Tag Archives: Green Lantern Corps

Red Lanterns Volume 1: Blood and Rage

A few days ago, I purchased Red Lanterns Volume 1: Blood And Rage

Red Lantern Corps

Red Lantern Corps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TRIGGER WARNING: VIOLENCE & BLOODSHED AHEAD

and as always, SPOILER ALERTS

I must give credit where credit is due. Optimist Chad first introduced me to the rebooted version of the Green Lantern lore, and I haven’t really looked by since. I like the idea that the stories cover the color spectrum, with each color representing an emotion.  My favorite is Red.  In Green Lantern The Animated Series, Atrocitus and the Red Lantern Armada are the Season 1 “Big Bad.”  One of the major players from the comics, Bleez, was unfortunately missing. Probably because her story is not that safe for children, or rather, it’s something parents should be talking to their kids about, and not the media.

Laira's Red Power Ring

Laira’s Red Power Ring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For starters, the Green Lanterns are the policemen of the universe, protecting planets and sectors; their power is green for will-power. Green Lantern rings choose their bearers, as these rings were forged by the Guardians of the Universe who want to see order in the universe.  The Guardians have a history of mistakes, and one of these mistakes was that they created, before the Green Lantern Corps, robots called the Manhunters who sought to destroy all sentient beings who had emotions.  One of their victims was an alien named Atros, who was one of 5 persons to survive the Manhunter onslaught of Sector 666 (yikes!!!, I know).

Atros changed his name to Atrocitus and became a terrorist bent on revenge versus the Guardians.  Atrocitus’ backstory is as a survivor of genocide.  Atrocitus’ quest for vengeance leads him on an existential journey where his closest confidant is the corpse of Krona, the Guardian who planned Atrocitus’ planet’s destruction.  Atrocitus gathers an army in Blood And Rage, but the members lose their intelligence unless they are baptized in a pool of blood on the Planet Ysmault.  Atrocitus struggles with the decision to make one of his soldiers his lieutenant, and therefore have their capacity to think and remember restored.

The first member of the Red Lantern corps Atrocitus chooses to give back her free will was

 

Bleez, of the Red Lantern Corps, from Green Lanterns Wikia page

When Bleez regains her conciousness, her memories also come back.  Atrocitus trusts no one because of his experience, and so instead of one sidekick in Bleez (whom he fears is leading a mutiny), Atrocitus gives the rest of his army freel will.  Red Lantern Corps members consistent of victims of violent crimes as well criminals themselves.  Unlike the heroic Green Lanterns, Red Lanterns are a messy collection of villains and anti-heroes.  Part of the appeal to me for this book was Atrocitus’ inner monologues, and who he considered “The Worthy.”  By “the Worthy,” he means those events and persons who were most deserving of being avenged.

Red Lanterns Volume 1: Blood and Rage is about a group’s quest to seek out justice.  Within the storyworld, humans are the beings who resist  having their free will taken away/losing their consciousness when they become Red Lanterns. I found it interesting that one of the first humans picked was a homeless man because of all of the injustices he had to witness on a day to day basis.  Because of Blood And Rage, I now want to read the rest of the Red Lantern volumes, especially since I have read on the blogosphere that a member of Superman’s family will become one!

Super Girl going after a Red Lantern ring, courtesy of HeroFix

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 1, Green Lantern

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!

The first stop on my journey to finding a new favorite superhero is to revisit the hero that had been my favorite for so long, Green Lantern. As mentioned in the introduction, I will be judging these heroes based on particular criteria, following a brief introduction to the character. Without further ado…

Who is Green Lantern?

Green Lantern

Green Lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Green Lantern, more than any other superhero,refers more to a position rather than a particular person. Having said that, the person most closely identified with the position is Hal Jordan, current Green Lantern of Earth (and has been, more or less, for 50 years). The Green Lantern Corps have been protecting the universe for untold millennia from threats both cosmic and mundane. The rings that they wear are able to harness and project the power of will, limited only by the will and imagination of the bearer. To this end, the rings themselves choose bearers based on their ability to overcome fear. Recently, the Green Lantern mythos has expanded to include “lanterns” from other colors (or emotions, if you will) such as blue for hope, yellow for fear, orange for greed, indigo for empathy, red for rage, and violet for love. They are organized and deputized by beings called the Guardians of the Universe, small blue humanoids that have seemed more bent on order than justice since their first appearances. Now, onto the criteria for judging:

Is this character heroic? Yes! The Green Lanterns are more or less defined by their heroism. Their ability to overcome fear and act purely based on will, while often times misled, is nearly always for the good of others. While justice continues to be in the eye of the beholder as far as whether or not they do a great job of making the universe a better place, no one can doubt the sincerity or the concrete actions that the Lanterns take in the line of service to their worlds. (1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? Tough call. The problem here is that the Green Lantern corps, specifically their masters the Guardians of the Universe, represent the ultimate “authority” in the universe. They come as close to a “universal” government or force as comic book worlds get. By extension, the Green Lanterns are often seen as tools of this order by the very worlds they are trying to help. That being said however, one of the reasons I have liked Green Lantern in the past, is specifically because Hal Jordan of Earth (along with the other Earth Green Lanterns: John, Guy, and Kyle) often subvert the Guardian’s authority and fight against what they see as unjust uses of power. In the past, it has been these very Earth-born Lanterns that have humanized the corps and sought more creative and indeed less violent solutions to problems.Unfortunately, the Guardians have been overthrown, the creativity has been replaced with blunt force, and there no longer seems to be a subversive voice.* (A case could be made that Kyle Rainer, former Green Lantern and current White Lantern is that voice, but he is no longer a Green Lantern, and is still so new in his position that it remains to be seen how long he remains in it). (0.5 points)

Does this character kill? Unfortunately, the Lanterns DO kill. This has been a very recent phenomenon, actually. In the last few years, a long standing prohibition, built into the rings themselves, prevented the Lanterns from killing. In the face of an overwhelming evil, the use of deadly force was enabled. Of course, the threat was dealt with, but the “no killing” rule was never reinstated. Also, it is very seldom that the Lanterns seek to humanize their enemies. When they do, it is almost always the leader lanterns of other Corps, such as Sinestro, Atrocitus, and Larfleeze. This is problematic for me, however, since it implies that the leaders of the groups who commit atrocities are not held accountable, but given passes while their foot soldiers are killed with impunity. This is one of the things that turns me off most about the current status quo of Green Lantern. (0 points)

Does this character have a spirituality? Well, this is difficult to say. For one thing, Hal Jordan has had contact with God, served as a literal spirit for the Almighty, has battled spiritual forces across the universe, knows all about creation and the light that battled the darkness, knows about afterlife, has been to heave, hell, and purgatory, and yet… is pretty much severely handicapped by his facade of hedonism. the great irony of Hal’s life is that he is afraid of loss, and so he never gets close to anyone. He is a serial womanizer, has no spirituality that even remotely comes across in the comics, and routinely ridicules “hope” as a worthless emotion. As a corps, the Green Lanterns come off as a “science over and against faith” sort of operation, with a few members being religions, but not often. Hal may or may not be religious, but it is never talked about, despite the experiences mentioned above. Likewise, Hal almost never does any introspection, which is the hallmark of any spiritual journey. (0 points)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? Without a doubt, yes. This is why, even if Green Lantern is no longer by go-to superhero, I will still read the Green Lantern books. The story is great! The world and mythos that have been built around this character are staggeringly broad and multifaceted. From the Corps itself and its tremendous and illustrious history to the brand new corps and their nearly infinite stories that have yet to be told, the characters and villains of the Green Lantern will be interesting and sustainable as long as any writer worth her salt wants to write them. (1 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? This one is iffy. There are quite a few non-Hal lanterns that have been around long enough to get their own stories. The obvious examples are Guy, John, Kyle, Kilowog, Tomar-Re, Arisia, Salaak, Ch’P’, and quite a few more notables. Also, Hal’s love interest Carol Ferris, is one of the more fleshed out and active romantic interests that exist in comics (topped only perhaps by Lois Lane or Steve Trevor). However, she rarely shines in this book, and often falls into the classic damsel in distress. However, more recently, this is changing, as she has permanently become a (violet) lantern herself. That is where the good stops, though. There have been far too many unnamed lanterns that have been killed for no real purpose other than to prove how bad-ass the villain is. Literally, I can think of at least three times in the last decade that nearly every member of the corps was killed, and the result was a few weeks or months downtime before the corps was up and running like normal again. This trope is really bothersome as the loss of life is never really counted and never truly mourned, except to move a story forward. The frequency is desensitizing to readers and really precludes investment in the premise itself. (0.5 points)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? Yes. Lots. (1 bonus point)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? No. Unfortunately not. In broad terms, yes, I can get behind good guy tries to save the world from bad things. Too often, however, this means, “throw more power at them until they go down.” And too often, power translates into killing people. Sympathy is given to all the wrong people, and blunt force as a first option from people who are known for their unlimited resources of will and creativity is beyond frustrating. (0 Points)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? Yes! The ability to use light to overcome fear with willpower? That is a great power, and one full of potential, as the light itself is stated to be part of the original light of creation. (1 point)

Verdict: 4 out of 8 points

Tune in next time for a discussion of Captain America….

Enhanced by Zemanta

Silver Surfer (1998): The animated series

The Silver Surfer from the animated series Sil...

The Silver Surfer from the animated series Silver Surfer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always had an affinity for superheroes who were more grounded in realism, Batman and Spiderman specifically are the two I most admire. It wasn’t until Optimistic Chad got me interested in the lore of the Green Lantern that I started to notice more and more religious and political implications of comic characters who trsvelled more so in space. At the time, I have been the longest fan of the Silver Surfer (he and the Spider-family are all that remain of what I like about Marvel). Saturday, I had a complete day of rest where almost everything I did was comics related. I finished about 6 issues of Grant Morrison‘s Action Comics (the 15 total), and I will have a lot more to say about Morrisson’s Superman later this week. I tried to start Hawkman, but I dozed off (same thing happened when I tried to pick up Nightwing) #SorryNotSorry. Instead of falling asleep, I picked up the first part of Silver Surfer: Requiem by Babylon 5’s J. Michael Straczynski. I enjoyed where it was going, and I plan to pick up more.

So, for the rest of my Saturday night, I marathoned Silver Surfer (1998), 10 of the 13 episodes. I found the themes of persons behaving like gods: the Watchers, Thanos, Ego the Living Planet, Galactus, Eternity and Infinity, Supremo, etc., made the mission of our Sentinel of the Spaceways seem larger than sentient life itself. In fact, the brother/sister pair of Infinity and Eternity were the collection of all of the experiences of every sentient being in the universe.  In  the episode that featured Ego, Silver Surfer is tempted by being able to live out his dream life on his homeworld; or, to put it in terms of ethics, reject the self-sacrifice that Norrin Radd had embraced at his origin in working for Galactus.  Ego is the god of selfishness (spoiler-alert, I know!) while Thanos (thanos is greek for, tada!, death) kills everything that he touches.

The other thing I enjoyed about the Silver Surfer series (and lore) is the blowback by other planetary beings that Silver Surfer receives for being the herald of Galactus.  See, Galactus out of necessity has to drain planets energy to survive (the Great Hunger), and if the planets’ creatures are evolved enough to escape, this places various races of aliens in a constant state of exile.  I think the story of Silver Surfer in addition to making a possible space to talk about religion, also has a space for discussions of empire and power. Silver Surfer’s approach to other cultures is a bit problematic, using categories of savage and civilized, but I think its also our problem too that we strive to emancipate ourselves from.  I feel like I am just scratching the surface, and I now want to read more Silver Surfer, especially given the potential it has for religious and empire studies.

Also, in other news, Marvel’s Stan Lee announced that there is a  possibility a Silver Surfer movie  is in the works. Lets pray that he doesn’t wind up like (the very un-)Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Galactus

Galactus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enhanced by Zemanta