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Long before Hal Jordan became the most popular emerald ring-slinger in the DC universe, there was another man who wielded Green Lantern's light. Debuting in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940), the original Green Lantern was a simple railroad engineer named Alan Scott who gained superpowers after fashioning a ring from a magic lantern he'd found. He quickly became one of the most popular superheroes of the day and was a founding member of the first super team, the Justice Society of America. Since then, there have been many versions of Green Lantern - and Alan Scott - flying though the skies of the DC universe, but it's the comic book company's most recent incarnation of the original Emerald Knight that has fans talking. Not only will Alan Scott take up the mantle of Green Lantern and become the leader of the Justice Society once more in the new comic book series Earth 2, he'll also be one of DC Comics' most prominent gay superheroes. Earth 2 writer James Robinson speaks with The Advocate about his plans for the new series and why DC Comics decided to bring one of their most iconic superheroes out of the closet.
The Advocate: What inspired you to bring the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, out of the closet?
James Robinson: It started about eight months ago when I began putting together the Earth 2 team. When the decision was made to reboot the DC universe and make the Justice Society young again, it occurred to me that we would be losing some great characters. In the previous continuity of the DC universe, Alan Scott was an older hero who'd been around a long time and he had a gay son, a superhero named Obsidian. Since we were making Alan young again, I thought it was a shame to lose that gay character. When I began writing Earth 2, I wanted the book to be as diverse as possible, and so I thought, Why don't we make Alan Scott gay? Why don't we make the leader of the Justice Society a gay man? I suggested this to DC's copublisher Dan Didio, and to his credit there was never a moment of hesitation. He said, "That sounds like a great idea." There wasn't a lot of soul-searching about it. It really was a simple and logical decision.
So the decision to reintroduce Alan Scott as a gay man was more about organic character development than having a gay character in the Justice Society?
Well, I wanted to place a gay character on the team. I feel if you're going to have a team, you need to have realistic diversity. After all, I have gay friends and straight friends and we're all mixed together. It stands to reason, just based on the population of the world, at least one member of the team is going to be gay. So that was part of it. I also really like the idea of a character like Alan Scott, the leader of the team, a brave, gallant guy who is the epitome of everything good in a human being, just happens to be gay. It's a part of his personality, but it's not all he is. He's a lot of other positive things as well. There are a lot of diverse traits to his personality.
Did you consider bringing other characters out of the closet in Earth 2 before you decided on Green Lantern/Alan Scott?
For me, it was because we were losing his gay son, Obsidian, that originally put the idea in my head. I've written Alan Scott before and I've always portrayed him as this strong, gallant, heroic guy who is admirable and has a hero's heart. So the minute I thought, Let's make him gay, it stuck. I never weighed one character against another in terms of who I thought should be gay. I just thought it was a good thing to make the strongest personality, the team leader, a gay man. It just suited the book and it felt good.
Were you nervous about reinterpreting an iconic character like the original Green Lantern in this way?
No, not really. I think we need to move with the times. Back when I was writing Starman, I had, I believe, the first gay kiss in a mainstream comic book. That was back in August of 1998. Then there was another version of the Starman character in the recent Justice League series I had written and he was gay too. So I've always tried to bring positive gay characters into the books that I write. Earth 2 is just another example of that. I'm not fearful of it. I think you have to do the right thing and not worry about what the negative minority might say. I think it's about time a few more big iconic characters were gay.
Does that mean we'll be seeing additional gay characters introduced in Earth 2?
There is another character down the line, but that character won't be appearing for some time, so it's probably a bit too early to talk about that, but this book will definitely have a diverse cast. Alan Scott won't be the only gay character in Earth 2, I promise you that.
Will we be seeing any developments in Alan Scott's love life in the near future?
Yes, that's inevitable, but for the first few issues I'm concentrating on him as a hero and putting together his origin. But when we do get to his private life, obviously, yes, there will be romance between him and another lucky man.
Can you give us a hint about what fans can expect to see next in Earth 2?
The great thing about Earth 2 is that it's an entire world. Yes, Justice Society is a part of that world, but I'll be bringing in these characters slowly so we can get to know them more intimately. I'm not in a rush to get the whole team together with the first issue. What you can look forward to is seeing me develop a much bigger tapestry than just the team. I hope that people who check it out to see how I'm handling Alan Scott will stick around and enjoy not only that character but the whole world I'm trying to create.