Ticket to Ride
Green Lantern encounters the Parasite, one of Superman’s most powerful enemies, who now has the ability to absorb energy from his power ring! But during their battle, Hal Jordan can’t help but wonder if the super-villain has ulterior motives!
From Tom Kalmaku’s Green Lantern Casebook, April, 1986:
Hal continued to watch Mr. Smith carefully as the ex-Con-Trol executive smiled and gently controlled things at Ferris Aircraft even when the angry and bitter Carl Ferris tried to make different decisions. Smith insisted on keeping Hal as test pilot, and in that role Hal performed flawlessly. Smith seemed to be bending over backward to please Hal, even though there were clearly ill feelings between them.
“Hal, I know you are sticking around in spite of Carl’s constant insults because you want to get the goods on Smith. You suspect he’s up to no good here at Ferris Aircraft, and it’s plain to see how he is the true power now, but why is he being so nice to you?” I asked.
Hal shrugged. “It’s not because he thinks he can win me over to his corporate team. He has made certain subtle comments that make me wonder if he knows more than he lets on about me. I think he knows I’m G.L. I guess he prefers to keep me where he can keep tabs on me. That’s why he wouldn’t let Carl fire me.”
I frowned in concern. I hated to see a snake, even a slick one like Smith, have the upper hand. I was confident that Hal would emerge on top eventually. In the meantime, I worked on the plans for the new light powered engine. Dr. Hoshi of Japan was due to fly over at any moment, and I dreaded her arrival, since I feared she would think little of me. She had a reputation for coldness.
It was at that time that G.L. faced an old Superman foe in a battle for an unexpected reason.
On a bright but crisp April morning in Coast City, Hal Jordan was relaxing in his apartment. Gazing at a photo of a raven-haired beauty, he smiled sadly.
Carol, we were very good together, he thought. I wish I could have stopped those Zamarons from ever making you their queen. That star sapphire came between us as sure as I’m standing here. I hope you’re happy off in space. I know they departed from their world so you can’t have anyone to rule. A queen without subjects has to get lonely. He shook his head. “Just maybe I need to start dating again. Maybe have Tom fix me up with someone, or I could look up an old flame or two.”
He decided to turn on the TV, and as he did so he heard familiar words being spoken by the lovely Tawny Young. “Ferris Aircraft is the scene of an apparent crisis as a gunman has taken a hostage,” she said. Hal was out the door in costume as Green Lantern before she could finish her broadcast.
Reaching the airstrip in seconds, Green Lantern scanned the area. His arrival was unseen, since he had deliberately made himself invisible with his power ring. The cops are below, he mused. I don’t see any obvious sign of trouble, though. Wait! Sharon Sims is the hostage! I see her now! Poor kid! She’s being held by that shadowy figure below the main hangar!
Green Lantern floated closer until, with a startled yelp, he dropped to the field. “My ring energy just faded away!” he gasped. “I know I’m fully charged. Did it first thing this morning!”
As he popped into view, the shadowy man smiled and said, “Yeah, yeah! That’s what I wanted! Come to papa!”
“Let the woman go,” said Green Lantern. “She’s a secretary. She can’t harm anyone. You want to demand money from Ferris, then you’ll do it over my dead body!”
The man in the trenchcoat and low-brimmed hat said, “Here, doll, get movin’!” Shoving Sharon aside, he confronted Green Lantern. “I don’t need cash! I wanted to lure you here! I knew ya had a connection to the place. I would never have hurt the dame!”
“I’m here,” said Green Lantern. “What’s your game?”
The man ripped off his coat and hat, revealing a weird purple-hued body and a smirking face. “I’m the Parasite! I need to drink your green energy! See, I can do it now! Once I could only take human power, not stuff from weapons or machines. That Crisis changed me, and you’re my ticket to ride!” he said as he glowed slightly.
“Superman’s old whipping boy!” said Green Lantern. “Let me give you his regards!” He generated a huge S shield and slammed it into the Parasite, who fell but grinned as the creation vanished into his body.
“Ya don’t get it, pally! I eat your energy like candy!” he said as he tackled Green Lantern. “Feed me more!”
Green Lantern belted him with a right cross. Great! He’s deflecting my blows with the stolen energy he took from me, he thought.
The Parasite clawed at the hero relentlessly. “Come on! Use the ring! I need more!”
Green Lantern fought clear of the purple crook and elbowed him in the face. “Why am I your menu of choice all of a sudden?” he asked, stalling for time.
“In the Crisis I got scared at one point,” explained the Parasite. “It looked bad for Earth. I attacked one of them shadow demons, and in doing so I destroyed it, but burnt out my powers. I mean, I still have them, but they now work differently. Problem is that they’re weaker. I need you, because I can’t afford to have them go out of control again. Superman’s power once sent me surging and made me drain anybody I got close to! Now I got a second chance for love, and your energy should be just enough to let me enjoy it!”
“Enjoy this!” said Green Lantern, using his power ring to create a huge bell, and as it rang, sonic force shook the Parasite.
“Aaargh! You hurt me! Still, if I can keep going, I can steal more of your energy from that bell itself!” he vowed.
Green Lantern flew upward. He is weaker than he used to be, and he can now steal from my ring, but if he overloads on power by stealing that of Superman’s level, for instance, he’ll become a walking vampire. He says he wants to avoid that and find love again. Think, Jordan! What is he after?
“Ring, probe his mind and tell me his secret!” he mentally commanded the miraculous ring. Green Lantern watched as the Parasite concentrated and flew toward him.
“I can’t let you go yet! I might run outta power mid-trip! I need more!” said the Parasite.
He’d become a genius after stealing human energy from others, mused Green Lantern. Now he’s back to being a janitor in terms of his mind, language, and goals. He wants nothing more than to get enough of my power to leave Earth, but for what? Can’t get through to his motive before he drains the very energy I’m using to read his thoughts! He landed, allowing his ring to sail off at super-speed.
But the Parasite gasped as Green Lantern crossed his arms and said, “You ugly jerk! I just sent my ring away from me. You aren’t getting any more power.”
The Parasite screamed in anger. “No! I need more! I’ll force ya to give me more!” He charged toward Green Lantern, who dodged and nimbly hurled a handful of sand into the criminal’s face. As the yellow particles struck him, Green Lantern wrapped his hand in a hastily grabbed yellow tarp and belted the purple man. As he continued to hit him, he nodded in satisfaction. He has my ring’s power, and thus he has its yellow weakness, too! he thought.
He quickly left the beaten janitor on his knees in front of him. “Now, Jensen, why did you want to steal my power?” he demanded. “What trip is it you wanted to make? Are you trying to escape Earth justice in space?”
The Parasite shook his head in disgust. “Nah! I’m no super-genius no more,” groaned Maxwell Jensen. “I’m just a guy who wants his family back. Ya see, when I was imprisoned on another world, I met a lawyer and fell in love with her. We married and had kids. I had to leave them when I was drawn back here by another creep who wanted to use me against Superman. (*) My power overloaded again when I came near the Super-chump, and I realized I could not go home to my family on their world again without being a danger to them. I could accidentally drain away their lives! The Crisis accident left me weak and no longer a danger to ’em. I just wanted enough of your power to get me home to their world. That’s all!”
[(*) Editor’s note: The Parasite was taken away by aliens to a prison planet in “The Power of the Parasite,” Action Comics #361 (March, 1968). He returned to Earth under unknown circumstances and next appeared in “The Parasite’s Power Play,” Superman #286 (April, 1975).]
Green Lantern nodded. “You’re telling the truth. OK, Jensen. I’ll get you to them if you promise not to attack me again. I give you my word I’ll fly you to this world.”
The Parasite smiled. “Thanks! I’ll do what you say! I promise!”
Green Lantern noticed a relieved Sharon and other staffers cheering his victory as his ring returned to his hand. Odd! Neither Carl nor Smith showed up during the whole fight! he mused.
In an office, a figure in silver and black raised a taloned glove and smiled coldly. “I thought I was going to have to step in and save Jordan,” he said. “I could not let my investment suffer. Luckily, for now, I can stay out of costume.”
Green Lantern smoothed things over with the authorities and turned to Maxwell Jensen, the Parasite. “OK, Jensen, your cab is here! Let’s go!” he said with a smile as he enveloped the man in a green sphere and flew into space.
“You won’t regret this! I’ll never bug anybody on Earth again!” vowed the man as they zoomed toward space.
At that moment, he was stopped by a shapely woman in a similar costume.
“Green Lantern, I’m glad I caught you,” said the red-skinned Katma Tui. “The JLA needs you! I will take your friend to his destination. You must return to Earth! Apparently, the unthinkable has occurred. Your friend Superman’s Daily Planet was destroyed along with all within by a villain! He needs you. The other Lanterns and I could not be as effective in comforting him as you could!”
Jensen whistled softly as the enormity of the event dawned upon him.
“Great Guardians!” cried Green Lantern. “Katma, take him to his family for me. I’ll get back to Earth immediately!”
As his JLA signal device began to activate, he zoomed off, leaving the odd pair to continue their journey.