So far, when I’ve looked at these Secret Origins issues with two stories, I’ve found one story to be outstanding and the other to be okay but ultimately underwhelming. This one, which features Guy Gardner and the Golden Age Sandman is the first exception to that rule.
Steve Englehart and Ernie Colon (with Rodin Rodriguez on inks) handle the creative chores on the first story, which says its the secret origin of Green Lantern, but is really Guy-focused, as he had fully entered the Green Lantern Corps within the last year and would be the featured Green Lantern in the upcoming Legends crossover. From a story standpoint, it’s a pretty straightforward retelling of Guy’s origin and how it intersects with Hal Jordan’s origin and career as GL, but you have to remember that at that point, Guy’s origin had really only been shown in one- or two-panel flashbacks and the issues with his origin in it were pretty tough to find on the back market. Hell, even 30 years after this had been originally published, I didn’t know everything about it, so this was pretty informative.
Maybe it’s just me, though. When I started reading comics at 13, I scoured the bins for Crisis crossovers and my favorites were the Green Lantern issues, especially because of the conflict between Guy and Hal. So even though it had already passed, I still felt a little like this was “my” Green Lantern era and getting the opportunity to revisit that story and those characters was really great.
The Sandman story by Roy Thomas and Michael Bair is nothing short of amazing, either. Wesley Dodds is a character I have some familiarity with–I read a number of issues of Sandman Mystery Theater a number of years ago and might consider tracking down a trade at my library–but I was largely unfamiliar with his origin story. Thomas ties his origin into The Crimson Avenger as well as the origins of other members of The Justice Society and All-Star Squadron by having The Sandman show up to foil the plans of a mysterious villain known as The Phantom of the Fair, who is terrorizing patrons if the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair.
Thomas has Dodds be yet another regular person who becomes a mystery man and having him interact with and then more or less team up with another early mystery man is a great idea; Bair’s art only makes the story better. This has an old, Golden Age feel to it and I found myself really engaged with every single panel. It’s a book that I would definitely pick up if you found it in a bin.
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