RETRO REVIEW: Green Lantern #201 (June 1986)
Or – “A Key Bronze Age First Appearance Of A Big-Time Fan Favorite…”
Geoff Johns is a talented writer, and he has a knack for bringing characters to life in new and different ways, making them feel fresh and iconic at the same time. Sometimes, though, it’s interesting to go back to the beginnings and see how some of our favorites started out, like when the episodes of ‘Good Morning, Mrs. Bliss’ end up in ‘Saved By The Bell’ rotation. Luckily, for everyone involved, there’s a lot less Mr. Belding here…
GREEN LANTERN #201
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Joe Staton
Inker: Mark Farmer
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: L. Lois Buhalis
Editor: Andy Helfer
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 75 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00
Previously, in Green Lantern Corps: The universal conflagration known as the Crisis On Infinite Earths was more than just a big fist-fight between heroes and a big guy with a bucket on his head. Entire universes were wiped from existence, some of the longest-serving and recognizable heroes were killed in action, and the ramifications led to a literal whole new world. One of those side-effects came when the Guardians of the Universe splintered for the first time in eons, leading the blue guys to leave Oa and our dimension behind, leaving their Corps in disarray. For the first time in centuries, the Green Lanterns of the 3600 space sectors were left to their own devices, and allowed to make their own decisions about what they did and where they went. Of course, that doesn’t immediately explain why Lanterns Ch’p of H’lven and Salaak of Slyggia bump into one another while traveling towards Earth…
In the wake of the Guardians’ exodus, both Ch’p and Salaak headed for their home sectors, with Salaak even agreeing to cover Katma Tui’s designated space sector while she got all kissy-faced with John Stewart, But upon his return to H’lven, Ch’p gets a rather strange welcome…
Things are most assuredly NOT alright at his nest, as Ch’p finds his best friend married to Ch’ps own wife, and comes to the realization that (in the newly formed single universe Post-Crisis) he no longer exists, having died years ago. As for Salaak, it’s not the worlds that have changed, but the Salaak himself.
Y’know, say what you will about Steve Englehart, the man knows how to wring drama out of a story, and even 35 years later, I’m touched at the bonding moment between cartoon character and four-armed pink monster with a pickle for a head. Finally making their way back to Earth, Salaak and Ch’p meet up with Earth’s Green Lantern foursome: John Stewart, Katma Tui, Hal Jordan and the ever-troublesome Arisia. But, the six cosmic protectors are soon joined by a seventh…
Yes, dear friends, this issue is the first appearance of Kilowog of Bolovax Vik, now a beloved veteran of the Green Lantern Corps. Far from the R. Lee Ermey mentality that we now know and love him for, Kilo’s debut has him as a somewhat soft-spoken Lantern, whose day job is that of deep thinker…
Here’s an interesting bit of comics lore: Though the 12-issue Crisis On Infinite Earths limited series was designed to showcase as many of DC’s characters as possible, from Arthurian legends to gunfighters of the old west to the super-teens of the 30th Century, one character who NEVER appeared in its pages was one Harold “Hal” Jordan. Some months earlier, he had given up his power ring to John Stewart, and it was John who served as the protector of 2814 during the entire Crisis (although Guy Gardner was empowered by a group of rogue Guardians during the war as well.) Of course, now that there are more Lanterns on Earth, the villains who have plagued Hal in his duties have to forge their own new paradigm…
Sonar and Doctor Polaris and their never-again-to-be-seen Schmuck Squad (including the mysterious Polestar, whose secret I will tell you if enough people ask about it in the comments section) attack the Lanterns while they’re building their new citadel in the mountains of California. Kilowog proves himself to be rather similar to his current characterization in one important aspect: His aptitude for combat!
Of course, things rapidly fall apart from this point, as the fighty-fighty and the dialogue! with! exclamation! points! flying fast and furious, and everyone makes a point of verbalizing their deepest thoughts and raison d’etre for the benefit of anyone observing the battle. The attraction between Hal Jordan and 13-year-old Arisia also rears its ugly head here, serving as the veteran Lantern’s motivation to dig deep and take down Sonar.
“Kilowog’s body is noways complicated!” Heh. Try telling that to anybody who wants to draw him. The Lanterns overcome the villainous assemblage (which, given that each of them possesses the most powerful weapon in the universe, probably shouldn’t have taken as long as it did) and take a moment to enjoy a ‘Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo’ freeze-frame moment as we fade to black…
The strangeness of post-Crisis late-80s DC is in full form here, but I remember how awesome it all seemed at the time: A brave, new world where anything could happen and nothing could be taken for granted, before the continuity glitches began mounting up and dragging the whole experiment down…
Actually, now that you mention it, it’s kind of like now. Either way, it’s an interesting sort of issue, with art by the always entertaining Joe Staton, with some of the cartoonier aspects of Joe’s art mitigated by Mark Farmer’s inking. The development of Kilowog as a character throughout this run of Green Lantern (though the cover calls it Green Lantern Corps, the indicia information at the front still reads Green Lantern for a few more issues) is a slow and strange thing, featuring a crush on Arisia, a love of communism and the creation of the Rocket Red armor. (I am not kidding about any of those, by the way.) Green Lantern #201 is a very 80s comic book, but I’m a very 80s kinda guy, and I am willing to sit back and enjoy the walls of text and relive my youth, awarding this one 3 out of 5 stars overall.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!