Note: As we work behind the scenes to judge, jury and comment on the entries for our Green Lantern: Emerald Ensemble contest, we present you another great article on the Emerald Sentinel’s colored costume history. This time out, Jon Morris wrote a piece about the many designs for the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. – Chris A.
Green Lantern’s unique look was, according to creator Martin Nodell, inspired by the uniform of an employee of the New York Subway system and his own interest in the costuming of Greek mythology. The hybrid outfit, filtered through his own imagination, was as outlandish and memorable as his protagonist Scott anticipates it will be in a thought balloon at the end of his first appearance.
A red blouse dotted with yellow insignia, a purple collared cape with emerald green lining, forest green pants, red boots, yellow laces and a broad leather belt made up most of the outlandish costume, accented with his purple domino mask and, lest anyone mistake his color scheme or purpose, a detailed image of a green lantern smack in the middle of his chest.
The costume served Alan Scott well enough through the end of his popularity, at which point he was effectively replaced in the pages of his own book by a crime-fighting dog (and in many ways, aren’t we all?). Fading away after that low point, Scott was given an entre back to comics via the Silver Age revival of his concept, where his costume received some sleek tweaks to make it align a little better with his successor’s space age togs.
The blouse was made skin-tight, the lantern insignia was simplified, and the laces were turned into boot accents. The cape was toned down dramatically, as well, but Scott’s new duds might have passed for contemporary costuming if he’d ditched it altogether.
Those minor changes remained the rule until the (dunh dunh dunnh) 1990s, when total change became the order of the day. Made younger by the “Starheart” magic of his power ring, the rejuvenated Green Lantern goes out into the night with teeth gritted and seemingly endlessly long cape going all crazy behind him all the time for no reason.
The 90s incarnation included a very simplified logo, red boots, green opera gloves, a body-hugging one-piece bodysuit employing a restricted color scheme (unfortunately evocative of Christmas), an all-over body shine and – since gothic capes were now fashionable again, thanks to Todd McFarlane – a voluminous cloak that might either be scalloped or simply folding in on itself so often that it’s effectively without physical limit.
A slightly streamlined version of the same costume – now with a “Starheart” logo – was adopted when Scott transitioned to his “Sentinel” codename a little while later.
Scott eventually returned to his original costume for the majority of his run as a member of the revived JSA, but in the interim he sported a literal knight-in-shining-armor look in Waid and Ross’ Elseworlds series (and apparently also on the post-Infinite Crisis but pre-DCNu52 Earth-22, which is whatever-it-is now as far as I know).
Like a lot of Alex Ross’ designs, it looked lovely under the guiding hand of his realistic, gouache-painted style but unfortunately didn’t translate to traditional pen and ink renderings by other artists (see also: Captain Atom, seriously, just see him). Modeled after an idealized form of the armor of medieval knights, the costume expressed the idea of Green Lantern as a hero and protector, but didn’t do much to convey “Lantern” any more than his other costumes (That the lantern’s origin was original Chinese and the ring was inspired by Aladdin, the medieval European motif does seem to come out of nowhere)
But speaking of conveying the idea of a Green Lantern, let’s be sure to acknowledge Scott’s last costume change before Flashpoint, when he cosplayed as a Coleman camping supply.
Paralyzed by the amount of will necessary to contain the power of his Starheart, Scott uses the power of the ring to create a suit of armor which will grant him sufficient mobility – apparently it takes less willpower to imagine a suit that lets you walk than it does to just walk, we should all try it someday. In any case, the answer to this problem involves a suit of armor over a flowing material which evokes the blouse of his original costume combined with a more sensible color scheme. Unfortunately, he also looks like a lamp in a cape.
It’s too bad this costume didn’t catch on, I would have loved to have seen the Flash dressed as a foot.
Of course, that leads us to Scott’s most recent incarnation as a brand-spankin’ new superhero on DC’s Earth-2.
Bearing probably the only costume in the Earth-2 catalogue that isn’t a complete eyesore, Alan Scott now wears a sleek, simplified bodysuit with armor accents. It’s a pretty clever compromise, actually, because the new costume isn’t visually that far removed from a traditional Green Lantern Corps uniform, but the power effects – his green flame – makes him distinct enough to behave as a separate character. There’s nothing about it that is – as the original story put it – so bizarre that once seen he will never be forgotten, but it’s not the worst thing he’s ever worn (reminder: The worst is the big lamp).
Lastly, no survey of the original Green Lantern’s costume would be complete without a nod to the animated Justice League’s Green Guardian, a hero who can really pull off chartreuse.
And even lastlier than that, let’s not forget that Alan Scott’s costume isn’t complete without a rug.