Monday, February 11, 2008

On Hiatus for Impending Parenthood

Just wanted to let everyone know that I’m on hiatus from blogging for a while, due to the fact that Mr. Sea and I are on the verge of becoming parents! Long story short: Friends of the family contacted us out of the blue, wanting to know if we could adopt a baby due between now and February 25. Mr. Sea and I had been talking about the possibility of adoption, but we hadn’t really taken any steps prior to getting the call. So, needless to say, we’ve been kinda scrambling to get everything in order in time for the blessed event!

Baby Sea is most likely a girl (according to the ultrasound, at least), and she’s going to be born in San Diego. I just hope that, when she’s older, Baby Sea finds it in her heart to forgive us for moving her from the nice, warm, magical land of San Diego to the temperamental temperate zone of Indianapolis.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print for now. Everyone be good and take care -- I’ll be back in a month or so!

-- Sea of Green

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Green Lantern #133 - 135: North Pole death trap!

Superheroes just aren't superheroes unless they're regularly subjected to death traps orchestrated by very creative villains -- villains who also seem to have a strange affinity for giving the heroes at least a sporting chance at surviving the experience. Batman has perhaps suffered the most from this phenomenon over the years, but he always manages to escape his predicaments via his wits and skills. Superman, of course, can usually get out of just about anything -- at least once that good ol' death trap standby, kryptonite, has been removed from his presence.

Then there's Green Lantern. The standard Green Lantern death trap usually involves stealing his power ring and leaving him stranded in a deadly predicament. This particular scenario has been used so many times, with every main Green Lantern character, that it's become almost cliche. However, there is ONE GL death trap, elegant in its simplicity, that stands out from the others.

Green Lantern issues #133 through #135 (1980) cover a storyline involving Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) versus Doctor Polaris. (Doctor Polaris is kinda like DC's version of the more well-known Marvel character, Magneto, but Doctor Polaris predates Magneto by about a year.) The story itself is pretty standard fare about a villain trying to take over the world, and the only thing standing between him and success is the hero. But the real highlight of the story, which occurs in issue #134, is the death trap.

About halfway through the story, Doctor Polaris succeeds in kidnapping Green Lantern. Of course, Doctor Polaris then steals Hal's ring and leaves him stranded in a death trap -- a very SIMPLE yet nasty trap. The death trap of choice in this case is nothing less than the magnetic North Pole.

Doctor Polaris leaves Hal trapped in one of his devices and flies off, saying that there IS shelter within 100 miles of Hal's location, but good luck finding it before Hal freezes to death. Hal eventually succeeds in escaping from Polaris' device, but he knows his chances of surviving this experience are not good:

Well, of course Hal isn't going to give up. He's too stubborn, for one thing. He's also very, VERY hacked off:

Hal vows he's going to survive, one way or another, and he goes trudging off. The events that follow reflect a remarkable sense of stubbornness, willpower, and bravery bordering on sheer stupidity.

Walking through a snowy wasteland is rather tedious, though, and leaves Hal with a lot of time to do some serious thinking.

... ironic because Hal has battled dangers all over the universe, yet right now it looks like he might lose his life on Earth, all alone and without any superpowers.

Eventually, Hal makes his way to a floating ice floe, by which time he's positively starving. He dismisses a craving for Burger King and unravels some thread from one of his sleeves, to use as a fishing line. When he succeeds in pulling up a fish, he's rather disconcerted by the way it seems to be looking at him.

"For heaven's sake, Charlie, don't stare at me that way," Hal says to the fish. "Honestly, I don't find you appetizing in the least ... But seeing as you're the only game in town ..."

Reluctantly, Hal eats the fish. While he's sitting on the ice floe, contemplating what to do next, a polar bear suddenly emerges from the water in front of him. The bear seems to think Hal is some sort of weird-looking seal, and it immediately attacks.

"As if I didn't have enough trouble!" Hal yells. He tries to dodge away from the bear, but ends up getting the back of his uniform shredded by the bear's claws. Then Hal gets mad and decides to fight back.

No way I could have expected to be in a fight for this berg against an angry bear ... he thinks. But--

(Seriously -- A polar bear would be nothing to Superman, and Batman undoubtedly keeps a plan in his head to get himself out of situations like this. But here, without his power ring, Hal is just a regular guy -- and he's fighting a polar bear bare-handed. Sure, it may be a very stupid thing to do, but it's also an incredibly BRAVE thing to do!)

Hal succeeds in knocking the polar bear back into the water, but he falls with it. As the bear swims away, Hal struggles to pull himself out of the frigid water: Didn't realize how COLD it really was -- My FACE is starting to freeze solid!

Frozen "half to death," Hal manages to pull himself out of the water. And ...

Soon, Hal can't stand at all, and he's reduced to crawling through the snow. To his surprise, though, he spots a cave.

Hal tries to occupy himself with thinking about Carol Ferris, and he soon passes out in the cave. Several hours later ...

Note: In older comics, the only part of Hal's uniform that was generated by his ring was his mask -- and his mask tended to vanish when his ring lost its charge. In modern comics, though, when Hal's ring loses its charge, his entire uniform disappears.

Well, I don't need a mask out here, Hal reasons. Keeping my identity a secret from seals is absurd! Hmmmm ... I'm not complaining, mind you -- but I should have FROZEN to death by now ...

That howling and moaning Hal hears is NOT the wind. Nope, it turns out to be from:

... so naturally I stumble across another refuge from "Animal Kingdom"!

The wolf appears to be starving and, like the polar bear, it immediately attacks Hal. Once again, Hal chooses to fight rather than flee, but the wolf throws itself at him and succeeds in knocking BOTH of them over a cliff. Hal tries to twist around so he can use the wolf's body to cushion his fall, but he ends up bearing at least half of the brunt of the fall. Both Hal and the wolf get banged up and bruised on the way down the cliff, and both land hard at the bottom of a chasm. The wolf appears to be dead, with Hal lying unconscious across its body.

Hal eventually regains consciousness, but when he does, everything around him is pitch dark. It's not night time, though. It turns out that Hal is blind.

"Blind!" he yells. "Sweet heavens, I'm snowblind!" He then bursts out laughing: "Incredible! I'm blind! I didn't have a chance for survival before, but now -- If I didn't know better, I'd say Doctor Polaris was out there swathing my wounds with salt!"

Note: For those who don't know, snowblindness is a rather nasty and painful condition that comes about when unprotected eyes are subjected to the ultraviolet rays of bright sunlight that's reflected off of snow. In severe cases, the condition is permanent. It's a nasty, nasty thing to endure.

Nasty or not, the snowblindness doesn't stop Hal. He can feel the rays of the sun, so he makes sure the sun stays to his back while he continues walking. As he's walking along, he gets downright philosophical. "The measure of a man is one who can accept all his weaknesses ..." he says to himself, "... and make them his strengths!"

Determined though he may be, Hal's bod can only take so much punishment, and once again his legs give out on him. He falls, but as he's laying in the snow, he's shocked to smell something familiar.

"Am I dreaming?" he asks aloud. "HAM?!? I smell HAM cooking! I-I don't know how, but I've found shelter ...!"

Sure enough, Hal ends up stumbling into a cabin, where he succeeds in startling the hell out of a National Geographic survey team:

"... I was in the neighborhood ... and I was wondering ... if you'd mind if I ... dropped innnnnn ..." Hal passes out and falls to the cabin floor -- and National Geographic employees scramble to help him. That is one VERY lucky superhero!

Long story short: Hal recovers from his ordeal (though he remains half snowblind for about two more issues), and he manages to get to California in time to get help from his old pal, Tom Kalmaku, and stop Doctor Polaris. The North Pole incident is commented on several times in following issues, and even Tom Kalmaku is amazed that Hal survived being stranded at the North Pole.

It probably shouldn't be a surprise that, by the time of Green Lantern #26 (1992), Hal has reduced the entire memory of the incident to a pickup line:


Monday, February 4, 2008

Green Lantern #3 (1960): Leap Year Menace!

Way back in Ye Olden Silver-Age Days (also known as the 1950s and '60s, kiddies), there was a strange tradition stating that it was only, really socially acceptable for women to propose marriage to men during Leap Year. (Supposedly this tradition dated all the way back to 5th century Ireland, but never mind.) You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with Green Lantern? Ooooh, it has PLENTY to do with Green Lantern. In particular, it has plenty to do with one of the funniest Green Lantern stories of all time: Leap Year Menace, the backup story from Green Lantern #3, 1960.

(And, what the heck, 2008 is a Leap Year, so picking on this particular Green Lantern story right now is quite appropriate. February 29 is coming up fast!)

The story begins with our hero, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), making a promise to a Mrs. Cranston to appear at the "launching of the Coast City Community Chest Drive." Dear old Mrs. Cranston is just thrilled to pieces: "Thank you, Green Lantern! Your presence will draw a big crowd -- and big donations!"

Mrs. Cranston, as it turns out, is quite right about Green Lantern drawing a big crowd. It seems he can't help but draw a big crowd no matter where he goes -- in particular, he draws big crowds of girls. In fact, just as he steps outside the charity headquarters, he gets mobbed by the "Green Lantern Fan Club! They've been hounding me for weeks -- but I've always dodged them up to now--!"

Yes, as Green Lantern, Hal is regularly mobbed by girls, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that he has a tremendous ego. However, Hal at this point is interested only in Carol Ferris -- but only on his terms.

Background info: In his early history, Hal had a habit of proclaiming loudly and frequently that he wanted to marry his boss, Carol Ferris. (Translation for modern audiences: "Marry" in this context usually, really meant "sleep with," because in 1960, the socially acceptable and Comics-Code-Authority way for two adults to have full-body contact was to get married.) However, Hal had a slight problem. Carol didn't know that Hal was Green Lantern, and Hal didn't want her to know that he was Green Lantern. Also, Carol was in love with Green Lantern, but not with Hal Jordan -- and he wanted her to prefer Hal Jordan to Green Lantern. Hal could never quite bring himself to completely brush off Carol when he was Green Lantern, though, so he was caught in a bit of a quandary where his love life was concerned.

Back to the story: Green Lantern manages to fly out of the girls' clutches, and he heads for the office of Carol Ferris, to meet with her as Hal Jordan.

Hal switches to his civilian identity (he even dons a suit and tie) and heads into Carol's office. She informs him that she wants to discuss something "personal" that has nothing to do with him being a test pilot or her employee. For a moment, Hal has high hopes that Carol has finally fallen in love with "Hal Jordan" instead of "Green Lantern," but Carol dashes those hopes in a heartbeat.

"Hal," she says, "I regard you as my friend -- as just about the best friend I have ..."

Friend? Hal thinks. Hmm -- This doesn't sound too promising ...

Carol then tells Hal that because it's Leap Year, she's going to propose to Green Lantern since GL seems "too shy" to propose to her. Carol's plan is to meet GL at the charity drive and corner him so she can propose. Hal's only response to this is a rather grumpy, "Uh ... HUH ..."

"You don't seem very enthusiastic about my idea ..." says Carol. (Carol thinking that a guy who she knows is in love with her would be interested in hearing about her proposal to another guy is downright odd. This is the sort of behavior that has led many Green Lantern fans over the years to suspect that Carol knew Hal was Green Lantern all along -- and she did these sorts of things only to mess with him or make him jealous.)

Hal tries to talk Carol out of her plan: "I don't think you ought to marry Green Lantern, Carol! He's -- ah -- too much of a celebrity! You ought to marry somebody who's less of a public figure! Somebody --"

Carol immediately nixes that idea and orders Hal out of her office. As Hal leaves, he ponders his predicament. He wants to prevent Carol from proposing to him, so he won't have to flat-out tell her NO, but he isn't quite sure how to do it.

Soon it's time for the charity function. Green Lantern shows up on time, and stops a rainstorm from spoiling the outdoor gathering by conjuring up a giant green umbrella. Thus indisposed, GL is pretty much stuck, with no way to escape, as Carol arrives, "... and from that determined look in her eyes, she means business!"

Once the rain stops, Carol asks GL to walk in the park with her, but he says he can't because he's guest speaker for the charity. Carol elects to wait until he's done speaking. When GL gets behind the podium to speak to the crowd -- which consists mostly of girls -- they all start screaming at him like he's Elvis or something. Green Lantern wraps up his speech in a hurry.

Carol drags GL to a nearby park bench that's mostly private, except for two young boys playing with a toy R.C. airplane nearby (and apparently completely unimpressed that there's a superhero in their midst). Carol and GL sit down, and things quickly get VERY awkward.

(Note: Hal placing his fingers on Carol's chin is a gesture he used very, VERY frequently all during the Silver Age, with just about every woman he met. This sort of touchy-feely behavior around women was NOT commonly employed by other superheroes of the time. These days it's generally interpreted as condescending and chauvinistic. In a modern comic, Carol would probably deck him right about now.)

"I've never seen you carry on like this, Green Lantern," says Carol. "You're usually so ... quiet! Are you sure you're all right?"

Hal, of course, is relieved that Carol is talking about something other than marriage, but then he immediately comes up with the lamest of excuses: "I haven't been feeling too well ... Probably something I ate--! Maybe I ought to--"

"--ought to get married!" says Carol. "That's your trouble, darling ... Living by yourself -- eating goodness knows what for meals!"

(Note: So, here we have Carol assuming that Green Lantern is a stereotypical bachelor. Well, in all fairness, he really IS a stereotypical bachelor, but it's awfully chauvinistic of her to assume so.)

At this point, Hal cuts her off, claiming he can't hear her above the noisy buzzing of the toy airplane. No doubt about it, Hal is desparate to escape this situation. However, rather than merely excuse himself and leave, Hal comes up with a truly bizarre plan:

Hal very quickly and sneakily starts to conjure up a monster while Carol starts speaking louder so he can hear her above the toy plane: "This is Leap Year -- AND IT's a WOMAN's PRIVILEGE TO--"

"Carol!" Hal interrupts, trying to divert her attention to the monster. "LOOK--!!"

As Carol turns to look where Green Lantern is pointing, he suddenly gets thwacked in the head by the toy airplane:

Carol doesn't seem to notice Hal getting thwacked in the head. In fact, she doesn't seem to notice a whole lot: Either she's looking past the monster instead of directly at it, or monsters just don't impress her.

Turning back to Hal, Carol resumes her pursuit: "Oh, never mind the buildup! I'll get right to the point! Green Lantern, will you marry me?"

There, she thinks smugly. I've said it! Now he's got to answer -- one way or another!

Green Lantern doesn't answer -- he just sits there with his head bowed. Carol is at first worried that she's struck him "dumb," but then she gets rather miffed and nudges him for a reply:

Yes, that's right -- Hal has been knocked out by a toy airplane. How embarrassing for a professional pilot AND superhero! While Carol frantically flags down a cab to take Green Lantern to a doctor, the monster that Hal conjured goes wandering off.

Now, this is one heck of an impressive monster, even for a power ring construct. It's as tall as a large building, it's very strong, it's bullet proof, and it also happens to be semi-sentient. (It was also pretty darned considerate of Hal to give the monster a nice, red pair of swim trunks.) The monster wanders into Coast City, having no idea what it is, where it is, or how it got there.

As the monster walks through Coast City, it unintentionally knocks over buildings ("Ooops") and generates chaos everywhere it goes. The monster gets rather annoyed by all the noise and chaos, and soon it really just wants out of the city.

The armed forces are called out, but their weapons have no effect on the monster because it's invulnerable. Very soon, REAL panic ensues as the monster starts treading toward the city's atomic stockpile. (Hey, didn't you know that ALL cities had atomic stockpiles in 1960?)

Oh, don't worry, General Willis -- Coast City won't be blown up THIS time. That won't happen for many years yet. However, I digress.

The scene shifts to Carol, who has gotten Hal to a doctor's office. Hal wakes up just in time to hear a radio announcement about how his wandering monster is on the verge of blowing up the city.

"Green Lantern!" says Carol. "Are you all right?"

Hal immediately leaps up and flies out the window to deal with the monster, without saying a word to either Carol or the doctor.

"He didn't answer!" says Carol.

"He must be all right --" the doctor responds. "Look at him go!"

Green Lantern finds the monster and uses his ring to dissolve it, "in the very nick of time." He then finds himself surrounded by very grateful soldiers and citizens.

"Green Lantern, you're a hero!!" General Willis gushes, much to Hal's embarrassment. But is Hal about to confess that HE caused the problem? Oh, heck no.

I feel a little funny accepting all these congratulations ... for destroying something that I myself created! he thinks. That reminds me, I'll have to undo all the damage caused ...

Just at that moment, Carol shows up. Even Hal is surprised that she got there as fast as she did.

"Carol!" says GL. "How did YOU get here?"

Just as Hal is trying to figure out how to get out of his predicament, a mob of girls shows up.

"Sorry, girls!" says a greatly relieved Green Lantern. "I--I just can't marry you all -- so I'll marry none!" He flies away, leaving behind a very ticked-off Carol Ferris.

"Well!" says Carol in disgust. "What a way to squirm out of my proposal!"

No wonder Hal Jordan is still a bachelor!

Congratulations, New York Giants!

Major congrats to the New York Giants for their STUNNING victory over the New England Patriots in yesterday's Superbowl! We in Indianapolis are so glad we don't have to spend the next few %#$*#& years listening to all the sports pundits gush about the oh-so "perfect" Patriots. Indianapolis loves you, New York!

(Indianapolis is also INSANELY JEALOUS of you, but we still love you!)

Next Year's pipedream: Manning versus Manning, SUPERBOWL XLIII!

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Green Arrow trick-arrow finale!

Okay, yesterday I took a break from Sally's Green Arrow challenge 'cause I was all excited about Green Lama and Project Superpowers #0. So, it's time to make up that missed day!

First, though, I just gotta make fun of Speedy here:

That's right. Sexy magic-users are better than Viagra -- right, Roy? (Hang on, though ... Shafts? Oh, never mind.)

All right -- enough of that. Time to move on to Ollie and his, um, shafts.

Here we have Ollie using a paint arrow to get Superman out of a jam:

Waitaminute ... There's LEAD in that paint?!?! For shame, Ollie! Thought you were supposed to be an environmentalist! Think of the children! The CHILDREN!

(Not only that -- what the heck is Superman doing hanging around a kryptonite fire hydrant? Maybe this'll teach him not to take Krypto on walks around Lex Luthor's neighborhood.)

Next up, we have this little altercation involving Ollie, Batman, and Etrigan, the Demon. Now, I have to say that any arrow capable of shutting up Etrigan is NOT a bad thing:

That's right, Batman. RESPECT THE ARROWS!

Last, but certainly not least, is perhaps the most potent and useful arrow in Ollie's entire collection of trick arrows: The Jerk Magnet arrow!