Explaining Who the Gay Green Lantern Is To Your Non-Comics-Reading Friends

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By Todd Allen

green lantern hal jordan 200x295 Explaining Who the Gay Green Lantern Is To Your Non Comics Reading Friends

Hal Jordan Green Lantern (like in the movie)

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.)

Golden Age GL 200x286 Explaining Who the Gay Green Lantern Is To Your Non Comics Reading Friends

Alan Scott Green Lantern from the 1940s

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.

Summing up:

  • 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.
EARTH2 Cv3 195x300 Explaining Who the Gay Green Lantern Is To Your Non Comics Reading Friends

Alan Scott Green Lantern from the cover of Earth 2 #3 (due out in July)

Comments

  1. Sphinx Magoo says:

    It’s gotta be said, even though it’s probably been said somewhere else…

    Based on that preview cover for Earth 2 #3, not only is Alan Scott gay but he’s flaming gay.

  2. Jesse says:

    That simplified continuity and characters! Multiple worlds and heroes with the same name and powers. Come in new readers the water is fine, here is your homework read up.

  3. It’s worth noting that Alan Scott was named after Alan Ladd and Randolph Scott, both of who were quite gay indeed.

  4. Jesse says:

    @ Todd Alcott Was Steve McQueen also gay?

  5. Vulnerable to wood, eh?

  6. @ Jesse: Not to my knowledge. Although he would have made an AWESOME Green Lantern.

    All I know is, when my planet is in danger from intergalactic menaces, I don’t care who my Green Lantern sleeps with.

  7. Monetta says:

    I didn’t even bother explaining to my non-comic book co-workers the real story. Told them Ryan Reynolds played a gay guy and the Gossip Girl was his beard.

  8. Goodman says:

    Do the non-comics reading friends care?

    “Nah, it’s not the one in the movie. It’s the original one from the 1940s comics.”

    “Okay.”

  9. It’s easy to explain. He lives on a separate but equal Earth away from the mainstream heroes. Just like African American Spider-Man.

  10. There’s no way Guy Gardner is straight, surely?

  11. So people aren’t born gay? Only rebooted that way? :)

  12. Don’t forget the one in a lot of the cartoons is black…

  13. >That simplified continuity and characters! >Multiple worlds and heroes with the same >name and powers. Come in new readers the >water is fine, here is your homework read >up.

    I easily understood the “multiple worlds and heroes with the same name and powers” with the first JLA-JSA team-up I ever read (JLoA #107, Vol. 1) when I was 5 years old. Either I’m exceptionally smart or other people are exceptionally dumb.

  14. Sphinx Magoo says:

    The story I read about the name “Alan Scott” was that originally, since Green Lantern had a magic ring like Aladdin, he was going to be named “Alan Ladd”. When actor Alan Ladd became well-known, the secret identity of Green Lantern was changed.

    As an aside, since he was mentioned above, I think I read that Steve McQueen’s on-screen persona was the basis for Hawkeye when Roy Thomas was writing The Avengers.

  15. I yield to Mr. Magoo.

    I never thought I’d ever type that.

  16. They could’ve scaled back on the wood jokes AND made Guy Gardner vastly more interesting a character, if they’d honestly thought this through. I’m still convinced it was a rush job to cover Didio’s comments.

    As I covered here:
    http://www.newcomicsday.com/ncd/2012/05/desperately-seeking-metrosexual-in-metropolis/

  17. How difficult is it to explain that “Alan Scott is a different version of the character from the movie, one who lives in an alternate universe”? Easy peasy.

    In the unlikely event they seem curious to hear more, you can add that what makes him different from the movie guy (aside from now sucking cock) is that “his powers are magical instead of science-fictional”, and if they want to know why there’s more than one of them, add that “he was the original version of the character back in the 1940s”. Done in 30 seconds.

    Continuity fans get so wrapped up in that stuff, and – apparently thinking that regular people would care about all that trivia – can’t summarize worth shit. :)

  18. Jarod says:

    So stupid. What an idiotic, shameless marketing ploy. I’ve lost even more respect for DC because of this.

  19. Alan Scott predated Alan Ladd (or, at least, Alan Ladd’s fame) by almost two years, so the secret ID couldn’t have been named for the movie star. So why wasn’t he just called Alan Ladd? One story I’ve heard is that the powers that be at All-American (Max Gaines? Sheldon Mayer?) didn’t like the Aladdin pun and demanded it be changed, but I don’t know that I buy that completely. Since when are comics publishers so discriminating?

  20. Nick Jones says:

    If you actually try to recreate this post in verbal form when dealing with a non-comics-reader, they won’t be your friend for long. A more likely and less verbose scenario would be:

    Non-comics-reader: “Hey, it was a really, really, really slow news day and CNN aired a story that said Green Lantern is gay now. Wasn’t he the fellow with the ring from the Justice League cartoon that was dating Hawkgirl?”
    Comics-reader: “No, this is a different guy, and it’s not the same dude that Ryan Reynolds played in the Green Lantern movie, either.”
    Non-comics-reader: “There was a Green Lantern movie?”

  21. Is he still left-handed, though?

  22. @ Todd and Jason Quest, DC stated the reason for the reboot was continuity complexity. I am just following that logic to a fairly simple conclusion. If that is the case then surely adding additional words and Supermans and GLs only serves to alienate new readers. If continuity is not the albatross around DCs neck that they claim it was then the New 52 and Alan Scott here are logically just publicity stunts?

  23. @ Jesse:
    “If continuity is not the albatross around DCs neck that they claim it was then the New 52 and Alan Scott here are logically just publicity stunts?”

    The writer, James Robinson, says that making Alan Scott gay was his idea, not DC’s. That would seem to indicate that the initial idea was not a publicity stunt. He talks about this in some of the interviews that went up today.

    Not sure that adding more GLs creates a complexity issue. Pretty much every work featuring GL outside of comics in the past decade or so, including the movie, has made it clear that there’s more than one GL.

  24. Johnny says:

    He did wear a purple cape.

  25. Let’s be honest – is there ANYTHING in comics continuity that you can easily explain to your non-comic reading friends?

    Anything that doesn’t rhyme with Talking Fred that is. ;)

  26. R. Maheras says:

    The average person doesn’t understand GL continuity, and I daresay the average comic book fan doesn’t either.

    So as far as the average person or comic book fan is concerned, the collective “Green Lantern” is now gay.

    Does any of that matter?

    Nahhhhh!

    Because, as DC found out with its recent GL film, the average person, and the average comic book fan, doesn’t care a whit about Green Lantern. Which means that all this desperate bid at publicity will do is further water down an already weak and over-hyped brand.

    Did Marvel’s outing of the Rawhide Kid help THAT brand after the initial flurry of publicity died down? It sure doesn’t seem that way to me!

  27. Synsidar says:

    I have trouble understanding why Earth 2 would be affected by Earth 1’s reboot. After all, if it is in a separate universe, and wasn’t included in FLASHPOINT—no reboot. A company that runs fictionalized universal crises shouldn’t have someone point out, “Whoops! We left Earth 2 out! That shouldn’t have happened. Ah, let’s just say that it was rebooted too. . .”

    Quick! Is another dimension a separate universe or an alternate timeline?

    It could be either, depending on how someone gets to it, but the simplest way to handle the differences would be to say that the other dimension is an alternate timeline, but the branch-off point was, say, seconds after the Big Bang.

    If Earth 2 is in a separate physical universe, then it should be handled in particular ways for stories about it to hang together.

    SRS

  28. Jesse says:

    @ SF fair enough I am fine taking Robinson at his word. If it was his idea that’s cool. It still does seem as though Didio capitalized on it and in a world of reboots, endless crossovers, someone dies, someone is gay it’s hard not to reach a fatigue point. BTW if you have not read The Goon #39 it is a MUST read. I will disagree with you on Earth 2 it is impossible to argue that adding multiple universe or worlds is in anyway in line with the New 52 concept of accessibility and simplicity.

  29. Jesse says:

    Goon #39 priceless it has to put a smile on any comic fan’s face.

  30. Parallel realities and alternate timelines are the same thing, and both can exist in the same universe. Think of a universe as a measure of space. Different realities/timelines (again, synonymous) can run through the same space, while being completely independent of each other. Like how AM and FM radio waves can fly through the same airspace at the same time without futzing each other in the doing. Dimensions are different.
    With multiple realities and alternate timelines it’s like going left to right, or up and down across an imaginary grid of time and space constantly intersecting each other. Think of dimensions as the zoom/focus. Or the clickable sub-window.

  31. Rob Barrett says:

    My nearly 70-year old parents heard the news, although my father thought they were talking about the Green Hornet at first. So the PR did succeed at mindshare penetration to some extent. :)

  32. Synsidar says:

    Parallel realities and alternate timelines are the same thing, and both can exist in the same universe.

    Not if you relate them to observed reality. Scientists theorize that actual parallel universes are forming constantly, and most die just as quickly, due to matter/antimatter symmetry. If quantum uncertainty is invoked to explain both alternate timelines and parallel universes—everything that can happen, will happen somewhere—then what people generally think of as alternate timelines are actually parallel universes very similar to ours.

    Actual time travel, though, is highly unlikely and thought to be impossible, except for such means as time dilation. It might be used for entertaining stories, but—if the existence of alternate timelines is predicated on the usual approach, time travel causing alternate timelines to spring into existence, then there’s a “prime” timeline that all the others are dependent on. If the prime universe ceases to exist, then all the alternate timelines branching from it cease to exist as well.

    The existence of alternate timelines doesn’t cause the metaphysical problems that an infinite number of parallel universes does. Someone can always think that this is the prime universe, and alternate timelines are merely copies, but if there are an infinite number of parallel universes, existing independently of this one, then this one isn’t special. It could be the first to exist, or it could be the 193rd to form.

    The concepts overlap, but they’re not identical. In a practical sense, a writer could do anything with a parallel universe that he wanted to with an alternate timeline, but recognizing that the parallel universes exist independently of ours can result in different approaches.

    SRS

  33. Jesse says:

    You made my brain hurt now I must read more comics on the toilet.

  34. There’s no reason to suggest the existence of a “prime” timeline. The concept of alternates deriving from any reality is just as, if not moreso, plausible.
    The internet is a pretty big place, and can have some gigantic websites that sub-host even more sites. Doesn’t mean that each and every one has to somehow tie in to one dominant “father feed”. Sites go live and sites die by the thousands, every day. The only commonality to tie them all together is the hard tech of viewing platforms. As such, I’d think the only commonality in multiple alternate timelines/parallel realities is the point of reference itself.

    But I haven’t watched The Next Generation in years so I could be completely wrong.

  35. This is like announcing Green Lantern prefers broccoli to carrots. That sexual preference in the 21st century means anything other than sexual preference is embarrassing to anyone capable of thinking.

    Or to put it in DC comics terms: Who GL fucks is as relevant in your comics as whether Superman stands or sits to pee.

    You’re too chicken-shit to show either, so your announcement is a lie.

  36. (golf clap @Leif)

  37. Sonya E Peay says:

    This is just a coincidence and has nothing to do with “the gay Green Lantern” but I watch a movie called Another Earth in which the refer to Earth 2 and the mirror theory. That was last night then read this tweet today referencing Earth 2 etc. Bizarre.

  38. CagedLeo730 says:

    In the Road to Flashpoint arc (Flash #9-12), Hot Pursuit explains to Barry that Earth 0 is the keystone of the multiverse. He warned that Flashpoint would change the multiverse just by changing Earth 0.

  39. My GREEN LANTERN 101 for non-comics-reading (but still pop culturally aware) friends:

    Alan Scott: The O.G. GL, that had a weakness for wood [edit more 'splaining]; now outed by the nuDC reboot to be… a Rice Queen.

    Hal Jordan: GL v.2; had that movie about him… where he was played by Van Wilder.

    Jo-with-an-h-n Stewart: The Black GL; the first of an OAn affirmative-action program… to give Earth Sector 2814 more than one Lantern.

    Guy Gardner: The Ginger GL; an asshole… who proves Cartman right.

    Kyle Rayner: The 1/4 Mexican GL; once found his girlfriend… dead in a refrigerator.

    And then they go on continuing to NOT read these superhero comics.

  40. Matt D says:

    If anyone asks, just say it’s Hal. They’ll probably just nod their head and say “it explains so much.”

  41. Did you guys read the story on CBR–

    After the Gay Green Lantern defeated the One Million Moms, they turned gay, too!

    http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2012/06/pro-gay-group-springs-up-after-one-million-moms-facebook-defeat/

  42. Torsten Adair says:

    Actually, I love simplifying comics for my First Grade nephew!

    Here’s how Spidey got his black costume:
    This guy named the Beyonder (because he lived far away) thought he was the only person alive.

    One day, a magic television set appeared in his room, tuned to the Superhero channel showing all the heroes and villains fighting each other on Earth.

    The Beyonder thought it would be cool to bring them all to a planet he created so they could fight it all out, because that would be awesome!

    So everyone fought, nobody won, but there was cool stuff left over, and Spidey found his suit in a suit-making machine. Except the suit was alive, and tried to eat Spider-Man. But Spidey made himself taste funny, and the costume found someone who hated Spider-Man, so they teamed up to become Venom.

    As for the new Green Lantern:
    All the heroes you know about? They live on Earth-One.
    Earth-Two is a alternate timeline, kind of like a
    “what if” planet. It has a different Green Lantern with different powers.

    And here’s something, a bit humorous…
    http://www.greenlanterndc.com/
    No, I never visited. I walked past it a few times when I lived in Washington, and remembered it because of the name, and because it’s located in the middle of a block of buildings.
    It is the first Google hit when searching [green lantern dc]!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] was created in 1940, it was as Alan; now his backstory is being retooled for 2012 and beyond. (Comics Beat has a much more comprehensive explanation of the differences between the two Green Lanterns, both in the comics and the contexts in which [...]

  2. [...] from The Beat, io9 (with this follow-up), and Straitened Circumstances for all the news, and read this post if you need some help understanding who the gay Green Lantern is. I know some people were hoping for Batman, but, come on, that’s never going to happen, no [...]

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