Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hanging The Green #9 - Plastic Men!


The eighty-fourth issue of Green Lantern and Green Arrow is a curious story indeed. Produced by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, this issue is inked by up and comer Berni Wrightson. Wrightson had done one page in an earlier issue, but does the whole issue this time.

The story begins as Carol Ferris goes to a place called Piper's Dell which is run by a charismatic fellow named Wilbur Palm.


Later Lantern hears that the dam of Piper Dell is threatened and goes to solve the problem. Wilbur Palm appears to give his thanks but actually attaches an odd device called a "Kaluta" to his chest which spurts a strange perfume in his face. Lantern is invited into Piper Dell, a company town that manufactures and celebrates plastic. Lantern is later attacked by the zombie-like denizens of Piper Dell but manages to send his ring away to Green Arrow.

Arrow eventually discovers it and goes to the rescue. Meanwhile Lantern learns that Wilbur Palm is actually his old enemy Blackhand and the whole of Piper Dell is a malevolent experiment in citizen control by means of the chemicals and technology. Ferris was brought there only to lure in the Lantern. Lantern is able to escape and finds Carol and the pair try to leave Piper Dell and only the timely arrival of Green Arrow who shoots the power ring to Hal Jordan allows them to succeed. Quickly he subdues the denizens of Piper Dell and encases Blackhand in his own favorite substance--plastic.

This issue seemed to be mostly a tirade against plastic, and the kind of supposedly false society it supports. Given how plastics have developed since the early 70's the criticism seems moot, but given the ubiquitous use today maybe it's not.


More to come.

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11 comments:

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    1. Quiet now. You'll wake them up.

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  2. I don't think this story was really about plastic; plastic is just part of the metaphor. I read the story as an homage to The Prisoner. The idea was that if you keep people distracted and off balance all the time, unable to focus their attention and properly think about things, you can get them to believe anything. Everything being made of flimsy plastic just represents the insubstantial nature of their society -- the company doesn't need to build things that are more durable, because they've got their citizens to a state of mind where they wouldn't notice the difference.

    As to whether that message has any relevance to our lives today, I -- hang on, I'll finish this comment in a moment, I've got new e-mails...oh wait, someone just messaged me on Twitter...and now my iPhone is beeping, gotta check that...did you hear about what George Clooney -- um, what was I saying again?

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    1. I think you're right, but I well remember the absolute disdain for "plastic" when I was growing up. From an ecological standpoint I get it, but the transformation of modern society would be amazingly different. But that might be the point. That word really confused me when it came to Plastic Man until I actually looked it up once...it's amazing that when he was named it meant something really different.

      As for The Prisoner comparison, I see it more on the cover than elsewhere, though of course any isolated society sings that song a bit.

      Loved your last paragraph by the way. I'm currently on a crusade at my school against the use of smart phones. A lot of classes are converting to using them, and I have little choice but to follow suit a little, but they are becoming a constant distraction for the kids who are always, and I mean always, in the middle of some conversation or other. This internet can be a black hole in which we descend forever unless we are careful. (Old Fart Alert!)

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    2. Re The Prisoner: there's also a visual quote in the scene where Black Hand reveals himself as the bad guy: GL is stuck in a chair that resembles the spherical throne of Number Two in the series, and there appears to be a monitor station mounted on a giant arm hovering over the control room that calls to mind the observers in the control room of the Village. (The latter resemblance may just be projection on my part, as the comic version isn't entirely clear. But there's no doubt in my mind the general intent was that Piper Dell is akin to the Village.)

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    3. Re smartphones in schools: for a while in New York there was a ban on students being allowed to bring them into the school building at all, leading to a collage industry in "phone check" services where the kids could leave them during the day. This wasn't an acceptable answer for parents, who clearly need to be able to reach their children in an emergency. Ultimately this policy was repealed. Letting the kids keep their phones on their person but requiring them to be shut off during class seems the best solution, no?

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    4. That actually is the policy I use in my classes. Out of sight and out of mind. It's a changing world. But I will say (and I know I sound rather old fashioned) but there's a clarity that comes with isolation both in visual and auditory stimuli and modern kids seem all too wired too much of the time.

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  3. Wrightson inking Adams is an interesting art combo. I wouldn't say better than Adams/Giordano, but Wrightson is a fantastic inker and I'm glad we got to see him on this issue.

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    1. Not better than Giordano, who is the best inker Adams ever had (including Palmer at Marvel). But Wrightson does add a gloss to the work.

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    2. And yet Wrightson's inks didn't suit everybody - his work over Sal Buscema's pencils in Sub-Mariner #36 looked less than wonderful to these eyes.

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    3. Oh, I love that Subby issue, but as you suggest there are different tastes. I've always like John Verpoorten's inks and I know many find them too rough. Likewise, I appreciate Terry Austin's work, but like it less well than many.

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