Though there have been many Green Lanterns (both Silver & Golden Age), Hal Jordan is my Green Lantern. He’s the Green Lantern I grew up with, a daredevil pilot granted a ring powered by the strength of his will by a dying alien. The ring of a Green Lantern is the ultimate in wish fulfillment. It’s only limitation is the willpower of the bearer…and the color yellow. For writers the caveat of the yellow weakness was a necessity because the ring could quickly become a deus ex machina ensuring the stakes for the hero are never really all that great. This would be poor storytelling. Having an alien armada thwart the ability of a Green Lantern to tear through them by simply painting their ships yellow forces the writer to come up with more unique means to convey the action. Similarly the ring had a limited charge and the possibility of a Lantern finding him or herself powerless added to the drama.
Another aspect of the character I always admired was the creation in the Silver Age of comics of the Green Lantern Corps. A force of 3,600 Green Lanterns culled from various species and charged by the Guardians of the Universe, blue-hued demigods of diminutive stature at odds with the massive hubris, with the protection of an assigned sector of space (Earth is in sector 2814, for the curious). Another great innovation for writers as it meant a Lantern existed, or could be created, for any type of story you want to tell. John Stewart, is another Green Lantern of Earth and one of the first black superheros not to come out of the blackploitation genre of the 70’s.
Then of course there was the Oath.
Spoken as a Green Lantern recharged the ring it was a distillation of what being a Green Lantern meant.
In brightest day, in blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!
But of course, it could be tailored to a specific Lantern. Such as Rot Lop Fan, a member of the Corp from a lightless region of space who has no concept of light and color.
Using sound to affect the energies of the power ring he is styled as the F-sharp Bell and has an oath reflecting this.
In loudest din or hush profound
My ears hear evil’s slightest sound
Let those who toll out evil’s knell
Beware my power, the F-Sharp Bell!
The Green Lanterns were a continuation of the tradition surrounding the knight errants and are reflected in other constructed mythologies like the Lensman novels they bear more than a passing resemblance to, and the Jedi of the Star Wars franchise.
The Ryan Reynolds movie was horrid though.