Engineer Alan Scott and his colleague, Jimmy, travel aboard a train across the American Midwest. Alan is present to inspect the recently designed Trestle Bridge. Alan recently outbid a rival engineer named Albert Dekker for the Trestle Bridge contract, and Jimmy is concerned that Dekker might try to sabotage the bridge's test trial. Alan assures him that there is nothing to worry about.
As fate would have it however, a bomb explodes beneath the bridge derailing the train. Everyone on board is killed in the explosion – everyone but Alan Scott. Alan awakens and finds a strange emerald lantern resting near the wreckage. The lantern begins glowing and an eerie voice begins to chant, "Three times shall I flame green! First - to bring death! Second - to bring life, and third - to bring power!" Known as the Green Flame of Life, the disembodied voice infuses Alan with visions of the past.
Two-thousand years ago a green meteor came to Earth and landed in the provinces of China. An aging occultist named Chang discovered the meteor and listened to the same spectral promises of death, life and power. Cutting away a portion of the alien rock, Chang fashioned it into a small lantern. The neighboring villagers distrusted the sorcerer and before long, a mob gathered together and killed him. The Flame of Life fulfilled the first of its prophecies.
The lamp traveled across the globe for centuries until it eventually fell into the hands of a mental patient named Billings. Billings remolded the lamp into the shape of a train conductor’s lantern. The Green Flame of Life flared again and mystically restored Billings' sanity – granting him a new lease on life. As promised, the second of three prophecies has been fulfilled.
Now the Green Flame of Life flares for a third time granting the gift of power to Alan Scott. Following the lantern's instructions, he cuts away a small piece of the lamp and molds it into a ring. The Flame of Life instructs that in order to effectively wield his power, he must charge his ring with energy from the lantern, once every twenty-four hours.
With this fantastic new power under his command, Alan sets out to find Albert Dekker – the man responsible for blowing up the Trestle Bridge. Glowing like a green phantom, he phases through the walls of Dekker's office and forces him to take responsibility for the bridge's destruction. Moments after Dekker confesses to his crimes, he falls away dead from fright.
Alan decides to use his new-found powers and tools to fight crime as a man of mystery. He becomes... the Green Lantern.