Title: Ring of Evil
Release Date: 1994
Artist:Dean Zachary and Andrew DePoy
Heroes: Oliver Queen as a Green Lantern, John Stewart as his replacement
Villains: Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner as nazis, and various other nazi goons
This title takes place in Elseworlds, or an alternative reality, as many DC annuals have over the years. In this particular reality, the nazi party was triumphant, and the current world is ruled by the nazi party. The time frame and location are not that important, but it appears to be in roughly the present day, and not necessarily in Germany. One of the reasons why the nazis were victorious is Heinrich Himmler, (a dabbler in the occult in real life), managed to magick up some Power Rings, and gave them to Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner, who were Green Lanterns, and heroes, in the "real" DC universe. Hal and Guy maintain some of their personalities in this reality, with Hal's obedient nature being warped into fanaticism, and Guy's bellicose nature turned to sadism. As bad as he is, Hal is still pining for Carol Ferris, while Guy is infatuated with the evil, voluptuous Karelia, who has taken over the nazi party and who is actually a demon. The main resistance to their order is Oliver Queen, who is a Green Lantern but an archery themed one, with a group of bow and arrow-armed dissidents, including John Stewart. John Stewart receives the mantle of the Green Lantern from Queen, just as Guy Gardner breaks in and murders everyone. John Stewart runs to the home of Carol Ferris, who turns out to be his lover. Which, given their races and the regime, is a pretty big secret.
I was thinking of writing "and this isn't all as confusing as it sounds...", but if I have to put that in, it probably is. And this is only the set-up for the story, the rest of the story, which involves rage and jealousy and betrayal, comes to a happy ending, with the demons defeated and the promise that John Stewart, as Green Lantern will overthrow the new order.
I chose to discuss this issue for two reasons. The first is that I found the portrayal of nazism to be curious, perhaps in a bad way. Adolf Hitler and genocide, two things that would spring to mind, are not mentioned. Instead, the nazis are depicted almost as they viewed themselves in their own fantasies, as sturdy, militant and adorned in medieval pageantry. I imagine that some of the more grotesque aspects of genocidal fascism were deemed inappropriate to discuss, but the alternative, to make the nazis look good, hardly seems a good option.
Another problem, seemingly more minor, is that the plot is a mess, with too complicated of a plot, which is explained too briefly. This issue is actually related to the first, especially for those who know their comic book history. In 1997, Grant Morrison would make comic book writing smarter and more engaging. This book was published in 1994, though, when the comic book reader was assumed to be a little bit older and more sophisticated, but where the ideas that comic books were for children, and should not have too much plot complication, was still being held on to. Thus, what could be a very interesting book about the power of the Green Lantern, and how it lends itself to fascism and blind worship of power, was instead cut up and toned down because of its year of release. It is a good story idea, and some of the characterizations are scary and good, but it wasn't executed right because of when it was done.