Ten Minute Treasure: Green Lantern in The Flash #223
There was a time when Green Lantern Hal Jordan was nowhere near as popular as he is today. In 1973, he didn’t even have his own book, just the eight- to ten-page slot in the back of The Flash’s bimonthly comic. While still a member of the Justice League of America (a title that was also bimonthly at that time; hard to believe, huh?), Green Lantern didn’t have a job in his civilian identity, or any friends to hang out with. Hal had recently split with Green Arrow and Black Canary. There was no Carol Ferris, no brothers Jordan, no Tom Kalmaku, no super-villains to battle, and only occasional visits to Coast City (which still existed, but GL had moved away years before). Hal just wandered the country, stumbling into science fiction-oriented adventures or the occasional small town that harbored a dirty secret or two. He’d be awarded the occasional team-up with the Flash every four to six months. And yet, in the capable hands of writer Denny O’Neil and artist Dick Giordano, Green Lantern had a few solo shorts that have remained sturdy after all these years.
Case in point, “Doomsday…Minus Ten Minutes!,” from The Flash #223 (September-October, 1973). You’ve heard of the 10-cent adventure? Well, this is the ten minute adventure, which is the amount of time that lapses from when Green Lantern returns to Earth from outer space on page one to when an extraterrestrial alien departs Earth on page nine. In-between is basically a misunderstanding between the two combatants. The extraterrestrial is unfamiliar with the weight of Earth’s gravity and misjudges a simple step that becomes a mighty leap, and GL reads it as an aggressive attack and responds accordingly by striking back, albeit without using his power ring because he did not have a chance to recharge it before the extraterrestrial made his startling appearance. All the alien is seeking is a power source to re-energize his belt so that he can leave the planet he is stranded on. He finally finds it in the energy from GL’s power ring, which GL is finally able to recharge, and it’s the first blast from the ring that the alien absorbs. The alien leaves with GL clueless as to what the entire incident was all about. GL’s hunch that he’d never learn the reason for the alien’s actions was absolutely correct, as the extraterrestrial would never appear again. Who says GL isn’t smart?
Ten minutes in comic book time, nine pages in length, a five minute read, and with that I’d have to wait another two months for the next new GL adventure. This was how, where, and when I learned patience (it was also good practice for the multi-month wait between Camelot 3000 #11 and #12 over a decade down the line, but that’s another story).
“Doomsday…Minus Ten Minutes!” is by no means an O’Neil classic (that would have been over in Batman #251, also out at the time, which featured the return of the Joker after an almost four year absence, with sterling artwork by Neal Adams), but it remains a fun read. Giordano steals the show. His linework is splendid; his action scenes superb. Giordano’s GL is a cross between a young Jimmy Stewart and a behaved Russell Crowe, if you can imagine such a mix, but I see it. The final full page panel of the extraterrestrial soaring into space with the galaxy as his, her, or its backdrop is quite nice.
Not the most popular of times for the Emerald Ringslinger, but, personally, one of the most treasured. And if someone had asked me then if I thought GL would have the best selling book of his own for May of 2005, I’d have replied, “Why not?”