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Green Lantern – “Sweetheart” & Comics First Male Male Kiss?

Here are several images from two Green Lantern stories published in Green Lantern #1 (Fall, 1941). Both stories were written by Bill Finger and drawn by Mart Nodell and both have some fairly typical elements for their time. “Arson in the Slums” deals with gangsters setting fire to a number of tenement buildings owned by a slum lord. Green Lantern becomes involved and rescues people from another burning buiilding. The same thugs kidnap a fire inspector after he finds a clue that could reveal the identity of the arsonists and toss him in front of a speeding train, only to be saved at the last second by Green Lantern. A reporter investigating the matter is knocked unconscious and put in car that’s driven off a pier into the water. Again, Green Lantern to the rescue. But now the reporter shares enough info with Alan to catch not just the arsonists but their boss too. Just so happens their boss is a respectable and wealthy businessman in the community. I don’t know if I could take any more 40s cliches.

This one panel is the only thing that stood out for me in this otherwise completely forgettable story. Now it’s common knowledge that “sweetheart” was used as slang by men when referring to both men and women. It just didn’t have the same romantic or sexual connotations when said to men. But hey, looking back on it now knowing the new Alan Scott is gay is fun. Maybe you have to be bored like I am right now though?

The second, untitled story has different cliches. That seems like a good thing because there should always be a variety of cliches in a single issue to keep things a little interesting. Here, Alan is given the assignment by Apex Broadcasting president, his employer, to travel to an obscure South American country to check on trouble occurring at the “shortwave outlet” Apex owns. Comedic sidekick and cab hack Doiby gets invited to go along by Alan, who of course never explains this expense to the boss. So after one long plane ride and a boat trip the unlikely pair arrive in quaint Landovo, just in time for the makings of a civil war. Yay for soldiers on horseback, ethnic stereotypes, mistaken identities, and Nazis as the culprits behind the attempted junta.

This sequence of panels relies on the trope that even during the Great Depression the rest of the world was even poorer and therefore somehow less happy. When Doiby gives the Landovan taxi driver a tip normal for New York City fares, the driver reacts by kissing Doiby to show his gratitude. Of course, Doiby takes it the wrong way until Alan explains what just happened in the next panel. Does this qualify as comics first male male kiss?

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