It’s fitting that Dark Horse puts Featuring the Art of Mac Raboy as part of the title of the Green Lama Archives. The artist, who died in 1967, earned a key place in comics history and deserves accolades still, all these decades later.
You’ve probably seen Raboy’s art in many classic series, from Capt. Marvel Jr.to Flash Gordon to this: A progressive World War II–era series that starred a Buddhist superhero who fought Nazis and intolerance at the same time. Perhaps that’s the reason most people have never heard of Green Lama—he tried to help everyone get along at a time when fear and anger toward other cultures was a pretty regular part of life.
In the series, Jethro Dumont (would you be surprised to discover that he is a wealthy playboy?) travels to Tibet to study the ways of the Buddha. He also tinkers somewhat with radioactive salts (well, he had to get his powerssomehow). And although the science behind that particular aspect of the comic may be a little suspect, the Buddhist element is surprisingly reverent and fairly accurate.
Green Lama has been reinvented over the years by a couple different writers, but this second volume of Green Lama Archives collects the stories in issues #5 through 8 of Green Lama (published in 1945 and 1946). In its nearly 200 pages, Green Lama Archives, Volume Two combines some of the most charming and engrossing elements of the era’s superhero offerings. Since the art already reminds the reader of Raboy’s Capt. Marvel Jr. work, it’s no stretch that it also has glimpses of Batman and Superman comics of the mixed in. All of those qualities are worth treasuring. If you haven’t read these original stories from six (nearly seven) decades ago, you’ll find them pleasantly surprising with a wholesome, innocent quality.
Reviewed by John Hogan on December 23, 2008
Green Lama Archives, Volume Two