Like the Flash, for me Green Lantern was one of the Silver Age characters who defined the super hero genre. Neither of them were as iconic as Superman or as cool as Batman but they were at the centre of it all. If you weren't gifted with super powers or rich enough to invest in a utility belt and a fleet of customised super vehicles, you could still play with the Big Boys. All you needed was a magic ring!
Again, like Flash, I never really knew Green Lantern's Golden Age character. The fact that Alan Scott would sometimes turn up, calling himself Green Lantern and dressed in red was a source of some confusion. But, wow - if I was confused back then, the mind boggles to think what newcomers to the DCU must think of the current continuity!
There are at least five Earth-born Green Lanterns. Eaglemoss have made figurines of three of these for the DC Comics Super Hero Collection and, much to my delight, the first of these to be released was my Green Lantern: test pilot Hal Jordan (pictured). I've long since learned to ignore the fact that Alan Scott wielded the ring before him and, fortunately, I was no longer reading the comics when DC decided to kick Hal upstairs to assume the role of the Spectre, in order to make way for a whole string of lesser individuals to take turns at being planet Earth's official ring bearer.
I therefore know next-to-nothing of Kyle Rayner (the first to wear the black-and-green after Hal) and, in all the comics I've read since, Guy Gardner has been portrayed as such an obnoxious clown that it defies belief that anyone at DC could have convinced themselves he would ever have been recruited by the little blue men of Oa! I can just about accept the stiff-necked Jon Stewart in the role (although only in the Justice League animated TV series), but - to be honest - even he will always seem like a substitute to me. Someone who was just "filling in" until DC came to its senses and realised that shunting Hal sideways into the role of the Spectre was a mistake.
Which, it appears, they finally did a few years ago. Hal is now back but, in true DC fashion, it seems no one could quite bring themselves to take that opportunity to sort out the messy continuity and do away with all the other pretenders to the role. Even the bloated and over-hyped Infinite Crisis, a book specifically designed to streamline the DCU, failed to get rid of a single one. Pick up any comic book featuring the JLA or the Green Lantern Corps and you're quite likely to find a whole legion of Earth-based Green Lanterns littering its pages.
And they wonder why they can't attract new readers!