Green Lantern - Huckleberry Hound #1 Special Review - Rumination
Mark Russell is one of my favorite writers in comics today. From Flintstones to Snagglepuss to Lone Ranger he consistently touches on universal social conditions that are timeless and typically relate to a subject that is topical.
Green Lantern Huckleberry Hound continue his run of classic comics and delivers another commentary on modern society.
The story takes place early in John Stewart's history as a Green Lantern. After finishing a training session with his superior, Katma, John is sent back to Earth with the test of not using the Power Ring. He walks his neighborhood observing the destitute surroundings and the brutality. He struggles while blending in as an observer.
After engaging with some old war buddies John excuses himself to go see Huckleberry Hound. Huck's in town downing stand-up. After bombing the performance Huckleberry and John bump into each other and have a chat.
It Turns out that Huck's career spiraled downward after the events of the Snagglepuss Mini-Series. He made the mistake of publically disparaging President Nixon on stage. Shortly after sabotaging his career Huck's cartoon was canceled and he began travelling the country as a has-been celebrity.
After recounting his story, Huck asks John about his time in "Nam". John tells him about his brother and their relationship. How he ended up being killed by the police less than twenty-four hours after returning home from active duty.
Huck notices the Green Lantern ring and asks John why he doesn't do anything about the injustices he sees around him.
John tells the story of a Lantern that decoded to solve all the problems of a city he was protecting. He was successful but after being called away for another mission the city ended up destroying itself. The power of the Green Lantern didn't solve the cities problems It just gave the illusion of peace.
While they continue their conversation they are interrupted by a rapidly escalating situation outside between a group of African American men and the police. The situation continues to escalate until John ends the conflict by using his ring and presumably failing his test.
After the conflict, John goes home and Laments his failure. Katma arrives and John tries to give her his ring. She stops him and lets him know that he passed the test and that one of the most important duties of a Lantern is to know when to use their powers and also when to disobey orders.
A year later John runs into Huck at a bar. They watch the Watergate hearings on television. John makes the point that change may be slow but progress will eventually come about when people are engaged. They don't need a Green Lantern lording over them.
Getting the easy gripes out of the way first. I was not a fan of the art in this issue. Rick Leonardi's pencils are sufficient enough to tell the story but lack detail, giving the story a rushed quality that feels unfinished. Its not the worst but I could think of several artists immediately come to mind that could have put conveyed this story masterfully.
My second complaint is that although it was great to see Huckleberry Jr. again he seems more like an afterthought than a co-star. You could easily substitute any random character and essentially told the same story in this issue.
The easter eggs from the Snagglepuss series were a nice touch but I wish the connections were either more pronounced or Huck was given more presence to balance with John.
Despite my reservations with the story what elevates this issue beyond mediocre is the question of the issue is real Power versus the Illusion of Power. Huck asks John why he doesn't do anything to make a difference after noticing his Power Ring?
It's a fair question, especially in light of the tragedy that befell John and his family. It would be very easy for John to clean up his city but in doing so he would take all agency from the community and they would likely depend on him to keep the peace.
On the other hand John's enemies would submit to his authority but the minute he falters or leaves his post they would revert and the order that was established would collapse.
John can intervene and take out an emerging threat but that would take agency from the people he is protecting. The comic ends as Nixon is being held accountable for the events of Watergate and one of the victims of the police brutality running for city council.
John says goodbye to Huck and tells him hat he's just a guy with a ring. The real change is gonna come from the community standing up for itself.