Green Lantern 84 Comic Book Review - "Peril in Plastic"

Not sure what the idiot in the corner is checking out...
Green Lantern 84. From July 1971. At this point, Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams are just over a year into their character defining run (for both Greens) on Green Lantern and only one issue away from one of the defining books of the bronze age of comics. I picked up this book up on the cheap and it's a hell of an issue.   

Right away, I love this cover. In particular how the photograph is woven into the artwork. It doesn't feel gimmicky like other covers where the cover art is thrown on top of a full-page background photograph. It's not overdone here and the picture is part of the overall artwork and makes the cover that much more dynamic.

"People are like cattle. Give them just enough comfort to satisfy them, and anything that threatens them or they think threatens them... they attack!"

Strong words from this issue's sonofabitch villain, Black Hand, as he delivers his villain's lecture to a tied up and ring-less Green Lantern deep in the bowels of Piper's Dell, a strange company town of sorts ran by a strongman, charismatic corporate leader type. And reference the quote above, feel free to insert your own current political interpretation to it.

Piper's Dell is a plastic manufacturing town run by its Mayor and Doctor-in-Residence, Wilbur Palm. An odd combination of duties for one man, but's convenient for the plot. You see, there's no way that, Green Lantern, galactic space cop, would be slumming and get caught up in the goings on of some plastic generation company town that may or may not have some mind control stuff going on (more on that in a bit). Leave that mess for guys with gadgets and no powers, am I right?

Ah, but you see, Hal Jordan comes into this story happier than he's ever been. He's been reunited with Carol Ferris and their three week love affair in is full bloom. They're horseback riding, swimming, and doing some serious lip-locking. Carol, in what is surely a bummer for her, is paralyzed from the waist down. There's hope in sight though as Carol has heard of some eccentric doctor in a place called Piper's Dell who might just be able to cure her.

You would think that with Hal's connection to the Justice League that he might know of a doctor with perhaps a healthier reputation that he could hook her up with. Obviously, Clark and Diana would be useless when searching out for a referral, but surely, Bruce must have a guy, or a girl... hey it's the seventies, baby, we got women doctors. No doubt, Barry has someone to keep his legs in working order.

But no, the only option here to cure Carol's paralysis is this Doctor Palm kook in Piper's Dell. And yeah, Hal, this is something she has to do on her own, so why don't you go check in with your buddy Oliver, okay?

Oliver, for his part, is broke and living in some shit hole in the ghetto. He doesn't seem to mind while turtleneck wearing Hal decides that the area is "cruddy." Way to judge and be all defensive, Mister I-fight-aliens-and-am-basically-a-low-rent-Superman. I suppose poverty and poor people scare even the toughest of fellas? The two green bros debate their tastes in music - Oliver is a rock and roll kinda guy while Hal prefers those classic Dixieland jams. What a dork.

Not so much in the domestic bliss department.
BREAKING NEWS: The dams at Piper's Dell have broke and the whole city might be submerged in water. Sorry, Oliver, Hal's got to give you a Peace Out! and save his girl... and a city full of people too. And, no, Oliver, this is a job for the dudes who can fly. So, you know, you just keep being you.

That actually works out well for Oliver who is caught up in a domestic dilemma of his own. A hot date with Black Canary turns cold when Oliver throws chili on a drunk who ogled himself a little too much Canary. Oliver can't figure out why she isn't dying with admiration when he defended her honor. He still manages to call her a cab and figures the hell the with it all.Like his buddy Hal, Oliver Queen can't wrap his mind around these modern, liberated women. Why don't they just want the men to help them and solve all of their problems for them?! Without a damsel in distress, what ever is a hero to do?

Meanwhile at Piper's Dell, Green Lantern saves the day and gets some face time with Mayor/Doctor Palm and gets a tour of the all-plastic town. A town that really stinks. Literally. A plastic, smog-filled, hole in the ground. Far worse than the purported slums that Green Arrow calls home. Green Lantern gets a press conference for the residents of Piper's Dell, but finds no journalists, only cameras. "No need for living folks! This's a modern ceremony, fella! We got the TV to pipe the doings all over Piper's Dell--" says Doctor/Mayor Palm.

The whole notion of Piper's Dell being a communist, state-run nightmare is pretty clear, and to make it worse, Palm plans to make the world a great big Piper's Dell. And of course, Mayor Palm isn't really the Mayor. He's not even a doctor. He's the aforementioned sonofabitch from earlier, Black Hand in disguise, who set up the whole thing: Carol's cure, the dams breaking, even the press conference, as a trap to lure Green Lantern. 

He captures Green Lantern and uses the press to manipulate the residents of Piper's Dell into turning on the hero who just saved them. There's some solid sci-fi stuff going on here with the idea of how powerful the media is and quickly people are able to be manipulated. We're treading on some Phillip K. Dick grounds here. 

We get it, Ollie.
Long story short though, Green Arrow discovers that his bro is in trouble and lends a helping hand. Punches are thrown, and Black Hand is captured in melted plastic. A fitting end for that bastard.

The epilogue finds Hal and Carol back out enjoying a day in the city with their third wheel Oliver tagging along. Carol and Hal muse on the morons of Piper's Dell and how they're either crazy, greedy, or less responsible than the rest of the regular folks of the world. 

And then Oliver chimes in to remind us that maybe we're all a little fucked. 

Thanks, buzzkiller.


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