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Cartoon History Lesson #7: Green Lantern, Alan Scott

Alan Scott

With the Green Lantern movie, successful interest in the comic book industry revamped, and Alan Scott being outted by DC…it’s about time we get to know the history behind this facinating character, Alan Scott. Like most heroes with long histories…it’s gunna be a long story.

(Starting….) Thousands of years ago, a mystical “green flame” fell to Earth in ancient China. The voice of the flame prophesied that it would act three times: once to bring death (a lamp-maker crafted the green metal of the meteor into a lamp; in fear and as punishment for what they thought sacrilege, the local villagers killed him, only to be destroyed by a sudden burst of the green flame), once to bring life (in modern times, the lamp came into the hands of a patient in a mental institution who fashioned the lamp into a modern lantern; the green flame restored him to sanity and gave him a new life), and once to bring power.

By 1940, after having already fulfilled the first two-thirds of this prophecy (death when it crashed, life when it healed the insanity of the person who found it), the flame had been fashioned into a metal lantern, which fell into the hands of Alan Scott, a young railroad engineer. Following a railroad bridge collapse, the flame instructs Scott in how to fashion a ring from its metal, to give him fantastic powers as the superhero Green Lantern. He adopts a colorful costume (setting himself apart from his successors, as he wore both red and purple in his outfit, besides the standard green) and becomes a crime-fighter, defeating the crooks who caused the accident, though he discovers his weakness from a wooden club. Alan was a founding member of the Justice Society of America, and was its first chairman.

In subsequent decades, it was established that Scott inhabited an alternate universe that became known as Earth-Two. A more science-based Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, was introduced in the Silver Age of comics as part of an intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps. Initially, there was no direct connection between the two except for the name. After 1985′s publication of Crisis on Infinite Earths, a Tales of the Green Lantern Corps story was published that brought Scott even closer to the Corps’ ranks, when it was revealed that Alan Scott was not the first human to bear a power ring.

Yalan Gur

A Green Lantern named Yalan Gur, a resident of China, preceded him by several centuries. Not only had the Corps’ now-familiar green, black and white uniform motif not yet been adopted, but Yalan Gur altered the basic red uniform to more closely resemble the style of clothing worn by his countrymen. Power ultimately corrupted this early Green Lantern, as he attempted to rule over mankind, which forced the Guardians to cause his ring to manifest a weakness to wood, the material from which most Earth weapons of the time were fashioned. This allowed the Chinese peasants to ultimately defeat their corrupted “champion.” His ring and lantern were burned and it was during this process that the “intelligence” inhabiting the ring and the lantern, and linking them to the Guardians, was damaged. Over time, when it had occasion to manifest itself, this “intelligence” became known as the mystical ‘Starheart’ of fable.

The Oath

Centuries later, it was explained, when Scott found the mystical lantern, it had no memory of its true origins, save a vague recollection of the uniform of its last master. This was the origin of Scott’s distinctive costume. Due to its damaged link to them, the Guardians presumed the ring and lantern to be lost in whatever cataclysm overcame their last owner of record. Thus Scott was never noticed by the Guardians and went on to carve a history of his own apart from that of the Corps, sporting a ring with an artificially induced weakness against anything made of wood. Honoring this separate history, the Guardians never moved to force Scott to relinquish the ring, formally join the Corps, or adopt its colors. A Silver Age cross-over story depicts Scott and Hal Jordan charging their rings at the same Power Battery while both reciting the “Brightest Day” oath. During the Rann-Thanagar War, it was revealed that Scott is an honorary member of the Corps.

Scott in action

Scott uses his ring to fly, to walk through solid objects (by “moving through the fourth dimension”), to paralyze or blind people temporarily, hypnotize them, to create rays of energy, to melt metal as with a blowtorch, and to cause dangerous objects to glow, among other things. It could also allow him and others to time travel. Occasionally, he uses it to create solid objects and force fields in the manner usually associated with fellow Green Lantern Hal Jordan and to read minds. His ring could protect him against any object made of metal, but would not protect him against any wood or plant based objects.This was said to be because the green flame was an incarnation of the strength of “green, growing things”.

During the 1940s, Green Lantern seemed to alternate between serious adventure – particularly when his arch-nemesis, Solomon Grundy, appeared – and light comedy, usually involving his sidekick Doiby Dickles. Toward the end of his Golden Age adventures, he was reduced to the role of a sidekick to Streak the Wonder Dog, a heroic canine cut from the mold of Rin-Tin-Tin and Lassie.

Justice Society of America

Scott was a member of the JSA in 1951 when the team was investigated by the “Joint Congressional Un-American Activities Committee,” a fictional organization based on the real-life House Un-American Activities Committee but stated to have been created after the death of Senator Joseph McCarthy on Earth-Two.They were accused of possible communist sympathies and asked to reveal their identities. The JSA declined, and most of the membership retired in the 1950s.

One piece of retroactive continuity fills out Scott’s early history: All-Star Squadron Annual #3 states that the JSA fought a being named Ian Karkull who imbued them with energy that retarded their aging, allowing Scott and several other members (as well as their spouses) to remain active into the late 20th century without infirmity. The events of that incident also led to his taking a leave of absence from the JSA, explaining why the character vanished from the roster for a time.

Abin Sur

Also, during this period, he and his friend Jay Garrick (the Flash) had an encounter with Abin Sur, the Green Lantern who preceded Hal Jordan; tracking a criminal to Earth, Sur’s ring is immobilized by his foe forming a yellow barrier around the ring. Sur then secretly borrows Alan’s ring after he and Jay were knocked unconscious. With the new ring, which lacks a weakness to yellow, Sur was able to take his foe by surprise and defeat him, before returning the ring to Alan and leaving Earth.

The team re-formed in the 1960s with Scott as a member, though little is known of their adventures during this time save for their team-ups with the Justice League of America, of the parallel world Earth-One, and a few cross-universe adventures Scott shared with Earth-One’s Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.

From the late 1940s to the 1970s, Scott runs the Gotham Broadcasting Company (GBC). The company ends up ruined by creditors. The Psycho Pirate temporarily drives Alan mad and the rest of the JSA help him recover.Jay Garrick helps him start a new career as a scientist, although he eventually regains control of the GBC and is still running it to this day.

Jade & Obsidean

Progeny

It was eventually revealed that in the late 1960s, Scott marries the woman with the dual identity Rose and Thorn, and the two had a pair of children who would grow up to become the superheroes Jade and Obsidian of the team Infinity, Inc.. In the 1980s, Scott married his longtime nemesis (now reformed) Molly Mayne, also known as The Harlequin, and reconciles with his son and daughter.

Infinite Crisis and 52

Jade's Death

During the Infinite Crisis, Scott and his daughter Jade, along with many others, travel with Donna Troy to the center of the universe to save it from an unknown threat, later revealed to be Alexander Luthor, Jr. Jade dies on this mission. A year later, Scott appears to be still active and relatively youthful in comparison to his true age, but he now wears an eye-patch due to losing his eye in a Zeta beam transporter accident while returning from space. Though Scott lost his daughter, he tells Kyle Rayner that he still has family both through relations and close friendships, among which he counts Kyle.

Much happens between Then and Now…

The New 52

Casual GL Uniform

Following DC’s The New 52 reboot of its fictional universe, Alan Scott has been reintroduced in issue 1 of Earth 2. Now the young dynamic head of GBC productions on Earth 2, Alan Scott is destined to become his world’s Green Lantern. His character sometimes makes cameos in animated cartoons such as Batman: The Brave & The Bold.

Alan Scott, today (6/1/2012), was introduced as being gay by DC following Marvel’s gay wedding of Northstar to his long-term boyfriend and Archie Comics’ introduction of gay character, Kevin Keller. It seems like heroes are coming out of the woodwork to fight for Gay Rights as well. It’s about time. ;D

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