Heroes are, as a general rule, supposed to be avatars of hope. Anthropomorphic proof that it’s worth fighting for justice and that sometimes the good guys can win. Some have described them as beacons of light, metaphorically speaking.
Some characters are exactly that, literally. Specifically, a group of characters who have all gone under the name of the very thing that was the source of their power, an item which is traditionally used to shine light into dark places: the Green Lantern.
Let’s begin, shall we?
ALAN SCOTT: THE FIRST WHO BROUGHT THE LIGHT
Martin Nodell was a struggling artist who needed money. Inspired by the super-heroes that were appearing in comics, he decided to try one of his own. But what gimmick would his hero focus around? What unique quality would he have?
While at a subway station, a train was delayed due to an obstruction on the tracks. Nodell saw a train employee signaling to his co-worker with a red lantern, indicating there was still work to be done. When the tracks were clear, the worker held up a second lantern, this one colored green, to indicate it was okay for the train to move again.
Nodell’s mind started working. Taking inspiration from the classic tale of Alladin and his lamp, he made up a story about a modern-day hero who got powers from a mystical green lantern that made his thoughts reality, a lantern whose true fuel would be the hero’s own faith in himself, as well as his strength of will. DC liked the idea and gave the concept to Bill Finger, co-creator of the Batman, who worked on the scripts and helped cook up the origin story.
Originally, Nodell wanted to name the character Alan Ladd, as a reference to Alladin. The publisher told him that the name was silly though and suggested he change it. Alan Ladd became Alan Scott. Soon after his introduction, a Hollywood actor named Alan Ladd started becoming very famous. Nodell joked that they’d missed the opportunity for free publicity. Later, it would be revealed that Alan’s full name was Alan Wellington Ladd Scott. It’s all about compromise, folks!
The Green Lantern debuted in ALL-AMERICAN COMICS #16 in July of 1940. Nodell was credited under his pseudonym Mart Dellon (like many comic writers/artists, Nodell used an alias because he later hoped to become a "serious" published writer or artist and didn’t want to be perceived as someone who "used to write funny books"). The basic origin story behind our boy went like this. A green meteor fell to Earth and landed in ancient China. A mystic named Chang heard it speak.
"Three times shall I flame green! First – to bring DEATH! Second – to bring LIFE! Third – to bring POWER!"
Chang then carved the small meteor into the shape of a lamp. Other men in the village feared Chang was messing with forces he couldn’t understand and attacked him. After they killed Chang, green flames erupted from the lamp and all the attackers were struck dead.
Centuries passed and the lamp wound up being found by an asylum inmate. The inmate was a natural with metal-work and wound up carving the lamp into the shape of a train lantern. There was a flash of green flame and suddenly the inmate had his sanity restored.
Years passed and the lantern wound up on a train in the American Southwest that held Alan Scott as a passenger. Scott was an engineer who had been designing a railway in the Southwest. Unbeknownst to him, the railway had been sabotaged by a business rival named Dekker who’d placed explosives on a bridge. When the bomb went off, the train derailed and everyone died, except for Alan Scott who’d happened to be holding onto the green train lantern.
Looking up from the wreckage, Alan Scott was startled to realize what had happened. The lantern’s light grew brighter then and Scott fell back to the floor, lost in a dream-like trance. And then the lantern seemed to speak.
“From within the aura of the green flame comes a voice … an ageless, toneless voice that penetrates into Scott’s subconsciousness … I am the Green Flame of Life! Listen, Chosen One, and hear the tale of the green lantern!”
“Third – to bring POWER!”
The lantern told him to carve a ring from the base of its metal and then touch the ring to its light. He was told his will and belief were what powered the green lantern (which seemed like a religious parallel to the idea of faith being the source of strength). Alan Scott touched the ring to the lantern and the ring was filled with the power of the green flame.
Alan Scott then went off and took his vengeance on Dekker, who signed a confession and then died due to his own straining health (so he conveniently wouldn’t be around to explain that his confession had been illegally coerced out of him due to Alan Scott’s use of a magic ring). Alan Scott decided he had a new calling, to help people in extraordinary circumstances. Designing a costume, he started calling himself The Green Lantern! And thus was born one of my all-time favorite Golden Age heroes.
Alan Scott’s Ring
Originally, the outside of the cape seemed to be black with purple highlights to give it some form. As time went on, it became a purple cape. Seems strange that a guy with the word “green” in his name would have more green in his costume than just the pants and the inner lining of his cape, but hey, it was the 40s.
During the fight with Dekker’s men, Alan discovered rather painfully that although the ring protected him from metal bullets, it offered no protection against the wooden club that hit him in the head at one point. Wooden substances could not be directly affected by his power and could break through his force-field. By extention, things made of plant-matter could potentially disrupt his power and were not affected by the ring’s power as much as other substances were (so if he fired a blast at, say, a giant mutant Venus fly trap, the blast wouldn’t be quite as effective if he’d fired the exact same beam at a human being or a brick wall). Apparently, this vunerability to wood was because the green flame was an incarnation of "green, growing things" and thus could not be turned against them. Strange logic, but hey, a guy that powerful certainly needs his own Kryptonite.
With the ring, Alan Scott could fly, phase through solid matter (described as the ability to "move through the 4th dimension"), hypnotize and/or blind enemies, melt down metal with heat beams, fire energy blasts and stun beams, become invisible, detect danger at times, and create solid objects such as giant hands, walls and force-fields. He seemed to have a relatively permanent personal force-field that protected him from bullets and the like (described as an "invulnerability to metal").
Whenever he recharged his ring, Alan Scott repeated the same oath. "And I shall shed my light over dark evil, for the dark things cannot stand the light. The light of … THE GREEN LANTERN!"
Alan Scott moved from city to city for the first few adventures. There was an adventure in Metropolis and later New York. In NYC, he met a woman named Irene Miller and helped clear her brother’s name. During a visit to Capitol City, Alan Scott decided to investigate a murder by joining the radio station the victim had worked for. Having experience as a radio engineer, he joined the staff of Apex broadcasting. Irene also worked there, coincidentally, and the two became friends. After the case, Scott stayed on staff.
Throughout these stories, Alan Scott showed he was not like Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent where his cover identity involved acting like a wimp. More than once, he actually got into fights in his civilian identity, relying on his fists until it was safe enough to go somewhere and use his ring to magically replace his clothes with his costume. With or without the mask, he wasn’t any kind of pushover and could definitely handle himself.
Alan Scott eventually moved his base of operations to Gotham City (cuz Batman can’t do EVERYTHING by himself, you know), working for WXYZ radio (eventually, this would be renamed/retconned into Gotham Broadcasting Company). He made quite a name for himself outside of his own title as well, when he became a founding member of the Justice Society of America, the world’s very first super-hero team. After the original Flash left, Alan Scott was named the second chairman. He soon turned that title over to Hawkman and left the team for a while, but years later he rejoined the group and remained a very active and important member. And why not? After all, with his magic ring, he was in a weight-class that included such heavy hitters as Superman, the Spectre and the sorcerer Dr. Fate.
Alan Scott had a sort of sidekick, a cabbie named Doiby Dickles. Technically, his name was Derby Dickles, due to his hat, but because of his thick accent he pronounced it "Doiby" and insisted others do the same. Decades later, Doiby wound up becoming king of an alien planet. Yeah, that’s right. A cabby became king. Now THAT is an American story.
Alan Scott developed his own little rogues gallery. There was Molly Mayne AKA the original villain called Harlequin, who used hologram-projecting glasses and later became an ally to Alan Scott. There was the original Icicle, who would later die during the Crisis On Infinite Earths. There was the Sportmaster, an Olympic-class athlete and expert combatant who enjoyed using sports equipment as weapons (anything from ricocheting golfballs that his mulitiple targets with incredibly accuracy to using a bolo or a boomerang to disable opponents).
Another enemy who gave Alan problems was the plant-controlling psycho Thorn (not to be confused with a vigilante in Metropolis who would use that same alias years later). Thorn was the evil split personality of an otherwise pleasant woman named Rose Forrest, though Alan Scott wouldn’t discover this until decades later. And one of Alan Scott’s arch-enemies was the creature called Solomon Grundy, who was essentially a zombie composed of plant matter that made him rather resistant to the Green Lantern’s ring.
Once, there had been man in Gotham named Cyrus Gold, a thief who was killed by Slaughter Swamp (just outside the city limits). 50 years later in the 1940s, what was left of Cyrus’s remains were somehow resurrected, merging with the plantlife of the swamp into a hulking figure that barely had any mind other than anger at its own murder. This resurrection happened on a Monday and when the creature encountered a group of homeless men, one of them took note of this and named him Solomon Grundy as a joke on the old nursery rhyme “Solomon Grundy, born on a monday.” Grundy would prove a very dangerous enemy. Every now and then he’d be seemingly killed, but the energies that kept him alive would eventually resurrect him again, altering his personality each time. Sometimes he would be a savage beast. Sometimes he’d have the mind of a child. Sometimes he’d have the intelligent mind of an adult killer. Almost always, he was evil in some way or another.
Towards the end of his career, Scott’s adventures became more and more comical and he wound up playing sidekick to Streak the Wonder Dog, who was like a cuter version of Rin Tin Tin.
As super-heroes declined in popularity after World War II, it came time for Green Lantern to put his ring away and vanish from the spotlight. The comic title GREEN LANTERN was cancelled with issue #38 in June, 1949. Alan Scott’s creator Martin Nodell later went on to create another widely-known character who struck fear into the hearts of evil-doers … THE PILLSBURY DOUGHBOY!
FROM MAGIC TO SCIENCE
The years went on. Sci-fi space-adventurers such as Adam Strange and Captain Comet were gaining in popularity. When DC decided to begin doing super-heroes again, it was decreed that they would use the same names and basic abilities of old characters from the Golden Age but would alter everything else. These would be new characters. The code-names were kept the same, but the real identities were altered and the origins were replaced with those of a more sci-fi basis. For instance, the new Hawkman was not the reincarnation of an Egyptian warrior but instead was an alien policeman from the planet Thanagar. The old Flash had been Jay Garrick, a college student who inhaled fumes that gave him superhuman speed. The new Flash was Barry Allen, a police scientist with a similar but noticeably different costume, who gained his powers in a freak accident involving electrified chemicals.
Four years after this new Silver Age of comics had begun, a new Green Lantern was introduced. In GREEN LANTERN #1 (Aug. 1960), we met Hal Jordan, a character created by John Broome and Gil Kane.
Hal Jordan was a test pilot living in Coast City. He was summoned by a dying alien named Abin Sur, who explained that he was a member of the Green Lantern Corps, which was basically a group of 3600 intergalactic volunteer cops who patrolled the known universe. Each GL patrolled a designated sector of space, with Abin Sur being the Lantern of Sector 2814 in which Earth resided. No magic one-of-a-kind ring here. This was one of many weapons made by advanced alien science.
Each GL was given a "power ring" that was mostly limited by will and imagination. The ring had to be recharged every 24 hours with a power battery that looked vaguely like a lantern made of green metal. Other than the 24-hour time limit, the ring’s biggest problem was that it couldn’t directly affect anything colored yellow, nor could its constructs and force-fields maintain their integrity if breached by yellow colored objects. It was explained that this was due to an impurity in the lens of the ring, an impurity that was also necessary for the ring to function at all.
Hal joined the Corps and became both super-hero and space warrior. In his travels, he fought alongside other Green Lanterns from various alien races. He met the Guardians of the Universe, a group of nearly immortal beings who had founded the GL Corps millennia ago. The Guaridans lived on Oa, a planet they claimed was in the center of the universe. It was on Oa that the great records of the GL Corps were held, where young GLs trained, and where the Central Power Battery was housed, from which all the personal batteries drew their power. As the years went on, more of the story came out.
Long ago, there had been a race of highly advanced beings on the planet Maltus. One of their scientists, a man called Krona, wanted to investigate the origin of the universe itself, despite the warnings of his people that this would cause disaster.
Krona’s monitors showed him the dawn of time. He saw what looked like a massive hand holding a star-field and then, moments later, the machines exploded. And, as the Guardians told it, that’s when evil was unleashed onto the universe. Krona was dispersed into energy, but millenia later would come back to fight the Green Lantern Corps on several occasions. He later adopted a suit of armor and started calling himself Entropy.
To make up for Krona’s crimes, the people of Maltus decided to take it upon themselves to become Guardians of the Universe. Over time, they would eventually split off twice. The females would leave and become known as the Zamarons. The other group to split-off would be those who decided it was not enough to maintain order but who wished to hunt down and exterminate chaotic and evil forces directly, calling themselves The Controllers (who would eventually found the group known as the Darkstars).
Originally, the Guardians used androids called Manhunters as their agents (decades later, it would be revealed that these Manhunter robots were inspired by the Manhunter police force on the planet Mars). Each Manhunter was armed with a power battery and a gun that utilized its energy. The Manhunters spread across the universe, proclaiming "No evil escapes the Manhunters!" Eventually, though, the Manhunters decided to go from protectors to rulers. They went rogue, proclaiming now "No man escapes the Manhunters!" The Guardians warred with them and after many centuries the Manhunters finally lost. Their remaining numbers scattered throughout the cosmos, founding small cults with the indigenous races that would continue their beliefs and agendas.
Eventually, the Guardians recruited living agents from various worlds and systems, arming them all with their now famous power rings. Now, you’re all wondering, what could these power rings do? Well, here’s the basics. And btw, for any commenters who want to add in every single power and ability that the power rings have displayed over the years, please refrain from the urge to list them all because I’m actually aware of many of them, just as I’m aware that sometimes writers forgot from time to time what other writers had established and that sometimes they would retcon away what had been seen just a few years before. So when I say here are the basics of what a power ring could do, I mean that these were the established abilities that pretty much everyone agreed upon.
WHAT CAN POWER RINGS DO?
The Standard Power Ring Models
Power rings could create images and holograms. Naturally, these would be colored green, but with extra effort/willpower the images could be multi-colored. Further will-power could cause the holograms to solidify, allowing the Green Lantern in question to create objects and tools to help him. This was described as the ringbearer literally willing the object into existence. For instance, Hal Jordan often created flying fists and boxing gloves, shields, force-field bubbles, and even occasionally swords. With further focus and concentration, a GL could create an object that had multiple moving parts, such as a helicopter. Understand, this object would only look like a helicopter on the outside. It wouldn’t have any actual mechanical guts and wouldn’t be powered by gasoline but rather by the Lantern’s own force of will. Of course, in the heat of battle, you wanted to keep things simple rather than spend all your mental/physical strength on creating massive or complex machines, so it was simply easier to rely on tossing around green boxing gloves or firing green energy beams.
If a construct such as a shield or force-field bubble was shattered, this could cause a painful psychic backlash in the ringbearer.
The ring could also directly deliver power beams that could be as harmless as a flashlight or devastating enough to smash steel. If a GL willed himself to have a giant laser cannon that fired blasts, this would not make the beam more effective than if he just willed the same beam to fire directly from his own ring. The ring allowed the wearers flight and suited them in force-fields that protected them automatically from mortal danger and also allowed them to travel safely through space with a personal air-supply, as well as allowing them to create space-warps for faster than light travel across distances. Flight through atmospheres was easy as well, since the force-field deflected the hindrance of air-friction and heat.
The automatic force-fields protected a Lantern from mortal harm, but that was it. If someone came up behind Hal with a bat and smashed it on his head, he’d be knocked down. The ring wouldn’t completely negate the impact, it would just ensure Hal wouldn’t get a fatal head wound. The only way for the force-field to become powerful enough to protect a Lantern from even getting knocked down was for the bearer to will it to become stronger around him and to continually focus on this act until such time as he believed he was out of danger and relaxed, thus setting the force-field back to “default mode” if you will.
By commanding the ring to bend light around them, the ringbearer could become invisible. On a few occasions, rings were seen to be able to hypnotize folks into forgetting certain pieces of information, create mind-melds between folks, communicate with people across vast interstellar distances via the creation of an "energy twin" (although this meant the wearer’s actual physical form was in a motionless trance until the twin was done doing its job), and on rare occasion even allowed for time travel (though this required tremendous will which had to be increased the further in time you traveled). In fact, Hal Jordan spent some time in the 58th century under the identity of Pol Manning.
Due to the fact that GLs were space-travelers by trade, each ring was equipped with a universal translator. To help them coordinate with each other and learn from the experiences of other Lanterns who had served the Corps over the years, each ring had a computer personality that could tap into the Corps historical data banks. Likewise, the rings were equipped with sensors that were normally intended to allow each GL to understand the atmosphere and conditions of various worlds, as well as the native biologies and how they worked. The sensors could also detect spacial anomalies and the like.
Rings could be altered in form. Hal once had his ring disguise itself as a pair of sunglasses. Likewise, certain aliens who didn’t have the proper appendages for a ring had it altered into a customized form. The gaseous being known as Eddore turned his ring into a globe he housed within his form. The dog-like alien G’nort had a band around his paw.
One Green Lantern named Root Lop Fan turned his ring into a bell and had it utilize sound-waves rather than light as its energy. Root was of a race that was blind and had no concept of light, so he wasn’t able to use the ring at first because it’s dependent on imagination and holograms were beyond his scope of experience. By having it as a bell, he was able to be just as formidable as anyone else in the Corps.
If others placed themselves in contact with a Green Lantern, they could mentally lend their willpower to increase the ringbearer’s own strength. If a GL possessed multiple power rings, this technically would not increase any energy. After all, the true limitations of a Lantern are his imagination and willpower. However, by the same token, possession of multiple rings can create a psychological advantage. By instinctively/subconsciously believing that multiple rings will make him stronger, even if his mind logically knows they shouldn’t, the ringbearer becomes more confident and can tap into a greater reserve of willpower. Two rings wouldn’t necessarily double a Green Lantern’s effectiveness, but it might give him or her just enough of an extra push to make a noticeable difference, at least for a little while.
Green Lanterns could use their rings to alter their own bodies. This could be used to heal wounds in themselves or others or to seriously change their forms. The GL called Guy Gardner used his ring to keep himself a young man in peak physical condition. The young girl Arisia wanted to be more attractive to Hal Jordan, who told her that while she was very cute and nice, she was simply too young for him to date. Over the course of weeks, Arisia’s ring made her body grow and forced a seeming maturation of her mind. However, since this mental maturation wasn’t natural, she was made very vulnerable to a mental attack later.
Teenage Arisia Vs. Adult Arisia
With proper willpower and concentration, a Green Lantern could cause his ring to create copies of itself. These other rings had the same properties as the original, including the limitation that they would run out of power after 24 hours unless recharged.
It was shown on a couple of occasions that rings had a dimension that existed within them, though not anywhere you’d want to really visit for too long.
Rings had a built-in safeguard to prevent the bearer from using it to kill opponents. This safeguard could only be disabled if the ring was used on Oa itself.
Despite these abilities, Green Lanterns were not invincible. They could be overwhelmed by sheer numbers, subjected to mental attacks, knocked down by intense energy blasts or physical blows by superhumanly powerful opponents, forced to fight long and hard enough that they just eventually gave in to exhaustion and fatigue. And that’s not even counting instances when someone or something was colored yellow or those situations when a GL simply couldn’t get back to their power battery before the 24-hour time limit had caused their energy charge to vanish.
THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE
It has been theorized by many that the Green Lantern Corps was inspired by the Lensmen, a group of heroes who were the stars of series of sci-fi stories written by Edward Elmer Smith, PhD. The Lensmen were a group of people who acted as interstellar heroes, protecting strangers on various worlds and hunting down anyone who threatened innocent life and couldn’t be handled by conventional forces. Lensmen were chosen due to honesty, bravery, loyalty, helpfulness and goodness. Each Lensman was given a Lens, which was a device that helped make their thoughts reality and acted as a universeral translator. The Lens would kill anyone else who tried to use it.
The beings who created the Lenses came from a planet called Arisia, which would also later be the name of a young Green Lantern, as mentioned before. The Lensmen books were HUGELY successful among sci-fi readers and have also been credited as being the inspiration for much of the space opera genre, including Star Wars and Star Trek. The Lensmen seem similar to the Jedi Knights, another group that certainly has some traits in common with the Green Lantern Corps. J. Michael Straczynski said he cut his teeth on the Lensmen books. So without the Dr. Smith’s epic Lensmen series, there might never have been a Green Lantern Corps and Hal Jordan may have just been a solo hero like Alan Scott before him.
Something to think about.
WHAT’S IN AN OATH?
Green Lanterns often recited a personal oath while recharging their rings. Before we talk about the Corps though, let’s talk about Alan Scott. For most of his adventures, Alan uttered the following every time he pressed his ring to his lantern.
"And I shall shed my light over dark evil,
for the dark things cannot stand the light.
The light of … THE GREEN LANTERN!"
While this was and is considered Alan Scott’s official oath, he did use a different one in some of his last adventures. It went like this …
"In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight!
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power — Green Lantern’s Light!"
When Hal Jordan was introduced years later, this second oath was adopted as his official oath. Not only that, but it was also said to be the standard oath of the Green Lantern Corps, although sometimes they used the word "darkest" instead of "blackest" and sometimes we saw some individual Corps members reciting their own personal oaths. Hal Jordan’s friend Tomar Re, for instance, was seen reciting Alan Scott’s original mantra.
Enough of the Oaths. Let’s talk about the rings and their bearers. What kind of person was worthy to wield these rings, often described as "the most powerful weapons in the universe"? Well, the two required qualities all GLs had to have was that they be people of honest quality and with the ability to completely overcome any fear. Sometimes the Guaridans themselves recruited the GLs. But most times, new GLs were recruited when another Lantern in their sector died and commanded his ring to find a replacement. The ring would scan the surrounding area for someone honest and without fear and would either go to them or bring them to the bearer. The GL was to then report to Oa for training, though some of them were in sectors so bad that they basically had to learn through on-the-job training rather than risk leaving the place without a Lantern.
Honest and fearless. Good qualities. Sadly, "trustworthy" and "open-minded" were not included in that list. One man who was honest and fearless wound up going rogue and became a hated enemy of the Corps. That man in question was Sinestro of the planet Korugar.
BRING ON THE BADDIES
Personally, if I were a Guardian of the Universe and met a man named Sinestro with very devilish eye-brows and a pencil-thin villain’s mustache, I would not consider him recruitment material. I mean, Hell, why don’t you just recruit the guy named "Bloodlust-Overdrive" or "Evil-O"? Ah, well.
Sinestro went from being a protector of his sector to being its dictator, believing that control was the only way to ensure order. He was kicked out of the Corps and had his ring taken away, naturally. He wound up in a parallel universe, one where everything was composed of anti-matter as opposed to positive matter.
In a lot of ways, the anti-matter universe was a twisted mirror of our own reality. In the anti-matter universe, the center was occupied not by the planet Oa but by a planet called Qward. The Qwardians were a race of people who worshipped war and the act of bringing destruction onto others, making them an anti-Green Lantern Corps essentially. Their Weaponeers made many dangerous weapons and their Thunderers delivered golden lightning bolts. Due to the golden weapons and golden shields, the Qwardians were not push-overs for the Lanterns.
When they encountered Sinestro, the Qwardians gave him a golden ring that absorbed power from GL rings and batteries. Once charged, it could do a lot of the same basic things a GL power ring could do, except that its energies were yellow in color, making Sinestro quite a terror for the GLs.
Hal Jordan had his own personal rogues gallery as well. There was the yellow-skinned Goldface. The sinister Black Hand, who could absorb power ring energies. The magnetic terrorist Dr. Polaris, who was the split personality of a decent scientist named Neal Emerson (and who, thankfully, got better looking armor many years later). Major Disaster, who had a color-clashing costume with a silly hood but who could cause earthquakes by force of will.
The would-be conquerer Sonar. The sorcerer Myrwhydden, who was a former enemy of Abin Sur. The evil … um, Evilstar. Okay, he didn’t have a great name, but trust me, he could be threatening, especially since he had several demonic dwarves he created called Starlings. CREEPY!
One arch-enemy had a slight connection to the Flash. Hector Hammond had discovered a meteor that had crashed to Earth centuries before and evolved the local plantlife by thousands of years. Eventually, after repeated exposure, Hammond evolved into a being of incredible telepathic and telekinetic abilities. Sadly, this caused his head to grow to such a size that his body couldn’t support it and all his muscles atrophied (he can’t even speak verbally anymore, just telepathically). Floating around in a telekinetically manipulated chair, Hammond became a formidable foe of Hal Jordan’s. The Flash connection? Well, see, the other half of the meteor that Hammond found ended up landing in Africa centuries ago and led to the creation of the society of super-intelligent apes who would create the famous Gorilla City.
A few times, Hal’s love interest Carol Ferris also became an enemy. As stated, the females of Maltus had gone off and created their own society known as the Zamarons and it’s no coincidence that that sounds a lot like Amazons, cuz that’s kind of what they were. The Zamarons used sapphire energies and had a special star sapphire gem. Occasionally, they would give this gem to a female of a particular and distinctive appearance, crowning her as their new warrior queen called Star Sapphire who could wield the gem’s energies in a manner similar to a power ring. Carol Ferris looked just like their past champions and so she got selected for to be the latest Star Sapphire.
As Star Sapphire, Carol constantly fought Hal and other Green Lanterns. When Hal separated her from the gem, she would revert to her true personality. But this didn’t mean the gem wouldn’t come back into her life later and then the whole mess would start again.
Years later, it seemed that Carol’s mind created a third personality that came to life as a warrior called Predator. Predator manipulated Carol and transformed her into a new completely evil Star Sapphire. Later writers said that Predator was not a creation of Carol’s mind given life but was actually a parasitic being from Maltus who’d bonded with Carol and wanted to use her to father a demonic child.
Star Sapphire with Arisia under mind control
After some years, Carol’s personality was finally brought back and Star Sapphire was completely separated from her. Later, the separated Star Sapphire entity was murdered and the baby she had with Predator was stolen by the demon lord Neron. What happened to the kid isn’t known.
The Golden Age Star Sapphire
This was not the first time a DC hero had fought someone named Star Sapphire. Back in the 40s, the Golden Age Flash had fought a "Queen of the 7th dimension" calling herself Star Sapphire. After the introduction of Carol Ferris and the Zamarons, it was retconned that this woman who had fought the original Flash was yet another champion of the Zamarons who had been chosen decades earlier.
Of course, enemies weren’t the only people in Hal’s life. As explained, the Green Lantern Corps was composed of 3,600 beings from nearly as many different worlds. As one of the most formidable and prominent GLs, Hal made quite a few friends among his teammates.
There was Kilowog, a rough and tumble blue-collar guy who acted as trainer and mentor to many a young GL, Hal included. There was Salaak, a surly guy who made pessimists feel depressed. There was Ch’p, who was basically a chipmunk with a bow-tie and a power ring. There was Katma Tui, Sinestro’s replacement after he went rogue. There was Eddore, a gaseous being. Mogo, a living planet that was made GL. And Tomar Re, one of Hal’s best friends who later became part of the Guardians’ personal honor guard.
Kilowog, Tomar Re and Ch’p
Not only were there other GLs, there were also of course other heroes on Earth itself. He worked alongside folks like Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman. He became very fast friends with Barry Allen, the new Flash, and the two became an unofficial duo, constantly teaming-up and hanging out in both their costumed and civilian identities. In later years, Hal also developed a deep friendship with Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. And he was a founding member of the Justice League of America, a team whose name was a nod to the Justice Society of the Golden Age.
While we’re on the topic of the Golden Age heroes, lets review something in case it wasn’t made clear earlier. Hal Jordan was not seen as the successor to Alan Scott. As far as DC was concerned, pretty much any story that they published before 1956, with few exceptions, was now out of continuity. There was the Green Lantern Corps with a variety of members, but none of their rings were magical and none of them had operated in Gotham City under the name Alan Scott. Here Alan Scott didn’t exist.
Until Gardner Fox wrote "FLASH OF TWO WORLDS." In that story, Barry Allen, the new modern-age Flash, found himself transported to a parallel universe where Jay Garrick lived and was the Flash. This meant, by extension, that Jay Garrick’s stories, as well as the stories of his contemporaries (including Alan Scott) did indeed happen, it’s just that they happened on a parallel version of Earth that Barry Allen dubbed Earth-2 (since he was the first guy to travel between the universes, he got to designate his home as Earth-1, even though technically the heroes of Earth-2 and its Justice Society preceded him and his Justice League by many years). Eventually, Alan Scott and Hal Jordan met.
As the decades went on, artists began making a visual distinction between the energies of Alan Scott’s ring and the standard Corps rings. When Hal and any other member of the GL Corps made something with their rings, it was simply a green object, sometimes glowing. But when Alan Scott created an object with his ring or shot a power beam from it, there was an aura of green flame surrounding the effect. While this didn’t directly affect the stories, it was a visual reminder to readers that Alan Scott’s ring used the “green flame of life” and not the same energies as the Corps.
Later writers decided it was a bit too coincidental that Alan Scott had found a ring in his universe that could do just about the same things that the carefully created rings of the Guardians of the Universe could do. So, a connection was invented.
It was revealed that early into their mission, the Guardians of the Universe collected all random magicks in the universe, believing it to be too chaotic for their vision of a clockwork cosmos. They collected these random magicks and put them into a star. The magicks came to be known as the Starheart and even developed a form of sentience. The Starheart sent out a piece of itself that eventually fell to Earth as a green meteor. When Alan Scott carved his ring from it centuries later, the Starheart gave it abilities similar to the Green Lantern Corps because it had been influenced by the energies of the Guardians.
Not a perfect explanation, but it was enough to give Alan Scott of Earth-2 a slight connection to the Corps while retaining his identity as a free agent of a more mystical bent.
Now, Earth-2 had World War II just as we did. So, as readers grew to be older and more sophisticated, the question arose … if there was someone like Alan Scott around (and if he had people like the Golden Age Superman and the Spectre were his buddies), why did the war even last more than a few days?
The good folks at DC started fleshing out their own past. It was revealed that Hitler had gained control of the Spear of Longinus, also known as the Spear of Destiny. For those of you who didn’t study religious myths and artifacts like those of us who went to Jesuit high schools and were forced to, a brief explanation. The Spear of Longinus is believed to be the very same spear that Roman soldier used to pierce the side of Jesus Christ as he hung from the cross. It’s believed by some that this item grants its wielder incredible power and its true that Hitler very much wanted possession of it.
So in the DC universe, and in this case Earth-2 in particular, the Spear of Destiny had some serious magical mojo around it. Hitler was able to use it to create a "sphere of influence" over Nazi-controlled territories. If you were superhuman, entering the sphere would start to influence you to behave in negative ways, closer to what Hitler wanted out of his soldiers. If you wielded magical energies (Alan Scott, the Spectre, Dr. Fate) or were at all sensitive to magic (Superman), you would fall under Hitler’s spell and become loyal to his commands. For the safety of everyone else, Alan Scott couldn’t wield his ring in direct conflict with the Nazis, despite his wishes otherwise.
And Alan Scott wasn’t the only one the writers had worried about as being portrayed with too much power. Hal Jordan presented a similar problem. So for a while, DC decided to emphasize the man behind the ring.
During a patrol through city streets, Hal came onto what he thought were criminals attacking an innocent man. Green Arrow showed up and told him he was fighting the wrong people, not just here but in general. In recent times, Green Arrow had gone from a bored millionaire-turned-vigilante/Batman-wannabe into a hero of the common man. He told Hal that he was so concerned with alien conquerors and super-villains that he was ignoring the fact that there were people in his own country who desperately needed help, help against poverty, corrupt landlords, drug kingpins, none of which involved hitting a guy dressed up in a costume. During the conversation, Hal was approached by an elderly black man who said that he heard tales of Hal working for blue-skins and working alongside orange-skins (I guess the guy read about Tomar Re somewhere), before demanding to know why the Lantern had done nothing to help the black-skins.
Believing that he had lost touch with common people, Hal and a Guardian named Appa Ali Apsa (who made himself human and was nicknamed “Old-Timer”) joined Ollie Queen on a cross-country road-trip to "discover America." Despite the differences in their personality (Hal had become a by-the-Corps-book professional by this time, whereas Ollie was a passionate firebrand), the two found themselves growing a very tight personal bond that would make them friends for years.
The Green Lantern/Green Arrow team was to help DC do stories on social issues and that emphasized Hal Jordan’s personality, putting him into situations that made him question how much he’d really been helping his planet and how not everything could be solved by a green boxing glove. How effective this was in the end is up for debate. Some thought these were very interesting stories dealing with deep social issues. Some felt that the stories were over-preachy and sadly so specific as to become very dated very quickly. Some also said it was the start of Hal becoming too much of a self-doubting hero and less of the “honest and fearless” warrior that he’d been before. Whatever the case, it’s definitely a chapter of Hal’s history that can’t be ignored.
HAL’S SIDEKICKS — or — "Who The Hell Is Itty?!"
It had to happen. Batman had Robin. Aquaman had Aqualad. Flash had Kid Flash. Wonder Woman had Wonder Girl. Green Arrow had Speedy. Even the Martian Manhunter had a little alien buddy named Zook for a while. Other than Superman, Hal seemed to be the only A-list hero who had no sidekick.
Some could argue that Hal had already had a sidekick for quite a while, the Ferris mechanic Tom “Pieface” Kalmaku. Tom was an Alaskan Innuity who was called Pieface because his features made his “eyes look like an eskimo pie” and he was occasionally referred to as “Hal’s eskimo greasemonkey.” Eventually, DC dropped such remarks and just said that “Pieface” was a nickname he picked up at Ferris.
Pieface was Hal’s confidant (being aware of his secret identity), his mechanic, and his sidekick on many adventures. He also kept a “Green Lantern Casebook”, much like how Snapper Carr chronicled the adventures of the JLA. But after Hal had left Pieface with Ferris Aircraft, DC eventually wanted a new helper. So after the storyline of the hard-travelling heroes, Hal finally got one.
But this was no young apprentice. No Lantern Boy or Lantern Lass or Kid Lantern. No. Instead, this sidekick had a more fearsome moniker: "ITTY!"
Yeah, you heard me. "Itty." As in "itty bitty" because … well, that’s what he was. A tiny little alien who, when we first met him, looked like an orange and purple flower. This creature had helped free Hal during an adventure against the alien Ravagers of Olys and Hal stuck the little guy with his unfortunate nickname since he was, again, "itty bitty."
These were during the days when DC still wasn’t sure what to do with Hal. They’d made him an insurance claims investigator, a traveling toy salesman and then put him on the road with Green Arrow. Now, not only did Hal have a sidekick, but he became a trucker, traveling across the highways all over the country. Itty joined him on these adventures, which made the Green Lantern comics seem hauntingly like an alternate reality version of "BJ and the Bear" (for you too young to remember or who aren’t a TV trivia dork like myself, BJ and the Bear was a show about a young trucker and his pet/sidekick monkey who was named "Bear"). Hal’s cousin, Harorld Lawrence Jordan (originally another “Hal”, but he later took to being called “Larry”), who was also the second hero to be called “Airwave” (his father was the original), also joined Hal on some of these adventures and took a liking to Itty.
Eventually, DC seemed to realize this was a really silly idea. So they did what any reasonable/altruistic team of writers does when they have a character that isn’t catching on: they killed him. Hal found the normally active Itty lying completely still for five days. Believing the alien dead, they buried him and had a funeral service. Yeah, I’m not kidding. They buried him outside Carol Ferris’s home and gave a funeral service for a damn alien flower.
Later, a big dark blobby thing attacked Carol’s house, a blob that wasn’t affected by Hal’s ring. Apparently, Itty hadn’t died, but had undergone some kind of metamorphosis, like a butterfly except much more blobby and much more dangerous since it went around causing a lot of property damage, fed off calcium and could teleport over short distances. Black Canary and Green Arrow joined the fight and Green Arrow was seriously messed up when Itty absorbed calcium from his bones.
Figuring that the alien’s metamorphosis wasn’t finished and he wasn’t in his right mind, Hal gave Itty a big mound of pure Grade A calcium. Amazingly, the idea worked and Itty went from big amorphous glob into a blue humanoid who was very apologetic for his actions and then teleported away.
Sadly, because some writers can’t let things go, this was not the last of Itty. Years later, a group of Green Lanterns read from the Great Book of Oa and found out what had happened to the alien critter after he left Earth. It showed that Itty’s race (called the Lasma) was being hunted down by a group of aliens called the Laroo. Grabbing a female Lasma and several larva of his people, Itty headed back to Earth to get Hal’s protection.
So Itty wound up returning to the Green Lantern comics YEARS after we thought we’d seen the last of him. He got Hal Jordan to help him out and together they defeated the Laroo. Itty and his gal then went off to make sure the other members of the Laroo race didn’t come to Earth for retaliation, leaving behind the larvae in Hal’s care. Hal built a new Vivarium for the critters to live in, having been reassured that they would not turn into calcium-sucking blobs for another four thousand years at least, by which point Itty hoped to return and move them somewhere else. We haven’t seen him since, so maybe this time he’s finally gone. Or maybe he’ll return again, looking like an ice cream cone with a mustache.
It could happen!
NOT JUST STAND-INS
Hal had always believed he was Abin Sur’s only choice to be Green Lantern. Turned out he was wrong. When Abin Sur had been dying, his ring found two possible candidates to replace him, two men who were honest and without fear. One was Hal Jordan. The other was a high school gym teacher named Guy Gardner. Because Hal was closer, he was the one who got picked.
Interesting side-note here. In another story, it was revealed that Hal and Guy were BOTH second choices. The ring’s first choice had actually been Clark Kent. But realizing Kent was a Kryptonian, due to the ring scans, Abin Sur decided to keep looking, saying that Earth’s guardian should be an Earthman (though strangely that hadn’t prevented Abin himself from protecting Earth’s sector). And while we’re on the subject, we found out that Hal’s friend Tomar Re, the GL of sector 2813, had actually tried to save Krypton but had failed to save its people at the last moment.
Hal later rescued Guy Gardner and a student from a bridge collapse. But Guy was seriously injured and lost the use of his legs. Due to his injuries, the Guardians decided a new person had to be chosen to act as Hal Jordan’s stand-in should he be incapacitated or killed. The new alternate GL chosen was a man named John Stewart, no relation to the comedian who would become very popular several years later. Hal gave John some training and the two worked together on a few cases. Although John was a lot more headstrong and cocky than Hal, his heart was in the right place and he was an effective Lantern.
After months of recovery, Guy was able to walk again with the aid of a cane. He also started dating a psychic named Kari Limbo who told him that he was the heir to a tradition involving the color green. Later on, Hal approached him and told him the truth about being an alternate GL. Hal was having trouble with his ring and was going to Oa to check it out. In the meantime, he wanted Guy to mind the shop for him. He gave Guy a duplicate ring he made and lent him his power battery.
After Hal left, Guy went to recharge his ring. But Hal’s problems were not because of the ring, it turned out. They were because of the power battery being faulty. When Guy activated it to recharge the ring, the battery literally exploded in his face. Guy’s brain was damaged by the blast and as if that wasn’t enough, he found himself exiled to the Phantom Zone, that same strange other-dimensional prison that housed criminals from Krypton. To make matters worse, he was later tortured by Sinestro, who had entered the Phantom Zone.
Believing Guy was dead, Hal tried to comfort Kari Limbo. Eventually, they fell for each other and later got engaged. From the Phantom Zone, Guy saw snippets of Hal and Kari about to be married and went nuts. Kari had a vision about what had happened to Guy and this led Superman and Hal to discover the truth. They fought Sinestro and a brain-damaged, enraged Guy Gardner who wanted revenge on Jordan. When the two heroes won and finally returned Guy to the physical world, he went into a coma.
Time passed on. Believing he needed to give himself and Carol (whom he recently got back together with) a better life, Hal decided to retire from the Corps. The Guardians asked John Stewart to officially become the new GL of sector 2814.
THE NEXT GENERATION
As the years went on, DC began writing more and more stories that took place in Earth-2. Soon, instead of just focusing on the old Golden Age heroes who were now only semi-active, they started introducing new characters, most of whom were the children or protégés of the elder JSA members (or, in the case of Brainwave, Jr., the child of a JSA villain). Several of these young men and women formed a team called Infinity, Inc. Two of its members were a young girl Jenny Lynn Hayden who operated under the codename of Jade and a man Todd Rice who called himself Obsidian. Jade and Obsidian were genetically siblings but had been orphaned and then adopted by two different families. The two tracked each other down and believed themselves to be the children of Alan Scott. Jade had a natural "power pulse" whose energies were quite similar to Alan Scott’s. Obsidian’s abilities involved shadow-manipulation and becoming intangible.
Jade was an optimistic, bright girl who enjoyed her life and didn’t really bother with a secret identity, allowing her skin to stay in its green hue rather than consciously shifting back to a “normal.” Obsidian, however, had been raised by an abusive father and had a lot of resentment over the fact that his real father, a super-hero, had not been around to protect him. Obsidian was a loyal hero, but he was also a pessimist, subject to depressions. At times, Obsidian seemed almost obsessively protective of Jade.
Eventually, Jade and Obsidian discovered that Alan Scott was their real father. Years ago, Alan had met and fell in love with a woman named Alyx Florin. He didn’t know it, but Alyx was actually Rose Forrest, the normal/good identity of his enemy Thorn. On their wedding night, the Thorn personality emerged again for the first time in years and Rose had set the room ablaze in an effort to kill her. Alan Scott had believed his wife died in the fire, but she survived and was pregnant. As soon as the twins were delivered, she gave them up for adoption and went on her own way.
Not long afterwards, DC did a story to explain why the JSAers were still so vital despite the fact that they should have all been at least in their 60s by that point. A "tale from the past" showed that a shadow villain named Ian Karkull was responsible when he seemingly died after fighting the JSA.
When he died, Ian Karkull’s shadow energies, along with various temporal energies he’d absorbed, exploded outwards, bathing those nearby (the JSA and several acquaintances) and resulting in their all having their aging rates retarded and giving them greater overall vitality than normal humans.
The fact that Ian Karkull was a shadow-based villain also allowed an explanation as to why Obsidian’s powers involved shadows rather than an imitation of Scott’s green flame or the manipulation of plant life (as his mother could do). For whatever reason, Todd’s genes took influence from the shadow energies Alan Scott had absorbed just as Jenny-Lynn’s genes took a nod from residual magical energies Alan’s body had taken in after decades of using his ring.
CORPS IN CRISIS!
For DC’s 50th anniversary, they decided to do a story in which all the parallel universes their characters resided on had to team-up to save themselves. Not just Earths 1 and 2, but also all the parallel realities we’d come to learn about over the decades such as Earth-X, Earth-S and Earth-4. A man called the Monitor, aided by his apprentice Harbinger and young Alexander Luthor of Earth-3, rallied the heroes and villains of the various universes to battle the Anti-Monitor, a villain from the anti-matter universe of Qward who was going to destroy the multiverse. For more info on this, check out my COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS.
During the course of the Crisis, it was revealed that the anti-matter universe had actually been created by the same energies released when Krona’s machines blew up so long ago. This same event had split the normal universe into a multiverse. When the Crisis was over, the surviving parallel realities were merged into a new single reality, as they were always meant to be.
For whatever reason, what the Corps was up to during the Crisis was not covered too well in the actual CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS series. But a lot of things happened to the Corps during this time. For one thing, the Guardians of the Universe had a split in their ranks after the Anti-Monitor attacked them. One group decided to let the Crisis play out as it did for the most part. The other faction decided they needed to actively go after the Anti-Monitor. This faction decided not to rely on any members of the Corps and instead recruited their own special agent. They went to Guy Gardner and brought him out of his coma and armed him with a power ring, after which the Anti-Monitor killed them.
Once, Guy had been an even-tempered man. But due to the brain damage and his experiences in the Phantom Zone, along with his belief that Hal had betrayed him by getting with Kari, Guy was now a suspicious, often irrational man with a hair-trigger temper. He used the ring to personalize his costume and then went off to do what he believed he’d been chosen him to do. He teamed-up with Star Sapphire and recruited several GL villains to his side. They battled several GLs and even Hal Jordan joined the fight, despite not having a power ring.
Tomar Re was killed in the battle. Afterwards, his ring sought out a replacement and went to John Stewart. They understood that this was because Tomar intended for John’s own ring to return to its old owner. John took Tomar’s ring and his ring went back to Hal, who became re-enlisted as a Green Lantern.
During the Crisis, many planets were hit by a wave of anti-matter. Kilowog’s homeworld was destroyed. Having been part of a society that stressed community rather than individuality, this hit the guy really hard. And he wasn’t the only one to suffer a loss. As stated before, the Crisis ended with time and space being restarted from scratch. The GL Ch’p found that one side-effect involved his planet losing all memory of him. The effect seemed localized to his world, since the Corps still remembered Ch’p and all he had done, but that was little comfort for the happy-go-lucky munk who was now not even a memory among his own people.
Following the Crisis, the Guardians left with the Zamarons for parts unknown. The GL Corps was left to organize themselves how they saw fit. This led to several smaller Corps teams that focused on certain planets or sectors as their homebase. On Earth, there was now a whole TEAM of GLs. The Green Lantern Corps of Earth involved John Stewart, Katma Tui, Ch’p, Salaak, Arisia, Kilowog and, of course, Hal Jordan. It was the dawn of a new era in the Post-Crisis universe.
But we shall discuss that in PART TWO.
Alan Kistler is a comic book historian who has been interviewed for documentaries by Warner Bros. Pictures and FUSE TV. To see his archives/blog or contact him directly, check out his personal web-site.