Secret Origins #36: Green Lantern, Tom Kalmaku, and Poison Ivy

Ryan Daly welcomes Chad Bokelman and Mark Marble from the LanternCast to review the origin of Green Lantern in Secret Origins #36. Then, for reasons beyond understanding, they cover the origin of Green Lantern’s mechanic best known for having a racist nickname. Thankfully, Chris and Cindy Franklin from the Super Mates close things out with the story of Poison Ivy.

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“Premonition” (Theme for Secret Origins Podcast) written and performed by Neil Daly.

Additional music: “Authority Song” by John Cougar Mellencamp; “Quinn the Eskimo” by Kris Kristofferson; “Poison” by Bel Biv Devoe; “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” by Manfred Mann.

Thanks for listening!

38 responses to “Secret Origins #36: Green Lantern, Tom Kalmaku, and Poison Ivy

  1. Great show, Ryan. Glad you came back strong after your week-long sabbatical.

    I was also disappointed the great John Stewart never received a Secret Origin entry.

    And the Miracleman crew on a Poison Ivy story? Yes, please. I liked what Gaiman did with Ivy in the Black Orchid story. He gave her more depth in a few pages than most of her appearances did.

    1. I’ve never read the Black Orchid mini, but the character intrigued me after seeing her in Justice League Dark. Eventually, when this podcast is done and I have time to read comics for pleasure and not just research, I’ll have to find those issues.

  2. It’s very Gaiman, if that makes sense. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it begins as a crime-drama and becomes something a bit more fantastic (meant in the purest sense of the word and not hyperbole). But it has some great cameos and killer art by Dave McKean.

    1. Yeah, that was my first Gaiman reading and it’s a pretty good one. At the time, I was hoping for something a little more superhero-ish, and that would finally give a backstory to the character. What I got was a very different kettle of fish; but, a good one.

  3. Great cover to this issue! As Ryan points out, this design bucks the usual trend, which would be to show as much of the woman’s body as possible. Instead, it’s a giant close-up, which really works.

    Always enjoy the Franklins appearing on a show together, and they did not disappoint. Much like the Shazam! and El Diablo SFX, I think Ryan should use Cindy’s derisive cough/snort when the live action Poison Ivy is mentioned in any future episode.

    Fairly amazed Ryan didn’t use The Coasters’ “Poison Ivy” in this show, but he often doesn’t go for the obvious. I am baffled at the inclusion of “The Mighty Quinn”, even though I always enjoy this cover of a Dylan song.

  4. I can’t speak authoritatively about Secret Origins sales; but, it was never a top tier book. As you guys said, it did fluctuate a lot, based on the subject and creative team. After the Justice League stories, I suspect sales started dropping. We’ve basically got one year of the book left; so, sales were good enough to keep it alive. All in all, 4+ years is a decent run for a title, especially without a regular cast or creative team.

    Man, don’t cross Cindy! Chris, you better stay on the straight and narrow; or else, Glen Close is going to look like an amateur.

    If it weren’t for the Poison Ivy story, I doubt I would have thought much of this one. Gaiman is a real master of the short story, demonstrated throughout his prose and comic work; and, he is a master of the novel and the epic tale.

    Darwyn Cooke’s passing was so sad. New Frontier, in my eyes, is one of the ebst essays on the nature of heroism that you will find. He shows heroes in bright costumes, professional uniforms, and ordinary clothes. All of his characters demonstrate deep humanity, even the alien ones. I love that he set it in the late 50s, with that mid-Century modern design sense, the space-age architecture, those fashions and the decorative motifs. He knew the period well (one of my favorite, from a design standpoint). He captures much of the feel of things like The Right Stuff, which makes it fitting that we are introduced to Hal Jordan as he meets Chuck Yeager and Pancho Barnes.

    1. Jeff, don’t worry, I know. It was in the pre-nup. I agreed to not press charges if she dismembered me for any infidelities. ;–)

      Chris

  5. Loving the episode so far. One point of order, I believe the explanation for Abin Sur being in a spaceship in relation to losing trust in the ring came from the Alan Moore story (In Blackest Night – Tales of the GLC Annual 3). Johns built on that story to introduce/include Atrocitus.

    1. Yep. Johns built a lot from that single Alan Moore story. The War of the Light, The Blackest Night, Sodom Yat, Ranx, Secret Origin… A lot.

      Since Geoff Johns is about my age, I can only assume that he read that story as a teen and immediately started spinning out his fanfic follow up, either on paper or in his head. By the time he got to the job writing Green Lantern, he probably had several years’ worth of stories all ready to hand over for editing. This would explain how he was able to write so many titles every month; he’d started doing the work almost 20 years earlier, and he’d built up a bit of a buffer.

      Meanwhile, as a teen I also came up with the idea of multicolored lantern corps, and had my own head-canon visions of how the Blackest Night prophesy could play out. I told nobody, didn’t write anything down, and basically did nothing with it. And now Geoff Johns is hugely successful and making a ton of money, whereas I… Kids, follow-up matters.

  6. Might wanna count me as one who actually liked the cover. Given Poison Ivy’s sultry nature, a close & personal cover like this works. And since Hal was in the doldrums of his “who am I/what am I worth” phase, his less-than-pleasant demeanor on the cover sorta represents that. If anything, the black background is the only problem area – I mean, really, they could’ve made it a shade of green and I think it’d be understandable.

    Plus this makes 2 podcasts in a row that I’ve learned Mike Carlin drew for DC (this cover, with Ed Barreto probably helping structure a lot in inks since it looks like his art anyway, and the Sleez profile in WHO’s WHO ’88 #3, which was likewise strongly inked by Jerry Ordway).

    1. Yeah, I was equally surprised the day before when I heard Rob and Shag talking about Carlin drawing an entry on Who’s Who! I thought his art was such a novelty and to find two examples on consecutive days was crazy!

  7. Loved the Green Lantern Oath! NIce job guys, even if it was a tremendous pain in the tukus to pull off.

    So, did the Gremlins ever appear in a story again? I know Action Comics Weekly is wounding down at this point.

    As for the presence of the classic GL/GA page by Adams, maybe it was there because both Owsley/Priest and Bright are black, and this story means something more personal to them? Hal joins a black cast at the end of the story as well, of course.

    The “not John Stewart” thing kind of bothered me too, as did the coloring. I appreciated the effort in giving the characters varying skin color tones, but when black characters are colored that deadened gray like Chip is here, it makes them look like…well…a zombie! Just a pet peeve of mine.

    I don’t think this is a bad story, but it is an odd choice for Secret Origins. Smells of a huge set-up, that was never really paid off.

    The Tom Kalmaku story has some of Staton’s best art of this era. You never know if you were going to get stylized but structured Staton or flat-out cartoony Staton. I think him trying to evoke Gil Kane here helps to rein him in.

    Great episode, even with me in it!

    Chris

  8. I’m only 24 minutes into the show (really enjoying it so far), but had to respond to some comments. I’m not fussing at you guys, just playing the grumpy old comic fan here. As someone who became a Green Lantern fan with “Emerald Dawn”, I get a little defensive of “my” Hal Jordan era (1989 to 1993).

    You jumped directly from “Emerald Dawn” to “Emerald Twilight”. Then there was a reference to the post-“Rebirth” era as the Green Lantern “Golden Age” (as many people describe it). For me, the previous Green Lantern “Golden Age” started with “Emerald Dawn”. In the period from 1989 to 1993, the GL franchise exploded! It may have only been four years, but Green Lantern became wildly successful and popular.

    The Green Lantern franchise in this period had three monthly series; one quarterly series; and several mini-series and tie-ins. Including:

    * Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn (Dec 1989) – mini-series; very successful and popular
    * Green Lantern (Jun 1990) – new ongoing series, started off very successful and popular; by 1993 the shine had worn off; eventually lead to “Emerald Twilight” in 1994
    * Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II (Apr 1991) – follow-up to previous mini-series
    * Green Lantern Corps Quarterly (Apr 1992) – quarterly series that ran until 1994
    * Green Lantern: Mosaic (Jun 1992) – ongoing series that lasted 18 issues; spun out of monthly GL title
    * Guy Gardner: Reborn (May 1992) – mini-series; spun out of monthly GL title and JLA
    * Guy Gardner (Oct 1992) – ongoing series; followed “Reborn”; lasted 44 issues
    * Green Lantern Ganthet’s Tale (Sept 1992) – one shot, but wildly popular
    * Hal was the leader of the Justice League Europe team towards the end of this era
    * Darkstars (Oct 1992) – ongoing series; not exactly a spin-off, but deeply routed in the GL mythos. Plus John Stewart became a Darkstars.
    * Trinity crossover with Green Lantern, Darkstars, and L.E.G.I.O.N. (1993)
    * Giveaway in stores, including a glow in the dark Green Lantern ring
    * Appearances in every annual crossover and other stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting.

    All of this was before “Emerald Twilight”. So I think it’s worth mentioning that Geoff Johns may have gave Hal his highest profile in popular media, it wasn’t the first time the GL character exploded into a franchise.

    Now if you mention all of this after the first 24 minutes… sorry for wasting your time. :)

      1. Since you asked… not exactly Hal Jordan, but not really Guy Gardner either. Just remember, you brought this upon yourself, young whipper-snapper.

      2. Well, you had three channels, if you don’t count PBS and who does, what with their muppets and puppets and electric companies…………what the heck was Mr Rogers day job that he was coming home from, anyway?

        Where was I? Oh, yeah, three channels; and, if the president was on your evening was sunk. We didn’t have fancy cable boxes, we had to use and antenna and wrap it in aluminum foil flags and ears to get a decent picture, and we liked it! Why, nothing was more satisfying than trying to stop the picture from rolling during the big game! We didn’t have your fancy reality tv shows; we had to settle with thoughtful drama and sharp comedy. No public shaming for us! Then, we had to deal with real news reporting, not your trendy sensationalism and info-tainment. By golly, if Walter Cronkite told you it was gospel you could take it to the bank!

        And what’s with all of this hip-hop and such; our artist didn’t need electronics to make them good. They had make-up and spangly clothes, and variety shows and Dick Clark and that was enough for them!

        And what happened to Tang? You used to see it everywhere. Why you can chart the downfall of this country to when people stopped drinking powdered, vaguely orange-tasting drinks, like the astronauts!

        Razzle, frazzle, muble, fumble, onry smart-alecky kids with their internet and flash mobs……..got off my lawn!

  9. Interesting that Chad mentioned “Green Lantern: Legacy: The Last Will and Testament of Hal Jordan”. Sounds like a fascinating story. Just looked on my bookshelf, apparently I bought it when it was released, yet I have no recollection at all. I’ll have give it a re-read!

    1. It’s….ok. Did you like the Iris West book that Mark Waid wrote? It was similar to that, but — as I remember — even less interesting.

      1. The Life Story of the Flash is a total anachronistic relic now, thanks to Flash: Rebirth…and then Flashpoint. Sigh.

        Chris

  10. By the way, vaguely interesting bit of trivia about the word “pavane” and comics. Pavane was a recurring character in Doug Moench’s work on master of Kung Fu. She was a femme fatale/mercenary who is introduced as one of a couple of assassin/bodyguards for the villain, Carlton Velcro. She would display shifting loyalties across the series, and a deep respect for Shang Chi. She dressed rather like a 1970s Comics Code version of a dominatrix, in a leather outfit and a whip. I have never seen it confirmed; but, I suspect she was at least partially inspired by The Dragon Lady, from Terry and the Pirates, as Moench threw other elements from TATP into the series (especially the China Seas arc, with the pirate Kogarr).

  11. Green Lantern was another O.G. super-hero I knew first from Super Friends and UHF syndication repackaging of The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. At some point in the early ’80s, I also got to read some of my uncle’s O’Neill/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories, which were unlike anything I’d ever seen before and a feast for the eyes. The first time I ever bought one of his comics was Green Lantern #173 in late 1983, which I suspect was motivated by the cover hype “Beginning a startling new chapter in the life of the Emerald Crusader!” It was the second issue of the Len Wein/Dave Gibbons run and the first since the end of Hal Jordan’s year long exile from Earth, none of which meant anything to me as a kid, because I only remember one thing about that story. I thought The Javelin was a cool looking villain, but found it monumentally stupid that one of his spears was impregnated with yellow paint that was capable of shutting down GL’s power ring for a cliffhanger that left him plunging toward his death. I was curious enough to flip through the following issue on the newsstand to confirm that Green Lantern had survived Sherwin Williams, but I didn’t buy it and don’t even recall scanning any other issues until Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2, which looked fascinating and scary at the B. Dalton Bookseller where I left it in 1986. Perhaps regretting that decision, I did buy the following year’s annual at Waldenbooks, and loved the imagination and scope of the book by creators like Alan Moore, Kevin Nowlan, Byrne, Willingham, JLGLPBHN, and more.

    Between the two purchases, I’d also gotten the first wave Super Powers Green Lantern action figure, among the finest sculpts of the line. I didn’t play with Hal Jordan much, and I don’t think I had him long– lost or stolen or bartered. I just remember admiring the quality of the figure in my hand… his uncommon brown hair, the domino mask, one of the finest costume designs in comics courtesy of Gil Kane, the green dot on one finger of his right hand representing the power ring. Most everything about Green Lantern was appealing to me, and I followed him passively through random issues of the Englehart/Staton run, the Millennium crossover, guest appearances in books like Superman, and his feature in Action Comics Weekly. Despite thinking Green Lantern was cool, none of these stories compelled me to dig deeper, and over the duration of Hal Jordan’s 1990s series I only bought a two-part Deathstroke appearance and the Reign of the Supermen tie-in issue. The first notable creator I ever met at a con was Bill Willingham, who I wasn’t terribly familiar with at the time, so I mostly just whined to him how unfair Emerald Twilight was to Hal and his fans, despite my not truly being one of them.

    More treacherously, I picked up the first several issues of Kyle Rayner’s run as Green Lantern, then kept coming back despite being openly critical of the character because he was constantly interacting with other characters I liked better. By that point, I was starting to get serious about collecting DC Comics as my primary universe, and began investigating its history in back issues. Thus began the Flash/Green Lantern paradox. Despite having no interest in the Flash mantle, an overly praised costume, or the power set, I found that I genuinely liked Barry Allen when I encountered him in his own stories and in the JLA. Despite loving the powers, look, mythos, and thousands strong corps, I learned Hal Jordan was a boring, flakey, temperamental schmuck. When I read the Bronze Age stories, especially the O’Neill stuff that came across as much too silly and self-important for an older fan, I could see the emotional and mental instability that validated his villainous turn as Parallax. I tried to go back to the John Broome stuff, but it’s of a piece with all the other Silver Age DC crud that puts me to sleep.

    What’s worse is I like everybody around Hal Jordan. Carol Ferris is a solid female character and story motivator, while Tom Kalmaku was an early, rare example of a non-white supporting character treated with respect and intelligence. Guy Gardner is a unique and hilarious antihero, while Alan Scott is one of the finest examples of the classy elder statesman super-hero that could have been played by Gregory Peck. I came around to Kyle Rayner when he was played as the enthusiastic rookie of the Magnificent Seven JLA, and he provided a sense of legacy through his associations with second generation JSA types like Jade and Obsidian or no longer teen Titans like Donna Troy. Then there was the thrilling and bizarre variety of Corpsmen, from Katma Tui to Kilowog to Saalak to C’hp, all the worlds and dimensions and factions and concepts. The entire DC Universe is steeped in the lore of the Guardians. Green Lantern has one of the best origin stories, an Atomic Age Sword in the Stone with a heaping helping of Lensmen and other pulp mid-century science fantasy. All in service to a vanilla flavored douchebag who cast off his ring and responsibilities at the slightest provocation while hanging out with the one dillhole even more insufferable than him, Oliver Queen.

    Perhaps worst of all, there is John Stewart, a thoughtful and meticulous intergalactic defender and architect of energy who is as courageous and capable as I expected Hal Jordan to be before I knew better. My two favorite Green Lantern runs of all time were the lead-in to issue #200 and the Mosaic series, both of which starred the true greatest Green Lantern of all time, which has been demonstrated again and again. When John Stewart was tapped to co-star in the Justice League cartoon and aborted 2007 movie, it was certainly a nod toward diversity, but it was also an acknowledgement that he was the more dynamic and capable of the two Corpsmen. From having a planet blow up on his watch when editors wouldn’t allow Hal the same liability to butchering his alien wife while he was depowered to spice up Hal’s serial to conveniently forgetting he was the first human Guardian while cancelling all the satellite GL books in anticipation of Emerald Twilight to being crippled while his Darkstars were mauled to prop up a Kyle Rayner villain to being retconned into a traumatized stoic jarhead that diminished his versatility– there’s no obstacle they won’t place in John Stewart’s path to keep him from outshining that turd Hal Boredan. Even after his big budget motion picture failed spectacularly and his short-lived cartoon sputtered away, DC still wants us to buy the Reborn Hal Jordan or the half-assed side Lanterns created by his biggest corporate champion Geoff Johns while Stewart gets shooed off to the side somewhere, told to count his blessings that he wasn’t killed off like they not-so-secretly planned a few years ago.

    I look at Hal Jordan, and I see the false narrative of how great America was in the year of his birth. I see the reds on the run, the star sapphires consigned to the boudoir, and the other colors in their proper place. Hal’s part of the myth that if you worked hard and conformed for the machine, your well-earned pension would afford you a comfortable early retirement and a split-level home behind a picket fence even whiter than your skin and teeth. Hal Jordan is the hero of 2800 second chances, whose hands are never so bloody that he can’t wear ivory gloves over them, who is always judged superior to his less WASPish contemporaries despite near constant insubordination, terminations of employment from both sides, toying with the space/time continuum on personal whim, sadistic mass murder, and that one lengthy episode of being the most ruthless and implacable enemy his organization ever faced before lawyering up and chalking it all up to “that yellow-skinned devil made me do it!” Hal Jordan is the super-heroic icon for no sin ever being so unforgivable and no burnt bridge ever failing to be rebuilt so long as it comes between a straight white male citizen of the United States of America and his culturally mandated bounty of rights and privileges above and beyond those he would afford anyone not of his kind. Over forty years later, Green Lantern still hasn’t much bothered with the black skins, unless you count Blackest Night, which is a statement unto itself. Will to Power, manifest in this Emerald Gladiator, this Caucasian Champion who can do virtually anything but chooses to do virtually nothing productive for actual human beings in favor of engaging in violent crusades against the imaginary existential threat of evil alien invaders. I get enough of that through Fox News, thanks.

  12. Put me in the mix of those that like the cover. After a series of ‘colorforms’ covers, I think this one, the extreme closeup, the beauty of Ivy, really works. It kind of shakes things up.

    In this issue, it was the Poison Ivy story which really stuck out. This just read differently than most of the origins that we got in this book. While many other ones had some sort of framing plot, this one really had the origin as almost a subplot. To be honest, I gave my copy of this issue to a buddy of mine who is a way way bigger Gaiman fan than me. But listening to you discuss it, I remembered the panels vividly, a sign of an excellent story.

    As said, this really is a horror story. From early on, you know that this isn’t going to end well, that Stuart is doomed. But you have to keep turning the pages, dread building, until you get to the end. This really was gut churning. And Buckingham’s art (who I know best from Hellblazer) was a perfect fit.
    In some ways it reminded me of Miike’s film The Audition. You know the guy in that movie is heading straight into danger, but the suspense keeps building until it explodes at the end.

    This led into Gaiman’s Black Orchid which I absolutely loved.

  13. Ryan, you got a big “Awwww … that’s sweet” from Ruth over your geeky wedding story about why you kept the Green Lantern action figure for yourself. That’s probably the most emotion she’s ever shown for a story about Green Lantern. So, Cheers :-)

    Darrin

  14. I finally got a chance to listen to the rest of the episode and really enjoyed it. Green Lantern is a character that we don’t follow very closely. His time with Green Arrow in the 1970s and his appearances in the Justice League comics and cartoons are our biggest exposures to him, but the discussions were interesting and kept us entertained. So, that is a significant accomplishment to the trio. Nice job!

    Chris’ and Cindy’s coverage of Poison Ivy was hilarious. In fact, I think Cindy has the potential to become a formidable DC villain. Poison Ivy’s fury certainly pales in comparison to Cindy’s during this particular episode. I plan to tread very carefully if I ever have the pleasure to meet up with Chris and Cindy at a convention! 😉

    Darrin

  15. Just looked up on Mike’s Amazing World of DC Comics the Gremlins appearances and they appeared in two issues of Action Comics Weekly 621-622 before never being heard of again – had the vaguest feeling that the GL Secret Origin story has continued into Action Comics, but looks like they did not make much of an impact.

    The Green Lantern story I read in the Secret Origins’ TPB and as was mentioned in the podcast, the story did not make much sense. The origin story itself was fine and I think Mark Bright used the simulator used in the origin story when he retold it again in the Emerald Dawn storyline. I do remember Gerard Jones had some fun with the Neal Adams opening page splash when he had an alien asking Hal what has he done to help the “blue, orange and purple skins” in Green Lantern 29. This was discussed in the CBR’s Meta-Messages page: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/10/09/meta-messages-gerard-jones-asks-green-lantern-a-question-about-skin-color/

    Tom Kalmaku’s story seems to have been a straight retelling of his meeting with Hal. I guess the story was included here in that it was a short story and probably the editors thought they would have maybe more issues beyond what they actually had to tell the origins of the heroes that were ultimately omitted, like Aquaman, Wonder Woman, John Stewart and the like. I don’t think Tom appeared much in Johns’ run, apart from an appearance in Secret Origins. You were asking about the time when Tom owned a chain of garage stations – I think I read that in the Showcase Presents volumes that after Hal quit Ferris and became an insurance claims adjuster after Green Lantern #50, he ran into Tom who told him of his new status. I liked the Last Will and Testament storyline – it had the bonus of bringing back a character that was killed during Hal’s Parallax days.

    The Poison Ivy story by Neil Gaiman was very good as well. This was used as the basis of a very good Legends of the Dark Knight story by John Francis Moore and P Craig Russell, with Phil Sylvian from the Black Orchid mini giving Batman the background to Poison Ivy. Ivy always works well in groups, and she had some great character moments in Suicide Squad and Gotham City Sirens.

    Grat podcast again and looking forward to the next one.

  16. Great to have you back, and with typically terrific guests. I’m just back from me hols, and haven’t had time to read the comments yet, so apologies if there’s any repetition.

    For example, someone must have mentioned that this cover isn’t Mike Carlin’s only artistic credit – see, for example, the latest Who’s Who Update!

    I’d forgotten about the Green Lantern Gremlins – what a weird name for people who build things. You’re spot on, this is far from a great take on Hal’s origin. We should have gotten more of Hal bring awesomed by his new powers and learning how to use them. Or Chip becoming a Lantern full time, transformed into a toothy wee critter.

    I always found Mark Bright’s art to be pretty generic. Competent, good at times, but without a distinctive flair. I don’t see him as comparable to Joe Staton, whose work had an instantly recogniseable, often-pleasing wonkiness.

    I too hated that old black guy panel for the reasons given. I wish someone would reveal that it was Sinestro or some other scoundrel in disguise, there to mess with Hal’s head. Mind, I wouldn’t say Hal was ruined for 20 years, his white man’s guilt pretty much faded after a few years and Hal was pretty consistently ‘himself’. Just ignore the skeeviness with Kari Limbo and Arisia.

    My recommended reading for Hal GL would be the underrated Marv Wolfman/Joe Staton and Len Wein/Dave Gibbons issues. Wolfman’s Hal-in-the-snow sequence was especially fine. I liked some of Geoff Johns’ work but for me it was sullied by the chronic Crayola corps (will is an emotion?), annoying prophecies and dead parent cliche (see also Barry Allen).

    Wasn’t Hal leaving Ferris about his becoming a toy salesman or insurance man or something, long before GL/GA?

    I call a friendly foul on Chad naming Alan number one GL for his potential. Heck, the man lost his strip to a pooch. If I had to pick an order, I’d go for Kyle, Hal then Alan

    I liked the Sixties Poison Ivy, who was akin to a classy nature goddess/bunny girl, as opposed to today’s slash fiction slapper.

  17. To tell my Green Lantern story is to tell my DC Secret Origin story. Gather round the fire kids, it’s time for a story. Growing up I was a main stream Marvel and X-men fan. DC seemed like the much older and less “cool” version of comics and lets face it with stellar names like Plastic-man, Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy, Elongated Man and what the hell was a Green Lantern?? to name but a few, who can blame me. I never knew who or what a Green Lantern was outside his name was Hal Jordan and he was a test pilot. Then I saw that Justice League movie Shag’s pic comes from and it pretty much solidified my view that Green Lantern was some guy that made rubber hands appear out of a ring to catch people or a boxing glove to punch people and that was about it and that DC was not for me and a little bit poo.

    This view began to change with the Justice League animated series which when I first saw it had me saying “Oh Green Lantern is black now. Ok. That’s cool.” But still no greater understanding of who he was or what he was about.

    Then came along the Green Lantern movie and I got my first look at who and what a Green Lantern was, that it wasn’t just rubber hands but actually light powered by the bears will power and I fell in love. Which is why it’s a little hard to hear all the movie bashing you guys carry on with.

    Introduce Paul Hix to the story and access to his extensive trade library and GL was the first thing I wanted to read about. The rest as they say is history. GL and the GL universe is my premier favourite DC franchise. And yes I now understand the issues with the movie…

    Great to hear the Lantern Cast guys and the Franklins. But domestic violence against men is a very real problem that is under reported and not talked about enough socially which drives men not to come forward out of fear of not being taken seriously or being ridiculed or perceived as weak. If you need help Chris let me know.

    Just kidding!!! The clearly audible smacks were great and her opinions on what should happen to male sex organs were terrifying. Cindy is clearly capable of causing great fear and is part of the Sinestro Corps!!

  18. I feel like Poison Ivy rooked me. I guess I grew up at the right time, when she was a mandatory inclusion in the Batman rogues gallery group shots as the other recognizable female adversary. I didn’t realize until sometime well into the nineties that she debuted over a quarter century after The Joker, The Penguin, and so on. She was supposed to be a seductress, but that was already Selina Kyle’s role, plus Catwoman had a much better costume and pedigree. Ivy’s also a plant-themed character, and you can add flora to the growing list of commonly accepted things that I never gave a fig about. It’s not that I didn’t like her or see potential there; it’s just that she had a number of strikes against her out of the gate. For instance, Brian Apthorp drew her Year One annual and other assorted spotlight appearances, giving her a grace and softer (but ultimately deadlier) sensuality to make her stand apart. Batman: The Animated Series had better luck playing her as the straight foil and alternative significant other for Harley Quinn, but she was still defined by other people rather than her own self. In recent years, DC keeps covering her in green and playing up the wood nymph angle, and it puts me right off.

    I’ve owned this Secret Origins issue for years, and despite it being by the Miracleman team, only just read the story. Another reason why I’m not as into Alan Moore as everyone else is because The Sandman hooked me and opened my mind to the greater possibilities of the medium in a way Swamp Thing didn’t. Unfortunately, I’m sure Moore would have had a mindbending twist or character altering insight if he had written Poison Ivy’s origin, where the much too green Neil Gaiman didn’t do much of anything. I assume the unsympathetic skeevy antagonist was supposed to be under the thrall of Ivy’s homeopathic allures, and he got in over his head, but that’s how I assumed everything would play out anyway. Maybe short form storytelling isn’t his forte, but I didn’t care about any of the characters and predicted every element of the plot. It doesn’t help that young Mark Buckingham wants to be John Totleben so hard without pulling it off, and I’m not keen on the gender politics at play. It all feels sordid on the most superficial level, more like a tabloid expose than a narrative.

    If it’s me calling the shots, the first thing I do is get rid of the costume. She can wear it on special occasions and licensing, but otherwise, let’s get her into some pretty “work” dresses with subtle floral elements. Dial up the femme fatal with a pansexual edge involving elements of DePalma and early ’90s neo-noir. She would still be a temptress, but with a stronger EC Comics element of justifiable “punishment” and broadening her targets to anyone committing social injustices (with a profit motive especially.) Restore the poisonous kisses as her primary “power,” but highlight her botanical science-fu with other effects besides death & delirium, and make it clear the occasional tentacle vine or Audrey II is the result of her brilliant mind instead of a metagene. Instead of turning her into a stupid emerald fairy thing, I’d consider that her race isn’t a major component of the character, and make her a more unconventional/strongly ethnic woman who camouflages herself with a dye job/wig and make-up. Yes, she loves plants, but they’re emblematic of passivity and vulnerability, so she is protective of the innocent and the helpless– children, the invalid, the victimized. None of the over the top “kill everyone and give earth back to the plants,” as the extreme environmentalism paints the whole movement as whackadoo and makes Ivy one note. Instead, make her a murderous Robin Hood who kills the rich to finance her projects and conservation charities. Emphasize the contrast that Bruce Wayne is a rich white handsome able-bodied industrialist quasi-fascist so he feels guilty and compromised for coming down on the homicidally insane but effective and sympathetic extra-anti-heroine. Finally, make her terrifying– a Joker with a commendable mission but stomach churning methods so that she’s a true villainess and we don’t lose her to the bad girl with a heart of gold stereotype.

    P.S. “You’re gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion” is one of my favorite ear worms, but I have trouble finding fault in a little New Jack Swing.

  19. I wish more of the Secret Origins had been like Tom Kalmaku’s. It was less than half the size of most of the stories the podcast has covered, and stayed on point while setting aside time for character moments and a vignette. Imagine how many more Secret Origins we could have gotten, by more notable meticulous creators, and how much less fatty their offerings would have been according to this model. That said, Tom was a super powered member of a team of cosmic guardians, and that barely gets mentioned as an aside, so there are flaws in this scheme. The actual story was okay, but I wish Jones had stuck to Steve Englehart’s retcon in the opening pages of Millennium that Pieface got his nickname from life constantly treating him like a clown with pies to the face, rather than Hal Jordan being a totally gross ignorant racist. It’s hard for me to hear a minority character enable Hal when I know a white male baby boomer is putting the words in his mouth.

    Here’s the basic problem: Guy Gardner is the buffoonish Green Lantern that says stupid crap. He’s the one who’s like Jack Burton or Ash Williams– the uncouth, borderline incompetent Ugly American anti-hero whose ineptitudes are forgivable because they’re specifically not given a pass on them. Hal Jordan is “the” Green Lantern, sold on toddler jammies as a role model and capital “h” Hero. He’s more like John Wayne, who encouraged enlistment in Vietnam and had interesting things to say about “the black skins.” John Wayne is a human being who lived in a different time, so individual mileage may vary on how much slack he gets cut, but Hal Jordan is words and pictures that can be shaped at will. Something as simple as Tom calling Hal “Whisky Tango” would have made a huge difference in whether Pieface was a participant in light racial ribbing or the passive enabler he appears as here.

    This was the paragraph where I was going to talk about the actual GL stories in this issue, but I stopped midway through weeks ago and I think other people touched on most of my thoughts, plus I’m not confident anyone will ever read this comment and I couldn’t repurpose it for a Bloodlines diatribe, so what’s the point? I’ll just transition to…

    I’m in the club that doesn’t like the cover of this type of book being a close-up head shot, and I rarely get them as a commission either, because I know they’re cheap and easy and usually unsatisfying. This isn’t the worst for what it is, but… and that’s another part where I didn’t finish my thoughts weeks ago, so this can be like the Lost in La Mancha of blog comments. But with less Johnny Depp. We all want less Johnny Depp nowadays anyway.

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