‘Green Lantern’ is technically not one person, but is the name given to a group of superheroes in an American comic book series by DC comics. These superheroes battle evil with the powers given to them through the use of some magical rings. The official name for this group is the Green Lantern Corps, and they’re usually considered to be an intergalactic agency of law enforcement.
The first-ever known Green Lantern character is named Alan Scott. Scott’s characters were created by Martin Nodel in 1940 through co-scripting the first Green Lantern stories penned by Bill Finger. This was during what we now call the Golden Age for Comic Books, which was an era when comic books were very much in demand. Alan Scott was usually depicted as fighting criminals situated in Capitol City, which was later renamed Gotham City. He used his magic Green Lantern ring to access his superpowers.
Next came the Silver Age of comic books, when the Green Lantern character was relaunched in 1959 with the name Hal Jordan. The main people behind this relaunching were Gil Kane and John Broome. The changes also included a shift in the character’s origin from fantasy-based to science fiction.
There are several other Green Lantern characters. These include, in no particular order, Simon Baz, Jessica Cruz, Kyle Runner, Guy Gardner, and John Stewart.
The Green Lantern Corps have been included in the longest-lasting characters from the world of DC comics. Their comic book series has gone through multiple adaptations, including TV shows, video games, and one movie so far.
The Superpowers of Green Lanterns
The rings that the Green Lantern Corps have give rise to a range of superpowers. All of these powers are based on emotional willpower, fearlessness or bravery, and imagination.
Some sources say that the rings are powered solely by willpower. However, each of the Green Lanterns has a rig that gives them several possibilities within their superpowers. While the original stories of the Green Lantern never go into the full potential of what the rings can do, we do know two definite qualities about them. There are:
- Each of the rings grants the user the superpower of flying
- The effects of the rings are tinged with green light
The earliest stories about the Green Lantern show how the users of the ring will perform several feats and activities with their newfound power. This included making objects shrink, turning other people invisible, and so on. However, as the stories developed, they became more about the constructs and not so much about the abilities of the bearer.
So, what do we mean by ‘constructs’? The signature ability of every Green Lantern is to conjure up ‘constructs’ which are green, solid objects that are under the Green Lantern’s control. More specifically, a Green Lantern can control the constructs using their telekinetic force—this basically means that they handle it using the power of their eyes and nothing else.
The constructs themselves could be any kind of objects; they might be in the shape of a fist to punch out an enemy. At other times, they might be a shield to protect the hero or some would-be victims. They could also take the shape of a sword, chains, etc. No matter what they are, though, their color is pure green. At times, a certain Green Lantern might have enough skills to make the EM spectrum emit a different color if they want to. Hal Jordan, one of the Green Lanterns, has the power to make kryptonite radiation emit from his constructs under the guidance of Batman (the better-known superhero protecting Gotham City).
The New Green Lantern
The next Green Lantern was conceived after the hit revamping of the superhero ‘The Flash’. This was in 1956, and the first human Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, became the new Green lantern in 1959. Hal Jordan starts out as a test pilot and comes across the alien Abin Sur, who was the dying Green Lantern hero inside a crashed spaceship. The alien gave the ring to Hal Jordan and passed away, leaving the human in a new superhero garb.
As with previous Lanterns, Jordan also had to touch a lantern in order to recharge his ring and would recite an oath every time it was recharged. This oath went like this:
“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!”
Other Green Lanterns would also recite an oath, but the wording would be a bit different for most of them. Eventually, there would be several Green Lanterns all over the universe, sort of like a police force. These were hand-picked by the Guardians of Oa, who were small aliens with blue skin. The main aim of the Green Lanterns was to defeat evil and make justice prevail.
Easy Travel and Exploration
Another power of the Green Lantern Corps’ rings is that they allow the bearers to shoot through interstellar distances. The speed they get is enough for them to easily roam around the universe. The wearer can also survive in almost any kind of atmosphere and environment as long as they’re wearing the ring. At the same time, they also rise above the basic needs of sleeping, eating, going to the bathroom, and so on.
The rings make it even easier to move around wherever that the bearer wants by translating almost any language in the whole universe. Lanterns will also get access to all the Guardian knowledge and use the rings’ sensors to analyze objects after identifying them. The knowledge of the Book of Oa is transmitted through these rings.
The rings may seem to give their wearers god-like powers and abilities. However, there are limitations to these abilities. One of the most glaring omissions is the lack of power to immediately heal up any injuries. While the rings can be used to shield the bearer from any attack or harm, they cannot mend wounds the second they are inflicted.
In the origin story of the Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Hal got the ring from Abin Sur because the latter was unable to treat or recover from his own injuries.
If the Green Lantern with the ring is a skilled and experienced physician him or herself, they can probably survive even serious injuries more easily. This is because while the ring doesn’t have healing powers, it can provide any kind of medical tool one might need for treating any wounds or injuries. The same applies if the injured Green Lantern has a physician by their side. Hal Jordan used the ring to make a cast for his broken arm, but he wasn’t able to mend it right there.
Green Lanterns might also replace parts of their own body with green constructs using their ring. However, this will need a lot of biological knowledge, concentration, and memory in order to prolong and create the construct.
More Weaknesses of the Green Lantern Rings
Another example of the limitations of these rings is when Alan Scott was unable to directly destroy or affect any item that was made from wood. For instance, Alan Scott might create a green shield that can even block bullets. However, if his opponent used a wooden bat, that weapon will pass through the shield construct fairly easily.
Hal Jordan’s ring and that of some of his colleagues also had a weakness to anything yellow in the original story. This is because the yellow impurity in the Central Battery in Oa was removed. The more recent Green Lantern storyline managed to eventually do away with this particular weakness. Such changes are not surprising, as they often happen in the world of comics and the movies based on them. There are no less than three forms of Loki in the Marvel universe, so we may expect the same from DC comics.
What Makes a Green Lantern ring more or Less Effective?
According to many sources, the Green Lanterns’ ring effectiveness is influenced by the willpower of the wearer. If a particular Green Lantern has a very strong willpower and is dueling another Lantern with weaker willpower, the former is likely to win. A telepathic attack, hypnosis, or anything else that can weaken one’s mind could weaken the rings’ power as well. In some cases, such an attack could even make the ring useless.
The Making of the First Green Lantern Ring
According to the original sources, the story of the powerful rings began when the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, discovers a mystical orb that looks like a green railroad lantern. This orb was called the Starheart, and it was actually only a piece of it that became the lantern. The lantern was discovered by Scott following a train accident, at which point it tells the would-be superhero to take a fragment of the green material and make a ring out of it.
This first ring had the power to make the bearer’s thoughts a reality, with the condition that he had to touch the lantern within 24 hours each day. The ring also gave Scott flying abilities, making objects from green flames, but had the limited ability of not affecting wood. As mentioned above, this weakness was written out, much like many aspects of Thor in Norse mythology were written out in the movies.
Who Did The Green Lanterns Fight?
Initially, stories about the Green Lantern superheroes only focused on their fighting ordinary, everyday criminals. However, there were soon master supervillians such as the Sportsmaster, who had a collection of wooden mallets and bats to utilize the ring’s one weakness. Other villains included the following:
- Solomon Grundy, a giant zombie-like creature.
- Green Lantern Sinestro
- The Tattooed Man
- Black Hand
- Star Sapphire
Alan Scoot, the first Green lantern, would be featured in 80 plus issues of All-American as well as having his own comic for a solid eight years. He was also in the Justice Society of America in All Stars Comics issues until 1951 when the publication was canceled. After that, he was still in the Justice Society in all of its revivals.
While the Green Lantern may not be any one superhero, this group in DC comics has a fan following of its own. Unfortunately, the 2011 movie based on the Green Lantern Corps wasn’t much of a success. There is another movie planned for 2022 or the next year, so there is still hope. After all, the stories about Green Lantern in the comics were inventive, unique, and dynamic. The most likely problems included some scientific conundrum of an issue with aliens. Many stories also tackled important concepts such as the rights of Native Americas, pollution, drug abuse, consumerism, women’s lib, and race relations. While other heroes such as Superman might be more well-known, there’s definitely a lot to work with here.