Posted byat 30th March, 2009
This might comes as a shock to Dennis O’Neil, but he was with Linda, Adriane and me on our drive from Connecticut to Detroit this past weekend.
We were going to Michigan for the bar mitzvah of my great-nephew, Nathan Raine. This mostly consists of me wandering around wondering how the hell I got old enough to have a 13 year-old great-nephew. Then I remember my sister’s seven years older than me… but that doesn’t make me feel any better.
As is our want during these drives to the Midwest, we usually stock the car up with interesting listening material, including an audio book or two. Recently, we’ve listened to David Sedaris and Rex Stout. This time, it’s Denny O’Neil’s turn.
Linda’s a huge Green Lantern fan – not that the character has no charms for me. Denny wrote a novel about the, ah, I guess, fifth Green Lantern, by order of introduction. The kid, Kyle. It was audioized with a full cast by Graphic Audio, the outfit that’s done such a nice job with the other DC adaptations I’ve heard. Since Linda was interested, I was curious, and Adriane was willing, we alternated Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour, NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and WXRT’s Lin’s Bin with the adaptation of Denny’s novel, Hero Quest.
I’ve gotta reveal something. My admiration for Mr. O’Neil is near-infinite. He is one of this medium’s best writers ever. He’s one of the best-informed and most intelligent conversationalists I’ve ever met. And he’s the only writer whose very presence intimidated me as an editor. I’ve edited Peter O’Donnell and Will Eisner, but when it came time to work on The Question – a wonderful gig, by the way – I wondered who the hell I was to work with a guy as talented as Denny. And by then I had known him for over a decade.
O’Neil wrote the definitive Green Arrow and he wrote the definitive Green Lantern. I can argue that there are a couple of definitive Batman writers, but Denny’s on the short list. His story for Charlton Bullseye, “Children of Doom,” is right up there with Eisner’s best. But – to the best of my recollection – Denny had never written the adventures of Kyle the kid Green Lantern. Unlike the other adaptations I’d heard, Denny chose to write this from the first-person perspective. We hear his thoughts about becoming a superhero, about meeting Superman and joining the Justice League. We share his fears, his frustrations, and his sense of wonder. We get to know the kid in an intimate way. Good stuff.
Mind you, when I was a kid I enjoyed those Superboy stories where Pa Kent would help young Clark learn how to handle his powers. I like those elements in the Smallville teevee show. And Denny really captured the emotions of a semi-employed 20 year-old who, all of a sudden, is the world’s second most powerful superhero… according to Superman.
Superman’s the first. Sez him.
Thanks for making our drive about six hours shorted, Denny. We had a great time.