Monday, September 10, 2007
Least Likely to Change: Green Lantern ?!?!?!?!
I mean, really; is there anyone who thinks the modern Green Lantern is the Least Changed from the Golden Age version?
According to our current poll, there are. Talk to me. Explain to me how that's possible. The number of votes Green Lantern should have is ZERO, people!
In the Golden Age, the Green Lantern was Alan Scott, the sole person who became the inheritor of a lantern made from a strange mystic meteorite that had fallen to Earth thousands of years ago.
Three times would the meteorite flame. Once to bring Death, once to bring Life, once to bring Power. The first time it, um, killed some bad guys, I think. The second time, I remember quite clearly, it cured someone of insanity. The third time was when Alan Scott found it, and it granted him the power of the Green Lantern.
The creator of Green Lantern said he was inspired by his seeing train engineer use a red lantern to signal "stop" and a green lantern to signal "go" (a coding system auto traffic signals still follow). Alan Scott was to be a modern Aladdin, and the lantern his magic lamp. And, contrary to what anyone tries to tell you, the ring and its wielder were originally vulnerable to any substance in its natural state, such as a rock or a piece of wood. Bullets, being of a man-made alloy, were stoppable. That made a (fairy tale-ish) kind of sense, since the ring was some kind of nature magic. Only later did this vulnerability get narratively narrowed to wood, because, wood being plentiful, was most often used to fell Scott.
The modern Green Lantern is an entirely different person. And concept, really.
Alan Scott was always portrayed as a very successful engineer, later radio broadcast, later broadcast executive. Alan Scott was a leader, in both his professional and heroic roles. And as Green Lantern, he intentionally designed a bizarre costume to freak people out. He lived in Gotham. Green Lantern was creepy.
Hal Jordan? Not so much. Hal's only creepy in a "Yeah, wiseguy... she's my daughter!" kind of way.
No, really; I intend no offense to Hal. TRUST ME, if I want to make fun of Hal Jordan, you'll know it. But Hal was always portrayed as a maverick and professionally troubled. In the Green Lantern Corps, he was portrayed as a star, or an MVP, not "Team Captain". Flash, Aquaman, Superman, Batman, Black Canary-- they've all been portrayed as leaders of the Justice League. But not Green Lantern. In fact, in JLA Year One, the very idea that Hal should be in charge was played as a joke.
Oh, and the Corps. The essential concept of the ring/lantern has changed. It used to be mystical. It was like a living thing, a thing of flame, which could used to do a wide variety of whatever-the-plot-required stuff, but was very seldom used to make concrete objects. The modern Green Lantern? A cold, hard computer, that displays analyses, forms "constructs" of, well, something green (Solidified light? Plasma? Whatever). It's weakness (when it has one) is a bandwidth in the electromagnetic spectrum. Instead of it being a one-of-a-kind item, there's now one in every cosmic CrackerJack box from Oa. Green Lantern isn't a secret identity, it's a title or a job, like "Marshall".
Alan Scott was his own man, trying to wield responsibly an enormous power that was his and his alone. He still is. Hal Jordan (and his ilk) are disposable flunkies, cosmic deputies using power borrowed from their alien bosses, symbols that we live in a police protectorate galaxy (and why nobody's punched Green Lantern's lights out on that basis alone, I do not know).
The only modern age hero I can think who's less like his Golden Age counterpart than Green Lantern is...