Ok so this week we were suppose to have part 2 of the Star Wars talk. However, the big news this week (one I was waiting for) was the announcement DC Comics was making the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, gay.
The news has hit the mainstream media like a grenade. Most of the headlines have been “Green Lantern is gay.” Any comic book fan knows there is more than one Green Lantern. In fact, there are thousands of them. But this is still big news because the original Green Lantern is one of the first super-heroes and one of the most popular of the Golden Age. He also inspired the modern day version of Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.
I’ve always been a big fan of the original Green Lantern. He ranks among my favorite characters of all time. When DC did their New 52 relaunch last year, we expected major changes to characters. Taking a previously straight character and establishing him as gay should not shock anyone. And in a very real sense, it’s a good choice. Alan Scott was briefly married and had two children but his relationship was never a major part of his history or back story the way it was with others. It’s hard to remove the Lois Lane flirtation from Superman’s story. Same for all versions of the Flashes. But Alan never had his relationship front and centre.
Now if you are not a major comic book fan and you are wondering what the deal with this version of Green Lantern, allow me to offer a bit of history.
First, Green Lantern did not start out in DC Comics. He was owned and published by All-American. The two companies worked closely but there was a falling out and an eventual split. When heroes began to decrease in popularity at the end of the Golden Age, All-American sold its National (the original name for DC) and the rest is history.
As the story goes Alan Scott was originally a train engineer. He found a glowing green meteorite and fashioned a green train lantern and a ring. His powers appeared to be magic in nature and because all heroes needed a weakness, his weakness was wood (yes, a gay hero with a weakness for wood. Get it out of your system now).
Alan Scott eventually settled in Gotham City and owned a radio station, making him a wealthy media owner. He was also one of the founding members of the Justice Society of America. But as I mentioned after the Second World War, super-heroes weren’t as popular anymore and Green Lantern was no longer seen in print.
In the 1950s, DC relaunched its heroes with new identities and origins. The new Green Lantern was Hal Jordan, a test pilot who was given his ring by a dying alien. He soon learned the Green Lantern Corp was an intergalactic police force run by a group of blue skinned aliens known as the Guardians. Instead of wood, these Green Lanterns were vulnerable to the color yellow.
Soon fans began to ask what happened to the original versions of these cool new characters DC was publishing. It was established that in the DC Universe there were an infinite number of parallel universes. Some almost identical and others radically different. It was established the original heroes were on another earth, labeled Earth-2. Soon the original heroes were crossing over with the new heroes (on Earth-1).
To tie in the Green Lantern Corps with the original Green Lantern it was decided the Guardians basically didn’t like or trust magic. So they removed all the magic from their power source, placed it in a big rock and fired it off into space. At some point it crossed the universal barrier and landed on Earth-2, where it was found by Alan Scott.
In retrospect it was a pretty cool way to tie the original GL in with the modern GLs.
In the 1980s it was came to light that during a brief marriage Alan had fathered twins who show up as adults and join other young heroes as Infinity Inc. His daughter Jade had green skin and powers like her father, on without the need of a ring. His son, Obsidian, had “shadow powers”.
Then in 1985-86, DC published Crisis On Infinite Earths, where they destroyed their multi-verse and set up a single Earth and universe for all its characters. The moved did not affect the original GL much except his adventures always happened on the new Earth rather than a parallel Earth.
Eventually writers decided there should only be one Green Lantern. The GLC was destroyed and Kyle Rayner became the sole Green Lantern. Alan remained but was given the name Sentinel. It was also established Alan’s powers came from the self-aware Star Heart. I was never a fan of it. I liked the original clean origin better.
Alan eventually got his Green Lantern name back and served as a member of the Justice Society until the New 52 relaunch.
Following the relaunch, the multi-verse was firmly re-established. On Earth-2, their versions of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman had been around for years and were older. The exact age and beginning of their adventures has not been established but Batman was old enough to have a daughter in her early 20s who became his Robin. Superman also had a cousin who called herself Supergirl.
Five years ago, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are killed saving the planet from Darkseid’s forces. Robin and Supergirl are drawn into a portal and emerge on the main DC Earth.
Alan Scott is now a media mogul and will become Green Lantern for the first time. His exact origin is not known yet, but we have established he is now gay and we meet his partner in issue No. 2, when he lands in Hong Kong.
It’s worth noting that in the old continuity Alan’s son was gay and the loss of that character prompted this move.
So there you go, Alan Scott one of the original heroes and one of the longest lasting getting a new take. Is he still one of my favorite characters? Time will tell. I don’t know if I will like the new look or origin of the character but if I lose some love for the character it will be for story reasons, not because he is established as gay.
That move, I support.