Friday, March 22, 2024

Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn #1 (December 1989)

Hal Jordan: Messiah figure.

I know the writing credits to this series say "James Owsley" but when I refer to the writer, I'll call him Christopher Priest, or just Priest. Just thought I'd start with that before it became confusing to those who didn't know he later changed his name. It's not me losing my mind! It's just me referring to the writer as he's chosen to be referred to. I will not be referring to M.D. Bright as "Doc" though. No, you know what? Maybe I will. It's easier than typing "M.D."

The comic book part of this blog began in 2011 with DC's New 52 because I thought I loved comic books. I own enough of them to fool anybody into believing that. But as I read more and more of The New 52, I began to realize that maybe I didn't love comics. At least not in the way most comic book fans love comics. Because if I truly loved comic books, wouldn't I remember all those comic books I read when I was younger? It's true, I did remember some. But not all and by no means even the majority of them. It was only then that I realized I loved stories, be they comic books or not, and they had to be well-written and intriguing and impactful. I began to notice commenters to my blog actually remembered so much more about the past comics they read, as if all the comics had been impactful, as if — gasp — they truly loved the medium. Perhaps I just loved some of the art and some of the stories and the fact they were about a buck a pop. I became disillusioned, depressed, and distraught about what I'd been doing with my life. And, so, I stopped purchasing new comics (again!). My mediocre love for the genre left me wondering why I was spending nearly five dollars for a comic I could read in five minutes, half the time telling a mediocre story with middling art, when I could be purchasing or reading actual books! With fantastic plots and intriguing characters! Books! That I could read in public and look smart as opposed to, well, I don't want to denigrate people who read comic books in public! I've done that plenty of times because, in truth, I don't care if I look smart while in public. I don't care if I look smart writing this blog! If I'm caught reading Gravity's Rainbow in public, it's simply because I fucking love that book and probably need to read it a fourth time! Plus I look smart reading it.

What all that was meant to say was this: I have no fucking memory of Emerald Dawn! Wasn't this supposed to be the big return of Hal Jordan into the post-Crisis world? Don't people still talk about it to this day?! And here I am, owner of the comic book, a person who read it off the shelf, and I can't fucking remember one moment from it. Oh shit. Oh shit. Here comes the despair and depression again. What good was my life if I can't even remember doing the things I did during it?! I might as well be an amnesiac waking up from a 35 year coma! Fuuuuuuuuck.

Oh well! Let's see if I remember it while rereading it! Won't that be fun! Plus I can destroy the value of the comic by dripping weepy snot tears all over it as I contemplate my squandered opportunity and complete waste of existence.

There's one more thing about me before we get to how the issue begins: I hold nothing sacred. Don't misunderstand me; I have beliefs. I believe a lot of shit! But I don't care if those beliefs are skewered by somebody else, or by me even. Sometimes that makes me entirely the wrong person to write about a comic book, depending on what that comic book is about. Like, say, Bitch Planet. That's like playing fetch with your pit bull by tossing a hand grenade. I know (knew? I already did Bitch Planet reviews!) I'm gonna say some disrespectful shit if I find something funny. Some people think of it as being an edgelord but it's just stuff I find funny that inches into other people's sacred territory. Stuff you don't joke about. A lot of people have those boundaries and they think if somebody makes a joke outside those boundaries, they're doing it to get a rise out of people within those boundaries. But it's not like that at all. I don't even seen the boundaries when something is funny. Frankie Boyle describes it well in his current podcast, Here Comes the Guillotine, but I can't remember how he says it or what episode he says it in but I do remember nodding vigorously at his comment. Again, it doesn't mean I don't have strong, compassionate beliefs. And it doesn't mean I'll joke about offensive shit. That's boring, low hanging fruit best left to immature assholes and insecure adult white men. It's just that sometimes I can't help laughing at something horrible. Like that video from some terrible Fox show many, many, many years ago where an Australian teacher is filming two girls walking along a thin trail on a cliff that gives way and they begin tumbling down a near sheer cliff. That's not the funny part. That wouldn't make me laugh. But what got me, what truly made me break down into tears, was the teacher continuing to track their fall with the camera and yelling, "I told you not to go out there!" I mean it's horrible. But it's some darkly funny shit. Like when this moment happens:

I don't know what got me: either the hat or the over-exaggerated sound effect.

That's little Hal Jordan watching his father die in an experimental plane crash. Ha ha! Pretty fun, right? No, of course it isn't! It's supposed to be horrible! Priest creates a scene with bookended parallels, one depicting the Brightest Day of Martin Jordan's first successful pass of the sonic plane, the other depicting the Blackest Night of Martin Jordan smashing down on the runway and incinerating right in front of his boy.

Oh, I should also say, those two girls wound up being okay. Obviously they wouldn't show a tourist's snuff film on television! No, wait. That isn't so obvious because that show was on Fox in the '90s. I think anything fucking went back then and on that network.

Anyway, Hal's dad died in a fireball of airplane fuel and braggadocio and Hal's all, "I want to be just like my father!" Cut to twenty years later.

Carol ready to eat some dick.

That three panel scan above looks like 1/3 of the comics that used to be in the newspapers when I was a kid. They were the ones I'd always skip over because I didn't read the comics daily and, even if I did, who could follow a long form story three miserable little chunks at at time? Although if Mary Worth gave that look Carol Ferris was giving, I'd probably have read it more. That look would have intrigued me at 12. That look intrigues me at 52!

Carol isn't currently Hal's girlfriend. Carol is Biff's girlfriend which means I pictured her eating the wrong dick earlier. Apologies to everybody involved except my brain who got to see some images of Carol eating a dick and didn't care whose dick it was. Good stuff!

Hal, upset that he got called a momma's boy and a non-pilot while also having his hat sarcastically called "nice," decides to prove to Biff, who isn't there because Carol is eating his dick somewhere else, that he basically is a pilot by driving his jeep as fast as he possibly can on curvy mountain roads.

Well, I don't know if he's a pilot or not but he's certainly not a driver.

Cut to twenty years later as Hal wakes up from his coma. Okay, maybe a little bit less than twenty years later. Like 175,196 hours less. Hal learns he's crashed his car while drunk. Carol is there in his room to glare at him and slam the door as he explains that it was the sign's fault. Since the sign didn't jump out in front of his car, he must mean he saw the words "Happy Tymes" and couldn't help but think about Carol eating his dick. That would cause anybody to crash. Just ask Billy Halleck.

I guess Hal didn't get anybody killed and Ferris Aircraft swept the incident under the rug because Hal Jordan is at work the next day. But not to fly real experimental aircraft. That would be irresponsible. No, he's testing out a flight simulator. And somehow that flight simulator rockets off its mounting, flies through the wall, and takes off into the sky. I'm going to guess that wasn't built into the simulator and this is how Hal Jordan winds up meeting Abin Sur, post-Crisis. If that's not the case, and this isn't Abin Sur pulling Jordan to him, this will wind up replacing Nightwing driving a motorcycle up the side of a sidescraper as my go-to example of how unserious comic books are.

As Hal flies off in his simulator, he hears Abin Sur in his head describing how the Green Lantern Corps was formed. It goes something like this: "Order begat chaos which was actually order because order is the way of things. But then out of that order came sentient life and sentient life was all, 'Fuck order! Eat my dick!' And because the eating of dicks was not logical, order had to be restored. Which is why the Green Lantern Corps was formed. To stop all the dick eating in the universe."

That's a whole lot of words just to say "fascist."

Abin Sur tells Jordan that knowledge is power and Lolly's got some adjectives and some kids with weird names took a fucking rhinoceros on a bus and The Monkees are a fucking person, place, or thing. Unless what he actually says is that power without knowledge is violence. But he never really defines power with knowledge. Unless that's his definition of order. Which, again, just sounds fucking fascist. Power with or without knowledge leads to violence and thinking you have the knowledge simply excuses yourself for using violence as the means to your end. Sixteen pages into the first issue of Emerald Dawn and I'm beginning to remember why I hate Green Lantern and especially Hal "Always Quick to Fisticuffs" Jordan.

"Be sober." Abin Sur throwing shade.

Hal tries to rebel against being a Green Lantern because that's what makes Hal such a great Green Lantern. He refuses to follow orders when he thinks those orders are stupid or go against true justice. It's one of two things I like about Hal. The other is that he loves to punch people in the face. In reality, I'm not big on people who do that seeing as how I was once punched in the face by stupid jerk Jimmy Arthur. But in a comic book, it's always nice to have a lead character ready to spring into action and break up all the damn speech bubbles.

Just to be clear, after Jimmy Arthur punched me in the face and knocked me down because Jimmy Arthur was fucking massive, I jumped up and hit him with my skateboard. Was that fair? Do I care? It worked and he ran off bleeding all over the place. According to the police who questioned me later that night, I was the absolute winner of that encounter! And you know you were the most violent asshole in an altercation when the cops point it out. Those guys are super violent dickheads.

Man, if I were a Green Lantern, every issue would just be me hitting another alien in the head with a gigantic green skateboard.

Hal Jordan continues to refuse to become a Green Lantern but it's no use. The ring has decided. Abin Sur turns into an hourglass without the glass and the ring flies onto Hal's finger. It immediately puts him in the green and black uniform and Hal is appalled. I don't know why. It's actually one of DC's better costumes. Maybe he's just upset at the responsibility. He doesn't seem to be too big on responsibility at this stage of his heroic journey. This is Stage One: Like Father, Like Son. Pretty sure that's what Campbell named it.

Hal figures out the ring can make him fly and since he's always wanted to be a pilot, he begins to enjoy it. Not knowing what else to do, he calls Carol to check on his job, his brother, and his friends. His job seems to be done because they think he somehow stole the simulator rather than thinking the simulator almost killed him. His brother and his brother's girlfriend are fine. But his friend Andy, Carol tells him, will be paralyzed for life. Angry and unwilling to blame himself, Hal decides to take his anger out on the "Happy Tymes" sign. The yellow "Happy Tymes" sign.

Now this, I think, I was supposed to laugh at. I mean, while also being awed at the beauty of Priest's writing. Both of those things, right?

Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn #1 Rating: A+. How great is that ending? Is this what people who read this in 1989 remembered for the rest of their lives because they were much smarter than I was? They were all, "Look at Hal! Refusing to take responsibility for anything! His job. His friends. The Green Lantern ring. His drunk driving accident. What a fool!" And then the symbolism of the sign that wrecks his life and smashes in his head because his ring is powerless against it having the phrase "happy times" emblazoned on it. As if Happy Times are something he's not allowed anymore. The Happy Times died when he was a child in a fireball of airplane fuel and braggadocio. And now the thought of them only causes him pain. The sign's fault. The happy times now long past's fault. Always somebody else's fault. Never Hal's. What a great re-introduction to this character. I love it so far! Of course, it's just one issue. Can Priest keep it up for six issues? I mean, probably. I do love Priest's writing. He especially loves that thing where he drops the title at the end because the title means so much to the overall theme. He knows you'll forget it if he drops it at the beginning, and also it will sort of be a spoiler to bits coming up. So instead, he's all, "Here's the ending where Hal runs into a sign and the issue is called 'The Sign' and can you think of other ways the 'sign' theme appears throughout the story? No? What are you, an idiot? Maybe think about the comic a little bit before putting it away. No wonder you didn't remember any of this, you fucking dolt! You moron! You nincompoop!"

Hey, man! Geez! Give a guy a break, fake only in my head Christopher Priest!

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