Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound #1 Comic Review
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Rick Leonardi
Inks: Dan Green & Ande Parks
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover: Sami Basri with Paul Mounts
Variant Cover: Yasmine Putri
“The Wheel of Change is Heavy and Frustratingly Slow”
What You Need to Know
The DC/Hanna-Barbera crossovers continue this time with a focus on Green Lantern John Stewart and Huckleberry Hound. This issue has plenty of heart and something to say, as it takes place in 1972 with the end of the Vietnam War being the backdrop. Huckleberry Hound and John Stewart tell a story of social justice in the face of racism and corruption.
What Just Happened
The issue begins with John Stewart being trained off the planet by Green Lantern Katma. Katma has another test for Green Lantern, return to Earth without using his power ring. Hal returns to Earth and catches a Huckleberry Hound stand up show. Huckleberry Hound bombs during his set, and John catches him at the bar drinking his sorrows away. John asks what happened to his career, and Huckleberry explains that he did a show as part of a USO tour for the troops in Vietnam. Huckleberry explains that he used his jokes to critique the war and the president, leading to his show being cut short. Huckleberry’s television show is later canceled.
John next shares his story with Huckleberry. John explains how police in Detroit killed his brother upon his return from the war in 1968. The murder ultimately led to a riot in Detroit. Hal was then drafted into the war, and upon his return, he notices that he was met with the same racist treatment. Huckleberry Hound shares with John that he’s from Mississippi where he grew up around poor white people. Huckleberry could never understand why poor white people took out their frustrations on poorer Black people. Huckleberry then notices John’s power ring and asks why he hasn’t stopped the injustice in the street.
The story flashes back to Katma and John visiting a spaceport that was once ruled by Sinestro. Katma has brought John to the port to show that while Sinestro ruled with an iron fist, once he left the port descended into chaos because he ruled by fear, and she did not want John to result to the same tactics.
In the present, John and Huckleberry notice that the police are harassing and assaulting some Black Vietnam veterans outside of the bar they are at. John and Huckleberry try to intervene but the police begin assaulting them as well. John becomes fed up and uses his ring to stop the police from shooting Huckleberry. John uses his ring to subdue the police and threatens to return if the police continue their misconduct.
Katma visits John on Earth and John informs her that he failed her test. Katma corrects him and informs him that he was actually being tested on knowing when to disobey orders. Katman tells John that he passed the test.
Even though I’ve heard great things about these DC/Hanna-Barbera crossovers, I went into reading this issue still skeptical of such a silly concept. I can safely say that the things I’ve heard are valid and this was very fun and touching read. Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, John Stewart and Huckleberry Hound navigate the racial tensions that plagued the late 60s and early 70s. John Stewart is characterized here as a rookie Green Lantern still in training, while Huckleberry Hound is a down on his luck comedian. Writer Mark Russell does a great job with his characterization of Huckleberry Hound. Huckleberry using his platform as a comedian to critique the president and the war was inspired, especially when it’s shown that Huckleberry sacrificed his career in the process. Russell juxtaposes Huckleberry’s fall from grace with the death of John’s brother in a heartbreaking flashback. John’s brother’s death kick-starts a riot that reminds me of the Detroit riot of 1968 that inspired the film “Detroit” that released last summer. This sequence, with Huckleberry Hound and John Stewart comparing the hard times they’ve faced in life, is the strongest in the issue.
Russell continues to blend real and noteworthy issues as John gets drafted to the war himself and comes back to see that’s nothing changes and white people still call the police on Black people for merely existing. Another poignant part of this issue is when Huckleberry Hound explains his upbringing in Mississippi. When Huckleberry said, “What I could never understand is why they blamed the one group of people even poorer than they were,” I thought to myself, “I think that all the time”. Huckleberry also reacted like I would think anybody would when they see someone wearing Green Lantern power ring.
An amusing part of this issue comes from the brief appearance of Sinestro. I’ve never seen Sinestro portrayed as a corrupt crime boss or gangster, but that’s the direction Russell took. His parting line was hilarious and was another highlight of this book. I was also happy to see John and Huckleberry take the matter into their own hands and become literal social justice warriors. I wish I had a power ring to take down racist cops. Finally, I appreciated how the issue ends against the backdrop of Nixon and his staffers being investigated in regards to Watergate.
The art was pretty subpar for this issue, but I do love the cover. I wish we got to see Huckleberry Hound in the hippie outfit in the actual story. The issue also comes with a backup story involving Secret Squirrel, which was really too weird for me to enjoy.