Despite the often unfathomable levels of corniness, there’s something magical about the sci-fi-tastic stories of the Silver Age of comics. It’s particularly evident in the titles that rely very heavily on the science fiction concepts that were so en vogue throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s. And in the Silver Age, no one had more sci-fi cred than the Emerald Knight, Green Lantern.
Even in the earliest issues of the character’s Silver Age model, test pilot turned superhero Hal Jordan, Green Lantern was a book interested in otherworldly things. Aliens started to make their way in, and threats that we Earthlings couldn’t even fathom. Somewhere along the way Hal started meeting up with other Lanterns out there in the cosmos, and few are more memorable than chicken-faced, crest-headed Tomar-Re. Their first adventure, in Green Lantern #6 (May/June 1961), is among the more zany sci-fi adventures you’ll ever read, filled with spacey outlandishness, beams of green energy and some of the weirdest looking creatures you’ll ever meet.
Hal Jordan has a date with Carol Ferris, who he’s been asking out for months to no avail. But of course, the night she finally does say yes, and he’s about to knock on her door with a bunch of flowers in hand, he gets an urgent distress call from a chicken-faced alien. Isn’t that always how it works?
This is one of Jordan’s very first encounters with another being that wears the green suit and carries the ring, but he handles it well. Tomar-Re, the Green Lantern of Xudar (which is such a classic sci-fi name for a planet), tells him that he’s got two crises going at once, and he needs a little help to get things done. On a nearby planet where people live in hibernation and let their energy selves (beings composed of thoughts, literally) live life for them, the energy beings are rebelling. Never mind that they’re composed entirely of the thoughts of their masters. They’re just rebelling, and Hal has to figure out how to stop it. Meanwhile, as the young Green Lantern tries to work out a way to solve this complex problem, Tomar-Re will stay on his planet and fight space lizards.
Of course Jordan takes it all stride, solves the problem of the energy beings (in part through creating his own energy being to help him out), and then heads back to help Tomar-Re fight his monsters. As you can tell by the cover image, these monsters are among the freakiest things you’ll ever see. They have giant fish eyes, long teeth (not unlike The Joker’s), pinkish skin and weird, humping scales. They’re actually quite terrifying, even if they are just a comic, but of course with their powers combined Jordan and Tomar-Re handle it, and Jordan heads back home to explain his absence to Carol (but of course not giving away his secret identity).
No, it’s not exactly the most believable or complex story ever told, but it was never going to be. Once you buy into the idea that a guy has a magic ring that lets him fly and pretty much create almost anything he wants, you sort of have to make room for some outlandishness. Not only is Green Lantern #6 a ridiculous amount of fun to read, it’s also the introduction of one of the Green Lantern Corps’ most important members, and a big moment for the Green Lantern franchise in terms of opening up the universe.
You don’t have to hunt down the original issue to read this tale, either. Check out Green Lantern Chronicles Volume 2 for this and other early Lantern adventures.