Well! I was right... Earth-2 is the title to watch!
This issue gave us the origin of the Earth-2 Green Lantern, Alan Scott (see preceding post for information about Alan, in song).
Now, What Kids Don't Know about this story would be....it's same as his origin in the Golden Age. Alan Scott was the sole survivor of a train wreck, after which he had a brief but exposition-filled conversation with a talking green flame. But author James Robinson puts some very clever twists on this version (particularly the origin of Alan's ring).
I kind of teared up at the whole ring thing.. .but Alan sure didn't. I was a little taken aback by how quickly and coolly Alan moved from "I'm badly injured and my lover is dead" to "Ah ha, I see; I appear to having my origin story now; got it." On the other hand... (1) Alan is the powerful head of an international multi-billion dollar communications company and (2) Golden Age heroes ALWAYS recovered lickety-split from whatever horrible origin-tragedy befell them and got right into the "Whee! I have powers! Time to kick some ass!" phase of things.
But mark my words. We--and Alan-- have not seen the last of Sam. Even though Sam is very very dead.
Where Robinson REALLY floored me was the reveal at the end. I was ready for lots of things: I was NOT ready for that. In fact, I was so not ready for that, that I literally stopped breathing for 30 minutes out of shock. Then I gasped, and not just for lack of oxygen. Honestly, I cannot recalled when I was so simply stunned by a comic's end.
But be clear: I was not shocked because "I didn't see that coming." I was shocked because I could have seen it coming, I should have seen it coming, but I still didn't, so ingrained in me by popular culture are certain preconceptions about certain characters. NOW, thanks to Robinson, it all makes perfect sense, and the Earth-2 Green Lantern has a perfect set-up.
Bravo, James Robinson; I'm not an easy man to strike out with a curve ball; bravo.