You’ve probably noticed that “Green Lantern Gay” has been one of the top Trending Topics on Yahoo and a lot of other web pages over the last few days, either for good or bad reasons, depending on your point of view. I think it’s for the better.
As part of the “New 52” initiative begun almost exactly a year ago, dedicated to relaunching all of DC Comics’ superhero titles with new No. 1 issues and rebooting or “refreshing” the characters, the decision was made to recreate Alan Scott, the legendary first Green Lantern who debuted way back in 1940, as gay. Previously, Scott was happily married and had two children: a daughter and a son who happened to be gay. When Alan was reimagined to be much younger, the gay son, a superhero in his own right, known as Obsidian (His daughter was also a heroine, known as Jade.) was rendered moot, so writer James Robinson decided to make Alan himself gay in the new comic book series Earth 2.
“He’s very much the character he was. He’s still the pinnacle of bravery and idealism. He’s also gay,” Robinson told The New York Post. “He’s going to be the leader of the team, this dynamic hero, he’ll do anything to save people, the bravest man on the planet. Why not just make him gay as well?” Robinson told USA Today.
Now, since most people are unfamiliar with the complicated history of DC Comics, this caused a lot of confusion, because people assumed that the version of Green Lantern played by Ryan Reynolds in last year’s horrible Green Lantern movie was now “suddenly” changed to be gay, but that is not the case. Allow me to briefly explain.
Back in 1940, the hero Green Lantern was introduced in All-American Comics #16 by writer Bill Finger and artist Mart Nodell. He got his powers as part of a long magical legacy that began when a meteor fell to Earth thousands of years ago in ancient China. The green metal was fashioned into a lantern, and when Alan Scott came to possess it in 1940, the magical green flame inside instructed him to create a ring that would give him the power to fly and create solid energy contructs of anything he can imagine – with one limitation: it was useless against anything made of wood. After World War II, comics fell out of favor and DC stopped publishing the adventures of many heroes, including GL. This was the end of the so-called Golden Age of comic books.
The Silver Age of comic began in the early 1960s, when DC began publishing new, reworked versions of its heroes (sound familiar?). One of the reimagined heroes was Green Lantern. Thanks to writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane, GL was now Hal Jordan, a test pilot who met a dying alien named Abin Sur, who bequeathed him the power ring that made him a Green Lantern, a member of a sort of intergalactic police force. This ring had similar powers to the one Alan Scott had, except that it worked on wooden items but was useless against the color yellow!
The Silver Age Green Lantern was basis for the character played by Reynolds in the movie. The Golden Age GL is the character who is now gay. To keep the characters straight (so to speak) in the comic books, the Silver Age GL lived on Earth-1, while the Golden Age GL lived in a different reality on Earth-2. Now that DC has reintroduced the Earth-2 reality, here comes Alan Scott in Earth 2 No. 2, due in comic book specialty shops this Wednesday. (Find your nearest comics shop here.)
I personally don’t see anything wrong with updating Alan Scott for a new century. The character has been altered repeatedly in the past to keep up with the times – heck, at one point, the guy owned a radio station! Could you imagine “Alan Scott, radio executive” in 2012? So what if he’s gay? DC already has a lesbian Batwoman, Kathy Kane, so why not a gay man? As for the idea of creating an all-new, original character and making him gay – sure, why not? But it’s hard for new characters gain traction anymore, and making an already-established hero gay means the gay character is going to stick around.
And make no mistake, the Alan Scott Green Lantern is a hero: He’s been a member of the Justice Society of America (the precursor of the Silver Age Justice League of America) for about 70 years, and he’s always been forthright and brave. He’s a good character, and in the hands of writer Robinson, I’m sure he will continue to be.