Times Past, 1963
by Doc Quantum, partially adapted from Justice League of America #22 by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky
Twenty years ago, Green Lantern failed to save a child from being murdered for reasons that were unclear at the time. As time has passed, Alan Scott has begun to realize that the boy would have become a very important person if he’d lived. But although he’s completely unprepared to learn the strange connection between the Green Lantern of Earth-One and the boy he failed to save, will this fateful meeting help Alan find a sense of redemption, after all?
June 28, 1961:
Alan Scott, president of the Gotham Broadcasting Company, knelt at a lonely gravesite in the small town of Broome, California. It was twenty years ago to the day that he had been unable to save an eleven-year-old boy from his death.
The Justice Society of America had stumbled upon a plot to murder ten people after having saved the first intended victim, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The villain Ian Karkull had gathered a group of super-villains under his fold to kill these people. Before the assorted Justice Society members set out to save each of them after Green Lantern had managed to save the list of names from being burnt up by Karkull along with the goons who had tried to kill the President, Green Lantern had remarked, “Every fiber of my being tells me that this may be the most desperately important case in the history of the Justice Society.”
Little did he know how right he was, then. The second name on the list was Harry Truman, the vice president, who would become the U.S. president after Roosevelt. Another name on the list, Dwight Eisenhower, then a colonel in the U.S. Army, became president after Truman. And then there was John F. Kennedy, who was also on the list, and who had just become the thirty-fifth president of the United States. Alan Scott’s instincts told him the fate of the others on the list, despite the crazy notion that Ian Karkull somehow knew the future.
Green Lantern had been assigned to the boy in Broome, California. He had been the only one on the list who wasn’t saved. Doctor Fate’s old foe, Wotan, had come to kill the boy, and it was only by chance that he succeeded. As Green Lantern struck him with a ray from his magical ring, a stray blast from Wotan’s ray-gun hit a tree behind them. It wasn’t until the tree broke and began to fall that Green Lantern noticed that a kid was behind it. The horrible scream that was suddenly cut short as the tree fell on top of him was something that would forever scar his memory, for it was due to his ring’s powerlessness over wood that he was unable to save the young child.
He had blamed himself for the child’s death, however, for being so fatigued from handling both his own cases and the JSA’s cases as the chairman at that time. Following this tragedy, he resigned both his chair and membership in the JSA, opting to be only an honorary member for the next few years. (*) This incident had terribly shaken him, for he knew — he knew — that this child would have had a wonderful destiny ahead of him, until his death ended it. He had let Karkull and Wotan alter his and the world’s destiny by this boy’s death.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Justice Society Adventure the World’s Not Ready to Learn About Yet,” All-Star Squadron Annual #3 (1984).]
On the anniversary of the child’s death, every year, Alan Scott attended his gravesite to remember the boy he couldn’t save.
“Mr. Scott! Mr. Scott!”
He turned around to see two figures coming closer to him. He knew them well. “Hello, Jack! Hi, Jim!”
Jack shook Alan’s hand. “Good to see you, Mr. Scott.”
“Please, Jack, call me Alan. I’m not all that much older than you.”
“Of course… Alan,” Jack said, smiling.
Jim spoke up. “Alan, would you like to come over for dinner at my house? Sue cooks a great dish of chicken and mashed potatoes.”
Alan Scott looked at Jim. He had been the boy’s twin-like younger brother, and he looked like what the boy would have looked like, if things had turned out different. A shudder of sadness went through him. “I… I’d love to, Jim.”
“Well, you know where we live. I’m, uh, just going to be here for a little while. I have some things I want to say to my brother.”
Jack, the older brother, said, “As do I. Will you come by for dinner later, though?”
“You can count on it,” Alan replied, leaving the two young men to pay their respects to their fallen brother.
The Justice Society of America had finally reunited after twelve years, and already they had their first case. Splitting up into teams, they each battled an old foe. Green Lantern and Black Canary teamed up to battle the Wizard, who tossed wooden objects at Green Lantern and blew Black Canary away with a huge fan. He then escaped to plot anew with his allies, the Fiddler and the Icicle.
It seemed, however, that on Earth-One, the Justice League of America were having their own problems, with three villains called Chronos, Felix Faust, and Doctor Alchemy. And the two teams of villains were now teaming up as the Crime Champions. They had already captured Jay Garrick and Barry Allen, the Flash of Earth-Two and the Flash of Earth-One, respectively. Thus, the JLA summoned the JSA by the use of a magic crystal ball given them by an other-dimensional Merlin, after having contacted Barry Allen, who made the suggestion to summon the Justice Society.
Thus the two mighty teams finally met. Green Arrow chatted with Hourman. The Atoms of both worlds shook hands. Wonder Woman greeted Black Canary. Aquaman said hello to Hawkman. Doctor Fate met Superman, Batman, and the Martian Manhunter. And Green Lantern met Green Lantern.
They hadn’t had much time to discuss their respective origins when the two teams split up, the JLA going to Earth-Two, and the JSA staying on Earth-One. The Green Lanterns, however, were on a mission to rescue the Flashes. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crisis on Earth-One,” Justice League of America #21 (August, 1963).]
And they finally had a chance to talk.
“How did you gain your power ring?” Alan Scott asked the Earth-One Green Lantern. “Did you carve it out of a magical emerald train lantern?”
The other Green Lantern looked back at him with a strange look. “Heh. Was that a joke? Actually, no. I was given this ring by Abin Sur, a member of the Green Lantern Corps.”
“Green Lantern Corps?!” Alan replied in surprise.
“Yes, the GLC is an intergalactic peacekeeping force. The Guardians of the Universe, on the planet Oa, have appointed a Green Lantern in every sector.”
“How many Green Lanterns are there?”
“Three-thousand, six hundred, I think.”
Alan Scott became suddenly silent.
“So how did you really get your ring?” the other Green Lantern asked.
“I, uh, carved it out of a magical emerald train lantern…”
“Abin Sur, huh? Funny, he has the same initials as mine. I guess I can trust you with my secret identity. My name’s Alan Scott. I’m pleased to meet you.” He extended his hand.
The other Green Lantern smiled and shook his hand. “Call me Hal. Hal Jordan.”
Alan Scott stared back at him with a look of stricken horror. “Of course,” he said under his breath, “how could I not have seen it?”
“Excuse me?” Hal said, noticing his appearance. “Are you all right?”
“Uh, yeah. Yeah, I’m OK.” He looked ahead; they had been traveling through the misty border-dimension between the Earths, and they were buffeted by terrible gales of airless wind.
“Even our super-powers are hard put to offset these incredible blasts which are slowing us down!” Hal remarked, shouting loud enough for the elder Green Lantern to hear him.
Alan Scott squinted into the wind. “Up ahead–” he shouted back, “–I think I see a structure of some sort.” They flew toward it, still struggling against the force. “So what do you do for a living, Hal? Or is being a Green Lantern your career?”
“Actually, I’m a test pilot.”
“Ever think of going into the astronaut program?”
“I’ve thought about it, and I probably would have, if I hadn’t become a Green Lantern. Who knows how my life would’ve changed then?”
“Yes, who knows…?” Alan replied knowingly.
“And you? What do you do?”
“I’m the president of Gotham Broadcasting Company.”
“Television, huh? Good business to be in, I guess.”
“Yes, it has been.” They were almost at the structure now. “Here we are. Let’s strike the walls at the same time.”
The two Green Lanterns burst into the between-worlds hideout of the Crime Champions.
“At last!” Hal Jordan exclaimed. “We’ve reached the imprisoned Flashes!”
And they managed to rescue them, eventually, and went on to defeat the Crime Champions of two Earths. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crisis on Earth-Two,” Justice League of America #22 (September, 1963).]
Alan Scott and Hal Jordan had worked well as a team, but they wouldn’t go on to regularly team up quite as much as the two Flashes had, nor would they really become the close friends Jay and Barry were. Hal’s face was too painful a reminder of the boy Alan couldn’t save all those years ago. And he was sure that if Hal Jordan had not become Green Lantern, he would have eventually gone on to be an astronaut, and perhaps gone into politics from there. After all, his brother Jack was a politician. And, according to Ian Karkull’s list that he had kept since 1941, he would have gone on to even greater things than that.
June 28, 1966:
Alan Scott stood before the grave, which said:
HAROLD LAWRENCE JORDAN
Born February 20, 1930
Died June 28, 1941
He will live in our hearts forever.
Alan knelt down. “Hal, I… I want to tell you about yourself. Well, actually another Hal Jordan I know. He grew up in safety; no one attempted to kill him as a boy for what he might become in the future. He joined the United States Air Force and became a great pilot. Even flew in Korea, helping to keep the peace there. He then went on to become a test pilot for Ferris Aircraft in Coast City, not far from here. I imagine you would’ve gone on to do the same thing.
“A few years ago, he became that world’s Green Lantern. And he’s become a real hero, with a legend on his Earth that rivals my own. Not only that, but he’s an interplanetary hero, as well, known as one of the best of the Green Lantern Corps. He’s also a member of the Justice League of America, that world’s JSA.”
Alan Scott paused for a moment before continuing, his voice becoming slightly cracked as he did so. “I think about you sometimes. Not as often as I used to, but still… I wonder what would have happened to you had you not died — what things you would have accomplished. I knew what you would have looked like. Jim was your twin, with the exception of the glasses he wears. But I guess, now, after meeting Hal — Hal Jordan of that other Earth, anyways — I’ve gotten a glimpse of what you might’ve become as well.
“I just want to say how sorry I am for not saving your life. I only wish it had been me who had died in your place. I know you would have gone on to do great things, had you lived.”
It became windy, now. The clouds that were overhead began to break up and drift away. The sun began to shine through, and the wind was stilled once again. A single tear went down Alan Scott’s face as he smiled. He then rose and walked away.