Green Lantern - Huckleberry Hound #1 Rumination - Even More Relevant Post - 2020
Updated: Jan 31
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 are topical but doesn't give the impression that he's beating you over the head with them. Green Lantern Huckleberry Hound continues his run of classic stories 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 task of not using the Power Ring. He walks his neighborhood observing the destitute surroundings struggles while blending in as a passive observer.
After engaging with some old war buddies John excuses himself to go see Huckleberry Hound. Huck's in town do stand-up. After bombing the performance Huckleberry and John bump into each other and have a chat.
It Turns out that Huck Jrs career spiraled downward after the events of the Snagglepuss Mini-Series. He made the mistake of publically disparaging President Nixon on stage and was blacklisted. Shortly after sabotaging his career, Huck's cartoon was canceled and he began traveling the country as a has-been celebrity. (How many times have we seen this in recent years.)
After recounting his story, Huck asks John about his time in "Nam". John tells him about his brother and their relationship. John also recounts how his brother 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 decided to unilaterally solve all the problems of the city he was tasked with protecting. The Lantern 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 city's problems It just gave its populace the illusion of peace.
While the two men 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 in spots. It's not the worst drawn comic I've read since starting this blog but considering the issue has several inkers attached I can see why the quality of the art direction may have suffered.
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 and the temporary measures he established would collapse and probably make things worse for those left behind.
John can intervene and take out an emerging threat but that would take agency from the people he is protecting. The comic ends with Nixon being held accountable for the events of Watergate and one of the victims of the police brutality running for city council. The book ends with John saying goodbye to Huck and telling him that he's just a guy with a ring. The real change is gonna come from the community standing up for itself.
I originally reviewed this book in 2018. It was decent then but rereading it post George Floyd protests; The 2020 Election; and the current situation with hedgefund/Gamestop; the book takes on special revelance in 2021 and may become even more special going forward. If you read the book before or passed on it I suggest reading it again as Its one of the most important comics I've read since I got back into the hobby in 2015.
I'm conservative but I feel that regardless of where you are on the issues you may be able to relate to whats going on here. Most of our issues are boiled down to stoke divisions based on superficial differences between us while those with power swoop in to obtain and maintain even more power. Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound is a powerful issue and one of the few modern comics that has gotten even better with age.