The Green Lantern Oath. It still resonates with me. Especially now, because I believe my country is experiencing a pretty black night right now....
Clearly, one of my great childhood influences has been the character of Green Lantern. I can't say why the character speaks to me. I tried to explain it a little in the blog description. As a kid I knew that I could never be a Superman, because I was not rocketed to Earth from another planet and had no inherent alien ability to change the course of mighty rivers or bend steel in my bare hands. And I knew I could never be a Batman, because I was not an orphaned billionaire with access to all kinds of research and development hardware that I could use in my personal war on crime. But I could be a Green Lantern. He's a space cop. He works on the side of the good guys. His particular good guys are ancient alien immortals who figured out how to channel willpower into a force for good. They invented a ring that can turn that willpower into reality. Anything you can think of, you can make with a Green Lantern ring. You can fly; you can breathe in space; you can build or make anything you can imagine out of the green light of willpower.
The only things you really need to be a Green Lantern are to be able to use your willpower, to overcome your fear, and to be The Right Guy. The right guy (or girl) in the right place at the right time. What a brilliant, amazing, empowering idea for an eight-year-old boy to wrap his mind around.
When I first discovered Green Lantern, I was indeed an eight-year-old boy. I was not allowed to buy comics. I did not get an allowance -- my parents didn't believe in giving kids an allowance, not even to reward chores -- and all the money I earned from my paper route went straight into my parents' pockets. Seriously -- all of it. Every penny. Since my dad worked on Saturdays and my mom wouldn't (or couldn't) pay for a sitter, she would bring me with her when she went to "get her hair done" at the local mom-and-pop "beauty parlor" (which was literally in some nice lady's parlor, but never mind.) My mom was not the only one who brought her kids with her, so the beautician had a basket of comic books for kids to occupy themselves while Mom had her head under a hair dryer the size of R2-D2. The comics were a pretty mixed bag. There were Archie Comics (including Archie's Pal Jughead, Betty and Veronica, Little Archie and Archie's Pals 'n' Gals), some Disney Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics, and a handful of whatever National Periodical Publications were on the rack at Carlino's Drug Store that month: Batman. Superman. Detective. And Green Lantern.
The first Green Lantern comic I read was number 4. "The Secret of Green Lantern's Mask Revealed!" and "The Diabolical Missile from Qward!" It blew me away. I was immediately hooked.