Transformed By Mysterious Space Magic Championship Bout: Green Lantern vs. The Invisible Woman
Name: Green Lantern
Origin Story: Depends on which Green Lantern you’re talking about, of course. The Golden Age original, created in 1940, was a railroad engineer named Alan Scott who channeled the mystic energies of a magic lantern via a ring of his own design. This Green Lantern was the one who was recently rebooted as a gay man, and resides in a parallel universe known as Earth 2. But the Green Lantern that shall sally forth in our bracket battle is the Silver Age reboot, introduced in 1959, i.e., Hal Jordan, a hot shot test pilot who learns humility and gains higher purpose after being tapped by a dying extra-terrestrial super-cop – a member of the Green Lantern Corps., overseen by big-headed, blue-skinned Guardians of the Universe – as his replacement.
Costume: Green and gray leotard, domino mask, emerald bling.
Coolest power: With his power ring, which generates objects of solid viridian-hued light, Green Lantern can –through application of will power — conjure anything he can imagine. Additional benefits: Flight, life support, mental telepathy, more. Older stories gave the ring a flaw: It couldn’t work against anything yellow. In more recent stories, the ring is basically as strong – or as weak – as the wearer’s moral character.
Defining stories: Showcase #22 by John Broome and Gil Kane; The Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams; Green Lantern: Rebirth by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver; Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps. War by Johns and various artists; The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke.
Cultural Legacy: At heart, the Silver Age Green Lantern is a giddy-geeky embodiment of Space Race-era gee-whiz will-to-power optimism and possibility… and Cold War America ‘policeman of the world’ self-righteousness. He’s a cop archetype, and useful to comic book writers as a means to explore both the good and bad of institutions dedicated to protecting and prosecuting law and order. In the late sixties, O’Neil and Adams produced a legendary string of politically-charged comics by playing Green Lantern as an avatar of The Man, well-meaning and decent, but obedient to the system, resistant to change, and conservative, a foil to counter-culture firebrand Green Arrow. In more recent times, Green Lantern stories have been pure sci-fi fantasy escapism, and the best succeed as rollicking space operas. Maybe Hollywood should consider a movie adaptation. Check that: A good movie adaptation. —Jeff Jensen
Name: The Invisible Woman
Origin Story: Susan Storm joined her boyfriend Reed Richards’ illegal space expedition. The expedition ran afoul of some nasty cosmic rays, and when they crash-landed, the four people onboard found themselves radically transformed into “the Fantastic Four.” Sue discovered that she could turn herself invisible.
Costume: Like her fellow teammates, Sue rocks a blue FF bodysuit, though recently the team started wearing all-white stormtrooper-chic outfits in the wake of a rebranding as the “Future Foundation.”
Coolest Power/Ability: Initially, Sue’s power was limited to making herself invisible. But as the character evolved, she developed the ability to cast massive invisible-energy fields. This has multiple uses, but the most fun is her tendency to construct frictionless slides, essentially allowing her to glide through the city.
Defining Stories: The character came into her own in a mid-’80s run by John Byrne, when she notably changed her codename from “The Invisible Girl” to “The Invisible Woman.” But Sue’s best showcase is arguably much more recent: Under the stewardship of current FF writer Jonathan Hickman, she’s become the group’s most interesting (and probably most powerful) member.
Cultural legacy: Marvel’s first female superhero has a problematic history — she spent her first couple of decades dithering in the background, often eerily concerned about clothes. (It didn’t help matters when, in the ’90s, she started modeling a Victoria’s Secret-worthy skin-baring costume.) But she has steadily evolved into a multifaceted character: A mother, a leader, and a powerful heroine. (Alas, none of that was really evident when Jessica Alba played her in two Fantastic Four movies.) —Darren Franich
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