Green Lantern #7, "Day 100,000 People Vanished!"

GREEN LANTERN (2nd series) #7; July August 1961; DC Comics; Julius  Schwartz,
editor; cover-featuring GL in "The Day 100,000 People Vanished!"   Script by
John Broome, pencils by Gil Kane, inks by Joe Giella.  On the  cover, GL
shoots a green beam which has the startling effect of turning the  people on a city
street into transparent outlines, while reflecting that the  only way to save
them from a "terrible disaster" is to turn them  invisible!

Review by Bill Henley

Currently in the GREEN LANTERN  REBIRTH miniseries (which I've found
surprisingly enjoyable, considering that  I'm not a big Geoff Johns fan and was
skeptical of *anyone* being able to  successfully rehabilitate Hal Jordan as a hero
after "Emerald Twilight") we are  seeing a major confrontation between Hal
Jordan, back in his Green Lantern role,  and his archfoe Sinestro.  In honor of
the event, here's a review on the  issue featuring their very first battle,
taking place on "The Day 100,000 People  Vanished!"  On the splash page, GL flies
over deserted streets thinking,  "It's uncanny!  Every single person in this
city seems to have vanished off  the face of the Earth!" while in a vignette a
sinister deep-red-faced figure  aimin a strange device promises, "Green
Lantern-- YOU'RE NEXT!"  

"At fourteen minutes after nine on a bright morning in the thriving 
community of Valdale on the West Coast", the inhabitants are going about their  normal
business-- exchanging greetings, getting their cars filled with gas,  yelling
at traffic jams-- when suddenly there is an "odd shimmering in the air  like
a rain of light" (actually resembling an aurora borealis) followed by a  noise
like a thunderclap... and at precisely nine-fifteen, the city of Valdale, 
100,000 strong, has become a ghost town with not a single human being left in 
it!"  (Oddly enough, however, there's no sign of the crashed cars and other 
chaos you might expect if all the people suddenly disappeared from a  town.)  Of
course such an event attracts the attention of the West Coast's  resident
Silver Age superhero, Green Lantern, and we catch up with him as he  arrives back
at his home base to confer with his friend and confidant, "Pieface"  (aka
Thomas Kalmaku) and report that his Power Ring has not found a "single  clue" as
to what happened to the people of Valdale.  But he knows one  thing-- he was
due himself to help open up a "boys settlement house" in that  town at nine
A.M., but missed his appointment due to finishing up a case.   "Great Aurora!"
Pieface realizes; "then YOU would have vanished too-  if  you had kept the
appointment!"  Before they can discuss it further, GL  momentarily goes mentally
blank.  He does not realize that his "astral self  or energy-duplicate" is now
flitting on its way across the universe to the  planet Oa, where it will meet
with the blue-skinned Guardians of the Universe,  the mentors and masters of
all Green Lanterns (though at this point Hal Jordan  knows this only
subconsciously).  After briefly noting that they called  forth Hal's astral self once
before (in GL #1), the Guardians explain why they  have summoned him this time. 
"We Guardians do not bestow Power Batteries  without careful tests!  But there
are many possessors and many worlds in  the cosmos under our care!  And in
our selections we did make one  MISTAKE!  It happened on a world called Korugar
in Sector 1417, where we  chose a being called SINESTRO!"  [Didn't a name like
that give you a clue  there might be something hinky here, guys?] Sinestro is
a long-headed,  widows-peaked, deep cherry-red-skinned humanoid clad (in this
flashback scene)  in a Green Lantern uniform and mask identical to Hal
Jordan's. [And the  Guardians didn't pick up on this vaguely devilish appearance as
a clue  either....]  As the Guardians kept an eye on their new recruit, he 
initially seemed to be a "deserving one and absolutely without fear" who 
succeeded in "keeping down EVIL on his planet!"  But as he charged his ring  every
"37 diors" [Ie, one Earth day-- I still find it remarkable how the  charging
period of the ring just happens to exactly match the rotation period of  our
obscure little planet] he reflects more and more how the ring gave him 
"unlimited power!  There is NOTHING I cannot do with it!"  And as a  wise Earthman once
said, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely!"  At least in  Sinestro's case. 
The first sign is when he gets tired of his hidden  sanctuary and instead
creates a huge palace, "the most marvelous building on  Korugar!", to serve as his
headquarters.  Soon, we find Korugarans lined up  to beg for Sinestro's
assistance, as the people at the back of the line grumble,  "We have to wait to see
Sinestro sometimes for diordans (days)!  And then  he takes only those cases
that interest him-- helps only a few of us and ignores  the rest!"  Meanwhile,
Sinestro himself mentally gripes, "How I am bored  with these complaints and
pleas for assistance!"  As the "virus of power"  gains a further grip on him,
Sinestro lashes out with his ring at a supplicant  who complains that he has
become "power-mad", and then deposes Korugar's High  Council to become dictator
of the planet himself.  But though none on  Korugar are able to challenge
their new masters, there are others who can, as  the Guardians make one of their
periodic "secret checks""  "He believed  that none stood above him!  He will
now learn that he was mistaken!"   The Guardians bring Sinestro before them and
deliver their verdict; "You have  abused your sacred trust!  Instead of
dispensing JUSTICE on your world--  you have dispensed EVIL!  There is only one
course open to us!"  For  the first time, the Guardians take an "extreme measure"
against one of their  green-clad recruits; "Sinestro of Korugar, you have been
found unworthy to be a  Battery Possessor! You are hereby stripped of all
insignia and honors!"   (as his GL insignia and mask pop off of his uniform). 
His ring likewise  leaps off his finger-- "Your Power Ring is no longer
yours!"-- and "Your Battery  of Power is now returning to us!"  Most drastic of all,
"EVIL you are-- to  EVIL you will go!  We are banishing you to the anti-matter
universe of  Qward, where all is evil and your evil will find only other evil
to clash  with!"  [Maybe Steve Ditko should have drawn this story.... this
whole idea  of an absolute separation between good and evil would have warmed his

But what does this all have to do with Hal Jordan, Green  Lantern of Earth? 
Well, it seems that on arriving in the evil  anti-universe of Qward, Sinestro
hooked up with its bosses, the Weaponers, who  had already made three
unsuccessful attempts to defeat Hal Jordan, and promised  them victory if they
accepted his leadership.  By peering at Earth with his  "super-radar", Sinestro has
gotten wind of GL's appointment in Valdale at  exactly 9 am that one fateful
day.  And he has created a "truly EVIL  mechanism", a "viso-teleporter" capable
of snatching away "every visible human"  in the city of Valdale, including
Green Lantern.  As the Weaponers cheer  Sinestro's evil initiative, we pause for
a pair of house ads for GIANT SUPERMAN  ANNUAL #3 ("See the Many FANTASTIC
COMIC BOOK you've dreamed about IS  HERE!")  Also, there's one of Jack Schiff's
beloved public service ads,  "Gifts From Your Elders!", in which some kids
visit a senior citizen center and  discover that they can learn a lot from those
old folks who are, like, really  hep.

As our GL tale resumes, Green Lantern-- still visiting Oa in "astral  form"--
realizes that Sinestro has already put his insidious plan into effect  and
that he, GL, inadvertently fouled it up by not showing up on time for his 
appointment.  The Guardians inform him, "You must defeat your new and  venomous
foe, Sinestro...and you must do it by yourself!  For our  jurisdiction does not
extend to Qward and we cannot help you!" The Guardians  return GL's astral self
to rejoin his body on Earth, this time allowing him to  retain a complete
memory of his experience and the Guardians' existence.   Recovering from his
brief blackout, GL "mumbles a few words" to Pieface and then  flies off, leaving
his faithful Inuit companion in the dark as to what has  happened; "I can't
tell Pieface anything about the Guardians!  That's one  secret I can't share with
anyone!"  Now GL must find a way into Qward, not  only to defeat Sinestro but
to learn the fate of the 100,000 lost citizens of  Valdale.  [Hmmm... I guess
they could have called the story "The Day  200,000 People Vanished!"  Or
whatever the population of Coast City was...]  He soon discovers that the
interdimensional aperture he once used to enter Qward  has been blocked by the canny
Sinestro.  Only one option remains to  him.  Much to the bemusement of the
people of his hometown, Coast City, he  uses his ring to turn them all temporarily
invisible, and then wanders the  streets, the only visible human in town.  He
figures this will attract the  attention of Sinestro and cause him to use his
"viso-teleporter" (which only  affects visible people, remember) to snatch GL
into Qward.  And so it  happens.  "An incredible force seizing me!  I mustn't
resist-- must  let myself go!  It's the ONLY way I can get into Qward!" 
Instantly  upon arriving in Qward, GL is bombarded by the Weaponers' energy-beams,
but he  is more prepared than they expected, and sets up a green shield with
his ring in  time.  But Sinestro assures them, "Fear not!  My EVIL mind is
easily  equal to this emergency!" and he warns GL that unless he surrenders, the
100,000  people of Valdale will be destroyed.  "This is one thing I did not
take  into account!", GL reflects.  [Not too bright of you, Hal, not to figure 
that an evil guy like Sinestro would think of using hostages....]  He  agrees
to surrender on condition that Sinestro return the people of Valdale to  Earth
first.  Sinestro agrees in turn; "You have made a good bargain, Green 
Lantern-- 100,000 for one!"  and keeping his word, returns the puzzled  people of
Valdale to their empty town.  Meanwhile, GL finds himself bound  in a "yellow
bubble of pulsating energy".  He still lives, for as a former  GL himself,
Sinestro not only knows about the Power Ring's yellow weakness, but  also is aware
that "the power beam will automatically protect you from all harm  as long as
you are conscious!"  (This may be the first mention of the  ring's "automatic
protection from harm" feature-- though later it would be  extended to operate
even when a GL is unconscious.)  Pointing to a rather  Earthly-looking clock,
Sinestro gloats that, having observed when GL last  charged his ring, he knows
that only 15 minutes remain until hour of six,   the ring runs out of power
and GL can be slain.  The Weaponers are  impressed; "You truly are a GENIUS OF
EVIL!  We have decided to make you  our CHIEFTAIN!"  Better not count your
GL's out too soon, guys.... As the  clock ticks out its last minutes, GL observes
that "it works on the vibration of  atomic particles".  Then the clock
strikes six, and Sinestro dissolves the  yellow bubble and fires a Qwardian ray-gun
at GL-- only to be met by a forceful  green beam from GL's ring.  How can the
ring still be working?  Well,  it seems that though GL could not penetrate the
ring's power through the yellow  bubble, he fgured out a way to propel "the
sub-particles of carbon dioxide from  my own breath" into the clock's mechanism
and cause its timing to speed  up.  [Hey, in a universe wholly devoted to
Evil, it stands to reason that  one of the evils would be manufacturing cheap,
shoddy merchandise like clocks  that go on the fritz at the drop of a sub-atomic
particle....]  Gl creates  a green tidal wave to knock the fight out of the
Weaponers and pins Sinestro to  the wall with a set of green needles.  But
Sinestro still gloats  triumphantly, pointing out that he would have killed GL
given the chance, but GL  cannot kill him and end his menace once and for all;
"Your stupid code prevents  you from killing or harming anyone else if you can
help it!  I know that  because I wore a uniform like yours once before I
learned better!  Good is  helpless-- EVIL ALONE CAN ACT!"  Moreover, Sinestro points
out, GL can't  even return Sinestro to Oa for further punishment, since the
Guardians banished  him to Qward forever-- "and you cannot countermand their
orders!  HA! HA!  HA!"  But scorning Sinestro's suggestion that good is helpless
against  evil, GL creates a green bubble which "no force on Qward can
penetrate!"   "Any EVIL you create now can only be AGAINST YOURSELF!  And with that 
parting thought I BID YOU A FINAL FAREWELL.."  [Yeah, right.....]   Overcoming
the block Sinestro previously placed on the interdimensional aperture  to
Earth, GL returns to his home world just in time to recharge his ring as his 
last moment of power runs out.  The next day, he finally makes his  appointment
in Valdale to address the postponed ceremonial opening of the "boys' 
settlement hosue": "And remember, boys, when RIGHT is on your side, you will  always
overcome EVIL no matter where you may find it!"

Sinestro  reappeared many times during the Silver Age and later, of course,
escaping GL's  green bubble and returning with a new weapon, a yellow Power
Ring that operated  by leeching power from the genuine green rings.  Some
elements of this  story were retconned away years later, as the Keith Giffen "Emerald
Dawn" series  established that Hal Jordan actually met Sinestro while the
latter was still a  GL in good standing, and even underwent a period of training
with him.   (And in GL REBIRTH, that story is further retconned, as Hal meets
Sinestro/GL  but rebuffs his offer of training.) 

Next is a two-page "Green  Lantern's Mail Chute" lettercol.  Robert Jennings
of Nashville Tenn. (an  early big-name comics fan and fanzine editor, I
believe)  laments that "the  days of the 52 page comic book are past" and calls for
more book-length stories  like GL #5's "Power Ring That Vanished" in order to
develop character and plot  more effectively.  Andy Wickstrom of Glen Riddle,
Pa. turns thumbs down on  a previous reader's suggesting of a "Kid Green
Lantern" sidekick,and Ye Editor  (Julie Schwartz) reassures him; "Other well-worn
bits of business readers have  asked us to lift from our companion magazines
are a robot duplicate of Green  Lantern, a Green Lantern Cave or fortress of
solitude, an imp that harasses GL,  a Bizarro-Green Lantern and so on, ad
nauesum.  Well' we'll have none of  that!  We take pride in the original touches
we've introduced in this  magazine!"  (And yet, some time later there was a GL
story in which our  hero was turned into a robot duplicate of himself.... and I
vaguely remember a  much later story, a Superman story sometime during the
Bronze Age, in which a  Bizarro-Green Lantern, along with other Bizarro-JLA
members, appears.)   Another reader, Rick Wood of Cambridge, Mass., complains that
the science filler  pages Schwartx put in his comics ought to be eliminated in
favor of more story  pages, to which Julie indignantly replies, "We hardly
think that the science  filler pages are a waste of space!  Students, parents,
even teachers have  commended us for running these educational
tidbits....However, an even more  urgent reason (for the science fillers) is that we are
required to do so by  law!  Postal regulations require that such diversified
material appear in  all magazines that feature one main character such as Green
Lantern, Flash,  Batman, Superman, etc.  As a matter of fact, those regulations
also call  for our magazines to include at least one page of printed matter--
such as this  very department (the lettercol)!"

Another letter, from a femmefan named  Dorun (?  Did Doreen scribble her name
illegibly?) Aronoff of Camden, NJ,  has a list of suggestions including that
Hal Jordan should marry Carol Ferris  and that "Pieface should have a girl
friend also".  Ye Ed is noncommittal  about the first suggestion but "we had
anticipated your (other) suggestion as  you'll see in this issue's (second
story)!"  The story in question is  "Wings of Destiny!"and on the splash page GL
springs to thwart a plane  hijacking; "These gunmen have taken over the airliner! 
But I'm about to  TAKE THEM OVER...!"   But "what Green Lantern was doing on
the  airplane in the first place is something of a long story [well, actually,
only 8  pages] involving the mysterious, inexplicable disappearance of his
pal Pieface,  the Eskimo grease-monkey [Extreme Political Incorrectness Alert!]
and the  long-awaited arrival from Alaska of Pie's childhood sweetheart!"  One
night, presumably after eating pickles and ice cream, Hal Jordan has a dream
in  which he rebuffs his pal's plea; "No, Pie!  You know I can't use my Power
Ring for trivial purposes, but only to fight evil and injustice!"  [No 
trivial purposes?  How about a few issues ago when you used the ring to  create a
fake monster to distract Carol Ferris from proposing marriage to Green 
Lantern during Leap Year?]  But badgered by the dream-Pieface to fulfill  his
lifelong dream of flight by "turning him into a bird so he can fly",  dream-GL
finally consents.  Little does Hal know that his ring is  responding to his
unconscious command by sending a beam to the real Pieface to  turn him into a bird. 
Reaching into Pieface's bedroom, the beam "turns him  with the greatest of
ease into a SEAGULL!"  Awakened by this  transofrmation,, Birdface, er, Pieface
understandably wonders, "What goes  on?  WHAT GOES ON?"  But apparently Pie
falls back asleep and the next  morning awakens thinking "I had the loopiest
dream last night!"  Only when  he sees his feathered form in the mirror does he
realize that it was no dream  [or at least, it wasn't HIS dream].  He sets out
flying across the city  searching for GL; "Yeowie!  Some mean villain has done
this-- probably some  fiend from outer space-- trying to eliminate me before
his alien race invades  the Earth!  I gotta find my pal, Green Lantern-- warn
him...."   Meanwhile, Hal Jordan is puzzled by Pieface's mysterious
disappearance,  especially considering this is a red-letter day for his Eskimo friend; 
he  received a telegram saying his childhood sweetheart, Terga, will be
arriving on  the ten o'clock plane from Alaska.  "Great Scott!  The poor girl will 
be worried to death if there's no one there!  I've got to fill in for 
Pie....!"  After charging his ring, GL takes off across town, but finds  himself being
annoyed in flight by a a pesty, persistent seagull who keeps  flying at him
and chattering at him; "This bird looks like a seagull-- but acts  like a
CUCKOO!"  Fortunately (or so GL thinks), "seagulls aren't built for  speed" and GL
outdistances the frustrated bird in flight.  Arriving at the  airport and
assuming his Hal Jordan identity (after realizing at the last moment  that the
untutored Terga might be freaked out by being greeted by a costumed  superhero),
Hal at first finds no one answering Terga's description, but then  finds that
the diminutive and English-challenged Inuit girl is refusing to leave  the
plane until Pieface shows up; "!  Want see Thomas!   No...move till
he come..."  Before Hal can try to explain matters to Terga,  the grounded
plane is invaded by a gang of crooks who demand that the pilots  take flight. 
Deducing that the hijackers are "escaped convicts out to make  a getaway", Hal
resumes his GL identity and sets out to stop them, but as the  plane takes a
sudden lurch he accidentally bumps his head into a seat and is  knocked out. 
[What happened to that automatic protection from harm from  the first story?] 
As one of the crooks prepares to shoot GL,  Pieface-the-seagull catches up with
the plane, and observing the dire situation  within, heroically crashes
through a window to seize the gun from the crook's  hand.  "Jumping jets!  {Isn't
that Kid Flash's pet expression?]   That bird again-- and looks like it's just
SAVED MY LIFE!"  Recovering, GL  subdues the crooks with his ring as Pieface
cheers him on with bird-calls.   Finally getting the plane back on the ground
and Terga off the plane, GL  prepares to take her to Carol Ferris to
"chaperone" her until Pieface can be  located, but then is puzzled as the seagull
flutters insistently around the  Eskimo girl "almost as if it's happy to see Terga! 
As if it's trying to  KISS HER!  Is it possible--?  My dream last
night...using my Power  Ring-- to turn PIEFACE INTO A BIRD!"  Is it possible that
actually I  *gulp!* Got to find out!"  Leaving Terga momentarily alone, GL finds a 
secluded spot and wills the seagull to turn back into Pieface.   "Whew!  I must
make sure I command my :Power Ring never to let such a  'nightmare' happen
again!"  Later, Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris share a  double date with Pieface
and Terga, and Carol notees that Terga only knows a few  words of English, "and
she's using most of them now!" -- as, surrounded by  symbolic hearts, Terga
addrresses Pieface,  "THOMAS...YOU...ME...LOVE!"

(As I alluded to earlier, the handling of  Pieface and Terga in these early
GL stories is highly "politically incorrect" by  modern standards.  On the
other hand, it could be argued that Pieface got  more dignified treatment than
another superhero's "pal", the thoroughly  caucasian Jimmy Olsen.  Pieface never
got his own book, but he did get to  learn his hero's true identity; he got a
girlfriend who he was eventually  allowed to actually marry (and yes, she did
learn English) and while Pieface did  undergo a strange transformation in this
particular story, it wasn't his fault  and didn't result from him
incautiously drinking an unknown serum.)