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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – So WHO Came Up With the Green Lantern Oath?

In this feature we examine comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, based on a suggestion by NES Boy, we look at how John Broome had some differing he established in the first appearance of Hal Jordan in Showcase #22, namely the fact that Hal Jordan was originally the person who coined the term “Green Lantern” and how Hal seemingly just came up with the Green Lantern oath on the spot…

In Showcase #22 by Broome and Gil Kane, Hal Jordan meets an alien who gives him a power ring and a power battery. It’s interesting to see how originally the alien is pretty sparse in details, including not mentioning that he is a Green Lantern…

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so when Hal names himself, it is seemingly a new idea…

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In fact, even when Green Lantern gets his own comic after two more issues of Showcase, when he meets the Guardians of the Universe, they still refer to him as if he invented the name “Green Lantern”…

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It is only a few issues later that we learn, oops, no, never mind, they’re ALL called Green Lantern…

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Meanwhile, something interesting happens with the Green Lantern oath, which Hal just whips out of nowhere in Showcase #22, which is obviously just a reuse of the Golden Age Green Lantern’s oath in the latter days of that character’s title. Alan Scott went through a couple of oaths before settling on this one in 1943’s Green Lantern #9…

However, Broome abandons and forsakes Alan’s oath, with it now being all Hal…

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He even later reveals in Green Lantern #10 that there is actually an entire ORIGIN of EVERY SINGLE phrase of the oath!!

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First, Hal fights some bad guys who used a super-magnesium flare…

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Then he fights some bad guys in a dark tunnel…

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Finally, he tracks some bad guys down…

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Put that all together and you got…

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And conveniently enough, this was the oath pretty much every other minor pre-Crisis Green Lantern chose as their oath. Hal Jordan was just THAT cool!

And when Alan Scott eventually met Hal, Alan’s “brightest day” oath was completely forgotten and he was back to one of his earlier oaths from then on.

51 Comments

For some reason I thought this would be about Alfred Bester insisting that he get to get rid of the “silly oath” in the 1940s and only being allowed to change it.

I’m bringing ‘Jumping Fishhooks!’ back.

Captain Haddock

October 19, 2013 at 6:33 am

It always weirds me out in origin stories when the new protagonist just takes the old ones uniform…didn’t he want to, I don’t know, wash it? Dry clean perhaps? An alien being just died in those clothes, you know.

No section in there on racism I see.

Why should there be? It’s an article about Green Lantern’s oath.

Jesus, it must be awful to just sit around waiting to be offended.

I’m offended by that!

I’m offended by no mention of racism!

The stuff people get offended by….

It feels like this ought to include the moment when we find out that the oath is not just Hal’s, but EVERY GL in the Corps (therefore abandoning the original original of Hal’s oath).

i never understood how Hal used ‘Pieface’ as a nickname. They even brought it back when they relaunched the GL series in the 90’s.

Is ‘Pieface’ a racial comment [i don’t want to use slur, as i don’t think that they would portray Hal as racist, esp. against a friend’] or am i reading into it?

Also, he does treat Tom as being kinda dumb, but i think that was for exposition purposes.

Re : Pieface :

Apparently, when Hal learned that Tom Kalmaku was “Eskimo”, he made the connection with “Eskimo Pies”, hence the nickname “Pieface”.

Yes, I know. Ouch.

So, “Pieface” isn’t a racist nickname, just a ridiculous one.

Shouldn’t we have the origin of Earth-2’s GL oath as well? I’m thinking it was slightly different.

Actually, Hal coming up with the oath on his own doesn’t necessarily abandon and foresake Alan coming up with it, since they were on different Earths with different histories at the time, and Hal was more or less Alan’s counterpart (Flash of Two Worlds came out prior to Green Lantern #10).

I mean sure having the two just happening to come up with the same oath is a bit hokey, but then so is Hal and Alan having very similar power rings despite (until the 1980s) the rings having completely different back stories. And let’s face it, the Silver Age had coincidences stranger than two approximate counterparts coming up with the exact same idea.

No, Hal coming up with the oath on his own didn’t necessarily abandon an’ foresake Alan coming up with it, but in practice it did. Once the Golden Age GL was reintroduced as the GL of Earth-2, DC pretended that Alan had never used the “In brightest day…” oath and just had him use the “And I shall shed my light over dark evil” oath that he’d sometimes used in the past as if that had always been his one true oath.

American Hawkman

October 19, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Furthermore, lots of alien Green Lanterns had totally different oaths. Englehart had It mentioned that those who used Hal’ s oath did so because of the respect they had for him, while Salaak, who thought that Hal wasn’t half the GL that Abin Sur was, used Alan Scott’s. (As did Abin, apparently.) So, really, it’s not that abandoned or forsaken… merely expanded on. In fact, didn’t Alan’s post-CRISIS origin explicitly state that Yalan Gur, an ancient Green Lantern, influenced Alan Scott’s oath and was responsible for the nature of his ring?

A more curious bit that WAS abandoned was the idea that the Guardians of Oa hid from the universe, with even most of their Lanterns being unaware of their true nature. It’s quite a while before Hal meets the Guardians face to face, them previously communicating with him subconsciously.

Has there ever been a visually-impaired Lantern? What oath would he or she use?

Isn’t one of the Alan Moore GL stories about a GL on a world where there’s no light, so the GL trying to recruit this person is stymied at first until using an analogous oath with sound stuff instead of light stuff?

@BeccaDannysWife

“In Loudest Scream, in quietest sneer

No Evil shall escape my Ear…”

Travis –

Yes, there was an eyeless Green Lantern – or rather an F-Sharp Bell – named Rot Lop Fan.

His oath was:

“In loudest din or hush profound,
My ears catch evil’s slightest sound.
Let those who toll out evil’s knell
Beware my power, the F-Sharp Bell!”

He was introduced by Alan Moore & Bill Willingham in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #3 (1987).

Believe the PIE FACE reference is not to Eskimo Pies, but instead to the perceived look of Eskimos and Asians to having a supposed flat, featureless, round face. I don’t think it has anything to do with Eskimo Pies. Just as un PC though….

I thought Green Lantern is just the translated version of the Corps name. Whatever language you speak the ring translates has such. I also thought the ring gives you the oath

In a slight recon of Hal’s origin in Green Lantern v2 59, it was revealed that Abin Sur did say that the space patrolmen were called Green Lanterns. Hal even had a thought balloon along the lines of “And I thought I came up with the name myself…”

And the Pieface name was in fact inspired by Eskimo Pies. In Green Lantern v2 2, when Hal first meets Thom Kalamaku, he says something like “The only Eskimo I know is an Eskimo pie, so I’ll call you Pieface.”

Not cool, Hal… not cool.

Everybody does realize this was the 60s, right? Casual racism was pretty common. It’s much more subtle now.

I’d always heard that BBB’s (no relation) “flat face” explanation was the origin of Pieface’s the nickname, and that the Eskimo Pie explanation was a later attempt to retcon it into something less racist (not entirely un-racist, but the best they could come up with short of having someone throw a pie in his face). But then I never read the old Silver Age GL issues, so for all I know it’s always been the Eskimo Pie thing and the other explanation is just people guessing and assuming the worst (because there’s no way you’d just intuit the snack food explanation).

Well, the Wikipedia that the kids all like says under the entry for “Thomas Kalmaku” that the name “Pieface” comes “from an existing term for ‘a person with a round face and a blank … expression’, according to the 1960 edition of The Dictionary of American Slang.” (quoting a Newsday article, apparently, but I’m not sure the source of THAT supposition). Under “Pieface” there’s also a friend of the British Beano Dennis the Menace named that, and there’s an Air Force long range camera prototype with that nickname.

Funnily enough, on urban dictionary one of the definitions comes from the ’30s-’50s, where it was used, for example, in the movie His Girl Friday, to refer to a pretty girl.

Now THERE’S an interesting retcon!

I thought I had heard it had a racial tone to it, where part of the “pie” reference refers to someone’s slanted eyes as analogous to the small slices into a pie crust to vent it.

So yeah, no matter what the origin of the name, it’s un-PC at best, and probably a bit racist to boot. But that kind of fits Hal’s swaggering alpha white male persona, especially with when he was created.

I do remember a classic Bugs Bunny cartoon has since been edited to remove Bugs calling his Inuit pursuer an “Eskimo Pie-face”, but I had always thought that was because “Eskimo” isn’t exactly polite these days…

I’d always heard that BBB’s (no relation) “flat face” explanation was the origin of Pieface’s the nickname, and that the Eskimo Pie explanation was a later attempt to retcon it into something less racist.

The “Eskimo pie” explanation was given in Tom’s first appearance in GL, so it’s what Broome intended. It’s still rather racist, not too far from calling a Chinese character “Chop-Suey” as the Blackhawks basically did, or, say, naming an African-American character “Chitlin” or somesuch.

That said, there was also a non-racist term, “pie-faced,” which does indeed refer to a flat, round face. George Carlson’s Golden Age humor strip The Pie-Faced Prince of Pretzelburg uses the term in this sense to refer to its apparently white Caucasian protagonist, for example.

That said, Tom stopped being a “funny ethnic sidekick” fairly quickly, and he was always presented in mostly non-stereotypical ways. Compared to the likes of Chop-Chop or Egg-Fu, or even some later characters like Luke Cage’s foe Black Mariah, Tom seems downright enlightened for the time. That doesn’t mean it’s not problematic for a reader today or that the atmosphere of casual racism at the time was OK, of course.

I like the idea that Hal doesn’t know how to use his power ring to create a light that will penetrate through the fog but does know how to make the crooks visible.

As Omar says, Tom was a good character despite the name. They showed him having a life other than “sidekick” for instance, meeting and marrying Terga over the course of the series.
Technical point, Hal’s experiences didn’t shape every part of the oath–he admitted he added the last couple of lines just to make it rhyme.
I didn’t find other Green Lanterns using Hal’s made-up oath in the Silver Age as odd as them all referring to him as “Green Lantern” when he calls them Katma Tui, Tomar Re, etc.

“Pie-faced” is also slang for drunk, so maybe Tom was just an alcoholic and, in lieu of a full intervention, Hal hoped that gentle ribbing was enough to make his friend change his ways.

It feels like this ought to include the moment when we find out that the oath is not just Hal’s, but EVERY GL in the Corps (therefore abandoning the original original of Hal’s oath).

That’s the thing. I thought that that happened, as well, but when I actually went looking into it, there never seemed to be any real evidence of that. He coins the oath and no one else says the oath until an issue where they specifically say the oath IN HONOR of Hal. Then in issue #52 or something like that, they all say the oath together, but again, the stronger implication seems to be that Hal just became so famous that other Green Lanterns began using his oath in honor of him.

@Xum

You said, “In Green Lantern v2 2, when Hal first meets Thom Kalamaku, he says something like “The only Eskimo I know is an Eskimo pie, so I’ll call you Pieface.”

Hal says no such thing in that issue, and I very much doubt it was ever said in any issue.

As for it being a racist term, evidence for that is quite scarce as well. Since the character has never been treated in such a way, ever, it is quite doubtful it was intended to be even casually racist.

@buttler- I stand corrected. Still, it’s not from #2. Any idea where it’s from? It doesn’t even look like Gil Kane art..maybe it really WAS a retcon!

Oh yeah, this is a 1980s retelling of their first meeting. That’s definitely Joe Staton art. I happened to remember the moment offhand because I was an avid GL fan in the ’80s, but I don’t recall the issue number.

Hmm, I’d never thought of it Brian but you have a good point about the GLs using the oath. Though I believe Geoff Johns made it a universal oath for the Corps.

Thank you MrClam and Buttler, and my apologies for the misinformation. I must have retconned my own memory of GL #2 with that panel… weird.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve Englehart wrote that panel… but I don’t tbink I can trust my own memories anymore… too many retcons and Geoffcons… I’ve having a mid-life crisis on infinite (comic book) earths…

” having a mid-life crisis on infinite (comic book) earths…”

LOL… I think a lot of us can relate to that!

The original Golden Age GL oath was

And I shall shed my light over dark evil
For the dark things cannot stand the light
The light of the Green Lantern

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnddddddddddddddddddddddd none of the GL stories are poignant anymore thanks to the Pu52

Here’s the first page where Thomas Klamaku is mentioned from GL #2: http://i.imgur.com/pK8N0ev.jpg
In the story he’s called “pieface” without explanation. The story is about Green Lantern and him going to Alaska so he’s explicitly called an Eskimo. The story ends with Klamaku figuring out who Green Lantern is so he’s shown as smart but there’s no explanation of the name “pieface.”

Does anyone know what Lantern Dkrtzy Rrr’s oath would be?

I always wondered……. Since the ring needs to be recharged with the lantern, what charges the lantern? Well apparently the lantern doesn’t need charging or charges itself….. So if that’s the case, why not make the rings with that same element or technology? If it’s something that the lantern is made of that never needs charging or charges itself, why not build the rings with whatever they are made out of? If they are somehow able to collect energy through the air or if energy is beamed to them somehow, why not put that same tech in the rings?

Like we charge our cellphones with chargers, but the chargers are connected to the electric grid.The lanterns aren’t plugged into anything though. If a cellphone charger were created that could could just wirelessly collect electricity through the air, why wouldn’t we just make that a part of the cellphone itself, so the cellphone could collect the power wirelessly through the air?

Hal assumed he came up with all that stuff. He thought it was just inspiration after yet another blackout. But it was the Guardians filling he head.
I want to read THAT story. (-;

this column makes me want a Lantern that is just a giant nose.

Logan,

According to GL v2 87 (and I have the story in front of me this time…)

“Energy is broadcast by tachyon transmission from the master poe er battery on Oa to these batteries. Your ring can only absorb.24 hours’ worth at a time.”

Though I believe the “talk time” of the rings can go a little further now.

Is there any character who needs “The Ultimate Treatment” more than Green Lantern? With some thoughtful updating, GL is a Top 5-7 superhero and, yet, DC has stubbornly clung to the most juvenile aspects of the character.

Having an intergalactic corps space cops enforcing laws set down by shadowy aliens using a disruptive technology is awesome. Having those space cops called “The Green Lantern Corps” is less so.

Having your arch-enemy be a traitor to your order of space cops is awesome. Having that same guy named “Sinestro” is not.

Thanks for the info.

Isn’t the Ultimatizing of the GL Corps Star Wars?

Have an intergalactic order enforcing laws overseen by a shadowy alien council using a “force,” and ancient weapon technology (Lightsabers); called “The Jedi.” Your arch-enemy is a traitor to your order of space cops; that guy’s named “Darth Vader.”

How would one make a Green Lantern who’s not Green Lantern that doesn’t come off as a Star Wars rip-off now?

A “recipe” that I believed worked the best was what was done in the 1980s “Tales of the GL Corps” back-up series,which seems to be inspired by Doc Smith’s Lensman series and 1960s Star Trek.

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