38 Yellow People, Places and Things That Thwarted, Impeded or Nearly Killed Green Lantern During His Early Adventures
So you’ve just come up with an idea for a nifty new superhero, a regular joe with a ring that can create anything he imagines. But then you realize giving that much power to one man might make it tough to come up with credible challenges for your hero to overcome.
No problem, you think: just give him his own personal Kryptonite, something that renders his ring powerless at dramatically opportune moments. For the Golden Age Green Lantern, it was anything made of wood (“Curse you, rolling pin of doom!”). But that’s just silly. No, for your new Space Age Green Lantern, you’ve got to go with something a little more plausible. Something like… oh, let’s say anything colored yellow.
That’ll work, right?
1-2. Lamp; Getaway car (Showcase #22)
Not long after receiving his ring, Hal Jordan faced his first big challenge: chasing down a trio of industrial saboteurs targeting his employer. Because sometimes it’s best to start small. And the very first yellow object to get in his way when he starts dishing out some jade-shaded justice? A lamp. Yes, a freakin’ lamp. After realizing their guns are useless against a bulletproof guy who just phased himself through their hideout’s wall, the bad guys start throwing random items at GL; the lamp aimed at Jordan’s head buys them enough time to make it to their yellow car. “We lamped him out,” one bad guy says, the look on his face making it clear he can’t believe what just happened. Join the club, pal.
3. Runaway missile (Showcase #22)
It’s not a good sign when things are starting to look contrived before the first issue is over. At least with Superman, it took a few years before every two-bit hood in Metropolis was carrying a pocket full of Kryptonite (song cue!) for protection. Here, readers were asked to believe that a missile aimed at Coast City just happened to be painted yellow because… well, because. And it’s not as if some super-intelligent villain had deduced Green Lantern’s one weakness; the guy who launched it just happened to have a yellow missile lying around. Sure, why not?
4. Alien creature resembling a pteranodon (Showcase #23)
“My power ring has no effect against this huge flying reptile! So I’ve got to use the power of my fists!” The “power” of your fists, huh? Whatever you say, Captain Tough Guy. Here we see the influence of the sci-fi monsters that were the big draw at the spinner rack until the superheroes made a comeback — and yes, you can safely assume the “giant yellow dinosaurs and blue cavemen of Venus” story was never brought up again. This is where the whole “my ring is powerless against anything yellow” thing starts to smell fishy — last issue, GL was able to stop a yellow car by focusing his energy beams on the black tires, yet here he doesn’t seem to realize the creature’s claws, eyeballs, mouth and tongue are clearly not yellow. Yes, I suppose sticking a green spear right into a dinosaur’s eyeball is not exactly heroic… but c’mon, man, Carol is waiting back on Earth. Wrap this up already and let’s go.
5. A rampaging monster’s eye beams (Showcase #23)
Yeah, sure, why the hell not?
6. Runaway roller coaster car (Showcase #24)
While searching for clues at an amusement park, GL just happens to fly near a roller coaster when one of the yellow cars jumps the tracks. Like a dummy, GL tries to catch it with a giant green hand, but then he realizes “D’oh! Yellow!” and creates giant springs to cushion the car’s landing (though how this didn’t cause the car to lurch back up into the air and send the riders hurtling to their doom is a whole other story). Because the underside of the car isn’t yellow, you see. Just like the car with the tires up above. Note the job description said “fearless,” not “quick on the uptake.”
7. Evil scientist’s coveralls (Green Lantern #1)
Same issue as the pteranodon seen earlier, with the addendum the coveralls are not attached to the evil scientist’s skin. So a giant green vise popping his pink head would work quite nicely. Alas, no; GL elects to use green strings to lash the villain’s wrists and legs and walk him like a puppet to the police station. Well… that works, too, I guess. Except… I thought his ring couldn’t affect yellow things? And his energy strings are clearly touching the guy’s coveralls, so… You know, I’m starting to think the writers didn’t sweat the details of the “he can’t affect yellow stuff” rule too much.
8-9. Lightning bolts and shields of alien warriors (Green Lantern #2)
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Up until now, the yellow objects thwarting GL have been that color only by pure happenstance; now he’s facing alien warriors with shields and weapons clearly designed to be used in battle against Green Lanterns. What’s bugging them? We don’t find out in this issue, though we do learn the anti-matter universe’s Warriors of Qward are keen on swiping Green Lantern power batteries. Clearly, these are guys who know what they’re up against and plan accordingly. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if they also kept a few yellow lamps handy, just in case.
10. Tank-like vehicles with “super scientific weapons” (Green Lantern #2)
More planning ahead by the evil inhabitants of Qward. Again, no surprise here.
11. Yellow dome specifically designed to keep him apart from his power battery (Green Lantern #3)
Yep, more Qwardian skullduggery to bamboozle our hero. Though they weren’t too smart, neglecting to paint the inside of their impenetrable dome the same color, giving Jordan a way to work his mojo from the inside. I’m guessing interns.
12. Giant robot from anti-matter universe (Green Lantern #4)
Boy, those Qwardians find a color scheme that works and they stick with it, don’t they? This was a gladiator robot built to fight for the Qwardians’ amusement (because, you know, they’re eee-vil); naturally, they sicced it on Jordan when he got caught snooping around their crib. Only one problem: in the middle of the fight, the robot develops a conscience and helps Jordan escape with the life-saving radiation he needed to save his buddy back on Earth. Well, that was… convenient. “And that’s why you always make sure the robot’s switch is set to evil!”
13. “Yellow bubble of pulsating energy” (Green Lantern #7)
This issue marks the first appearance of Sinestro, GL’s greatest archenemy, and he starts out strong with a seemingly foolproof plan: hold 100,000 people hostage and threaten to kill them unless GL willingly enters a specially prepared yellow dome. Then all Sinestro has to do is wait for the ring to use up its 24-hour charge, turn off the dome, and let the homocidin’ begin. And it would’ve worked, too, if Jordan hadn’t pulled some fast-forwarding hanky-panky with the sole clock used to determine his power status, making Sinestro think time had run out when it hadn’t. Sinestro, old buddy, old pal — next time, don’t be in such a rush.
14. An “invisible golden light” surrounding a giant orange sea creature (Green Lantern #8)
“No wonder my ring has no effect on the creature! It’s giving off an invisible golden aura — a sort of infra-yellow color!” And a helpful Editor’s Note further explains: “Just as infra-red is invisible red light so infra-yellow is considered invisible yellow light.” Huh. Is that even a thing? (checks the Internet) Nope. Well done, Silver Age purveyors of crapulent comic-book science! At least the Metal Men were always straight with us about their atomic weights.
15. Sinestro’s power ring (Green Lantern #9)
Yep, yellow. Naturally.
16-17. Chamber specially designed to trap Green Lanterns; chlorine gas (Green Lantern #11)
So, Sinestro mind-controls Green Lantern and gets him into a yellow chamber that he promptly fills with yellow-tinged chlorine gas. And as a bonus, he traps a few other Green Lanterns who — apparently not terribly observant about the monochromatic color scheme of their surroundings — stumble into the same trap. So far, so good. No contrivances here — as a former GL, Sinestro would have obvious knowledge of the ring’s only weakness. No, the contrived part doesn’t begin until Green Lantern sets out his plan to escape: “The breath of Earth-people contains water vapor! If I can use my ring to extract the water from my breath and shoot the hydrogen element at the gas… I should be able to turn it into hydrogen chloride — HCl — so that we can handle it!” That… sounds like a lot of heavy breathing, Hal.
18. Beach umbrella (Green Lantern #13)
Yes, a freakin’ beach umbrella. In their first team-up story, a mind-mucked Green Lantern is chasing the Flash for reasons that don’t really matter; finding the speedster averting a tidal wave, GL swoops in for the kill… only to be thwarted by a very conveniently placed beach umbrella the Flash picks up. No, we shall not entertain your questions of “logic” like “Why doesn’t GL just bend his beam around the umbrella?” or “How is the umbrella not being torn to shreds by the flash’s super-speed?” Look, Poindexter, just shut up and hand over your 12 cents, a’ight?
19. Everything around him (Green Lantern #14)
Impossible, you say? Not for Sonar, Master of Sound! In his first bout against GL, Sonar uses his special sonic gun to create sound waves that affect Jordan’s brain, making him “see” everything around him as yellow and thus weaken his power. Feel free to titter at the thought of a grown superhero suffering the shrieking Mimis from the mere thought of a primary color; I’m more confused by how this played out. GL gets his “yellow fever” while flying high enough to soar above skyscrapers, yet he somehow managed to not die from plummeting to the ground. He thought he was a goner, but his ring “knew” everything around him wasn’t really yellow, and yet it still allowed Sonar to escape…? You know you’re over-analyzing a comic story when you’re questioning the ulterior motives of jewelry.
20. An entire world, including its atmosphere (Green Lantern #15)
“Peril of the Yellow World!” is what the cover promises, and it delivers. Sinestro’s back and he manipulates GL into traveling to a planet where everything, including the atmosphere, has a healthy yellow sheen. Why would Sinestro do this? Well, the obvious reasons, of course: revenge, murder, shits and giggles, etc. But Sinestro has another motive: it seems he’s running second in Qward’s annual popularity poll (because, on Qward, everything is opposite and the baddest people are the most admired), and he needs a truly evil act to push him over the top with the voters. You wouldn’t think a super-villain would be that concerned about his popularity; maybe he’s really sensitive about that giant purple melon of his.
21. Radiation bands surrounding Earth (Green Lantern #16)
This story appears to have been written in response to a fan’s question about Green Lantern’s origin story; namely, if Jordan can fly through space using only his ring, then why was Abin Sur flying a spaceship when he crash-landed on Earth? Later writers would explore this question with their own stories, but for now the answer was simple: Abin Sur was piloting a ship as part of a ruse to trap an energy-being who temporarily took over his body and forced him to do its bidding, and the ship crashed when it passed through the natural bands of yellow radiation surrounding Earth. Okay, maybe “simple” isn’t the right word…
22. Painted barn (Green Lantern #19)
Yep, a barn. Completely yellow, shingles and all. Why, you see that kind of thing all the time, out in the heartland of America. And look! The bank bandits GL is chasing just happened to duck in there, unaware that the big-city hero is helpless to rush in and arrest them! How completely the opposite of contrived!
23. Smoke from an art thief’s smoke bomb (Green Lantern #21)
While hot on the trail of kidnappers escaping through the sewers of Paris, GL runs smack into a “biting, searing fog” that leaves him clutching at his throat and gasping for air… until he realizes “Oh, right, fog” and whips up a fan to blow it away. That was almost suspenseful.
24. Yellow-tinged chemical in a man’s tattoo ink (Green Lantern #23)
So there’s a new super-villain imaginatively called the Tattooed Man who can bring his tattoos to life (don’t bother asking how; it’s the usual Silver Age science gobbledygook), and somehow — despite the obviousness blackness of the ink used to make the tattoos — GL is powerless against them. Why? “The only possible reason to explain why my power ring was helpless against his tattoos is that they contained yellow chemicals — which were overshadowed by other darker chemicals!” Of course! It’s so obvious! Of course, the wider implication is that GL can be foiled by any printed material with colored ink, since yellow is one of the four layers used in CMYK printing. Boy, imagine Green Lantern getting pummeled to death by hastily written four-color comics — now that’s irony.
25. Entire interior of an airplane hangar (Green Lantern #24)
Yeah, sure, why not? Probably painted by the same meth-heads who went crazy on the barn paint job we just saw. Actually, that’s not true — the entire hangar was turned yellow by a hyper-evolved shark who read Jordan’s mind to learn his one weakness. Yes, that’s much more believable.
26. A super-villain’s “invisible aura” (Green Lantern #24)
Oh, come on! A villain that GL met five minutes ago just happens to pull an “invisible yellow aura” out of his hyper-evolved ass? (And let’s not even ask how something can be invisible and yellow at the same time; on second thought, let’s). This is like kids pretending they have invisible force fields to deflect the pretend bullets of their playmates’ finger guns. Except that even those kids, if they had been reading Green Lantern comics back then, would look at this panel and roll their eyes hard enough to affect the tides.
27. Statue of Justice (Green Lantern #25)
Boy, after being forced to swallow that whole “invisible yellow aura” line, a yellow statue of Justice makes complete sense. But even though GL refers to it as a “golden statue,” I can’t imagine the good citizens of Coast City being cool with a piece of public art made of actual gold. So that leaves… what? Brass? Bronze? Sulfur? Concrete smeared with melted marshmallow peeps? The people demand answers!
28. Magical warriors formed from yellow particles found within the clouds of an alien planet (Green Lantern #26)
Yeah, sure, why the hell not?
29. “Yellow macro organisms” found on a different dimensional plane (Green Lantern #27)
Yeah, sure, why the hell not?
30-32. Dome, pincer, giant ring formed from a yellow ribbon (Green Lantern #29)
Sigh. Okay, so a vengeful being of “protonic force” that can inhabit inanimate objects comes to Earth to destroy Green Lantern, which it starts to do by inhabiting a giant statue made in GL’s honor, then taking the form of a giant floating topaz ring that traps GL under a yellow dome. Still with me? GL saves the day by drilling a hole in the ground beneath them, bringing up enough geothermal heat that fills the dome’s interior and turns the topaz ring pink, making it possible for GL to trap the energy force inside a temperature bubble of absolute zero. What I love about this story is that the “protonic force” may as well be magic for all the power at its command, but GL saves the day with a little scientific know-how; after all, who doesn’t know topaz turns pink when heated? Ah, the Silver Age.
33. “Yellow tinge” to fog rolling in from the sea (Green Lantern #31)
This wasn’t so much a threat to his health as an unexpected obstacle that forced him to drill through a mountain instead of fly around it, which allowed him to find the bad guy’s subterranean hideout. It must really suck to be the only Justice League member who has to alter his flight plans because of inclement weather.
34. Eyeless golden domino mask (Green Lantern #35)
A new villain called the Aerialist has a gun that shoots eyeless domino masks that can control the wearer’s thoughts because blah blah blah electrical impulses science science blah. Look, if I can write a sentence like that without giggling like a fool…
35. Topaz necklace that gives the wearer the power to hypnotize (Green Lantern #37)
So does he heat this piece of topaz up to a more manageable (and stylish!) hot pink? I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.
36-37. Fortress filled with golden weapons, a “golden elixir” of invulnerability (Green Lantern #38)
Keith Kenyon is a man with a problem. No, it’s not the fact he likes to dress up like a 19th-century Prussian soldier while beating around his secret lair by himself. He’s a fellow who wants to be the most powerful man on Earth, and so he scavenges the treasures of the sea to build powerful golden weapons. He’s also developed a “golden elixir” filled with an “auric energy” that he believes makes him invulnerable. Or so he thinks — he never really gets to test that theory, as his sparring partner is the only superhero in the world who gets the heebie-jeebies from a bowl of lemon Jell-O. So we don’t find out if Kenyon’s really invulnerable or if the elixir just makes him “yellow” enough to stand up to GL’s power. Either way, if I remember my House episodes, swallowing that much gold should make him very, very dead, so…
38. A super-villain encased entirely in gold (Green Lantern #48)
Frankly, the only surprising thing about a villain named “Goldface” facing off against Green Lantern is that it took 48 issues before they trotted him out. Maybe it was one of those “In case of writer’s block, break glass” decisions. Let’s see: garishly dressed villain? Check. Patented death-trap? Check. Oversized sound effects like “PLOPPP!” and “WHOWP!” peppering the pages? Check. Plenty of uniformly dressed henchmen for GL to deck? Check. The groaniest puns you can imagine (“I’ll stop them ‘gold'”)? Check. Hey, can you guess which insanely popular TV show was airing right about the time this comic came out?