All-American Comics #16
November 21, 2011
A story of talking rocks, magic green train lanterns, and the man who could only be stopped by a stick!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And welcome back, my friends, to Secret Origins Month!
("Secret Origins Month" title is shown)
Linkara: Next up in Hero Origins is the Green Lantern. (a shot of the modern Green Lantern appears briefly) No, no, not that one, the first one.
(Shots of the very first, early Green Lantern, Alan Scott, is shown, alongside later alternate versions, including Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner)
Linkara (v/o): A lot of people were confused by my choice here. We're not talking about the Space Cop this year. We still will talk about Hal Jordan's first story at some point, but this year, I wanted to talk about Alan Scott. Why? Eh, I admit, I don't really have much of a reason. Part of it is just that I think Alan's a much more interesting character. Both have very unique and interesting origin stories, the wide variety of rogues, but to me, there's something very classic about Alan Scott, and while DC tries to maintain that Hal Jordan is the most iconic Green Lantern, why is he the most iconic? Kyle Rayner was the first Green Lantern I ever read about when I first started reading comics. Different people come into this stuff with different viewpoints. He's not as well-known as Batman. The fact is that Alan came first, so we're going to do him first. Besides, there wouldn't be a Hal Jordan Green Lantern without Alan Scott there first, but that's a story we'll get into another time.
(Cut to a shot of Martin Nodell, Green Lantern's creator)
Linkara (v/o): Green Lantern was created by Martin Nodell, though in this story, and a lot of his early work, you'll see him credited as Mart Dellon. He used the pseudonym because he was afraid that working on comic books would be detrimental to his career as an artist.
(Cut to text of an interview that Odell had with Roy Thomas)
Linkara (v/o): According to an interview he gave with Roy Thomas in 2000, there were actually a good number of people in the early '40s who thought children shouldn't be reading comics, and if people knew he worked on comics, he would never get a job in advertising like he eventually did.
Linkara: So yes, the stigma of comic books isn't a recent phenomenon. Even at the start of the medium, you were considered a loser if you were associated with it.
(Cut to a shot of an old-timey train lantern)
Linkara (v/o): Nodell had said he was inspired by the operator of a train lantern. When they waved a red lantern, it would mean to hold the train and not come in, but a green lantern meant for the train to come in. He saw the lantern and its color as important, and it meant something to him.
(Cut to another image of Scott as Green Lantern)
Linkara (v/o): As such, he wrote down the words "Green Lantern" and started coming up with ideas about him as a superhero. He called upon his knowledge of Chinese folklore for a backstory and looked to movies for inspiration for the general look: a swashbuckling, almost theatrical attire. His editor, Shelly Mayer, came up with the idea of a high collar and his cape was meant to be more flowing. The ring as a focus came from the idea that, in Wagnerian opera, a ring went from the prince to other people and eventually back to the prince. Thus, the ring's energy would run out, but fully recharge within 24 hours, going away from the hero and then coming back.
(Yet another image of this Green Lantern is shown, this one of him flying through the air)
Linkara (v/o): He came up with the name Alan Scott by just flipping through a New York telephone book and picking two names that he liked. Originally, Nodell was on board with writing the book himself, but the editor thought it would be a bit of a handful for him as a new writer and artist, especially since they were already thinking of the potential of the character. As such, they brought in Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman, to write the book based on Nodell's synopses, and the two collaborated from that point on for the character.
Linkara: So, how did Alan Scott become the Green Lantern? Well, let's dig into "All-American Comics #16" and find out.
(AT4W opening titles play; title card has "It's Not Easy Being Green" by Kermit the Frog playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is a bit lackluster, though probably appropriate for the time: 1940. Alan Scott's costume is the kind of outfit that, from an aesthetic point of view, should not work at all: bright red shirt, bright green pants, a purple cap. But for some reason, it really does work on him. Maybe it's the balancing of the colors, maybe it's just that he does have a theatrical look to him, but it's just awesome. Not so awesome is the gangster with the brown suit but a yellow hat on his head.
Linkara: Look, I know it can be hard to accessorize with your favorite hat, but if you don't have a yellow suit, THEN DON'T WEAR A YELLOW HAT!
Linkara (v/o): What is rather awkward on the cover is the Green Lantern coming down. I'm sure it's supposed look as if he's leaping down at his enemy, but instead, it looks like he's wobbling on one leg on a steel beam and looking at that Tommy gun while going, "Oh, crap, I have a big target on my chest!"
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open with a train traveling to the right of the Green Lantern logo. And yet, people care more about seeing Mount Rushmore instead of the giant Green Lantern logo. Bah!
Narrator: Out in the Great West, a train makes a test crossing over a newly constructed trestle bridge...
Linkara: Yes, in the Great West, as opposed to the Mediocre West.
Narrator: In the cab is Alan Scott, young engineer in charge of construction...
Linkara (v/o): Aaaand some other guy we decided not to name.
Alan's acquaintance: I tell you, Scott, I'm worried. Dekker isn't one to take it lying down. He'll try something... He's dangerous!
Linkara: Okay, parents of the world, just a word of warning: do not, under any circumstances, name your child "Dekker", "Kane" or anything with the prefix "-more". "Decker" with a C might be okay, but every other iteration will just mean that the child will become evil. If it's your last name, CHANGE IT!
Alan: Nonsense! Just because my company's bid to build this bridge was chosen by the government instead of Dekker's is no reason for revenge! He won't try anything!
Linkara: Oh, poor Alan Scott, you're operating under real-world logic. This is a comic book, where, say, if you're slightly unattractive, it will lead you to want to take your world. Or, if someone makes the merest of slights against you, they will swear revenge and dedicate their life to destroying you.
Linkara (v/o): And wouldn't you know it, the bridge suddenly explodes and sends the train hurtling to the ground below. And this is your tax dollars at work, people. While Alan's partner dies – and really, when he's wearing a picnic blanket for a shirt, he was kind of asking for it – Alan himself survives the wreck.
Alan: Dead!...All dead!...Yet by some strange sort of miracle I'm still alive!
Linkara (v/o): Well, you and Bruce Willis.
Alan: (thinking) This lantern...I'm still holding onto it!... What a queer light!
(Linkara sits there silently, smiling suggestively)
Linkara: What? It was the 1940s.
Linkara (v/o): The area is overcome with green light that actually gets so intense that it knocks Alan unconscious.
Narrator: From within the aura of the green flame comes a voice... an ageless, toneless voice, that penetrates into Scott's subconscious*...
- NOTE: It actually says "subconsciousness", but Linkara reads it differently.
(Linkara is seen clutching at his head in shock as he hears Nightcat's "#1 House Rule" in his subconscious)
Linkara: No... No, make it stop! MAKE IT STOP! NOOOOO!!
Lantern: I am the Green Flame of Life! Listen, chosen one and hear the tale of– the Green Lantern!!
Linkara: (as the Green Flame) But first, some coming attractions! In a world where the...
Linkara (v/o): The Green Lantern regales Alan with the tale of how a group of people in China beheld a green meteor crashing near them. The meteor broke open and leaked out a pool of flaming liquid metal. And subsequently, it spoke to them.
Meteor: Three times shall I flame green!
Linkara: (as the meteor) Four times shall I flame purple, then twice polka dots, before settling on flaming five times taupe with blue stripes.
Meteor: First–to bring death! Second–to bring life! Third–to bring power!
Linkara (as the meteor) Touch any part of this rock for more information. If you are pregnant or have a pacemaker, consult a doctor before using the rock.
Linkara (v/o): The flames go out, leaving only a green rock. By the by, I should also point out that all the Chinese people here are colored yellow. Gotta love that 1940s casual racism. One of the people, a lamp maker, goes in closer.
Chinese person 1: Look, Chang, the lamp maker, goes to take the flame!
Chinese person 2: It's bad. It will bring down the wrath of the Evil One!
Chinese person 3: Chang is the Evil One for he reads old volumes about sorcery!
Linkara: (as one of the Chinese people, loudly) It's a good thing we're talking so quietly about him from six feet away!
Linkara (v/o): The lamp maker says that an old book of his said something like this would happen, and immediately we cut to him making a lamp out of the meteor. The others in the village think that it's evil and that they'll all be punished by the gods for what he's doing. Then they storm his place, burn his books, and smash his lamps. However, the green lamp activates and kills them all.
Lamp: (narrating) Three times shall I flame green! First – to bring death!
Linkara: (as the lamp) Aw, crap, I bet I was going to bring death to the insects! I'm a bug zapper!
Linkara (v/o): From there, the lamp is passed down through history, bringing good fortune to the good and destruction to the bad. We never get to see this, but hey, that's a really impressive caption... which creates a head-scratching plot hole: it was only supposed to flame three times, but this would suggest that it flames multiple times throughout history. But whatever. Anyway, the lamp eventually ends up at an insane asylum.
Asylum inmate: (to a guard) Joe, look at this curious old Chinese lamp! What a queer green color!
Linkara: Okay, (holds up index finger) one, stop using that word. (holds up two fingers) Two, what's so weird about the green? If you were saying that the fact that the lamp is green is unusual, well, okay, but what is it about the greenness itself that's odd?
Guard: Let's give it to old Billings, he's a harmless old coot who makes lanterns out of metals. He'd like this lamp!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, yeah, let's just hand that priceless historical artifact to the crazy man. Somehow, with only the contents of his room, the old man transforms it into a train lantern. The lantern glows again and restores the man's sanity, thus fulfilling the second of the three flames: granting him new life.
Narrator: And now fate stretched out her long arm and brought the lantern to Alan Scott!
Lantern: You have heard the tale of the Green Lantern!
Linkara: (as lantern) And it has already bored you to sleep, I see.
Linkara (v/o): The lantern says that it will fulfill the third prophecy with Alan Scott, granting him power.
Lantern: You must use it to end evil! The light of the Green Lantern must be shed over the dark, evil things... for the dark evil things cannot stand the light!
(Cut to the MST3K gang watching Teenage Caveman)
Joel: Oh, everything's evil with you! Can't you just give it a chance?
(Cut back to the comic)
Lantern: Power shall be yours, if you have faith in yourself.
Linkara: (shrugs) He has the power. (theme from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe plays briefly)
Lantern: Lose that faith and you lose the energetic power of the Green Lantern, for will power is the flame of the Green Lantern!
Linkara: This is a weird self-help guide: have faith in yourself, or I'll take away your magic powers.
Linkara (v/o): The lantern tells him he should fashion a ring that will channel the power so he doesn't have to haul the thing around everywhere.
Lantern: The Green Lantern... to shed light upon dark evil!
Linkara: (as the lantern) Thus, casting shadows and creating more darkness! (stops abruptly and becomes upset) Oh, my God, evil will always be present! MY METAPHYSICAL GOAL IS FUTILE!!
Linkara (v/o): Alan awakens and wonders if what he experienced was a dream. But when he touches the lantern, he feels a surge of power within him that convinces him that it was true.
Alan: (thinking) Thinking about the lantern made me forget about the wreck! All these men dead! Why?
Linkara: (as Alan) Hmm, train wreck, dead bodies... I don't see the connection.
Alan: Jimmy, you said Dekker might try something... that he wanted the bid to build this bridge. Now he'll get his wish! ...If Dekker signs his name to the transaction, he won't be signing in ink... but in blood!
Linkara: (as Alan) I'm gonna murder that son of a bitch with my new demonic powers from space! (raises fist in the air)
Alan: The blood of these broken bodies!
Linkara: (as Alan) That's right, Jimmy, I'm going to make you into a pen!
Narrator: Dazed...shocked...Alan reels homeward...a mad light in his eyes...revenge in his heart!
(Cut to a clip of Camelot)
King Arthur (Richard Harris): Revenge: the most worthless of causes.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): It seems Alan comes to the same conclusion, actually.
Alan: Why, I must have been mad! I wanted to kill a man...Dekker! No! I must fight him another way!
Linkara: (as Alan) Lawsuits, here I come!
Linkara (v/o): Alan decides to try out the ring and figure out what it can do, discovering that he can fly with it.
Alan: I wished I could fly to Dekker...and I'm doing it!
Linkara: (as Alan, wearing a green ring of his own) Wait a second. I'm green, I can fly... I'M PETER PAN!
Alan: The Green Lantern said all I needed was WILL-POWER!
Linkara: (as Alan) I need a change of pants, too! I'm really high up!
Linkara (v/o): Alan arrives above Dekker's house.
Alan: (thinking) Wonder if I have the power of going through the Fourth Dimension...
Linkara: (as Alan) Being a train engineer, I am well-versed in other-dimensional physics and know what the hell the Fourth Dimension is.
Linkara (v/o): This power allows him to pass through solid objects, and he decides to illegally enter the house with no plan what he's actually going to do and doesn't even have any proof that Dekker is responsible, other than a motive. Fortunately, through plot convenience, Dekker is talking to his goons about it and admitting the whole thing.
Dekker: You boys did a sweet job in blowing up the bridge! Now the government will take my bid! I'll make some nice dough on the deal!... Yessir... nice dough!
Linkara: (as Dekker) Yep, nice dough. I really had no other reason to bring you guys here; just wanted to tell you that. Nice dough.
Linkara (v/o): Alan emerges through the wall, completely covered in green light. They recognize him and try to shoot him, but the bullets bounce right off.
Goon: He don't fall! He ain't human!
Dekker: He must be wearing a bulletproof vest... Club him d...
Linkara (v/o): (getting a good look at Dekker) Hey, wait a minute, that's Dekker?! It can't be! That's Alan Cumming from The Airzone Solution!
(Cut to a clip of that movie)
MacNamara (Alan Cumming): Neat idea.
Linkara: My God! No doubt he's planning on using that government money to fund his projects on turning Americans into mutant fish people! Get him, Green Lantern!
Linkara (v/o): They try to stab Alan, but the knife breaks against him. However, a wooden club knocks Alan down. He realizes that the ring is only giving him immunity to metal.
Linkara: Yes, as it happens, Alan Scott's weakness is to throw a wooden stick at him.
Linkara (v/o): He also makes note that he doesn't have enhanced strength, but he's a good enough fighter to kick the goons' asses. They make a hasty retreat, leaving poor Dekker to fend for himself.
Alan: Now I'm going to work on you, Dekker!
Dekker: Now... Now... Don't be hasty! I'll give you money! I'll be your friend!
Linkara: Brilliant bargaining maneuver. (throws up arms) Don't hurt me, I'll be your pal!
Alan: Okay, chum... Just to show you how much I value our friendship, I'm going to take you for a little ride!
Linkara (v/o): Alan flies Dekker high into the air and threatens to drop him, but Dekker yells that he'll confess and pay back the damage done to the train. Alan brings Dekker back to the office and he writes out a full confession... and then dies. I am not kidding.
Alan: Dead!...The shock was too much for him!
Linkara: Ooh, boy, this is not gonna look good for Alan in the police report. (as policeman) So you say he signed a complete confession, but then just happened to die...? (as Alan) Uh-huh. (as policeman) And you say the train you were on was destroyed, but you survived while everyone else died...? (as Alan) And in this confession, Mr. Dekker promised a lot of money for you to compensate for the loss of the train? (as Alan) Uh-huh. (as policeman) And Dekker's company, one that was in direct competition with your own, is now in shambles over this whole scandal. (as Alan) Yeah, that about sums it up. (as Alan) Mr. Scott, could you come with us downtown, please?
Linkara (v/o): And so, our story ends with Alan look right at the reader and monologuing.
Alan: Somehow I feel as if destiny has taken hold of my life... that this is only the beginning...that I must continue to fight against evil!
Linkara: (as Alan, pointing to camera, a green ring on his finger) What do you, the people at home, think?
Alan: (thinking) If I must fight evil beings, I must make myself a dreaded figure! I must have a costume that is so bizarre that once I am seen I will never be forgotten!
Linkara (v/o): Uh, Alan, I admit you got the second part right, but "dreaded figure"? Not so much, dude.
Alan: (thinking) And I shall shed my light over dark evil... For the dark things cannot stand the light... The light of the Green Lantern!
Linkara (v/o): Despite my snark, this is actually a pretty decent origin story. We get some genuine emotion out of Alan, who wants revenge for what happened, but cools down after some time. We get a nice variety of lantern powers that feel unique, and the story itself is short and sweet.
Linkara: However, while the title of this one was "All-American Comics", come back next week for the conclusion to this year's Secret Origins Month to see something truly all-American!
(End credits roll, to Kermit the Frog's "It's Not Easy Being Green")
Had a hard time deciding what song to use for the horrible voice in my head. It came down to one of NightCat's songs or "The Time (Dirty Bit)" by the Black Eyed Peas.
Alan Scott was arraigned in superior court, County of Los Angeles on charges of murder, extortion, and embezzlement.
In a moment, the results of that trial.
(Stinger: Dr. Linksano, picks up something from off the floor, cackling crazily as he does so)
Dr. Linksano: Excellent! I have completed work on my prototype Cybermat, and with it, I shall (clenches fist) destroy Linkara AND SEIZE CONTROL OF THE WORLD!! (cackles some more)
Linkara: (suddenly walking out into the room, seeing Linksano) Oh, hey, good, you're here. I wanted to talk to you.
Dr. Linksano: What?! Oh, no, you don't! You won't distract me again with a Junior Chemistry Playset! (puts Cybermat on the floor) Cybermat, attack!
(The Cybermat scurries across the floor to Linkara, who picks it up and strokes it like a pet)
Linkara: (speaking in baby talk) Aw, who's a cute wittle Cybermat? Yes, you are. Yes, you're an adorable little Cybermat, aren't you? Yes, you are. (coos)
Dr. Linksano: (frustrated at this turn of events) What the–?! No, no, you stupid worm! You're supposed to electrocute him!
Linkara: Well, what can I say? Robots love me. Well, most robots, anyway. Which is actually what I wanted to talk to you about.
Dr. Linksano: I won't do it! I will destroy you and conquer this puny world! By seeking–
Linkara: I want to hire you.
Dr. Linksano: (stops, dumbfounded) What?
Linkara: I want to hire you and make you my official scientific adviser.
Dr. Linksano: Why?
Linkara: Well, I've been thinking lately. With Mechakara back, I could really use someone on my side to help me out with improving the weapons systems and helping me defend the world.
Dr. Linksano: But... I want to conquer the world.
Linkara: Yeah, I've been thinking about that, too. Why exactly do you want to take over the world?
Dr. Linksano: To rule the world! With it, I can have everything I've ever wanted: wealth, power, lots of hot babes, and every dark, sadistic thought of revenge could be MINE! (cackles)
Linkara: So, what would be your economic policy?
Dr. Linksano: (dumbfounded) Huh?
Linkara: Your economic policy. I mean, sure, everybody's gonna be your slave and all, but you're still gonna have to have some form of commerce for people. (Dr. Linksano stares in confusion) You'll need have to reissue currency across the world to a normal standard. Oh, let's not forget you're also gonna need to work to restore countries and places that are dealing with economic stagnation, facing hunger crises, population issues, religious issues...
Dr. Linksano: (interrupting) Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop! Look, I just figured I could get to that whenever I wanted.
Linkara: Do you want to, though?
Dr. Linksano: (embarrassed) Well... no.
Linkara: And there are going to be rebellions, you know. You know, resistance fighters who pester you and annoy you and set back your science projects...
Dr. Linksano: (feeling guilty, turning away) I guess so. (turns back sharply, pointing) But I still want the hot babes!
Linkara: And if you accept my proposal, you can have them.
Dr. Linksano: What are you talking about?
Linkara: The truth is that you don't want to rule the world. You just want to bum around and have a good time and have people who will obey your every whim and command. I can provide that.
Dr. Linksano: How?
Linkara: Comicron 1 has a fully programmable holodeck. It's where I got the tech for my mobile emitter. You become my scientific adviser, and the holodeck is yours to play with.
Dr. Linksano: Can I have my own lab? I-I still want to do science and stuff.
Linkara: Well, of course. I'll even thrown in lots of random science-y doodads and gadgets that spark and glow, but have no real purpose.
Dr. Linksano: EXCELLENT! You've got a deal, Linkara!
Linkara: Great! I'll start making arrangements. Just, uh, one thing, though, Linksano...
Dr. Linksano: Yes?
Linkara: While I know I can placate you, and while I know I can handle anything you try to throw at me, you're not exactly the most trustworthy of individuals. Nimue is going to be watching you very closely. And if she has any suspicions that you are planning on betraying me, she is under orders to IMMEDIATELY teleport you to the same dimension, the same PLANET we stuck Lord Vyce. And I'm sure that you two have so much to talk about. Understood?
Dr. Linksano: (nervously) Noted.
Linkara: Awesome! Oh, and (holds up Cybermat) we're keeping the Cybermat.
Dr. Linksano: Indeed! (looks away in thought) In fact, I've got a great idea for it already.
Linkara: Ooh, do tell.
Dr. Linksano: Well, what I was thinking was, I can reprogram it as a sentry for Comicron 1...
(All the while, Pollo's new body floats away, as suspenseful music plays)