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Green Lantern is the name of several superheroes appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. They fight evil with the aid of rings that grant them a variety of extraordinary powers, all of which come from imagination and/or emotions. The characters are typically depicted as members of the Green Lantern Corps, an interstellar law enforcement agency.
The first Green Lantern character, Alan Scott, was created in 1940 by Martin Nodell during the Golden Age of Comic Books and usually fought common criminals in Capitol City (and later, Gotham City) with the aid of his magic ring. For the Silver Age of Comic Books, John Broome and Gil Kane reinvented the character as Hal Jordan in 1959 and shifted the focus of Green Lantern stories from fantasy to science fiction. Other notable Green Lanterns include Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner.
The Green Lanterns are among DC Comics' longer lasting sets of characters. They have been adapted to television, video games, and motion pictures.
Martin Nodell (initially using the name Mart Dellon) created the first Green Lantern. He first appeared in the Golden Age of Comic Books in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940), published by All-American Publications, one of three companies that would eventually merge to form DC Comics.
This Green Lantern's real name was Alan Scott, a railroad engineer who, after a railway crash, came into possession of a magic lantern which spoke to him and said it would bring power. From this, he crafted a magic ring which gave him a wide variety of powers. The limitations of the ring were that it had to be "charged" every 24 hours by touching it to the lantern for a time, and that it could not directly affect objects made of wood. Alan Scott fought mostly ordinary human villains, but he did have a few paranormal ones such as the immortal Vandal Savage and the zombie Solomon Grundy. Most stories took place in New York.
As a popular character in the 1940s, the Green Lantern featured both in anthology books such as All-American Comics and Comic Cavalcade, as well as his own book, Green Lantern. He also appeared in All Star Comics as a member of the superhero team known as the Justice Society of America.
After World War II the popularity of superheroes in general declined. The Green Lantern comic book was cancelled with issue #38 (May–June 1949), and All Star Comics #57 (1951) was the character's last Golden Age appearance. When superheroes came back in fashion in later decades, the character Alan Scott was revived, but he was forever marginalized by the new Hal Jordan character who had been created to supplant him (see below). Initially, he made guest appearances in other superheroes' books, but eventually got regular roles in books featuring the Justice Society. He never got another solo series. Between 1995 and 2003, DC Comics changed Alan Scott's superhero codename to "Sentinel" in order to distinguish him from the newer and more popular science fiction Green Lanterns.
In 2011, the Alan Scott character was revamped. His costume was redesigned and the source of his powers was changed to that of the mystical power of nature (referred to in the stories as "the Green").
Powers and abilities
The ring is powered by willpower. Each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants them a variety of possibilities. The full extent of the ring's ability has never been rigorously defined in the stories, but two consistent traits are that it grants the power of flight and that all its effects are accompanied by a green light.
Early Green Lantern stories showed the characters performing all sorts of feats with the ring, from shrinking objects to turning people invisible. Later stories de-emphasized these abilities in favor of constructs.
The signature power of all Green Lanterns is the ability to conjure "constructs:" solid green objects that the Green Lantern can control telekinetically. These can be anything, such as a disembodied fist to beat a foe, a shield to block an attack, a sword to cut a rope, or chains to bind a prisoner. Whatever their shape or size, these constructs are always pure green in color, unless a Lantern is skillful enough to know how to change the EM spectrum the construct emits. Hal Jordan has shown the ability to have a construct emit kryptonite radiation under Batman's guidance.
The rings of the Green Lantern Corps allow their bearers to travel very quickly across interstellar distances, fast enough that they can efficiently patrol the universe. They allow the wearer to survive in virtually any environment, and also remove the need to eat, sleep and pass waste. The rings can translate practically any language in the universe. They possess powerful sensors that can identify and analyze objects. Lanterns are granted full access to all Guardian knowledge by their rings through the Book of Oa.
A noteworthy power the rings do not have is the ability to automatically heal injuries, though they can provide shielding. In Hal Jordan's origin story, Abin Sur passed on his ring to Hal because he was unable to treat his own fatal injuries. If the Green Lantern happens to be a skilled physician, then the ring can be invaluable as it can conjure any conceivable medical tool, but it cannot do much for a Lantern who lacks medical expertise. When Hal Jordan breaks his arm, the best he can do is conjure up a cast. This is further extended into an ability to replace large sections of one's injured body with constructs, but this too requires detailed biological knowledge of one's body and concentration enough to prolong the construct.
Alan Scott's ring is unable to directly affect anything made of wood. Alan can conjure a green shield to block bullets, but a wooden club will pass through it effortlessly. The rings of Hal Jordan and his colleagues originally shared a similar weakness to anything colored yellow, though due to the removal of the yellow impurity from the Central Battery on Oa, more recent stories have removed this weakness.
The effectiveness of the ring is tied to the wearer's willpower. A Green Lantern with strong willpower will beat a weaker-willed Lantern in a duel. Anything which weakens the Green Lantern's mind, such as a telepathic attack, may render his ring useless.
In other media
Main article: Green Lantern in other media
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