By Todd Allen
It’s big news that Green Lantern is now gay, but there appears to be a little (a lot?) of confusion in the general public over which Green Lantern is gay. For that matter, there seems to be some confusion in the general public over how many Green Lanterns there are. You might be getting questions about this from your friends who don’t read comics and you may find this is a little more complicated to explain than you’d first thought. Don’t worry, I’m here for you. This is what you need to explain (or just point them here).
The Green Lantern that Ryan Reynolds played in the Green Lantern movie? The one that’s in all the cartoons? That’s not the gay one. That Green Lantern’s secret identity is Hal Jordan. He’s a sort of intergalactic policeman who got his power ring from a group of aliens called The Guardians of the Universe. Hal Jordan isn’t gay.
Hal Jordan is actually the second Green Lantern. Superhero comics started out in the late 1930s and faded away around 1950. In the late 1950s and 1960s, the superheroes were revived with more atomic age and cold war themes, so Hal Jordan was created in 1959.
The gay Green Lantern is Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern who was created in 1940. The way it used to work in the comics is that Alan Scott and all the 1940s versions of the superheros lived in a parallel dimension. You remember the episode of Star Trek called “Mirror, Mirror” when they find a dimension where Kirk and Spock are evil? Kind of like that, except it’s just a different set of superheroes. (OK, there was a dimension where there was an evil Superman/Batman/Green Lantern/etc., too… but that’s a different story.)
DC Comics (who publish Green Lantern) recently rebooted their entire line of comics. As part of this, they’ve rebooted that other dimension with the 1940s characters. This will all be in a comic book titled Earth 2. (So it’s Hal Jordan, the straight Green Lantern, in the comic book titled Green Lantern, not Alan Scott. Yes, comics are confusing at times.) We don’t yet know if the Alan Scott character will have the same origin he had in 1940 or if it will be something entirely new.
The 1940s Alan Scott wasn’t an intergalactic policeman. He had a magic ring powered by a magic green flame that was held in a lantern. You know how Superman is vulnerable to Kryptonite and the modern(ish) Green Lantern’s ring has trouble with the color yellow? Alan Scott’s ring was vulnerable to wood. I know, I know… a magic flame vulnerable to wood. It was the 1940s and that wasn’t on anybody’s mind at the time. Alan Scott was also left-handed and loved by most, if not all, left-handed children. The 1940s Alan Scott, at least when the character was revisited in the 1980s/90s, was straight and had children. One of those children, the superhero Obsidian, was gay.
- The Green Lantern in the movie/cartoons is still straight
- The Green Lantern in the Green Lantern titled comic is straight
- The Green Lantern in Earth 2 is gay.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.