Green Lantern is the name of several superheroes from the fictional DC Universe, all of whom are characterized by a power ring and the ability to create solid constructs with the ring.
The first Green Lantern (Alan Scott) was created by writer Bill Finger and artist Martin Nodell in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940). However, he was not related to the Green Lantern Corps other than by name, as specified in Green Lantern: Rebirth.
Each Green Lantern possesses a power ring and green lantern that gives the user great control over the physical world as long as the wielder has sufficient willpower and strength to wield it. The ring is one of the most powerful weapons in the universe and can be very dangerous. While the ring of the Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott) is magically powered, the rings worn by all subsequent Lanterns are technological creations of the Guardians of the Universe, who granted such rings to worthy candidates. These individuals made up the intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps.
After World War II, when sales of superhero comic books generally declined, DC ceased publishing new adventures of Alan Scott as the Green Lantern. In 1959, at the beginning of the Silver Age of Comic Books, DC editor Julius Schwartz assigned writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane to revive the Green Lantern character, this time as test pilot Hal Jordan who became a founding member of the Justice League of America. In 1970, writer Denny O'Neil and artist Neal Adams teamed Green Lantern with archer Green Arrow in groundbreaking, socially conscious, and award-winning stories that pitted the sensibilities of the law-and-order-oriented Green Lantern with the populist Green Arrow. Several cosmically-themed series followed, as did occasional different individuals in the role of Earth's Green Lantern. Most prominent of these are Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner.
Each of the Earth's Green Lanterns has been a member of either the Justice Society of America or the Justice League of America, and John Stewart was featured as one of the main characters in both the Justice League and the Justice League Unlimited animated series. The Green Lanterns are often depicted as being close friends of the various men who have been the Flash, the most notable friendships having been between Alan Scott and Jay Garrick (the Golden Age Green Lantern and Flash), Hal Jordan and Barry Allen (the Silver Age Green Lantern and Flash), Kyle Rayner and Wally West (the modern-age Green Lantern and Flash), and Jordan also being friends with West.
Martin Nodell (using the name Mart Dellon) originated the 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 did not work on objects made of wood.
Nodell had originally planned to give the Green Lantern the alter ego "Alan Ladd," this being a linguistic twist on Aladdin, who had a magic lamp and magic ring of his own. DC considered the wordplay distracting and foolish, and the character's name was changed before publication to "Alan Scott." In May 1942, the film This Gun for Hire suddenly made the journeyman actor Alan Ladd a movie star. Nodell would always joke that they had missed a great opportunity.
The Green Lantern comic book was cancelled with issue #38 (May–June 1949). All Star Comics #57 (1951) was the character's last Golden Age appearance Following the successful revival of the Flash in Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956), a new Green Lantern was introduced in Showcase #22 (September–October 1959).
This Green Lantern was Hal Jordan, a test pilot who was given a power ring by a dying alien, Abin Sur, and who became a member of the Green Lantern Corps, an interstellar organization of police overseen by the Guardians of the Universe. The Corps' rings were powerless against anything colored yellow, due to a yellow-colored "impurity," or "dopant," in the master power generator located on Oa, where the Guardians maintained their headquarters; the yellow dopant was described as being a "necessary" one, for without it, the master generator could not function as such. Jordan's creation was motivated by a desire to make him more of a science fiction hero, editor Julius Schwartz having been a longtime fan of that genre and literary agent who saw pop-culture tastes turning in that direction. Despite multiple characters taking on the role of Green Lantern for Earth, Jordan remains the most well known in both comics and media.
Each Green Lantern wields a power ring that can generate a variety of effects, sustained purely by the ring wearer's imagination and strength of will. The greater the user's willpower, the more effective the ring. The upper limits of the power ring's abilities remain undefined, and it has been referred to as "the most powerful weapon in the universe" on more than one occasion. The Weaponers of Qward say that every weapon has a weakness and the weakness of a Green Lantern power ring is its wearer, although some argue that the wearer is its strength. The ring can produce a very wide variety of effects, but all these effects are accompanied by a green light projected from the ring, and any object the ring conjures is always pure green in color.
Power rings as used by various wielders have exhibited (but are not limited to) the following effects:
Many Green Lanterns have a unique personal oath, but some oaths are shared by several Lanterns. They are usually four lines long with a rhyme scheme of “AAAA” or “AABB”.
Green Lantern is famous for the oath he recites when he charges his ring. Originally, the oath was:
...and I shall shed my light over dark evil.
For the dark things cannot stand the light,
The light of the Green Lantern!
This oath is also used by Lanterns Tomar-Re of sector 2813, and Chief Administrator Salaak. In the mid-1940s, this was revised into the form that became famous during the Hal Jordan era:
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!!!