The Biggest Green Lantern Plot Twist of the Golden Age, Up for Auction

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The origin moment of Green Lantern's most prolific Golden Age villain the Harlequin is a tale of obsession not all that different from that of her modern namesake Harley Quinn.  In All-American Comics #89 by Robert Kanigher and Irwin Hasen, she is Molly Mayne, Green Lantern alter ego Alan Scott's assistant at WXYZ radio in this story. Helping with a promotion involving Green Lantern and a character called the Harlequin for one of the radio station's sponsors, she becomes obsessed with the hero and decides to assume the role of the Harlequin for real so she can get Green Lantern's attention.  But as it turns out… that's only part of the story.  A big chunk of the rest of it, which includes one of the biggest plot twists of the Golden Age, is available in several issues of Golden Age Green Lantern, in today's 2021 July 25-26 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122130 from Heritage Auctions.

Green Lantern #29 (DC, 1947)
Green Lantern #29 (DC, 1947)

After All-American Comics #89, Harlequin showed up eight times in the pages of All-American Comics, Green Lantern, and All-Star Comics over the next year.  The pair developed something akin to a "frenemies" dynamic based around the notion that Harlequin's obsession with him (and her assumption that he loved her too) meant that she spent as much time making sure no harm came to him as she did in trying to attract his attention by committing crime.

Finally, a year after her debut, the other shoe dropped in Green Lantern #34 (cover-dated September-October 1948).  The Harlequin was in reality a government agent called Operative H-9, posing as a supervillain in order to get close to and capture real gangland criminals.  At the request of the Justice Bureau, the Harlequin and Green Lantern were to secretly become partners while publicly pretending to be foes so that they could maintain the ruse and ensure more actual criminals.

Unfortunately, this plan would not play out in the pages of Green Lantern or All-American Comics.  As was apparent by Streak the Wonderdog taking over this issue of Green Lantern and several others, the era of the super-hero was on the decline during this period. Green Lantern #34 would be the Harlequin's last appearance of the Golden Age.  But this serves to make these later issues of Golden Age Green Lantern a fascinating artifact of their time in comic book history, and several issues of this era of Golden Age Green Lantern, are available in today's 2021 July 25-26 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122130 from Heritage Auctions.

GL #34 (DC, 1948), Streak the Wonder Dog takes over the cover.
GL #34 (DC, 1948), Streak the Wonder Dog takes over the cover.

#29 (DC, 1947) CGC VF 8.0 Cream to off-white pages. All-Harlequin issue. Classic cover and story art by Irwin Hasen. Overstreet 2020 VF 8.0 value = $1,485. CGC census 7/21: 1 in 8.0, 5 higher.

#31 (DC, 1948) CGC FN 6.0 Cream to off-white pages. Harlequin cover and story. Irwin Hasen cover and art. Alex Toth art. Overstreet 2020 FN 6.0 value = $456. CGC census 7/21: 1 in 6.0, 5 higher.

#32 (DC, 1948) CGC GD/VG 3.0 Cream to off-white pages. Harlequin appearance. Irwin Hasen and Bob Oksner bondage cover. Hasen art. CGC notes, "Tape on cover." Overstreet 2020 GD 2.0 value = $126; VG 4.0 value = $252. CGC census 7/21: 1 in 3.0, 7 higher.

#34 (DC, 1948) CGC FN+ 6.5 Off-white to white pages. Streak the Wonder Dog cover. Harlequin appearance. Alex Toth cover and art. Irwin Hasen and Bob Oksner art. Overstreet 2020 FN 6.0 value = $378; VF 8.0 value = $806. CGC census 7/21: 2 in 6.5, 10 higher.

#36 (DC, 1949) CBCS Conserved FN+ 6.5 Off-white to white pages. Streak the Wonder Dog takes center-stage for this issue's cover, drawn by Alex Toth. Irwin Hasen and Bob Oksner art. CBCS notes, "Amateur Conservation includes: Small tear sealed with glue." Overstreet 2020 GD 2.0 value = $148; VG 4.0 value = $296; FN 6.0 value = $444.

#38 (DC, 1949) CGC VG+ 4.5 Off-white pages. Final issue of the title. Streak the Wonder Dog cover and story. Alex Toth cover. Irwin Hasen and Bob Oksner art. Overstreet 2020 VG 4.0 value = $296. CGC census 7/21: 3 in 4.5, 22 higher.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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