Julie Schwartz, John Broome and Gil Kane’s Space Age reworking of the 1940s superhero with the magic ring replaced mysticism with super-science. Hal Jordan is a young test pilot in California when an alien policeman crashes on Earth. Mortally wounded, Abin Sur commands his ring, a device able to materialise thoughts, to seek out a replacement ring-bearer, honest and without fear. Scanning the planet it selects Jordan and brings him to the crash-site. The dying alien bequeaths his ring, the lantern-shaped Battery of Power and his profession to the astonished Earthman.

In six pages Broome and Kane established the characters, scenario and narrative thrust of a series that would increasingly become the spine of DC continuity. Their construction begins when Green Lantern saves an emerging race from a deadly threat at the behest of the as-yet-unnamed leaders of the Green Lantern Corps. As the feature progresses Hal Jordan’s complex social life takes centre stage, and introduces the radical concept of Carol Ferris being left in charge of an aviation company by her father at a time when most women were still considered faint-fodder fluff. Carol won’t date an employee, but is happy for him to set her up with the glamorous, mysterious Green Lantern.

When Green Lantern was promoted to his own title the lead tale was inked by the uniquely gifted Murphy Anderson, and his fine linework elevated the tale (more emergent humans in need of rescue from another monster) to the status of a minor classic. Joe Giella returned for the second tale, in which GL fought his first – albeit rather lame – super-villain, the Puppet Master.

The next issue originates a concept pivotal to the future of DC continuity in introducing the Antimatter Universe and the diabolical Weaponers of Qward, a twisted race who worship Evil. Also inked by Anderson, it’s an early highpoint of tragic melodrama from an era where emotionalism was actively downplayed in comics. The following thriller highlights the developing friendship between Hal and his Inuit (then “Eskimo”) mechanic Tom ‘Pieface’ Kalmaku.

The Qwardians return several times before Hector Hammond arrives, GL’s second official super-villain. Innovations quickly follow with avian Green Lantern Tomar Re opening up the entire universe to avid readers, and then a renegade Green Lantern named Sinestro. A tense shocker introduces one of the most charismatic villains in the DC universe.

Sinestro also returns frequently, but the gold of ‘Green Lantern’s Brother Act’ introduces Hal’s two brothers and a snoopy girl reporter convinced that young Jim Jordan is the ring-slinging superhero. When they return Sue Williams is romantically involved with the youngest Jordan sibling.

Readers hungry for the Green Lantern Corps see another half-dozen when Hal is court-martialed for dereliction of duty, but a true landmark is an interdimensional invasion leading to a team-up and lifelong friendship between our hero and the Flash. They share secret identities, a rarity then.

This volume ends with Gardner Fox’s full-length espionage thriller revolving around test pilot Jordan’s personal involvement in the US/Soviet race to the stars.

These clearly printed black and white collections are a much better buy for art fans than the prestige Archives, more clearly showing Kane’s mastery of design and rendering. The only regret is that occasionally a special circumstance cries out for colour. The stories are also found in full colour as Green Lantern: The Silver Age Volume One or spread across Green Lantern Archives Volume 1 and Volume 2. It also covers material from Showcase Presents Vol. 2.