Monday, February 25, 2008

Goodbye, Green Lantern!

The late 1960s were a time of change for DC Comics. This became startlingly obvious in Green Lantern #49, the December 1966 issue. GL's main cast of characters had stayed steady since his introduction in 1959--sidekick Pieface (Tom Kalmaku), love interest Carol Ferris, and secret identity, test pilot Hal Jordan. But that all got shook up quite a bit in this issue, starting with the girlfriend:

I can't think of another DC comic where a hero had been thrown over permanently by a long-standing girlfriend in favor of another man. Oh, sure, Bruce Wayne's gals had a habit of dropping off the face of the earth every few years. Aquaman had gotten married, as had the Flash (mentioned briefly in this issue). So this was really something different. But that was not all the goodbyes in store for us in this issue.

Hal decides that he cannot stay in Coast City with Carol married to another man, and so he strikes out on his own, resulting in this poignant farewell:

I'll have to do a full post on Pieface sometime, but he was a pretty unique character in the DC universe. Although his name suggests the buffoonish sidekicks of the Golden Age, like Doiby Dickles or Winky, Blinky and Noddy, Pie was played straight, as a serious character.

And even this was not the end of goodbyes. An even more startling departure came at the end of Green Lantern #61 (June 1968). It wasn't announced other than with this small note at the end of the story:

Gil Kane, who had drawn every panel of every Silver Age Green Lantern story, was now out of the picture. This was part of great DC reshuffling of artistic duties in mid-1968 that I will have to cover in depth at some later date. Apparently, DC's artists and writers had been pressuring the company for health and pension benefits, and in an effort to head that off, DC decided to switch around the assignments, probably feeling that the long-term association of artists with characters gave the former too much clout.

Many of the switches worked, but this one appears to have been a failure, as Kane was back at the old stand by mid-1969, although he only got one more year with the character before the advent of the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams.