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The ’90s Revisited: Green Lantern #81


greenlantern0081nFuneral for a Hero

Writer: Ron Marz
Pencils: Darryl Banks
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Color: Pamela Rambo
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1996
Cover Price: $1.75

“That was a good issue.” That was my initial thought on closing this, the first time I’ve ever read the issue. Oh, there were some odd bits here and there, but the oddity largely comes from my present knowledge of stuff in 2016 contrasting with reading a book that’s some 19+ years old.

This issue gives us the funeral of Hal Jordan. Though this is functionally #31 of Kyle’s series, and he was introduced to “replace” Hal in the title…until now, Hal had not actually been dead. He’d first simply become Parallax, destroyed the Corps and then been “not on Earth.” He returned in Zero Hour trying to re-write reality, to fix things…and was stopped. I recall (though not in much conscious detail) the #0 issue of Green Lantern…of Hal and Kyle interacting, and I believe the then-destruction of Oa, and I think I’d figured Hal was out of the picture. He then came back in The Final Night, where he sacrificed himself to save Earth and re-ignite the sun…which brings us to this issue.

Kyle has created a cathedral construct for all the mourners, in part of the crater that was once Coast City. We see the arrival of Jon Stewart and Donna Troy, and Donna’s reunion with Dick Grayson; she officially introduces Dick to Kyle. We see there are quite a number of individuals gathered–some heroes, some villains, some not even “invited.” (But that’s life, innit?) Superman speaks, followed by Guy Gardner and Jon Stewart (former GLs both), then Dinah Lance (Black Canary) on behalf of Oliver Queen (deceased at this point in continuity). The Flash (Wally West) speaks, followed by Carol Ferris…and the service concludes with Kyle. Next, the mourners move outside, where the memorial “eternal” flame for Coast City is magically transformed into a GREEN flame (Hal now reunited with the city he so loved) by the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. Finally, Swamp Thing causes a massive growth of plant life in the crater…transforming the lifeless, desolate pit into a massive green space to honor the fallen hero…while Kyle erects a statue construct of Hall at the heart of it.

While many might say that you need to have constant action, constant “big stuff” happening, huge events, every issue must be merely a chapter in an ongoing story…I myself am very much a huge fan of self-contained one-shots…and of quiet, personal stories. A couple of my favorite X-Men comics involve the characters at home, just being themselves and interacting…not saving the world or facing some catastrophic event or the latest apocalyptic villain. This issue is like that. No huge action-event. No action-stars. No villain crashing the party and making trouble. This is not part 1 of some epilogue mini-SERIES to examine the death of Hal. This is not a “bridge” issue shepherding us from the last event right into the next.

This is a quiet, moving story where we get to see a number of DC characters interacting as themselves, in context of a loss. Perhaps there should be mention that the WORLD has just nearly ended, but there’s not even that–this isn’t “just” a follow-up to The Final Night…this is simply a story of people coming together to mourn the death of a man whose life had–in some way–touched all of theirs. And I suppose the way I’m going on and on like this ought to “say” enough in itself, outside of these words I’m typing.

For me–having grown up through the ’90s, having been quite immersed in DC‘s continuity (if only on the Superman side) through much of this period, being “aware of” if not directly following every title–this is an instant classic. I paid $3.99 to buy this from a back-issue bin; no bargain-bin or quarter-bin…just a “full priced back issue” in this case. The $3.99–just over double original cover price–makes this issue a “match” for any current 2016 issue…yet to me, the quality far exceeds most anything I’ve read recently from DC.

To say the least…the writing for this issue is great, and my sole complaint would be what feels like a tacked-on bit from Batman for the sake of a pretty bow on the situation, quite opposite of how Batman would be portrayed through later years until Infinite Crisis nearly a decade after this.

Banks‘ art is fantastic as well…I have no complaints on the visuals, and to me the only way characters seem slightly “off” visually I think is that they look almost “too human.” There’s a deep authenticity to me here, between the visuals and story combined…as any comic book should be! And unlike contemporary comics that seem full of silent or near-wordless 2-page spreads…this issue has an example of where something like that is truly justified…giving us a huge, powerful moment…whose silence echoes loudly as we see the interior of the cathedral, the pews full of mourners, Kyle and Donna moving through.

greenlantern0081cThe copy of this issue that I bought has a $1.75 cover price…which honestly surprised me, as I’d thought all DC books were $1.95 or so at this point. Based on the barcode on the cover and no “Direct Edition” text, I can only assume this is a true “newsstand edition” copy…and perhaps these editions were slightly cheaper than the comic shop editions. (I do recall the X-books having a similar thing with a cheaper lower-paper-quality edition and then the more expensive, high-quality-paper “deluxe edition”). This would be yet another difference with contemporary comics…as in 2016 I have observed the “newsstand” editions being seemingly-arbitrarily priced at $1 more than normal.

All said…this was a great issue, and very much worth my $4, putting virtually any current comic to shame, value-wise by comparison. And it only took me some 16+ years to get around to paying a “premium price” to acquire and get to read this issue.

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2 Responses

  1. Loved this one! The 90s certainly had a thing for these “quiet” issues, and I’m a sucker for them every time! My absolute favorite issue of Uncanny X-Men is #308… it’s Thanksgiving, and we follow Scott and Jean as they walk around campus and revisit many key points of their relationship, until they ultimately decide to get married (though, I’m sure you already knew that).

    On the DC side, I always enjoy seeing these special “assembly” issues. They don’t do them too often, but when they do, it’s just such a treat.

    Great write up!

  2. I’m not sure if UXM 308 is actually the one I think of other than the introduction of “Joseph” issue; if it is not, then I’d totally forgotten about it. Either way, cost me $3 today buying it out of a back issue bin, cuz I have zero interest this week/weekend in digging through my longobxes. 🙂

    I definitely agree on the “assembly” issue notion. I mean, granted, we need the “context” of the action-issues and such to really make us appreciate these sorts…but when written well, I’ll take these over action-issues most of the time.

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