Green Lantern/Green Arrow #77 (1970)

This might be the most overrated comic series of all time. The "relevant" reboot of Green Lantern was a fan-favorite when it first appeared, and has been the recipient of almost universal acclaim since then. The series has been reprinted at least a half-dozen time, most recently in an extremely high-priced hardcover collection. They are perhaps some of the most reprimted comics in the last 35 years. However, in my humble opinion, they just haven’t aged well, and don’t work well at all as comics.
I think part of the reputation has to come from the wonderful art of Neal Adams. His art is dynamic and exciting, and tells a story well. His art is also occassionally overwrought with emotion, over-dramatic in the extreme. It’s striking looking through this comic how often his characters seem to be in motion, with deep emotion on their faces, ready to spring into action. That works well for traditional super-hero comics, but in a story that’s intended to fit more into the real world, it feels unrealistic. It’s striking, too, how experimental Adams’s approach to storytelling is in this story. Figures often overlap panel borders, or odd forced perspectives are shown. This is all part of why Adams was such an influential cartoonist at his time, but it’s also a big part of what makes this story and series feel so odd to me.
See, Adams’s art is all about adding drama to the stories, making them more exciting and thrilling. In the meantime, Denny O’Neil’s stripts are all about applying realism to the stories, to having them fit within the real world of 1970. At least in this comic, he fails as well. GL/GA 77 is the story of a small mining town, called Desolation, that is being squeezed by uncaring bosses. Slapper Soames is the lead villain, who owns the law in the town, keeps the people of the town under armed guard, and generally oppresses anyone who doesn’t love him or his ways. He lives in an armed camp on a hill, has a former Nazi as an aide, and is fat and ugly, besides. There’s almost no subtlety in the story, no cases where the reader is given enough respect for making their own value judgements of the characters. Instead, everything about Soames reeks of evil. I have trouble believing this story would even appear in an episode of Mod Squad back in the day so silly and awkward is its plot. Yet here it is, the second story in an acclaimed series of comics.
I guess I’m just a guy who likes to question the conventional wisdom. First I praise Brother Power the Geek, one of the most despised comics of the late ’60s/early ’70s. Then I diss Green Lantern/Green Arrow, one of the most loved comics of that era. I love making up my own mind about things.

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