The cover of Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 will soon be up for auction through Heritage Auctions. This cover represents the beginning of the most important and seminal comic series in history. The entire run is considered a milestone amongst fans and historians. It changed the entire tone of superhero comics. No longer were the antagonists super-powered villains, but issues and subjects that were real-life problems. The legendary Green Lantern/Green Arrow series tackled tough social justice issues like prejudice and racism, poverty and drug abuse (famously featured for the first time ever on the cover of Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85). “No Evil Shall Escape My Sight” was the very first deconstruction of superheroes and dealt with social justice on a scale never before seen.
Neal Adams’ art, with its powerful emotional content and realistic yet illustrative style, meshed perfectly with Denny O’Neill’s socially conscious story from his training as a journalist. References to the tragedies Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy brought home the changes sweeping across America and, now, in comics. “No Evil Shall Escape My Sight” won the best single issue award that year and Green Lantern/Green Arrow was voted the best series, Neal Adams, the best penciler and Denny O’Neil, the best writer, Dick Giordano, the best inker.
The cover of Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 is perhaps the most important single piece of art of its day. It was so important and precognitive that issues raised in that series are still discussed and argued about today.
In addition to the quality and importance of the comic itself, Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 also represented the first time comic retailers/back issue subscription services traveled far and wide to obtain additional copies of this comic. They bought copies direct from the back of the printer and their local newsstand distributor. GL/GA was eventually cancelled due to poor sales, but the truth was vastly different. The numbers were skewed so dramatically due to newsstand distributors claiming thousands of non-sales in affidavit returns when the reality was they were sold to retailers “out of the back of the warehouse” in tied bundles to single individuals.
GL/GA #76 was the first comic that fans actively sought out at burgeoning comic conventions and even bought and sold between fans. It was the beginning thought of a direct sales market and the first blow against the newsstand market. It was the moment when the entire comic industry changed…just as the world was changing…just as “the times, they were a’changin’.”