PHILADELPHIA - Green Lantern, one of DC Comics' oldest and most enduring heroes, is serving as a beacon for the publisher again, this time as a proud, mighty and openly gay hero.
The change is revealed in the pages of the second issue of "Earth 2" out next week, and comes on the heels of what has been an expansive year for gay and lesbian characters in the pages of comic books from Archie to Marvel and others.
But purists and fans note: This Green Lantern is not the emerald galactic space cop Hal Jordan who was, and is, part of the Justice League and has had a history rich in triumph and tragedy.
Instead, he's a parallel earth Green Lantern. James Robinson, who writes the new series, said Alan Scott is the retooled version of the classic Lantern whose first appearance came in the pages of "All-American Comics" No. 16 in July 1940.
And his being gay is not part of some wider story line meant to be exploited or undone down the road, either.
"This was my idea," Robinson explained this week, noting that before DC relaunched all its titles last summer, Alan Scott had a son who was gay.
But given "Earth 2" features retooled and rebooted characters, Scott is not old enough to have a grown son.
"By making him younger, that son was not going to exist anymore," Robinson said.
"He doesn't come out. He's gay when we see him in issue two," which is due out Wednesday. "He's fearless and he's honest to the point where he realized he was gay and he said `I'm gay.'"
It's another example of gay and lesbian characters taking more prominent roles in the medium.
In May, Marvel Entertainment said super speedster Northstar will marry his longtime boyfriend in the pages of "Astonishing X-Men." DC comics has other gay characters, too, including Kate Kane, the current Batwoman, The Question, and married characters Apollo and the Midnighter.
And in the pages of Archie Comics, Kevin Keller is one of the gang at Riverdale High School and gay, too.
DC has been a leader in incorporating gay characters into its comics - they had one of the first male gay kisses back in 1988.
Since then, numerous comic book heroes and villains have been written as gay, lesbian or transgender - from Batwoman to Hulkling and Wiccan in the pages of "Young Avengers."
Green Lantern would be the highest-profile openly gay hero - even the parallel earth version.
"It was just meant to be - Alan Scott being a gay member of the team, the Justice Society, that I'll be forming in the pages of `Earth 2,'" Robinson said. "He's just meant to be part of this big tapestry of characters."
Some groups have protested the inclusion of gay characters, but Robinson isn't discouraged, noting that being gay is just one aspect to Scott.
"This guy, he's a media mogul, a hero, a dynamic type-A personality and he's gay," Robinson said. "He's a complex character."