How Do Green Lanterns Create Non-Green Costumes?

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com).

Reader Peter B. wrote in to ask:

I have a question for one of your columns for which I couldn't find an answer in the archives or anywhere else.

A regular, non-rainbow Green Lantern can only create constructs in the good old green color of willpower. But we've seen many times that GLs create their uniform with the ring, and most cases it has black and white colors, too, which they shouldn't be able to create.

What's the deal with this?

Great question, Peter!

Okay, let's look at the history of Green Lantern and his costume. The fascinating thing is that when Green Lantern began, his costume was actual clothing. Not only that, but, well, check out his first appearance in Showcase #22 (by John Broome, Gil Kane and Joe Giella). The alien known as Abin Sur crash-landed on Earth and decided to hand off his Green Lantern ring to a new bearer, Hal Jordan. Well, look at what Hal does...

Yes, he just straight up strips the costume off of Abin Sur and just puts it on himself. There are some pretty things that are weird about this scenario, right? One, how in the world is Abin Sur the same exact size as Hal Jordan? That is a pretty darn form-fitting costume, right? How does it fit Hal perfectly? Second, Abin Sur dies from the spaceship crash, right? And yet somehow, none of his wounds involve his clothes tearing? They're somehow ALL internal bleeding? Three, Hal learns that his ring can do pretty much anything, but he doesn't think to use it to create a costume for him?

In any event, the costume somehow came through intact and without any tears in it and Hal began to wear it as his costume, but interestingly enough, Hal just wore it like a regular costume, in the sense that he would switch into his costume the same as any other superhero, like Spider-Man or whoever. The funny thing about this is that Hal was doing some crazy stuff with his ring at the time, like accidentally turning his best friend into a seagull or making his clothes appear out of nowhere (when he needs to turn into Hal Jordan in the middle of nowhere), but never does it come down to him just using the ring to make a costume for him.

In fact, the ring actually is responsible for his MASK (since Abin Sur didn't wear one) and yet not the rest of his costume. That's super odd, right?

Well, sure enough, eventually that changed...

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