For Your Consideration: DC’s Green Lantern: 80 Years of the Emerald Knight

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Green Lantern: 80 Years of the Emerald Knight

Green Lantern: 80 Years of the Emerald Knight


It feels weird that the second wave of Golden Age heroes are rapidly hitting their 80th anniversaries. At least DC Comics is making some noise about them with the various 100-page giants and hardcovers. Coming this spring will be Green Lantern: 80 Years of the Emerald Knight, a 528-page mega survey all things involving a power ring.

All-American Comics #16

All-American Comics #16


DC has not revealed the contents but one can presume that most, if not all, of the stories from the 75ht anniversary book, will be included. This would start with the very first story from All-American Comics #16, where Bill Finger took Martin Nodell’s idea and turned it into a quasi-magical tale. Here we have engineer Alan Scott surviving a train wreck and encountering a green lantern that imparted its story to him. It began as a meteor crashing into Earth millennia ago and it was turned into the lantern and from the ore, a ring was fashioned, which would channel the energy based on the wielder’s will power. Scott took the ring and donned a motley costume, taking the name Green Lantern.

Nodell always said he was inspired by seeing a trackman’s lantern while commuting in Manhattan, but it was Finger who added the background and devised the imaginative ways the ring’s power could manifest itself. So successful was the series that he earned his eponymous quarterly title and a berth in Comics Cavalcade.

Green Lantern (1941) #1

Green Lantern (1941) #1


He recited an oath which varied over time until Editor Julius Schwartz adopted one composed by Alfred Bester, later a science fiction legend, and is still being recited today.

In time, he gained comic relief (it was either that or a sidekick back then) in the form of taxi driver Doiby Dickles and by 1948 was accompanied by Streak the Wonder Dog. Along the way, writers including Finger, John Broome, Robert Kanigher, and Gardner Fox began adding colorful foes including the Icicle, Harlequin, and Thorn.

Showcase #22

Showcase #22


As with most every other costumed champion, slumping sales meant cancellations of his series and being replaced outright in All-American. When Schwartz succeeded with a Flash rebirth, he was encouraged to try again and selected GL. This time, the ring was given by an alien to test pilot Hal Jordan in the pages of Showcase #22. He appeared in three issues and then earned his own title with Broome and Gil Kane crafting the adventures.

Slowly, the power battery began issuing orders to GL, and he even was whisked away to Oa where his masters, the Guardians of the Universe, resided. In time, he met other Lanterns in adjacent space sectors and the DC Universe grew by several orders of magnitude. In time, we learned the Guardians’ origin, which would forever have repercussions not only throughout the DC Universe but the CW’s Arrowverse, too.

Green Lantern #76

Green Lantern #76


As tastes changed, sales slumped and Schwartz handed the series to the team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, pairing him with liberal crusader Green Arrow, and they rode the wave of social relevance and earned critical plaudits and media attention. In time, though, the series was canceled and GL was relegated to a backup feature in The Flash.

Green Lantern: Rebirth #1

Green Lantern: Rebirth #1


He regained his book, along with GA, and has been a mainstay in the DCU ever since. A new wave of attention began when Geoff Johns arrived to retell Hal Jordan’s origin and dramatically expand first the GL Corps and then introduce the other Lanterns – Blue, Yellow, Red, Orange, and Violet – which sold an awful lot of comics and merchandise.

The Green Lantern #1

The Green Lantern #1


More recently, Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp have been chronicling Jordan’s exploits to great critical acclaim. I fully expect to see at least one of their stories in this collection.

Green Lantern endures because it tells heroic adventures set against a cosmic backdrop that is ever changing. His allies and opponents are a colorful and diverse lot while the role the Corps plays in the greater cosmology remains vital. The hero has been blessed with one of the finest collections of writers and artists that a fan could hope for.

USER COMMENTS

We'd love to hear from you, feel free to add to the discussion!