Before Hal Jordan or John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner came along, there was another Green Lantern. The Original.
Born in the ‘Golden Age of Comics’ (1930’s-1940’s), this Green Lantern was more magical than SciFi. His name was Alan Scott.
Alan’s story is different. Created in the late 30’s/early 40’s by Martin Nodell, The Green Lantern’s power was magic, not gifted science from the Guardians on OA. His power came from a ‘green flaming rock’ that fell to the earth thousands of years ago. Scott finds a lantern (the rock/flame had been smithed/formed or something into the shape of a lantern) and it tells him how he can make a ring that will give him great power when combined with the lantern – which he does. Thus, The Green Lantern is born.
But he is not without weakness. Unlike the vulnerability to the color yellow built into the Green Lantern Corps by the Guardians of OA, Alan’s ring is vulnerable to wood. Kinda weird, I know – but hey! Every superhero needs to have his kryptonite – am I right?
Being the first Green Lantern wasn’t enough for Scott – he also had to be a founding member of the world’s very first super-group (and no, it wasn’t The Beatles). It was the Justice Society of America:
The JSA fought together for a long time. When DC decided to create new, updated versions of their venerable characters, it was decided that there was actually a multi-verse in the DCU – multiple earths where different versions of Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkman, etc., existed. This meant they could still keep the old characters with their story-lines intact, but also have updated versions to play with.
Of course, this sort of blew up in their face later on. It was a little confusing. You had a Green Lantern who wore a cape, had nothing to do with the Guardians, was vulnerable to wood and who had kids:
Not to mention three or four versions of The Flash (Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, Bart Allen), a couple versions of SuperGirl, story-lines crossing over from universe to universe – it was a bit of a mess, really.
DC’s solution was a massive event called ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’. This was an attempt to bring everything together into one ‘earth’, one continuity, throwing out the stuff that they didn’t like and allowing for fresh restarts of things that needed it. Yes people, this was the very first -reboot-. In this case, a reboot of an entire universe, touching every book and character in the DC playbook.
How did this effect Alan Scott?
He got to be the hero and save the entire multiverse.
Crisis created as many problems as it fixed, and one of them was the question, “What the heck do we do with the JSA?” Ragnarok was the answer.
They were tagged to fight Ragnarok. Forever. Locked away in Asgard, only a few – their loved ones, remembered them. I was a heavy reader of Infinity Inc. at the time, and the kids (Infinity Inc. was the ‘children and heirs’ of the JSA) were really torn apart by the whole thing.
But, you can’t keep a good superhero team down, and the JSA returned in the early 90’s with a 6 issue mini that I really liked.
Those nasty little problems were still hanging out there though – the ones related to the whole continuity of the DCU. For Scott, they revealed that the ‘green flame’ that fell to earth so long ago had actually been a GL fallen from grace. It also predated the inclusion of the yellow vulnerability of the Guardians and was outside the normal GL corps network. This allowed him to be a GL but not be part of the corps. The OAns knew about him, though, and had decided long ago that he was doing ‘good’ so they left him be.
Corny, I know – but hey, it seemed to fit so the stuck with it for a while.
For me, Scott was a favorite of the Green Lanterns. I also liked his kids and their spin-off comic, Infinity Inc. The Justice Society of America is also my favorite team. Every team that has come since, has been based on what they did first.