Spinner Rack: Hal Jordan Betrays Green Lantern! Part One

Posted by Joanna Sandsmark on 8/9/2011

With all the hype about the Green Lantern movie this summer, Joanna decided to delve into the exploits of the Emerald Gladiator.

Sometimes, a title is enough to make it impossible to resist. “Hal Jordan Betrays Green Lantern!” is that kind of title. Originally found in Green Lantern #21 (June 1963) and in Showcase Presents: Green Lantern Vol. 2 (where I found it), this story turned out to be pretty cool. It has beautiful Gil Kane pencils with Murphy Anderson inks and a story by Gardner Fox.

The splash page has Green Lantern powerless against a yellow fog even as he wonders how he will save Carol Ferris's father. I have a soft spot for comic stories that feature beloved relatives of the main characters. I was raised on Ma and Pa Kent, Lucy Lane and the relative I loved more than any other, Supergirl. Whether powered or nonpowered, that close tie always upped the ante when danger threatened.

The story opens with Carol eagerly awaiting the appearance of her parents, who have been on a two-year trip around the world. Their pilot is, of course, Hal “Green Lantern” Jordan. As she watches the plane land, Carol remembers her father admitting that he always wanted a son to carry on his work. But to his delight Carol proved herself “as good as any son” because of her head for business. My feminist soul blanches at the phrase, “as good as any son”. The implication that daughters are “lesser than” when it comes to the important things is a difficult thing to hear from a father. So instead of complimenting her as the talented person that she is, he compares her to an imagined son and basically tells her she'll do. It's obvious that Gardner Fox considered this a big complement and in 1963 it probably was. The upshot of the conversation was that Mr. Ferris put his daughter in charge of the company while he flew off on his two-year odyssey around the world.

As Carol embraces her mother, the first thing her Dad asks his daughter is not, “how is Ferris aircraft doing?” Rather, it is, “How's that romance between you and Hal coming, Honey?” Judging by the illustration, Hal is far more interested in Pie Face (I almost expected little hearts to be floating above the two). Carol explains that she's fond of Hal, but really loves Green Lantern, to which Carl replies, “Then what's the problem? If you want to be Green Lantern's wife—all you have to do is marry Hal Jordan!” Yowza!

This is a great opening for this story. Right away you get some family dynamics, a great introduction to the romantic “triangle” (or quadrangle, if you count Hal and Pie's new secret fling – okay, fine, triangle), and a wonderful shocker that compels you to keep reading. This is good writing from Mr. Fox.

Next, the focus shifts from Carol and Carl Ferris to Hal Jordan and his "good buddy," Pie Face. As Hal finishes recharging his ring he tells Pie the story of what happened, explaining some of the facts he learned later.

Imagine squiggly lines, instead of straight-edged boxes, to indicate that what follows happened in the past. While in Paris, Mr. Ferris found a Renoir that he was very interested in buying. Underneath the original Renoir was an original Rembrandt, or so Mr. Ferris thinks. I have to say that it would be unusual enough to find an original Renoir but to find that painting on top of an original Rembrandt would be 10 kinds of freaky. And then you have the awful choice between keeping the Renoir or trying to get at the Rembrandt. I'll also admit that I'm not sure why this “painting on a painting” twist was included in this story. Isn't finding an original Renoir good enough? Does it have to be sitting on top of an original Rembrandt to make it all really special?

Whatever his goal, the Rembrandt or the Renoir, Mr. Ferris marks his prize by scratching the back of the painting with his fingernail. After being told the painting will cost $50,000, Ferris tells the art dealer he'll be back later with a certified check in that amount. However, when he returns he notices that the painting he is handed has no scratch on the back. They obviously switched the painting on him. He tries to stall by saying he needs to think about it, but the art dealer is not fooled. He can tell that Ferris caught on to their trick. He grabs Ferris, gets a henchman to help and the kidnapping is on.

Meanwhile, Hal Jordan has arrived in the corporate jet to pick up Mr. and Mrs. Ferris. He finds Mrs. Ferris in the hotel room. She is very worried because her husband went to buy a painting and still hasn't returned. Suspecting foul play from art forgers, Hal goes to the art gallery pretending to be a rich American. He expresses interest in the Renoir, asking if anyone else has looked at it. When the art dealer says no Hal knows something is wrong. So he leaves his invisible power ring behind and commands it to follow the art dealer around and to get Green Lantern as soon as the invisible ring sees Carl Ferris.

I'm always amazed by what the ring will do in different stories. I read another story where Hal mathematically determined that he could only control the ring within 100 feet. Now we find out he can give the ring instructions that include following someone around and then coming to get him when the ring recognizes a specific person. All of this will presumably take place much further than 100 feet away. Now add to that the fact that Hal charged the ring 20 hours ago and is in danger of having the ring go dead. This seems like a huge risk. If the ring is following the guy around and the 24 hours is up won't it suddenly become visible and just fall to the ground wherever it is? How on earth would Hal be able to find his dead Green Lantern ring if that happened? Was there no way for him to leave some invisible green energy ball to follow the guys around? Did it have to be his actual ring? As I said, it seems terribly risky.

Be sure to come back next month for the thrilling conclusion of “Hal Jordan Betrays Green Lantern!”

If you'd like to learn more, including a detailed bio and more information about Joanna's books, please visit her website.

This is a guest article. The thoughts and opinions in this piece are those of their author and are not necessarily the thoughts of the Certified Collectibles Group.

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