Is This the End?

In an earlier post, I was half-joking that the silver age of comics ended with Green Lantern issue #83. I had just read about this issue saying that in the story that Carol Ferris learns the true identity of Green Lantern. Noting that the year of the issue was 1971 and about the time that I stopped reading comic books because I was now “too old” for that sort of thing. When I wrote that, I really had no idea what the story-line was for issue #83.

Green Lantern #83 (May 1971)

The Wikipedia article on the subject says “the Silver Age is considered to cover the period from 1956 to circa 1970”. If one considers that each of the periods (golden, silver, ad bronze) lasted about 15 years, it totally works.

Having now read GL issue #83, I think that I was actually right about it. I want to explore my reason for saying that, but I am curious to note what others think of this question. Does anyone else consider a specific issue within the DC universe that marks the end of the silver age?

The end if the golden age is an easy one to mark. DC made it simple when they abruptly ended the 10-plus year run of All-Star Comics with issue #57 in February of 1951 and the start of the Silver Age is usually marked by the appearance of the new Flash in Showcase #4 in October 1956.

So, there is about a six-year gap between the end of the golden age and the start of the silver age. It was during that gap that the comic book industry was going through a major readjustment in response to heavy criticism it was getting from all corners of society following accusations of having contributed to the ills of society such as juvenile delinquency, homosexuality, and drug use.

The Wikipedia article on the subject suggests that I am spot-on in my observation that the story-line of Green Lantern #83 marks the ending of the silver age.

Issue #83 was published May 1971. It is an odd story, almost Hitchcockian in its appearance. So much so, that there is even a joke about that in one of the panels.

On page one, the reader is lead to believe that this is a continuation of story from a previous issue. At least that is the impression that I got. Yet I was wrong and that just makes the whole story more puzzling. (If you think that the child looks like Nixon and man like Spiro Agnew, then the artist would be pleased to hear that)

For some unexplained reason, Dinah (Black Canary) Lance is taking a job at a private school in a small isolated town. Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan and Oliver (Green Arrow) Queen have escorted her to the town. The setting and story remind me of a stereotypical, 1970’s television drama.

When the group is attacked by birds, Hal and Oliver decide they need to change into costume. This causes problems for Dinah with her new employer. So Hal and Oliver decide that they should leave. As they are leaving they see a woman who appears to be crouched beside the car. It turns out that she is not “crouching” – she is in a wheelchair.

The woman is Carol Ferris, Hal’s former employer at Ferris Aircraft and a former love interest of both Hal and his Green Lantern persona. The last time prior to this that Carol was seen was two years earlier in Green Lantern #73 (1969) and then two years prior to that in Green Lantern #53 (1967). Without going into detail, let’s just say that the relationship between these two had taken some hits along the way.

Here is Hal and Carol in the early days before Carol became Star Sapphire and went crazy.

Hal & Carol in Showcase #22 October 1959

Of course, it is a very emotional moment for Hal seeing Carol again after such  a long time and also seeing her in a wheelchair.

In Green Lantern #73, Carol had been in a relationship with a man named Jason Belmore, but had broken off the engagement. Apparently in this issue, that relationship is back on again and Jason is a teacher at this school that Dinah now works at.

Strange things are happening in this town and a strange accident is the cause of Carol being wheelchair bound.

GL and Carol try to have a quiet moment to discuss where things are, but more strange things begin to happen and interrupt their tender, bittersweet moment.

What is happening is strange enough to cause Dinah to have to have to change into Black Canary.

Green Lantern and Green Arrow wind-up getting over-powered by a bunch of creepy kids.

Eventually the duo of GL and GA save day, but not without Black Canary having to go to the hospital after being attacked by wasps (I told you the story was strange).

All this time GL has been doing some soul searching and on the final page he gives little speech about love. With a dramatic flourish he removes his mask and he says to Carol:

“I demanded you accept me, not as the dashing Green Lantern, but as plain… Hal Jordan!”

Then he sweeps her into his arms and he proclaims his love for her.

The final panel reads “Is this the End?”

Since this pretty much aligns with the end of my comic book reading days, it totally fits and it is all a mystery to me as to what happens next. So, I concur with the question that is asked – rhetorically or otherwise. I am very much glad for that as this is the primary purpose of this blog.

That is no joke! I figure that between beginning of the silver age and the end of the bronze age, I have a lot of ground to cover in terms of reacquainting myself with what I had previously read up to 1971 and then it is pretty much new territory for me for the next 15 years from ’71 to ’86, the year of the “Infinite Crisis”.