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Green Lantern 49
"The Spectacular Robberies of TV's Master Villain"

Story by John Broome Art by Gil Kane & Sid Greene

As our story opens, Green Lantern returns to Earth from an extended space mission, and picks up the mail that his friend, Tom "Pieface" Kalmaku has been holding for him. It includes a wedding invitation from his friend, Barry (Flash) Allen... but, unfortunately, the ceremony took place two days ago. (Great Guardians! Either that was one long space mission, or Barry's reputation for procrastination is more well deserved than anyone ever suspected!) The news of the wedding inspires Hal, however. He decides then and there to drive straight over to Carol Ferris's home, and propose to her. Pieface is startled, and wishes Hal luck.

Before Hal can pop the question, though, Carol tells him that, while he was away, she met a man named Jason Belmore... he's handsome, wealthy, and just swept her off her feet. She tells Hal that she's engaged to Jason, and hopes that she and Hal can always be friends. Hal is shocked, and doesn't know what to say other than to wish her the best. (It's kind of his own fault, though. At the end of the previous issue, GL publicly snubbed Carol for a glamorous Hollywood actress, hoping she'd turn to Hal for comfort. Heck of a time to be called away on a long space mission.)

Driving home, Hal spots a UFO flashing across the sky. Putting aside his personal problems, he changes to GL and follows the trail of agitated air molecules left in the UFO's wake. It leads him to a fur warehouse, where the safe is being robbed by a bearded man in a gaudy purple, red, and blue costume. GL instantly recognizes him as... the Dazzler! (But how come we readers don't know him? Be patient!)

GL tries to snare the Dazzler with a power beam, but finds the villain immune to his ring, even though there's no yellow in his outfit. So GL resorts to a flying tackle. But the Dazzler flies into the air (GL thinks, "He's not REALLY supposed to be able to do that --") and tries to knock GL against the ceiling beams. GL grabs a beam, however, and swings his opponent into another beam, dazing him.GL leaps at his foe -- who vanishes in a dazzling burst of light (hence the name, I suppose) and reappears across the room. GL slams his head against the wall, giving the Dazzler a chance to escape.

Meanwhile, we swith scenes to Pieface's apartment across town, where he's watching the latest episode of his favorite TV show -- a camp action comedy about a super-powered master criminal called "The Dazzler," popular due to its great special effects. GL arrives just as the program ends, and recounts his experience to his pal. GL's first thought is that the villain he encountered may have been the actor who plays the role on TV -- impossible, since the show was on the air during the fight -- unless the show was taped! Pieface talks GL into bringing him along to the studio, where they learn that the show is aired live (a live show, famous for its special effects? Sounds improbable, but read on...) where they meet the star, Ken Baldwin; special effects man Henry Peters; and two cast members, Al Surrin, who plays a policeman, and Tom Jennings, who plays the DA. GL notes that Baldwin's voice is identical to the man he fought, but that could just be a clever imitation.

Leaving the studio, GL realizes that he forgot to tell Pieface about the bomb that Carol dropped on him earlier. He laments that his GL identity keeps getting in the way of his happiness as Hal Jordan, and cost him the one woman he loved. He contemplates giving up his ring... until Pieface reminds him of his adventure with "the girl Green Lantern" (apparently neither of them remember Katma Tui's name) in which Hal told her, "Once a Green Lantern, always a Green Lantern." With these words, Hal realizes that he was always meant to be GL, and that no matter what happens, he'll never quit. (That's what I like... bring in some Marvel-style angst if you must, but then deal with it and get it out of the way in half a page.)

GL considers how realistic the special effects are in the Dazzler TV program, and decides to question Harry Peters. He and Pieface find Peters walking through the park near the studio, and GL decides to save time by probing his mind from a distance instead of talking to him directly. However, the power beam cannot penetrate some sort of barrier around Peters' mind. So GL and Pieface directly approach Peters... who panics and runs away. GL tries to grab him with a big green hand, but Peters stumbles and hits his head on a fountain, knocking himself out. With Peters unconscious, the power ring can probe his mind easily, and GL and Pieface learn an amazing story.

Henry Peters is actually Kahu Ibor, a mento-tape librarian from the planet Ethor. One day, he came across a spool entitled "Quaint Customs on Other Worlds." Against regulations, he played the tape, and learned of planet XK1283... which we call Earth... and its odd custom called "the theater." Ibor realized that the theater was his true calling, and illegally used a government teleporter to send himself to Earth. He used telepathy to learn the language, but his accent was too thick to enable him to get an acting job. He accepted a menial job on the set of the Dazzler TV show just to be in "show biz."

At this point, Peters begins to awaken. GL slugs him in the jaw just hard enough so that the mind probe can continue.

One day on the set, Ken Baldwin's wire broke during a flying scene, and Peters reflexively used telekinesis to carry him to safety. Everyone on the set figured that momentum carried Baldwin to the balcony safely, but Baldwin knew better. He befriended Peters, who eventually confided in him, and agreed to teach Baldwin the secrets of his mental powers so that he could use them to improve the special effects on the show. The student soon surpassed the teacher, however, and Baldwin used mind control to prevent Peters from telling anyone else their secrets. Baldwin became the Dazzler for real... creating a mental duplicate of himself earlier that evening to establish an alibi.

GL's mind probe reveals an image that Peters had plucked from Baldwin's mind, of the site of the Dazzler's next intended robbery. GL speeds to the Museum of Ancient Art, where the fabulous St. George sculpture of Donangelo is on display. He arrives on the Dazzler's tail, but finds that his ring has as little effect on the real Dazzler as it did on his duplicate. However, the Dazzler's mental blasts also cannot penetrate GL's ring-created shield, so the battle between them has to be on a hand-to-hand level. Not one to play fair, the Dazzler creates two more duplicates of himself, making the odds three against one.

The fight rages, until one of the Dazzlers is knocked unconscious. Since another duplicate doesn't appear to replace him, GL guesses that the fallen figure is the real Dazzler, and tries to use his ring on him while he's out cold and defenseless. He orders the ring to remove the Dazzler's mental powers, and sure enough, the other two fighting figures vanish. GL takes Baldwin into ploice custody, and returns to the spot where he left Pieface and Peters.

Pieface, now alone, tells GL that Peters regained consciousness while he was gone, and realizes the harm he had done. He returned home to Ethor, to turn himself in and face the music. GL hopes that the law will go easy on him, as he gave himself up voluntarily... or perhaps he'll start up an acting company in prison!

Pieface wonders what Coast City would ever do without Green Lantern... and GL telss him that he may soon find out. With Carol marrying another man, Coast City has become a place of bitter memories for GL. There's nothing left to keep him there, so he's decided to take his power battery and seek a new life somewhere else. He bids a fond farewell to a teary-eyed Pieface, and flies off to an uncertain future. (Doesn't exactly fit with the Hal Jordan presented in Emerald Twilight, does it?)

Hal would learn in GL #73 that Carol couldn't go through with her wedding to Jason Belmore... and we finally get to meet Belmore in GL #83.

The letter column in this issue contains a letter from Frank Klein of Webster Groves, MO, who expresses appreciation for crooks of "the regular Earth variety with NO far-out weapons"; one from from Dave Cockrum, NAS, Miramar, CA, who pleads for a romantic involvement between Hal and the "gal GL" (apparently, NOBODY can remember Katma Tui's name... except the editor, in his reply); and one from Kenneth Price, Ventura, CA, who speaks out against continued stories, because "I like each issue to be a classic within itself, not just part of some bigger classic with the same boring plot issue after issue." A man after my own heart.