By Andy Frisk
February 8, 2009 - 08:25
Hal Jordan, Green Lantern; Hal Jordan, Parallax; Hal Jordan, The Spectre; Hal Jordan, Greatest Green Lantern; Hal Jordan, The Potential Greatest Blue Lantern; Hal Jordan, RED LANTERN (?!). Poor Hal Jordan…he’s been through the wringer and has come out more or less no worse for the wear but when he, at the end of issue #37, becomes a Red Lantern we can’t help but wonder, a little exasperated, what else? While it is a bit of a plot twist, well not really if you follow Jordan and his moods, that he becomes the image of anger and hate instead of the beacon of hope as Blue Lanterns Saint Walker, and Brother Warth insist he is early on in the issue, we have to wonder what is Johns getting at with this twist? What is Johns getting at with this conversion or more aptly, possession by The Red Lantern’s Power Battery of Jordan? Hasn’t he suffered enough or is there yet one more moral yarn for Johns to impart to us though Jordan’s tribulations?
The whole proliferation of emotionally charged rings and their respective colors has proven to be an interesting tale thus far. We’ve seen the Sinestro Corps with their fear inspired Yellow Rings, the Star Sapphires with their indigo love powered crystals, the Blue Lanterns with their rings of hope and the Red Lanterns powered by rage. We’ve also seen a smattering of characters that have wielded or have the great potential, at least, to wield multiple or different, at different times in their emotional lives, colored rings. The most important of these being Sinestro, Laira (for current story’s sake) and now Hal Jordan himself. Surely, Hal Jordan has within himself the ability to inspire great fear (witness his tour of duty as Parallax), the ability to inspire hope, the ability (obviously) to generate great will power and finally, now the ability for great rage. It would seem that the abilities to inspire fear, hope, strength of will and rage (as Jordan displays, arguably “righteous rage” against Sinestro the mass murderer) are the characteristics of a great hero and leader. The evildoer should fear the hero, the innocent should hope for a better world under the hero influence, great strength of will is necessary for the hero to possess in order to face the evildoer and his tempations, and justifiable rage, focused and channeled properly to aid in the defeat of the evildoer as well as hatred for his evil deeds are all part of the emotional spectrum that the hero needs access to. Why then does Jordan’s righteous anger elicit a response from the Red Power Battery and the conversion of Jordan to a Red Lantern? Are we to infer that Johns wants us to take the view that capital punishment is wrong, as Jordan is about to execute Sinestro in anger? Perhaps, BUT more accurately, we need to refer to Atrocitus’ words which bring the issue to a close. “He is mine. As are you.” Notice he didn’t say “He is Rage’s” or “He’s now one of us,” but “He is mine.” Here is the key to the whole upcoming war of light. It’s not shaping up to be a battle of ideas, of love vs. hate or will vs. fear but a battle between despots who manipulate the spectrums of emotions. As we’ve noted, the abilities to inspire fear, will, love, hope and even rage (if justifiably employed against the evil) are all positive forces in the right hands. Let us look at the various Corps leaders: The Guardians are outlawing love between Green Lanterns (as shown in current issues of Green Lantern Corps) which could be an opening salvo in the war against all the other corps for control; Sinestro speaks for himself; Ganthet is ever hopeful, perhaps too hopeful concerning Jordan; Atrocitus is a revenge and hate filled being. Each emotional spectrum is lead by a despot that is manipulating their Corps to a specific and individual end. Imagine a Red Lantern Corps lead by a Hal Jordan type where his “capacity for great rage” is channeled toward the evil doer, not a Hal Jordan: Red Lantern who is possessed by the Red Lantern Power Battery which is manipulated by Atrocitus the very epitome of hate filled rage. Jordan’s possession by the Red Lanterns’ Leader Atrocitus occurs, not because Jordan gives in to this rage but his rage provides an opening for Atrocitus to invade his being and corrupt it. Jordan still has his Green Ring and it remains to be seen which will emerge as stronger in Jordan, his rage or his will to exert control over his rage.
So, getting back to what the heck is Johns doing to Jordan and what he is trying to tell us with his story of multicolored power rings and emotional spectrums (for why tell a story if you have nothing to say) is that perhaps we should all be aware of the emotional spectrums within us all and what we allow to reign over them. Do we allow our prejudices and bias to rule despot over our rage or do we allow our sense of justice reign supreme over our rage? Do we allow our obsessions and hurt to rule our acts of love or genuine compassion and caring for our spouses, children, friends and family to reign supreme? Finally, do we allow our will power to be ruled by the desire to control others, forbidding what we see as unnecessary or unwarranted instead of willing our fellow men to work with us or willing ourselves to work with others to better our world for all instead of a few? It seems that everyday we engage in our own little private and personal “Wars of Light” within ourselves. We can only hope (honestly and realistically, not blindly like Ganthet) that the rulers of our “spectrums” are more benevolent than despotic.
If Johns has to put Hal Jordan through the wringer once again to enlighten us then I guess we can put aside our exasperation and instead engage our reason and listen to what Johns is talking about, because again, why tell a story if you’ve got nothing to say? Most importantly for us (to borrow a phrase from Stan the Man) “true believers” in the ability of comics to tell valid stories should check out Green Lantern and actually think about its current storyline.