The character made his debut in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940). The art was credited to Nodell via his pseudonym "Mart Dellon". Like many creators of the time, Nodell hoped to keep the stigma of comic books from tarnishing his career in commercial illustration.
According to Mordecai Richler, "there is no doubt... that The Green Lantern has its origin in Hassidic mythology" . However, Richler gives no reasons for saying this. Creator Martin Nodell has written that he originally intended to name the character Alan Ladd, after Aladdin, but changed the name to avoid confusion with the movie actor of the same name. Nodell mentions Richard Wagner's opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelungen and the sight of a trainman's green railway lantern as inspirations.
Scott was a charter member of the Justice Society of America, beginning in All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940). He served as the team's second chairman, in #7, but departed following that issue and returned a few years later. He has been a key member of the group ever since, appearing in all three titles bearing the teams' name.
Thousands of years ago, a mystical "green flame" fell to Earth. The voice of the flame prophesied that it would act three times: once to bring death, once to bring life, and once to bring power. By 1940, after having already fulfilled the first two-thirds of this prophecy, the flame had been fashioned into a metal lantern, which fell into the hands of Alan Scott, a young railroad engineer. Following a railroad bridge collapse, the flame instructs Scott in how to fashion a ring from its metal, to give him fantastic powers as the superhero Green Lantern. He adopts a colorful costume (setting himself apart from his successors, as he wore both red and purple in his outfit, besides the standard green) and becomes a crimefighter.
Scott uses his ring to fly, to walk through solid objects (by "moving through the fourth dimension"), to paralyze or blind people temporarily, to create rays of energy, to melt metal as with a blowtorch, and to cause dangerous objects to glow, among other things. Occasionally uses it to create solid objects and force fields in the manner usually associated with fellow Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and to read minds. His ring could protect him against any object made of metal, but would not protect him against any wood or plant based objects. This was said to be because the green flame was an incarnation of the strength of "green, growing things".
During the 1940s, Green Lantern seemed to alternate between serious adventure - particularly when his arch-nemesis, Solomon Grundy, appeared - and light comedy, usually involving his sidekick Doiby Dickles. Toward the end of his Golden Age adventures, he was even reduced to the role of a sidekick to Streak the Wonder Dog, a heroic canine cut from the mold of Rin-Tin-Tin and Lassie.
Scott was a member of the JSA in 1951 when the team was investigated by the "Joint Congressional Un-American Activities Committee," a fictional organization based on the real-life House Un-American Activities Committee but stated to have been created after the death of Senator Joseph McCarthy on Earth-Two. They were accused of possible Communist sympathies and asked to reveal their identities. The JSA declined, and most of the membership retired in the 1950s.
One piece of retroactive continuity fills out Scott's early history: All-Star Squadron Annual #3 states that the JSA fought a being named Ian Karkull who imbued them with energy that retarded their aging, allowing Scott and many others (as well as their spouses) to remain active into the late 20th century without infirmity. The events of that incident also led to his taking a leave of absence from the JSA, explaining why the character vanished from the roster for a time.
Also, during this period, he and his friend Jay Garrick (also known as the Flash) had an encounter with Abin Sur, the Green Lantern who preceded Hal Jordan; tracking a criminal to Earth, Sur's ring is immobilized by his foe forming a yellow barrier around the ring. Sur then secretly borrows Alan's ring after he and Jay were knocked unconscious. With the new ring, which lacks a weakness to yellow, Sur was able to take his foe by surprise and defeat him, before returning the ring to Alan and leaving Earth.
The team re-formed in the 1960s with Scott as a member, though little is known of their adventures during this time save for their team-ups with the Justice League of America, of the parallel world Earth-One, and a few cross-universe adventures Scott shared with Earth-One's Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.
From the late 1940s to the 1970s, Scott runs the Gotham Broadcasting Company (GBC). The company ends up ruined by creditors. The Psycho Pirate temporarily drives Alan mad and the rest of the JSA help him recover. Jay Garrick helps him start a new career as a scientist, although he eventually regains control of the GBC and is still running it to this day.
Also following the Crisis was the one-shot Last Days of the Justice Society of America Special (1986). This told how Adolph Hitler (in 1945) causes a massive wave of destructive energy to erupt yet, time-displaced, it appears over the post-Crisis earth. Scott and the JSA, fresh from burying their Earth-Two comrades Robin and Huntress, enter into a limbo dimension in order to fight an eternally recurring Ragnarok.
For a time, the Starheart became part of Scott's body and he adopts the name Sentinel, becoming a founding member of a new JSA. Thanks to the rejuvenative properties of the Starheart, Scott's physical body was again temporarily revitalized so that he resembles a man in his 30s or early 40s. This drives his wife Molly, who has not been affected, to sell her soul to the demon Neron in exchange for youth. Alan enters a demonic realm, with help from entities such as the Phantom Stranger and Zatanna. He manages to win Molly's soul back.
He has since been physically altered again so that he more closely resembles his true chronological age. He returns to using the name Green Lantern during the JSA's battle with Mordru. He continues to fight crime in his original costumed identity, using a ring again, serving as an elder statesman to the JSA and to the superhero community in general. During the Rann-Thanagar War, Kyle Rayner's power ring revealed that Scott is an honorary member of the Green Lantern Corps.
During the missing year, Scott has joined Checkmate at the rank of White King. Scott assigned his JSA teammate Mister Terrific as his bishop. Scott soon finds himself in a moral conflict with Black Queen Sasha Bordeaux over the violent nature of Checkmate, particularly after Bordeaux and her team slaughter dozens of Kobra operatives during a raid on a facility. Bordeaux contends that the ends justify the means, while Scott adheres to the principle that heroes should not kill unless absolutely necessary; Bordeaux responds to this by suggesting that Scott resign. Concurrent with this internal conflict, Scott and "White Queen" Amanda Waller are trying to keep the organization from being discontinued by political forces.
The fourth issue of the 52 maxi-series reveals that Scott lost his left eye during a period when he and several other superheroes had been declared missing (approximately 11 months prior to the events of Checkmate #1). The Zeta Beam that Adam Strange was hoping to use for teleporting the heroes in space away from the time-space ripple caused by Alexander Luthor, Jr. actions was splintered by the ripple itself, mutilating the heroes in various ways. His missing eye was later replaced by a portion of his daughter Jade's mystic green energy. After being put into a comatose state during an attack by the Gentleman Ghost, Jade appeared to him, told him goodbye and granted him another portion of her green energy. His missing eye is currently replaced by a green glowing orb that, due to its mystical origins and connection to Jade, allows him to track astral and mystical energy forms such as ghosts.
Scott continues to be a member of the Justice Society of America after it reforms and expands.
In Mark Waid and Alex Ross's Kingdom Come, Alan Scott has reclaimed the mantle of Green Lantern and forged green armor seemingly powered by the Starheart. Throughout the course of the story, it is revealed that Alan has established a city that orbits the Earth, which he has dubbed New Oa. Alan joins with Superman in the new Justice League and saves a number of heroes from an atomic explosion at the end of the miniseries by shielding them with his Green Lantern powers. In the epilogue of the miniseries, Alan is shown joining the United Nations as the ambassador of the sovereign nation of New Oa.
To date, the regular Alan Scott has worn the same armor on three separate occasions.
Another version of Alan Scott was seen briefly in JSA: The Unholy Three as a post-WW2 agent called the Lantern whose use of his power ring was invaluable to the intelligence community for its ability to discern truth from lies. The ring and Alan's hand were destroyed by a Superman gone rogue.
In the Elseworlds series "The Golden Age", Alan Scott finds himself under investigation from the House Un-American Activities Committee because of his refusal to turn over employees suspected of communist activities. In the final battle with Dynaman, Johnny Quick refers to him as "the big guy," implying that he may have been the most powerful hero of the era (although this is likely also a reference to Alan's large physical stature).
Based on comments by Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-2.
According to Bruce Timm, there were plans to use Scott and the other Justice Society of America characters in a crossover episode of Justice League, but copyright issues with DC prevented them from doing so (later, some characters traditionally associated with the JSA would have minor roles on the follow up series Justice League Unlimited, one of them apparently Scott's son Obsidian). Instead, a character similar to Alan Scott, the Green Guardsman, (voiced by William Katt), meant to be both an homage and parody of Alan Scott, appears in the first season episode Legends as part of the Justice Guild of America (JGA).
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