can be seen by Green Lantern/Green Arrow #110 from 1978, telling tales of supreme weirdness, littered with terrible cliches!

Kicked out of Arrow's house by Black Canary after Arrow's display of macho posturing irritates her, the two Greens travel to Earth orbit where Lantern, when he's plying his trade as Hal Jordan long distance truck driver, routinely parks his truck.

The idea of using space as your personal parking lot isn't the weirdest thing in this issue by far. As they reach the truck, they notice The Silver Twist, apparently "the strangest object in the known universe" which threw them into an alternate reality the last time they encountered it and this time is about to prove no different. Before that, though, Lantern has to rescue a satellite knocked out of orbit by the Twist and the figure that came out of one side of it and into another. Rescuing the satellite before it crashes into Ohio, Arrow comments that "the Chamber of Commerce would be really miffed!"

Do you not think that they'll be "really miffed" by hitting the nuclear powered satellite away from Earth with a giant tennis racket?! One minute they're saving it, the next they're throwing the damn thing away!

Determining to follow the figure in the Twist, though, they plunge into it and arrive on what appears to be Earth in the Old West, complete with sheriffs and varmints with themselves being seen as the varmints.

No sooner have they arrived than they're being shot at by some good ole boys, including the sheriff - some welcome! Their skins are saved - temporarily - by the arrival of the Clancy Bunch who have a member called Borch . . . who just happens to be a four armed alien.

Lantern ends up being shot by Borch, forcing Arrow to pick him up and get him to the saloon where, as you can see, the locals are none too friendly. The next time someone you don't know walks into your home, I want you all to say "Thet's fur 'nuff, stranger!"

They really don't write them like that any more. Something else you don't see if the old "Continued on 3rd page following" note at the bottom of the page when the story was about to be interrupted by an advertisement. Was that put there out of politeness or a vague sense that if it wasn't there, the reader would just get confused while his story about aliens and cowboys was suddenly joined (as in this case) by Batman and Robin talking about the "light, tender crust" and "delicious, real fruit filling" of Hostess Fruit Pies?

Thankfully, the sassy Miz Lulu steps in and prevents the trigger happy locals from shooting Arrow . . . though they probably would have filled him with lead if we're keeping with the story.

Miz Lulu, it turns out, is not only able to calm hotheaded cowpokes but is also something of a doctor and, despite Lantern having been shot by an alien ray gun, she's able to restore him to health.

And just in time, too, as the real bad guy - the wonderfully named Rance Clancy - shows up and challenges Lantern to a duel against the alien, Borch, in an hour's time.

How do we tell he's the bad guy? Well, other than the whole threatening and duelling side of things, just take a look at him: he's wearing black! All black as well! Not just a hat but the whole ensemble's been bought from the Bad Guy Clothing Store which only sells things in black!

Still, there's no way that the heroes aren't going to do their bit and Lantern agrees to face off against Borch and his four arms.

Having spent the last hour chatting up Miz Lulu (Hal was always a ladies' man, much like Ollie) he answers her question of "You sure you want to go through with this?" with the immortal line:

"A man's got to do what a man's got to do!"

Mixing his Western heroes, though, he takes a John Wayne quote and promptly dresses in the style of Clint Eastwood in the Dollars Trilogy, complete with serape and hat.

Stepping out of the saloon, Lantern is afflicted with another case of the cliches as he thinks to himself that things are "Quiet . . . real quiet! Maybe too quiet!"

Of course, they're not quiet for long as the four armed alien, Borch, turns up and, like all good comic book villains, explains who he is and what he's doing here. Meanwhile, Arrow finds the other members of the Clancy gang who, blackguards that they are, plan to shoot Lantern from afar.

Armed with his power ring, though, it doesn't take Lantern more than a moment to disarm Borch and leave him in the custody of the townsfolk who are now more than happy the two "mangy furriners" stopped by.

In a wonderful piece of deus ex machina writing, Arrow discovers the way out of this alternate Earth: a hole in the ground that "looks like a rift between the universes!"

What are the odds?!

Simply jumping into the hole takes them back to their own universe and the rift closes up behind them . . . leaving a reality hopping alien armed with ray guns on a world no more advanced than the late 1800's!

Miz Lulu might be wondering who those masked men were but I'd like to know where they left their sense of responsibility! Surely Lantern - as an intergalactic police officer - should have brought Borch back with them and taken him to the Guardians of the Universe?!

Ah, the 70's - simpler times . . .

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