Alan Scott's rise and fall as the first Green Lantern
The First in a Series Examining Green Lantern History
The late 1930's was a time of great tribulation as the United States slowly emerged from the Great Depression in a world on the brink of it's second World War. American's of all ages were looking for heroes to boost their confidence in a trouble time and the explosive success of the new comic book industry led the charge in providing cheap escapist entertainment. Riding the wave of success that Superman and Batman generated for National Allied Publications / Detective Comics and their affiliated company All-American Comics, superheroes erupted from the page of comic book after comic book that filled the racks of newstands from New York to California. In 1940 the first tale of Green Lantern would establish another new character to join the ever growing roster of superheroes vying for public approval.
|Green Lantern's debut|
While the train ride home was uneventful it was the image of a subway worker at the station waving a green lantern to signal the all clear which stuck out in Nodell's mind. Combining the elements of his inspiration together, Nodell designed a character possessing a great deal of theatricality - a cape, billowing sleeves and Greek inspired laced slippers - the Green Lantern. Martin combed the telephone directory for names that sounded good together, settling on Alan Scott, and empowered him with a powerful mystic lantern crafted from the remains of a meteor which had fallen in ancient China. The lantern instructed Scott to forge a ring, which Nodell had based upon the Wagnerian Ring Cycle operas, and a new superhero was born.
Less than a week later Nodell returned to All-American Comics with his design, backstory and outline for what the strip would be about, including the ring's 24 hour recharge cycle and an oath. Nodell was partnered with Batman co-creator Bill Finger to write the stories so that Martin could focus more on the pencils and inks. Together Finger and Nodell put together Green Lantern's first appearance which appeared All-American Comics #16 which appeared in May of 1940. Neither men realized it yet, but the two had just created the next big hit for All-American and Detective Comics.
|Interior artwork from All-American Comics #16|
"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's original oath
Golden Age Icon
|The debut of the JSA|
With Green Lantern's star rising All-American awarded the character with his own series which debuted in the fall of 1941. Along the way Alan Scott was paired with a sidekick in the form of heavy New York accented cabbie Doiby Dickles, who joined his friend, the "Lan'trin", on many adventures in the coming years. Along with so many Golden Age heroes Green Lantern fought the Nazis and the Japanese as part of the comics industry's role in rallying the public during World War II.
The main Green Lantern series was published quarterly until 1946 when it became a bi-monthly series. Nodell and Finger evolved Green Lantern's ability as the character grew in popularity and appeared more frequently. The pair eventually arrived at the idea of the ring forming objects from Alan's mind and made the ring vulnerable to wood, in part due to the fact that most of his villains had be able to hit him with wooden objects during the first two years that Green Lantern appeared. Bill Finger left the Green Lantern series after the third issue and was subsequently replaced by noted science fiction author Alfred Bester.
|All-American #10 debuted Alan's new oath|
"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!" - Alan Scott's new oath by Alfred Bester.
The First Emerald TwilightDuring the war the paper shortage led to rationing and subsequently comic books reduced their page count to reflect the growing demand for resources to fight World War II. But after the war things began to change for comics and the public perception of what they wanted to see on the news stands.
|A sign of things to come|
While Wertham did not kill the comic book industry he nearly drove the final nail in the coffin and Detective Comics consolidated with its All-American affiliate to become the DC Comics we know today. 1954 would bring Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent but by that time only Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were left to battle the forces of evil. It would take a few more years and a reinterpretation of Nodell's initial idea before Green Lantern would fly again.
Sources: New Light on the Green Lantern (AlterEgo), 75 Years of DC Comics