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Avenger Assembled

Without Fear

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1958

Gil Kane, Gardner Fox, and Julius Schwartz sit around a writing desk debating how to revive the Green Lantern franchise. A superscience spacecop instead of a magic lone wolf, one who inherited the ring from a dying alien who crash-landed on Earth and passed the ring and its accompanying lantern along to the nearest worthy person. The conversation turns towards the implications of that idea; anyone could have been chosen for the ring had they been the closest honest person without fear. After all, the Green Lanterns and their masters aren't human, so details of human biology and culture are pretty irrelevant to them.

Gardner Fox, something of a polymath, happens to mention an article he read about Jacqueline Cochran the other day and somebody gets a neat idea. Otto Binder's recent test run for a "Super Girl" went over pretty well, and he's planning to make her a permanent addition to the Superman franchise. Maybe lady heroes are the next big thing in comics! And besides, that way they have a defense if 'Doc' Smith takes them to court over the Lensman thing.

--

Carol Ferris debuts in Showcase #22 (October 1959). The daughter of a WWII veteran and aircraft manufacturer, she would dearly love to go up into space herself, but wouldn't you know it, that's a man's game! Until that aircraft test bed gets sucked into the desert and she meets a dead pink-skinned alien and is passed a ring of great power: the Green Lantern is born! It's the 50s so her writing isn't great (she wishes she could give up being Green Lantern and marry hunky test pilot Hal Jordan "Oh if only HAL would give me a ring!", but there's always another crisis to deal with, and anyway Hal's in love with Green Lantern, not her), but she's still as strong as Robert Kanigher's Wonder Woman and the character sticks. A general theme is that in the Space Age, the only thing that matters to Americans is skill and will.

When they put together a super-team for Brave and the Bold #28, Green Lantern joins: sure, why not?

(Meanwhile, Hal gets issued this brightly colored gem from the Zamorans, but you know how how that goes.)

Sales flag a bit by the 1970s, so they have Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams take over the title and turn it into a Hard-Travelin' Heroes adventure: Carol takes rich industrialist Oliver Queen (he's so old-fashioned and conservative he uses a bow and arrow, for Pete's sake!) across the country, showing him what it's really like for the working man and woman. They do their level best to be feminist, and by the standards of comics of the day, they do. Thanks to support from Carol and Dinah, Oliver helps Speedy dry out instead of kicking him out.

Sales keep slipping, though. In 1972, thanks to a preliminary sketch from recently hired artist Dave Cockrum, DC debuts Jane Stewart, a white-haired African-American woman, as Carol's substitute. Jane winds up being around for the Crisis on Infinite Earths, thanks to a poorly-timed event in the Green Lantern title. Whoopsie! (Luckily, Tony Isabella writes her in a very compelling way) Carol still pops up on Superfriends, though, where Darkseid's always trying to marry her.

(I'm fast-forwarding through Kylie Rayner's debut, rise, and subsequent fall for the sake of the narrative)

Then, in 2005, with enough nostalgia that people want Carol back, Gail Simone is offered a chance to revive the Green Lantern franchise...

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(I'm fast-forwarding through Kylie Rayner's debut, rise, and subsequent fall for the sake of the narrative)
:(

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