A Tribute to the of

Marvel seems to be on a big time roll lately. Confident from the success of X-Men, the movie and Spider-Man, the movie, we now have Daredevil, the movie and very soon the cinematic debut of The Hulk, not to mention X-Men II and down the road a ways, Spider-Man II and I read somewhere that even the rights to Iron Man have been secured. I'll probably go and see them because so far the studios have done a pretty good job. Even though I'm a hard-core DC fan through and through, it's hard to resist a superhero story, even if it is with characters I don't consider to be on the same par as the Silver Age wonders featured here. I will confess to having read a few of Marvel's mags. How else would I have known which brand is superior? My knowledge of the competition's characters is nowhere near as extensive, though. Still, a few things are apparent, such as the simple fact that many of their heroes are Johnny-come-lately's who owe a large debt to Julius Schwartz and company. It's fairly common knowledge that the Fantastic Four was a direct result of the legendary chat on the golf course between members of both camps about the great success of the new Justice League of America. It was even suggested on one website I visited that the Martian Manhunter's encounter with flame creatures may have reignited (sorry, but I couldn't resist) the career of the Human Torch. Unlike the well-known origins of the members of the Justice League, however, (many of which can be found right here in the archives) you will find a certain redundancy in the origin stories of the significant Marvel characters. Check it out: Spider-Man gained his abilities by receiving a bite from a radioactive spider, as shown in the pages of Amazing Fantasy #15. The Fantastic Four became what they are by being bombarded with cosmic radiation in issue #1. Dr. Bruce Banner was exposed to Gamma radiation, resulting in The Hulk. (Odds are that many of you have been exposed to gamma rays, too, more commonly known as X-rays.) In the first issue he was colored grey. Even the fabled Man Without Fear, Daredevil (whose original costume was more yellow than red, by the way) was exposed to radioactive chemicals. Do you notice a pattern here? I realize the characters were all born in the turbulent sixties and there was still a lot of fear and unknowns surrounding nuclear energy and radiation, but for pity's sake, guys, is there no other way to create a hero? Sure there is! Get a dousing in lightning charged chemicals and you have the Flash. Escape another planet's destruction and land on Earth where your alien constitution is now greatly enhanced by a yellow sun and a Superman is born. Spend years and years honing your mind and body and the dread creature of the night Batman is created. Not a drop of radiation in the bunch. Just some great writing and imagination and that, my friends, creates a hero with staying power.

Okay. That's plenty of sermonizing for now. Let's get down to business and look at a character that is similar to other members of the Silver Age in that his reincarnation involved a different origin story from his Golden Age namesake. We'll get into that in more detail in just a moment as we focus the spotlight on Green Lantern #40 with the first solo crossover meeting of the Golden Age and Silver Age heroes who bear the name Green Lantern. This issue came out in October of 1965 with writing credits to John Broome and art ably provided by Gil Kane and Sid Greene. It promises to be a doozy, too, as we will soon be privy to the "Secret Origin of the Guardians!" I'd like to also briefly note that this is the second solo Silver Age appearance of the Alan Scott Green Lantern, the first being in Showcase #55 (also available here in the archives.) On to our story:

The tale begins on Earth-Two, in Gotham City, to be precise, where Alan Scott, President of Gotham Broadcasting and his regular sidekick, Doiby Dickles, are attending a come-as-you-are party. Doiby, former cab driver and confidant of Alan (Green Lantern) Scott is soon ushering him from the party in his 30's vintage car, Goitrude, when an announcement over the car's radio triggers a quick change by Scott into the red, green and blue garb of Green Lantern. Flying to intercept a meteor that threatens the city, GL flashes a power beam at it, but oddly the meteor passes right through the path of the beam and disappears. Below, Doiby manages to run Goitrude straight into a tree. As the rotted trunk begins to topple over, Scott quickly pulls cab and driver out of the path and to their amazement; his beam also affects the tree. Since wood is the one thing this Green Lantern's ring is ineffectual against, this is more than a little surprising. Scott tests the ring further on other nearby wooden objects and is pleased to see it wasn't a fluke. Deciding it must have something to do with the meteor, the Emerald Gladiator decides to look up Hal Jordan on Earth-One to let him in on it in hopes that he can gain the same ability to overcome his ring's weakness toward all things yellow. Soon Alan has breached the vibrational barrier between Earth's one and two and is greeting Hal outside the Ferris Aircraft Company. Excitedly, he begins to demonstrate his ring's new abilities, only to discover the wood weakness is still there. Hal suggests that Alan ask his ring what happened when it came in contact with the meteor. Under mental command, the ring is soon responding.

The meteor, we learn, was not a meteor at all, but a packet of pure energy created 10 billion years ago. The ring further explains that it made contact with an extraordinary mind within the packet and then takes the Green Lanterns back through time to 10 billion years before on Earth.

A highly developed race called the Oans dwelt on the Earth at that time. Immortal, with no need for sleep or rest, they spent much of their time continuing to perfect themselves through science and mental prowess. By all appearances it was truly a Utopian society, with one notable exception. His name was Krona.

Krona had one consuming ambition and despite warnings from his fellow Oans, recounting the legend that such a pursuit could lead to destruction, he was determined to discover the beginning of all things. The very origin of the Universe itself. One day Krona peered into his invention, looking much like a big screen television when he glimpsed an image. The image was of a large hand with a cluster of stars within it. In the next fateful moment, a cosmic lightning bolt shattered the machine and in some incomprehensible way released evil into the universe. It began to spread to worlds and galaxies and the Oans knew the source of it all. It was the result of Krona's work.

Prideful to the last, Krona refused to cease his labors, so the Oans changed him into a being of pure energy and imprisoned him in the energy packet, placing it into an endless loop around the Universe.

Determined to right the great wrong done by their fellow Oan, the members of a council decided to form the Guardians of the Universe in an effort to stem the tide of the evil that was now running unchecked through existence. Soon the Green Lantern Corps was born and they also made provisions for ensuring that the origin of the Universe would not be discovered.

The eons passed and the immortal guardians aged after a fashion and in the course of the work they were doing they forgot about Krona, but he continued to plot a way to free himself from his prison. Soon he detected the Green Lantern of Earth Two and willed his prison to glow like a meteor, counting on the chance to benefit from the occult energy from Alan Scott's power ring. When the power beam intercepted the packet, Krona freed himself and traveled down the ring's beam. From that point he allowed Alan Scott to work his will on wood, counting on his traveling to Earth One, Krona's own universe, where he was able to successfully detach from the ring and regain his body and abilities. The ring then ends it's report. Hal immediately makes contact with the Guardians and a projection of a Guardian appears, noting that they had heard the ring's report as well and that immediate steps must be taken to defend Earth from Krona and his quest. His probing could destroy the universe itself. Part I ends on that ominous note.

Part II finds our heroic duo in flight over the Coast River by Coast City on Earth-One, (despite what appears to be an editorial error in the text on the first page that states in part: "And while all over the universe, on many worlds, different Green Lanterns are straining to combat the upsurge of evil, here on Earth-Two, a duo of Green Lanterns speeds to meet the greatest and most intense threat of all...") where the effects of Krona's presence are already wreaking havoc. The river is churning over its banks and out of control, threatening to deluge the city on both sides. The GL's divide and conquer with Alan Scott using his beam to freeze the tidal wave in place and Hal Jordan taking an opposite, but complimentary tack by creating huge atomic ovens to covert the threatening waters into steam. They're unable to rest for long, though, as the unnatural disasters continue. A mountain peak bends and begins to break up into huge chunks of stone, hurtling again toward the city. Large green bits of hardware are formed by tremendous wills to reduce it to harmless rubble. In the next instant tornado-like clouds and wind arise and this new menace is quickly quelled with silver iodide crystals produced by the rings to reduce the threat to rain. Abruptly the image of a Guardian appears to the pair of Green Lanterns informing them to follow it to a temporary HQ.

Upon arrival, a stunning announcement. Hal is instructed to turn in his power ring and uniform and defer to Alan Scott as the Green Lantern of this Earth! Before we can find out what the incredulous Jordan will do, the clock and story fades back to Krona's workshop outside Coast City, where he's apparently reconstructed the apparatus that got him into his multi-billion year sentence. Still consumed with his ambition to uncover the origin of the Oans, he is nonetheless taking certain precautions just in case he does cause the destruction of the universe. Realizing the Guardians have arrived, he transports himself in energy form through mental ability to the body of Alan Scott, booting his essence out in the process. When the two heroes reach the temporary headquarters, Krona then takes mental control of the Guardians from Alan Scott's body, vicariously issuing the startling edict that Hal Jordan is dismissed from his duties in this sector. Hal, however, has a rebuttal: "Nothing doing! The only way I'll quit is if Scott can beat me in a Green Lantern duel! And I'm challenging him to take me on right now!" Krona, realizing he won't be able to exert mental control over Hal, quickly erects a yellow shield, blocking his power ring while sending a counter strike with his own. The ring on Alan Scott's finger fires another withering blast to the shaken Jordan, rendering him unconscious. Krona thinks that he'd like to simply destroy him, but realizes that the ring on Hal's finger automatically protects him from any mortal danger.

The body of Alan Scott with its evil host returns to his device and the helpless Guardians are in attendance as well. Krona announces that he'll now proceed with his plan and that his revenge will be all the sweeter for the presence of the Guardians in his moment of triumph. He then transfers his essence back to his own body and simultaneously creates a duplicate of Alan Scott's ring so that in the event of the foretold destruction, the ring from Earth-Two will preserve him. Krona then resumes his nefarious work, confident in the special shielding he has added, beginning to probe deeper, to beyond the point where the hand with the nebula appear.

Fade now to our fallen warrior, the Green Lantern of Earth-One, who is awakened by the voice of Alan Scott, whose disembodied essence has contacted him telepathically. Hal uses his ring to give visibility to Scott and listens as his fellow GL fills him in on events. Hal then announces that he's commanding his ring to absorb Alan's essence into his own mind and that they will face Krona together in Hal's body.

Bursting in upon the renegade Oan, the battle begins. Following a familiar play, Krona immediately uses his duplicate power ring to erect a yellow shield, but to his dismay, Hal/Alan's beam penetrates and knocks him silly. Down but not out, Krona sends a mental lightning bolt to stagger Green Lantern. Recovering quickly, Hal instructs Alan to combine his will power with Hal's for a forceful counterattack. The double-threat is enough to break Krona's hold on the Guardians, who seize the opportunity to destroy Krona's equipment and place him in stasis. The Guardians then reduce his form again to energy and send him into an orbit that shall never intersect with any planet or star. Their work done, the Guardians depart for Oa.

The final panel has our heroes back in their normal status, Alan having been returned to his body. Comparing notes, they disclose the clever notion that helped defeat Krona. A power ring switch, using Alan's ring, impervious to yellow, allowed the surprise attack that tipped the scales. Scott then bids farewell and heads back for his Earth and our story draws to a close.

We've now learned the secret origin of the Guardians of the Universe and seen a story involving Earth 1 and Earth 2's Green Lanterns. Before ending this edition of The Silver Age Sage I thought I'd share the differences in the origin of these two ring-wielders by sharing the lesser-known beginnings of Alan Scott:

The following was taken from a reprint (found in "The Great Comic Book Heroes" by Jules Feiffer) of the GA GL's debut tale first published in All-American Comics #16 and a synopsis found @ http://www.glcorps.org

From: All-American Comics #16 June 1940. Golden Age Green Lantern created by Martin Nodell [Character concept & Artwork] and Bill Finger [Story].

Many years ago in old China while the people were at their evening prayers, they suddenly heard a great rushing noise and looked up to see a huge falling meteor. The meteor crashed broke open...and in the heart of the shell was a small pool of flaming liquid metal. To the awestricken people came a message from the strange green light: "Three times shall I flame green!" "First - to bring death!" it promised in rage! "Second - to bring life!" in its remorse, and "Third - to bring power!" in his desire to live again. Chang, a lamp maker that dabbled in sorcery, had read a prophecy regarding the strange green meteor and took a part of it, frightening the people of the village. They had believed Chang and the fallen meteor were evil. Chang made a lamp of the molten metal, angering the villagers to the point of attacking him. They burned his books and it was believed they had killed him. In turn the villagers were killed by green flame of the lamp. "First - to bring death!"

The lamp passed through many hands over the years. It brought good luck and fortune to the good of heart. To the evil, though they might achieve mighty conquests, in the end it brought destruction.

In the twentieth century, the lamp was brought to America by a trio of adventurers who had tracked the pirates of the China seas. Eventually, it was abandoned just north of Gotham City, outside an insane asylum. The lamp was found in a trashcan and given to one of the patients, Mr. Billings. He had killed his broker in the aftermath of the stock market crash of 1929. Billings was fond of working with metals, and transformedthe Chinese lamp into a train lantern. As the lantern flamed with light, Billings was cured of his insanity. Soon, he walked out of the asylum a sane man! "Second - to bring life!"

In 1939, the lantern and engineer Alan Scott were onboard a train testing the newly constructed Trestle Bridge in the American West. A fellow engineer of Scott's was worried about their competitor in the bid for the bridge, an unscrupulous man named Albert Dekker. Scott did not believe Dekker would stoop so low as to sabotage their trial run, but he was wrong. While crossing the bridge there was a mighty explosion, the train was hurled to the ground below

All on the train were killed, except for Alan Scott. The green lantern's flame illuminated the wreckage and spoke to Scott, telling him much of its story. The flame promised Scott that power over the dark, evil things would be his if he had faith in himself. If he lost his faith, he would lose his power, because willpower was the flame of the green lantern. Scott was told to carve away part of the lantern to make a ring of power. The ring would need to be touched to the green lantern once every twenty-four hours.

Dazed and confused, Alan Scott swore revenge on Dekker. He returned to his office and set to wo! rk on creating a ring. Scott found the metal formed easily, almost as if the ring were willing itself to be shaped. The lantern was his power source.

Willing the ring to find Dekker, Scott found the ring granted him amazing powers, such as flight and the ability to walk through walls. He had a strange immunity to metals as bullets and knives could not stop him, but wood proved a vulnerability. Though Scott's strength was that of a normal man, he fought well against Dekker's men.

Dekker tried to bribe Scott, but the engineer would have no part of it. A high altitude flight persuaded Dekker to confess. Albert Dekker died soon after signing his confession; the shock had been too much for him.

Alan Scott felt the call of destiny. He decided to make himself a dread figure to evil, dressing in a costume of red, purple and green. He created an oath, based on the words of the green flame. "Third to bring power!" From that day forth, Alan Scott was known as the Golden Age Green Lantern.

The above handily describes the reason behind Alan Scott's powers being more closely linked to occult or magical properties.

This comic book had it all. A tremendous team-up, a glimpse into the Golden Age, the background of the mysterious Guardians of the Universe and even an early precursor to the Crisis stories that would emerge later on. I was also glad to see that someone besides the overworked but incredibly talented Gardner Fox could bring a classic story to the table during the Silver Age. This issue was wonderfully satisfying and I hereby declare it a 10 on my famous 10-point scale. A true standout in the Silver Age.

The Webmaster and I issue our standing invitation yet again to join us in approximately two weeks for the next installment of this feature. I've got some great new material that you won't want to miss. Meanwhile, remember to contact me with comments or requests at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Long live the Silver Age!

2000-2003 by B.D.S.

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