Monday, September 3, 2018

Retro Review: All-American Comics #16 (1940) - "Introducing Green Lantern"


Light My Fire

Written by: Bill Finger
Art by: Martin Nodell
Cover Price: 10¢
Release Date: July 1940


I have a confession to make, I have been voted least likely to claim Green Lantern as my favorite character here at the Weird Science studios.  It's not that I’m not a fan, there are just a bunch of characters in line before I hit my favorite Green Lantern...Guy Gardner, by the way.  However, maybe things are about to change.  I am diving head first into the GL deep end with the first appearance of Alan Scott.  Let’s see if I come out with a new favorite character…


The issue opens with one of the craziest bits of foreshadowing ever. In just two panels we get Alan Scott and a mention of a “Decker” and a horrific train crash.  It seems this Decker fixed it so a bridge would fall apart when Alan Scott’s train went over it, killing a bunch of people...but not Alan Scott.  Nope, he lived thanks to the glowing green lantern that was near him during the crash.



We then learn the origins of the Lantern...how a green meteorite was turned into a lamp in China and then, following an ancient prophecy, transformed into a lantern in the United States and after causing death and then life, it came to Alan Scott to give him it’s power.  

We get some of the rules here as well.  Alan has to have the Lantern with him so he makes a ring out of a bit of it, but even still, he must recharge it once a day by coming into contact the Lantern itself.  It’s really neat to see something that becomes so important later kind of just thrown out there without much explanation.



Now that he has the ring, it’s time to go pay Decker a visit.  It’s actually a cool way to show off Alan Scott’s new powers.  He flies to Decker’s house, phases through a wall, can’t be harmed by bullets...it seems like nothing can stop the new hero...until he’s hit by wood.  Yep, that’s the weakness...wood!

Of course, Alan Scott recovers and takes down Decker and forces him to sign a confession admitting to rigging the bridge...but then he dies!  Decker has a heart attack and that’s that.  I have done over a dozen retro reviews so far and it is so common for these golden age issues to end with the bad guy dead.  It makes things very clean and tidy by the end, I guess!  We do end the issue with Alan Scott in his costume telling the reader that he is going forward to kick much butt as the Green Lantern.



I liked this first issue a whole lot.  The Lantern is so cool with its combination of alien and mystical roots.  There is a crazy cool prophesy and it all leads to Alan Scott being a pretty awesome hero.  Sure, we don’t really know squat about our lead character yet, but the Lantern is the big draw and Bill Finger comes through with that.  

I liked Martin Nodell’s art a lot too.  Taking into account the time, it’s better than a bunch of golden age stuff I’ve seen and I love the early scenes in China and then the costume reveal at the end.

Bits and Pieces:

I really enjoyed this introduction.  It’s less about the character of Alan Scott and more about the Lantern itself and the powers it gives our lead.  We will have plenty of time to delve into character stuff, Bill Finger knows what gets readers fired up and gives us plenty of it.

8.5/10

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