Arthur Blount slaves away, day and night, at the Quickway Loan Company, hoping to earn enough money for an operation, in Rome, before he dies. Late one night, Blount feels a terrible paralysis sweep over him, and believes that his time has come. Suddenly, a masked man, garbed in colonial attire, enters the room. With a wave of his cane, the vault door melts open. 10 minutes later, the vault has been emptied, and the man, calling himself the Lamplighter, has departed. Shortly thereafter, Blount's paralysis wears off. To Blount's astonishment, the vault door has also returned to normal.
Doubting his sanity, Blount, nonetheless, calls the police. The Evergreen Insurance Company, having insured Quickway against theft, finds Blount's story a little too incredulous to be true. Hal Jordan, their top claims adjuster, is sent to Quickway to investigate the veracity of Blount's account. Jordan interrogates Blount, while surreptitiously using his power ring to probe Blount's mind for the truth. Switching to his costumed identity, as the Green Lantern, Jordan searches the city with his power ring for any sign of the Lamplighter.
The next evening, the colonial criminal re-appears, this time at the Elite Jewel Emporium. Encasing the clients in giant diamond prisons, the Lamplighter is startled by the sales clerk, Cindy Corbett, when she re-enters from the back room. With a wave of his cane, the Lamplighter transforms Corbett into a stunning beauty. Corbett is so taken with her new appearance that she cannot tear herself away from the mirror. The Lamplighter resumes his theft, only to be interrupted again, this time by the Green Lantern. The Lamplighter blasts the Green Lantern with a heat beam from his cane, but the Green Lantern's protective aura diffuses the attack.
The Green Lantern sends a chandelier crashing down upon the Lamplighter, who counters by transforming the chandelier into a whirling buzz saw blade. As the blade rockets towards the Emerald Gladiator, the Green Lantern leaps over it, while simultaneously blunting the blades and blinding the Lamplighter with a beam from his power ring. The Lamplighter seems unaffected by the flash, and projects a concrete wall between himself and the lunging figure of the Green Lantern. Using the power ring to crash through the wall, Green Lantern allows his forward momentum to carry him close enough to land a solid blow on the Lamplighter's chin.
The Lamplighter converts the molecules of his own body into helium, and floats away. As the Green Lantern pursues him into the air, the Lamplighter solidifies the air molecules between them, forming a wall that the Green Lantern crashes against. The Lamplighter forms stairs out the air, that Green Lantern transforms into a slide. The Lamplighter counters by transforming the slide into a platform. The Green Lantern drops an enormous lamp shade over the Lamplighter, with multiple images of the Green lantern surrounding him. The Lamplighter picks the wrong Green Lantern to attack, allowing the real one to land another haymaker blow.
The Lamplighter feigns weakness to lure the Green Lantern in, then drops an iron weight upon him. The Green Lantern, though, sees the shadow of the weight above him, and uses the power ring to make himself intangible. Realizing he's outmatched, the Lamplighter cuts and runs, casting a pall of darkness to mask his escape. The Lamplighter then transforms himself into a tree. After the Green Lantern passes by overhead, the Lamplighter resumes his human form, though no longer in costume. The Lamplighter returns home.
In pitch darkness he counts the stolen loot from his two robberies. As he does so, he reflects on the series of events that led him down this path. Lee Carver had been the head scientist, at the Nuclear Research Center, when his experiments to alter the molecular structure of matter literally blew up in his face. The accident left Carver blind. Despite his handicap, Carver tried to continue his research. Fumbling with some chemicals, Carver was exposed to an acrid mist that temporarily restored his sight. Brushing the chemicals onto a lantern caused the lamp to project an invisible wavelength of light, one that allowed Carver to see in absolute darkness.
Carver called his discovery "Ultra Light". Carver attempted to resume his work, but while he could see by Ultra Light, his visual acuity was not sharp enough to perform the precision work his research required. Carver fashioned a blind man's cane, with an Ultra Light lamp as it's head. Atop the cane he affixed a prism that allows him to temporarily rearrange the molecular structure of matter. Thus armed, Carver adopted the masked identity of the Lamplighter, to take out his frustrations on an unsuspecting world. The Lamplighter's next target is a sunken treasure ship, just recovered from the bottom of the sea, and en route to a local museum.
The Lamplighter transforms all the onlookers into gold, then sets about miniaturizing the ship. Jordan's power ring alerts him to the Lamplighter's crime in progress. Jordan recharges his ring in his power battery then, as the Green Lantern, races to intercept the Lamplighter. As the Green Lantern descends on the Lamplighter, his power ring suddenly explodes. Anticipating this tactic from the Lamplighter, the Green Lantern willed the real power ring invisible, and cast an illusion of the ring as a decoy. Thus the Green Lantern is still able to control his descent and tackle the Lamplighter.
Switching tactics, the Lamplighter casts a sheath of gold around the Green Lantern, little realizing that the Green Lantern's power ring cannot effect the gold, on account of it's color. Mildly astonished that the Green Lantern has not countered his attack, the Lamplighter resumes miniaturizing the ship. The Green Lantern escapes his golden prison by using his power ring to shrink himself to microscopic size, then slipping out between the atoms of gold. Landing another haymaker on the Lamplighter staggers the colonial criminal.
Once more he converts his molecules to helium, and tries to escape. The Green Lantern offers no quarter. The Lamplighter attempts to transform the Green Lantern's fist into feathers but misses. The errant beam instead enters the home of one Jabez Morley, a miser, who, at that moment, has the misfortune of having his entire life's savings piled up on his mattress. Suddenly, his money turns into feathers. Snatching the Lamplighter's cane away from him, the Green Lantern lands one last blow that puts the colonial criminal down for the count.
To some degree, the Lamplighter's transformative powers turn out to be not so temporary after all. Arthur Blount finds that his exposure to the Lamplighter's power may have temporarily paralyzed him, but it also cured the disease that was killing him. Cindy Corbett's brief transformation into a ravishing beauty wins her the heart of a wealthy man, one who swears he still sees that beauty when he looks at Corbett. Jabez Morley, however, suffers greatly for his brush with the Lamplighter's power. Seeing the feathers where his money once was, Morley threw them out the window. When the feathers turned back into his money, a crowd on the street made off with everything he had, leaving Morley destitute.