Lantern Lessons: What We’ve Learned From the Corps

This whole Green Lantern journey has been quite a ride, hasn’t it? From sentient planets to Emotional Electromagnetic fields to cannibal Power Rings, we’ve seen a little bit of everything in a mythos that’s been growing for 80 years and will probably keep getting bigger (and hopefully even more diverse) for another 80. As we come to the end of our anniversary journey, it seems only right to take a moment to look back at some of the highlights…

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Hal Jordan is a Complete Douchecanoe

Except in Green Lantern: The Animated Series and not only because Josh Keaton, who happens to have voiced Takashi Shirogane, one of my all-time favorite spaceboys, is Hal.

Anyone Can Be Redeemed, Even a Rage-Fueled Monster, However…

As in real life, and as with Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender, he is going to have to earn it. None of this, “poor Hal, look what Parallax did to him” crap. Hal made a choice and he never really had to deal with the consequences. Remember Razer, though? Things went very differently for him. Deciding to leave Atrocitus’s forces wasn’t enough; he had to choose to pivot. He had to earn Hal and Aya and Kiliwog’s trust. He backslid. He screwed up. He lashed out. He had to choose to make up lost ground, to face humiliation, to do it all over again. Razer chose to not only to live but to make a life. And that is unbelievably brave.

Diversity in Comics Isn’t New

It may seem silly to point out that Lanterns have been everything from planets to squirrels, but if we can stretch our brains that far I have to wonder why it took DC until 1971 to create a Black Green Lantern, until 2013 to meet Jessica Cruz, and until 2020 for us to see a grandmother/grandson duo from Vietnam. Do better.

Comics Have Always Been Political

For the folx in the back who are still having trouble with this one, remember what I said about the Star Sapphires: they first appeared in 1947, just after the men returned from WWII and American women were being asked to give up the freedom they’d finally achieved and relegate themselves once more to being maids, nannies, and cooks. My guess, judging by the timing of second wave feminism, is that a good number of those women were thrilled by neither the prospect nor the expectation, but of course room had to be made for the men. Their happiness and well-being was paramount after all. And to those who considered that maybe, just maybe, their wives and sisters deserved a bit of happiness too, well, look what happened when you gave them just a little bit of power: they went absolutely feral and ate your face. Don’t even try tell me the timing of those ladies being absolutely overcome by amorous feelings to the extent they wanted to murder the objects of their affections was a coincidence. Nor that DC picked now to make their only Black Green Lantern the avatar of fear.

comic coverNever Count Grandma Out

Kim Tran trained John Stewart and if you mess with her neighborhood, she will kick your ass in to next week. People discount women all the time and middle aged and elderly women specifically. I don’t know why; some of the most intimidating people I’ve met in my life are elderly women. Consider this: they’ve survived all the crap the world threw at them long enough to achieve elderly. You think anything you can do or say is going to break them? Screw Batman, I would not want to meet Mrs. Tran in a dark alley at night. Kim also helped raise her grandson, Tai Pham, who, when Kim dies, is the person in closest proximity worthy of her ring; Green Lantern: Legacy is the first time in Lantern Corps history a Power Ring has been passed down in a family.

The Universe is Big

Really, really big. There is space for an infinite number of stories. The Green Lantern mythos is finally starting to take advantage of that with books like N.K. Jemisin’s Far Sector, showing readers what’s out beyond Earth and Oa, gifting us with stories about Lanterns who aren’t tangled up with Sector 2814 garbage. There’s so much potential there and hey, if fans can bitch and moan loud enough to get a Snyder Cut made, then surely we can make enough noise to get more original Lantern stories in our eyeballs.

The Suit Being Green Isn’t Optional

But for Mogo’s sake, don’t make it animated. That’s what Lycra and dance belts are for.

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Happy 80th to OG Green Lantern Alan Scott and to the Green Lantern legacy he spawned. Here’s to another 80 years of stories from beyond the stars!

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