The first 2 of the 4 monthly Green Lantern titles, Green Lantern #1 and Red Lanterns #1 came out this week, and give us a great opportunity to learn about some important characters in the Green Lantern universe.
Green Lantern continuity has remained generally consistent since the Silver Age, when Hal Jordan was first introduced as a member of the Green Lantern Corps, and DC decided not to reboot the franchise during the transition to The New 52. As I understand it, everything that has happened to Hal and the other Lanterns in the “old” DC universe (including Blackest Night and Brightest Day) still happened, but it all took place during the “past 5 years,” between when Justice League is set and “now.”
That’s not to say that nothing has changed for the characters. At the end of War of The Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan was stripped of his power ring and discharged from the Green Lantern Coprs, and Sinestro, his nemesis and sworn enemy of the Corps, regained the ring that he lost years earlier (more on this below).
I’m going to introduce a few of the important characters from Green Lantern #1 and Red Lanterns #1, and hopefully get you familiar enough with the story to follow along as the series goes on.
But before you can understand any character, it’s important to understand what ties most of them together:
The Green Lantern Corps
Billions of years ago, the Guardians Of The Universe, among the oldest and wisest races, created the Green Lantern Corps to serve as an inter-galactic police force, which they hoped would bring order to the chaos of the universe. They divided the universe into 3600 “sectors,” and assigned to each sector a Green Lantern, who wears a Power Ring, to serve as a police man. The Power Rings draw their power from the Central Power Battery, housed on the planet Oa, in Sector 0000, where the Guardians live and direct the Corps. The Power Battery harnesses the Green Power of Will from all the sentient beings in the universe. This Green Willpower gives each Lantern his or her power, and allows them to serve their sector.
Thaal Sinestro was first introduced as the Green Lantern from Sector 2815, which is right next to our own Sector 2814, and initially served as a mentor to the first Human Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. However, after Hal discovered that Sinestro had abused his power and made himself a dictator on his own planet, Sinestro was stripped of his ring and imprisoned. After escaping, Sinestro fashioned himself a Yellow Power Ring, and founded the Sinestro Corps, which harnessed the Yellow energy of Fear.
After recruiting thousands of people who could “instill great fear,” Sinestro waged a war against the Green Lantern Corps. He has always maintained that he is working for the good of the universe, and believed that the guardians have lost their way. He and Hal have worked together recently, along with members of the other 5 Corps, helping to defeat Necron during Blackest Night and during the finale of War of The Green Lanterns. To the surprise of everyone, including the Guardians, a Green Power Ring chose him once again, and he found himself in an emerald uniform (and on the cover of Green Lantern #1).
Sinestro’s hatred of the Guardians is obvious in this issue. He makes it clear that he doesn’t want to be a Green Lantern, and at his first opportunity, he insults the Guardians. Sinestro has always been a fascinating character, because he cares very little for anyone’s authority except his own. On top of that, he’s often right. The Guardians have made many many mistakes over the years, yet they demand that they never be questioned. I am really interested to see where this plot takes Sinestro. Maybe he’ll find redemption, or at the very least explain the plan he has underway. (And yes, he always has a plan.)
Hal Jordan has a very stereotypical origin story. When he was 7, he watched as his father’s fighter jet exploded. He joined the Air Force so he could fly like his father, until he was dishonorably discharged. He held the only job he could, working as a test pilot for his childhood friend Carol Ferris, whose father had owned the plane Hal’s had been flying.
One day, he was chosen to wear the Power Ring of Sector 2814, after its previous bearer, Abin Sur, crashed his spaceship and died. He joined the Green Lantern Corps, and, due to his quick reflexes and equally quick wit, became one of the greatest Lanterns to ever live. Unfortunately, when an old enemy destroyed his home town of Coast City, he was driven mad, and became posessed by Parallax, the Yellow entity of Fear. He went on the warpath, and destroyed most of the Corps, and eventually Oa, before he could be subdued. He was eventually brought back to life (in Green Lantern: Rebirth), and helped re-form the Corps he had once destroyed.
Hal led the Corps through the Sinestro Corps War, and was instrumental during Blackest Night and Brightest Day, and eventually ended the War Of The Green Lanterns by killing Krona, the rogue Guardian who had taken over the Corps. For the crime of killing a Guardian (even an evil one), Hal was stripped of his ring, and sent home to Earth, which is where we pick up his story in this issue.
Hal has been a “hero” for so long that he can’t help but try to save the day if he can, which leads him to jump off a balcony, across an alley, and into an apartment to stop an apparent domestic attack.
Unfortunately, Hal jumped into the middle of a movie set, and was a arrested. His old friend Carol Ferris, herself now the leader of the Star Sapphires, the Violet Corps of Love, has to bail him out. At dinner that night, Hal, for the umpteenth time, ruins their relationship by asking for Carol to co-sign a car loan, rather than proposing, as she expected.
Hal and Carol have never been able to make it work as a couple, despite working well when they’re battling intergalactic foes. But at this point, they have been through so much together that it would be nearly impossible for either of them to have a functioning relationship with anyone else. The writer of Green Lantern (Geoff Johns, who has written it since Rebirth, I believe) doesn’t go to this well so often that it seems like well-treaded ground, but I almost wish he would either put them together or break them up once and for all. All the back-and-forth will get old quickly.
I’ve alluded to many of the other Corps so far, so I’d like to lay them out once and for all. Each Corps has a colour and associated emotion, which may be familliar to anyone who read Blackest Night. They are:
- The Red Lantern Corps of Rage, led by Atrocitus
- The Orange Lantern Corps of Avarice, whose only living member is Larfleeze
- The Sinestro Corps (Yellow) of Fear, founded by Sinestro
- The Green Lantern Corps of Willpower, previously led by Hal Jordan
- The Blue Lantern Corps of Hope, led by Saint Walker
- The Indigo Tribe of Compassion, led by Indigo-1
- The Star Sapphires (Violet) of Love, led by Carol Ferris
The Red Lanterns
The first Red Lantern was Atrocitus, whose entire planet was slaughtered, and swore vengeance upon the Guardians. He was imprisoned by them for eons, but eventually escaped, murdered his fellow prisoners, and from their blood forged the Red Power Battery. He built up his Corps with Lanterns who have almost always suffered a great tragedy in their life, and waged war against the Guardians. But with Krona dead, Atrocitus has lost the driving force in his life. Red Lanterns #1 sets up an interesting new normal for this character and his minions. Atrocitus has never been portrayed as “evil,” but only “vengeful,” (and for good reasons), and this issue has him embrace that, vowing to “punish those who deserve retribution.”
Earlier in this issue Atrocitus reveals that he used to be a psychologist, and this frame shows what he’s become. He failed at the one goal he had in his life (killing Krona), and is re-focusing, trying to do some good the only way he can. I think this book, written by Peter Milligan with art by Ed Benes and Rob Hunter, may quickly become one of my favourites, with a great opportunity for deep characters and amazing art.