"In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night…"
While you might not be able to finish this famous oath, you most likely still recognize that it belongs to DC Comics' Green Lantern. The character has been around since 1940 and, barring a 10-year hiatus from 1949 to 1959, has pretty much been in constant publication ever since.
What began as a comic book about a singular hero with a magical ring now encompasses a pantheon of thousands of ring-bearing space police and an entire rainbow armada of aliens with similar abilities. Don't feel bad if you're not fully up to speed on the Green Lantern's origin story or the history of the Green Lantern Corps (not to mention all of their many-hued enemies and allies) because it's hard for even the most dedicated comic book nerds to keep it all straight sometimes. So, power up your ring and explore some of the most obscure bits of Green Lantern mythology.
The First Green Lantern Was A Flamboyant Magic Man With A Weakness To Wood
Alan Scott was the first hero to bear the name "Green Lantern," debuting in a flashy red-purple-yellow-green ensemble in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940), just two years after Superman was introduced in Action Comics #1 and changed the comic book business forever.
Scott's powers came from a mystical meteor and the green flame that trailed it to Earth thousands of years ago. The metal of the meteor was fashioned into a lamp and eventually a lantern that came into the possession of young railroad engineer Alan Scott.
The lantern instructed Scott to make a ring to harness the power of the lantern. He did so and used its incredible powers – flight, intangibility, energy rays, force fields, mental projections, and time travel – to fight crime. The ring was, however, weak against wood, which Scott realized after he was hit over the head with a wooden club.
Hal Jordan Was The First Modern Green Lantern Because He Was Slightly Closer To A Crash Site
10 years after the original Alan Scott-led Green Lantern titled was canceled, DC Comics decided to capitalize on the burgeoning popularity of science fiction and resurrect the character. Rather than return to the magic-based Alan Scott incarnation, the new Green Lantern was an emerald-hued intergalactic space cop with a new secret identity, new costume, and new origin story.
In Showcase #22 (1959), we were introduced to Harold "Hal" Jordan, a cocky test pilot without peer drawn to the remains of a crashed alien spaceship by its dying pilot, Abin Sur. Sur was the Green Lantern assigned to patrol the area of space in which Earth resides, Sector 2814. Jordan was chosen because he was a man "utterly honest and born without fear."
It was later revealed that Hal was actually one of two people chosen by the ring to be worthy of the mantle of Green Lantern. The other was a former social worker with anger issues named Guy Gardner. Hal was chosen because he was closer to Abin Sur's crashed spaceship and because of the high probability that the hot-headed Gardner would die early in his career if given the ring.
The Green Lantern Corps Was The Guardians' Second Attempt To Police Space
One of the oldest intelligent forms of life in the universe, the Guardians of the Galaxy – initially only male, but now both male and female – are diminutive blue-skinned humanoids who made a terrible mistake billions of years ago and decided to commit themselves to bringing order and harmony to the universe as penance. They divided the universe into 3600 sectors and sent out self-aware androids called Manhunters to keep the peace.
Eventually, the Manhunters decided that organic life was the cause of all strife in the universe and started wiping out entire civilizations, starting with Sector 666. After putting down the rebellious Manhunters, the Guardians realized that they needed living beings to protect the universe. Fearless, honorable people with free will, empowered by rings with the ability to create anything the user can imagine as long as they had the willpower to back it up.
The Green Lantern Corps' Headquarters Is At The Center Of The Universe
Though the Guardians are from a planet called Maltus, they left (well, some of them anyway) to find a new base of operations for the Green Lantern Corps. The Guardians chose the desert-like planet Oa because of its location at the center of the known universe.
The Guardians created a Central Power Battery on Oa to power all of the Green Lantern rings and personal power batteries, as well as various halls, training centers, a prison, and a ring foundry. They also put the sacred Book of Oa in the Hall of Great Service on Oa, a collection of the history of the universe and prophecies for the future.