In 1975, beginning in The Flash #233 (May, 1975) and 234 (Jun., 1975), Denny O’Neil righted plot matters for Green Lantern after a few miscues. In that two-part story, two aliens from the planet Que made a wager on which vehicle was superior, a World War II Sherman tank from Earth or a similar contraption from the planet Sposm.
An unwitting Green Lantern aided the Quens in plucking a Sherman tank from the time stream to confront the contemporary Sposm tank, and once both vehicles were posited on a pre-arranged field of battle, the war games began with GL rendered unconscious. Once revived, GL immediately launched himself into the middle of matters, breaking down the battle but not before tragedy struck and one of the two aliens fatally hurled himself into the line of fire. An irate GL chastised the surviving alien and returned the tanks and their crew to their respective locations in time and space.
Continuing with the temporal theme, Vandal Savage, last seen in Flash #215 (May, 1972), returned to reclaim his immortality in Flash #235 (Aug., 1975), which was the third and final Flash-Green Lantern team-up during GL’s stint in the back-up slot. In the story, the parallel universe-crossing Earth-2 villain kidnapped Iris Allen (The Flash’s wife) and Carol Ferris (Hal’s girlfriend) in order to lure Flash and GL into a trap wherein they would unknowingly utilize their powers to help return Savage’s lost immortality.
As it turned out, Iris had already been abducted before Savage’s attempt to kidnap her, and he simply took credit for the kidnapping to coax Flash to do his bidding. This deeper mystery would continue in Flash #236 (Sep., 1975), but GL would not be participating. Instead, it would be back to solo action Hal Jordan!
O’Neil and new Green Lantern artist Mike Grell then guided Green Lantern on a very interesting cosmic chase that spanned six issues (Flash #237, 238, 240-243, with the first three chapters published in 1975 and the rest during the first half of 1976). GL was in pursuit of the Ravagers, a band of extraterrestrials intent on joining some kind of federation, but first they had to perform the Biblical creation story in reverse by destroying various worlds through flooding, snuffing out the sun, devolving the planet’s life forms, et cetera. The climactic chapters had Green Lantern saving his home planet. Along the way, GL picked up a traveling companion, the alien creature known as “Itty,” who was not exactly a fan favorite.
Green Lantern then re-teamed with Green Arrow in a revival of Green Lantern/Green Lantern beginning with #90 in May of 1976 (a solid-selling pair of DC Specials released in 1975 that showcased GL reprints helped the Emerald Crusader tremendously in earning back his own series. It’s interesting that GL’s cancellation in ’72 and shift to The Flash warranted a house ad, but the return to his own magazine did not. Anyway, despite the revival of his own series with Green Arrow, there was still a solo GL tale left to tell in the back of The Flash.
This two-part story appeared in Flash #245 (Nov., 1976) and #246 (Jan., 1977), and it was given no billing on the covers of those issues even though all previous GL appearances in The Flashhad been mentioned on the covers. Perhaps DC did not want to have Green Lantern fans choose between two books featuring the Emerald Crusader, or perhaps the company’s decision to drop its DC cigar band logo forced the GL blurb also to be dropped.
Whatever the reason, “Perilous Plan of the Plant-Master!” and “Fury of the Floronic Man!” may be the most unheralded GL stories ever published. [For Green Lantern’s most unheralded appearance, though, see Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #151 (July, 1972) where GL drops in for a couple of pages to aid Superman in battling a massive swarm of man-size locust creatures.] The two-part finale of GL’s back-up feature in Flash was also notable for depicting the Atom’s villain, Jason Woodrue, transforming into the Floronic Man.
Then, with The Flash #247 (March, 1977), the Scarlet Speedster once again had his own book to himself.
Green Lantern would next appear in The Flash in issue #275 (July, 1979) to congratulate Barry Allen on his unique choice of masquerade costumes, and then again a few issues later shortly after Iris Allen’s tragic death in Flash #276 (Aug., 1979) and #277 (Sep., 1979).
[A fake “Green Lantern” would visit Central City in Flash #258 (Feb., 1978). It was actually GL-villain Black Hand borrowing the Emerald Crusader’s identity.]
Next: Final Thoughts!
Portions of this article originally appeared in Back Issue #18 (Nov., 2006), published by TwoMorrow Publications.