Dear Mr. Silver Age,
I’m surprised that so many Silver Age DC super-heroes had no siblings. Were there any who were part of a big family?
Mr. Silver Age says: It does seem odd that so many heroes had no brothers or sisters, Jack. What really were the chances of that? Of even more interest, why did writers cut themselves off from these potential plotlines, especially in a time when secret identities were a big deal and sibs could have complicated matters? A lost opportunity, to be sure.
The possibilities can be seen in the rollicking Jordan family, which made occasional appearances in the pages of Green Lantern. Mr. and Mrs. Jordan had three sons, two of whom we met in “Green Lantern’s Brother Act!” in Green Lantern #9 (Dec 61). The oldest of the three look-alike boys was Jack Jordan, a district attorney, while the youngest was Jim, a “happy-go-lucky” public-relations executive. The middle child, of course, was Hal, a famed test pilot who also happened to be The Emerald Gladiator!
That’s right: Their parents named them John, Harold, and James. Middle children always have a tough row to hoe.
In truth, the saga of The Jordan Boys through the pages of GL did not so much tell the tale of their interaction, sibling rivalries, and family connections. Rather, it was the story of how Jim came to meet (and ultimately woo) reporter Sue Williams — who was certain that Jim was Green Lantern and intended to prove it!
His denials were not helped by the fact that, every time he got together with his brothers, GL showed up to save the day. That GL needed to show up to save the day so much when the Jordan Boys got together is yet another thing we’re going to quickly put in the rearview mirror. Sue’s suspicions took the heat off Hal to explain this amazing coincidence but they didn’t exactly make his life easy, either.
We learned of Hal’s familial roots when the three brothers met to help Jack campaign for district attorney. Apparently, based on the newspaper headlines (slow day), the Jordans were renowned for running effective and successful campaigns. Jim, of course, handled publicity while Hal handled, um, other important stuff.
For instance, when leaflets had to be scattered, World War II-style, over town via airplane (kids, don’t try this during your election campaign), Hal just picked them up with his ring and flew around scattering them everywhere. Fortunately, he stayed high enough that nobody connected GL to the campaign (or to Hal).
Meanwhile, Sue Williams was intent on exposing Jim’s other identity. She suspected he was The Emerald Gladiator because he looked a lot like GL. Of course, her downfall came in focusing on Jim from among three brothers who looked a lot alike (one of whom used only a tiny little domino mask to disguise his features).
She confronted Jim with her suspicions, which he naturally denied, so she decided to catch him red-handed. Her chance came when crooks kidnapped Jack and she alerted Jim — and Hal, who overheard in the next room. Sure enough, as soon as she left, GL flew out the window, confirming her suspicions but giving her no proof.
By story’s end, GL had taken care of the crooks, Jack had been elected D.A., and Sue Williams was more certain than ever that Jim Jordan was Green Lantern. She vowed to prove it — even if she had to marry him to do it! Yeah, ask Iris West how that’ll work out. Even so, that is one devoted investigative journalist.
The boys reunited in “My Brother, Green Lantern!” in GL #14 (Jul 62), by which point Sue had, indeed, become Jim’s girlfriend. The caption informed us she “fell in love” with Jim in the previous adventure, but I don’t remember that part of the story.
The brothers attended their annual college-fraternity reunion (every year, guys?), during which they went hunting. That left Jack’s home empty when Sue arrived — and she discovered Jim’s power battery in his room! When he returned and was confronted, Jim explained that he was (wait for it) a sports-car hobbyist and he’d bought the large green antique headlight lamp from a junk dealer in town. Oh, brother.
The hunting expedition also gave Jim and Hal a chance to get their fraternity rings mixed up (don’t ask), which created a problem, because Hal had disguised his power ring as his frat jewelry. That complicated matters for Jim when he used his ring later to prove he wasn’t Green Lantern, only to have it prove he actually was. Needless to say, Hal was just as surprised separately when he found his power ring wasn’t all that powerful when he changed to GL.
Hal discovered the switch when criminals kidnapped Jim, looking to steal his car lamp, which happened to contain a missing diamond. What were the chances?
GL caught up to them and used the ring on Jim’s finger to make it look as if the ring on his own finger was doing all the damage, of which there was plenty. Then, he switched the rings so no one was the wiser — except for Sue, of course, who now had her suspicions confirmed, she thought.
We got a bigger picture of the Jordan family tree one year later in “Dual Masquerade of the Jordan Brothers!” in GL #22 (Jul 63). The gang got together to celebrate Uncle Jeremiah Jordan’s 70th birthday. Complicating matters was that a criminal, Red Peters, who had been sentenced by Judge Jeremiah after prosecution by D.A. Jack, had just escaped from prison. On top of that, Peters had been captured by Green Lantern — who Sue had implied in a recent article was actually Jim. With girlfriends like that, who needs crazy exes?
Complications ensued, as Jeremiah revealed he’d decided to make his birthday party a costume party! But Jim had a cunning plan: He dressed up like Green Lantern, figuring that Peters would hesitate to attack the crowd seeing his enemy in their midst. Needless to say, Sue thought the costume fit perfectly. Complicating matters further, Jim pretended he really was GL to ensure Peters was fooled. D’oh!
Needless to say, an emergency arose and Hal decided to come to Jim’s aid surreptitiously to ensure everyone thought he was GL. That seems a bit misguided, considering Jim then had no explanation for why his power ring actually worked. More complications arose when the fun-loving mayor came to the party dressed as Red Peters — as did Red Peters.
Ultimately, two Red Peters and two Green Lanterns wound up battling each other. When the dust settled, one GL was still standing. Hint: It wasn’t Jim. But he was glad to take credit at story’s end, when Sue handed out some sugar.
Jim finally popped the question, and Sue, still having no proof that Jim was GL, agreed to marry him. So in “Pay Up — or Blow Up!” in GL #31 (Sep 64), the Jordan boys reconvened for the wedding. But they were distracted by an evil scientist who threatened to send deadly radiation into every home in the community to blow them up unless he received (wait for it) one million dollars. That was apparently the going rate for evil-scientist plans in the ’60s.
D.A. Jack, for some reason, was spearheading the operation to capture Dr. Evil Scientist, and Sue insisted that Jim step in as GL to keep her wedding from being disrupted. Being just this side of a Bridezilla, she also drove him out to the area where the villain was thought to be lurking and told him to get busy. He did, stumbling upon the scientist just as the real emerald deal did likewise.
Blinding green light ensued. Jim was left standing over the defeated evil scientist as Sue ran up, suspicions confirmed and wedding saved. Two weeks later, as they returned from their honeymoon, Jim noted that GL had been busy while he and Sue had been (ahem) busy, but Sue brushed it off as more emerald trickery.
We met more family members in “Saga of the Millionaire Schemer!” in GL #44 (Apr 64), when Jim agreed to handle publicity for Uncle Titus Thomas (aka Terrible Temper) Jordan, the millionaire from the title. Sadly, Uncle Titus also agreed to help his new niece Sue uncover the truth about Jim’s secret identity, thinking that his nephew shouldn’t keep secrets like that from his uncle.
Titus created a fake super-villain, called The Bottler — no, I’m not kidding — and ordered Hal to dress in the costume and pretend to break into Uncle Titus’ mansion, so Jim would change to GL and defeat him. Complications ensued, as Jim saw Hal slipping into the costume — and then the real Bottler showed up!
Yes, there was a real Bottler. He’d learned of Titus’ plan and decided to use it to his advantage. Fortunately, the fake Bottler (aka Hal aka GL) put a stopper in this plan. But the mayhem left Uncle Titus and Sue still convinced that Jim had a secret.
Hal and Jim got together again in “Two Green Lanterns in the Family!” in GL #53 (Jun 67). Hal happened to be in town during his wanderings after quitting his job at Ferris Aircraft (long story) and he agreed to babysit for his new nephew and godson, Howard. Sue brought Hal up to date on Jim’s suspicious activity, including the time Jim put on an old Green Lantern costume to stop Howie from crying. Aye carumba.
Hal faced similar infant caterwauling shortly after the Jordans fled to their car, and his initial emerald illusions didn’t stop the wailing. So he took a page from Jim’s book and changed into his GL costume to calm things down. Thus, the home front was peaceful when Jim called to check in, only to have a robbery break out at the play they were attending just as he talked with Hal. What were the chances?
After Jim got kayoed by the crooks and Green Lantern saved the day, Sue once again put one and one together and got green. Hal helped later by sending Howie a Green Lantern onesie (which you can buy online today!), making the title even truer than before.
Hal returned for Howie’s first birthday in “This Is the Way … the World Ends!” in GL #63 (Sep 68). But the celebration was short-lived, as Hal was suddenly pulled away to another planet by aliens. That was the last we saw of the nuclear Jordan family, and we never did hear how Hal explained that one away.
The whole fam damily got together for the “annual” Jordan family reunion in “Hip Jordan Makes the Scene!” in GL #71 (Sep 69), which was tagged as “A Green Lantern Brothers Story.” That was pretty ironic, considering it was the last time they got together.
The story introduced us to cousin Doug Jordan from Tennessee, who went by the unfortunate moniker “Hip.” But we also spied a middle-aged woman, possibly Jack’s wife by now, who was scolding her son Steven.
Mayhem, of course, ensued, including a variety of unfortunate hippy-dippy antics by Hip and the usual antics by Sue, who forced Jim to dress up in a handy Green Lantern costume to handle a problem. The final panel, back at the party, showed an older woman, a mustachioed older man, and another younger woman. But we never learned their relation to the Jordans.
But we did learn of another branch of the Jordan family tree much later, in “Rider of the Air Waves” in GL #100 (Jan 78), which introduced a new Air Wave hero. GL met him, at which time Air Wave revealed they had something in common: their name! The new Hal Jordan was the son of Hal’s Uncle Larry, whom we’d never met (but who had been the original Air Wave back in the Golden Age). Thus, the new Air Wave Hal Jordan was the cousin to the old GL Hal Jordan.
The new Hal went on to a regular career in GL, learning the ropes from his older cousin. He branched off into his own stories in Action Comics in the 1980s, where we also met nephew Jason and nieces Jennifer and Jan. The Jordan family returned many, many years later, after Hal became The Spectre. By then, GL had more problems than discouraging his sister-in-law’s suspicions about the wrong Jordan’s secret identity.
Sidebar: Sibling Tracker!
The lack of brothers or sisters for DC super-heroes is surprising. Only a few could claim any sibs.
• Superman had plenty of brothers: Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, even Kryptonian Knor-El. Sadly, they appeared only in Imaginary Stories. But he did have a cute cousin.
• Batman learned that he had a brother who was three years older in World’s Finest #223 (May-Jun 74). Thomas was revealed to have had a brain injury as a child and had been institutionalized but now was loose. He appeared only twice before DC came to its senses.
• Wonder Woman didn’t have any siblings, unless you count Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot, who were re-creations of herself at earlier ages, at least until Wonder Girl suddenly came to life to join The Teen Titans. Let’s move on.
• The Sea King, as shown in Aquaman #29 (Sep 66), had a fully human stepbrother, Orm Curry, the son of Arthur’s father and Mary O’Sullivan. He became Aquaman’s arch-foe, so that didn’t work out so well.
• J’onn J’onzz had a family, as revealed in Detective Comics #287 (Jan 61), that included a younger brother named (gulp) T’omm J’onzz. That’s pretty unusual. His family apparently perished with the rest of the Martians during the planet’s civil war, which was revealed in Justice League of America #71 (May 69).
Judging by this list, maybe it’s just as well so few heroes did have siblings.
Known to fans worldwide as “Mr. Silver Age,” Craig Shutt has waxed nostalgic about comics of old in CBG since 1992. Send comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Ask Mr. Silver Age” is © 2012 Craig Shutt