Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Choices to Wear the Lantern Corps Rings

Fictional Characters only.
Existing Lanterns need not apply.
Entry will be designated as torch bearer for their respective Lantern Corps.
Exemplary behavior and attitude exhibited in the appropriate emotion of the spectrum a must.

The Red Lanterns
Emotion: Rage
Candidate: Dr. Bruce Banner, aka The Incredible Hulk
"That's my secret, Captain: I'm always angry."
I mean, I think this is the most obvious candidate on the spectrum.
Dr. Banner, PhD in Nuclear Physics, is now defined by his anger because of what he calls "the other guy." The other guy is the embodiment of pure, unadulterated rage. Anger is something uncontrollable, sometimes, but it doesn't always have to be.
Throughout the years, Banner has managed to harness the Hulk more and more, making him a constant in his life. He worked hard to get himself to a state where he could control "the other guy" a will, making him more part of him than he realized.
In short, he embraced the anger. He knew what to do with it. Banner understands more than anything that there is something known as righteous anger.
Hulk is one of my favorite characters, and he represents the most required of rage to bear the Red light: rage gained through loss.
His inability to lead a normal life, to connect with his fellow man, and be amongst regular people ever again, walking the edge of his control. He's managed to control to it to a point that when he does get mad, it's always justified, and he always serves up justice. Just like a Red Lantern should. Atrocitus would be proud.

Agent Orange
Emotion: Avarice
Candidate: Scrooge McDuck, of Duckburg
"What's wrong with the world? You work all your life to make money, and then people want you to give it away!"
Supposedly, there's something like 27 trillion dollars' worth of gold and jewels in that vault. And that's just the vault. Obviously, there are richer characters in the fictional universe (I have to imagine Bruce Wayne, Luthor, Stark, and maybe even Ollie Queen have almost limitless checking accounts) but none of them sit on much of it.
And Scrooge literally swims in it. He has so much with his greed, it's gleeful, and almost endearing. The Collector was my other possibility, and the idea that much of his collection is living beings, well...that's verging on Larfleeze territory too.
Scrooge may not have the killer instinct, but his namesake at least repented and saved himself from a horrible fate come Christmas Day. McDuck on the other hand? He still has a room dedicated entirely to swimming in gold coins.
Avarice is an interesting emotion. Some might not even consider it, but it is a state of mind, to be sure, and it does effect a certain mood. It's hard to find the positive of Larfleeze and the Orange light in general, but there is a certain optimism to it. It's a tragic one to be sure, but, and I don't want to spoil the final Geoff Johns arc of Green Lantern for anyone who hasn't read it, but it expands the idea of Larfleeze keeping forever not just material possessions. Which makes it extend to memories, dreams, secrets, and truths. There's something sweet (and again, ultimately tragic) about that. And it's something I can associate more with Scrooge McDuck (who still loves his family, after all) than my other original choice: C. Montgomery Burns.

Sinestro's Corps
Emotion: Fear
Candidate: Freddy Krueger, the Nightmare of Elm Street
"The only thing to fear, is fear HIMSELF!"
I had a lot of different ideas for this one. Much like Avarice, fear is an interesting one. All the emotions on the left, you initially are unsure how they could be used positively. And conversely, you at first wonder how the ones on the right of the spectrum could be used for evil. We'll get to those ones later, but fear, the light of the Yellow Lantern, is fabulous motivator. It compliments willpower well, hence being the two most prominent Corps for a long time.
In the Blackest Night storyline, it was Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow, who received a yellow ring. For many, Batman encapsulates the idea of fear. But Batman is a representation of his own fear, using intimidation.
Freddy, like Crane, uses the fear of the person he is terrorizing.
Dreams are where we are most vulnerable, and when we are most susceptible to being frightened, because suddenly we are out of control of our minds, and the darkness shrouds our known world into shapes and shadows. In his purest form, that's Freddy. He's able to manipulate everything in the deepest, darkest recesses of your mind. It's like Inception, but just to kill you. You grow up being told that fear does not have to affect your dreams, except that we imagined a frightening reality and a character representative of that reality and that reality can kill us.
Krueger takes the torch for me, no question.

The Green Lantern Corps
Emotion: Willpower
Candidate: Neo, previously Thomas A. Anderson (Mr. Anderson), aka The One
"Because I choose to."
Much of the story of The Matrix revolves around people's choices. Neo constantly chooses against what previous 'Ones' had chosen. He bucked the trend. But this isn't simply a rebellious spirit. There had to be force of will behind it. Many of these choices caused people to die, many of these choices spelled the end of one side or the other, and Neo managed to straddle that line and save both sides. Ultimately, the only person he really fails to save is Trinity, and really Trinity believed in him, so she did not die in vain. She died believing in her own force of will.
It's why Willpower stands at the center of the spectrum. Balance is key, and the control of one's willpower harnesses the power of the entire spectrum. It's discipline. It's training. It's thinking.
And to remember that Neo is still a mortal operating and bending and breaking rules within a computerized world that will still kill him if he does wrong is an undertaking only someone with an iron will could handle.

The Blue Lantern Corps
Emotion: Hope
Candidate: Kal-El of Krypton / Clark Kent of Earth, aka Superman

"Where I come from, it stands for 'hope.'
Well, with that single line, Superman sums it all up.
Despite his numerous powers, what Supes really represents is the idealization of man. He has no limits to his potential, which allows us to reach for the limits of our own potential. He offers strength to the weak, power to the powerless, and hope to the hopeless.
The three final characters I had in mind actually all did wear blue. Captain America, while a symbol for hope, is also a symbol for freedom, and ultimately, is mostly a symbol for America and stands for its ideals. Spider-Man was the other, a beacon of light that shines through adversity and in terms of team dynamic is a cheerful optimist despite the tragedy that had befallen him (a much better role model than the brooding Batman). But Cap is an exclusively American icon, despite what others would have you believe, and Spidey is niche even more so. Superman, the proto-superhero, the unmistakable presence, is always the Earth's greatest hope.

The Indigo Tribe
Emotion: Compassion
Candidate: Professor Charles Xavier, aka Professor X
"Violence and destruction always seem to come so easily even to the best among us. But together we found a better way."
Charles Xavier is I think what we wish all our politicians and religious leaders could be: charismatic without too much effort, intelligent without seeming superior, and compassionate without ever seeming condescending. Other than his mutant power, that is Charles' greatest gift. Professor X has allowed humanity to place a diplomatic, understanding, open-minded face on the emerging mutant generation. He has crossed political lines of all kinds to bring people together. He continues to fight, yes. But he has continued to find only the most peaceful way, he has used forceful measures when needed, and his great power has occasionally allowed him to take drastic measures, but only when necessary.
Speaking of his great power, it is perhaps one of the greater parallels, linking new characters to the various Lantern guards, that Xavier stands as the beacon of compassion.
Compassion is essentially a form of empathy, of understanding and relating to one's pain and suffering. Yes, other feelings too, but it's not often necessary to show much compassion to those who are without pain. Compassion then, is allowing oneself to know another person's thoughts and feelings. Xavier need not try hard at this. He simply has to do it.

The Star Sapphires
Emotion: Love
Candidate: Aphrodite (sometimes known as Venus), goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and sex.
"Exquisitely painful, isn't it? Not being sure who you love and who loves you?"
My one and only choice for this Lantern (and actually the very first one I chose when I thought of writing this) Aphrodite is the very embodiment of all things good, but that are also dangerous when toyed with, when taken lightly.
Love is fleeting, beauty fades, pleasure can bring pain, sex is not without consequences.
This is how Love, something on the more beautiful side of the spectrum, can become a lethal thing. People have destroyed each other for love, in the name of love. And Aphrodite, watching it all, doesn't mind. She enjoys it. Done in her name, what could be harmful about it?
But love is also a powerful, positive motivator. It's why it's so close to hope. Though they are more abstract, more nebulous than something as tangible as Rage or Fear, they are by no means less irrational. Hope and Love are just as strong, if not stronger.
Throughout many of the Greek myths, Aphrodite was able to manipulate almost everyone around her, whether out of her own love, or out of the love they had for her.
With the recent addition of more Greek myth to the Wonder Woman comic, it also seemed extremely appropriate to add one of the pantheon of Olympians to the Lantern spectrum.

The Black Lanterns of Death
Candidate: Death
"But in the end, I'm there for all of them."
On the extreme ends of the spectrum are life and death.
Death is easy. No character could better embody death than death himself.
Or herself, in this case.
Yes, my favorite Death is that of The Endless, mostly seen in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman chronicles.
She is an unlikely character: spritely and optimistic. She is smart and sassy, appropriately Gothic, but full of wisdom as an immortal.
Death is an inevitability, and perhaps my choice of Death is my continued hope that for us, something good, something comforting, something somehow familiar, awaits us on the other side.

The White Lanterns of Life
Candidate: Jean Grey as possessed by The Phoenix

"I am fire! And life incarnate! Now and forever. I am Phoenix!"
Jean for me has always represented the heart and soul of the X-Men. Xavier brought them together, Cyclops will always be the leader, the captain, but Jean is the emotional center of it all.
And when she became the Phoenix, while at first frightening and unknowable because of her immeasurable power, she is ultimately representative of life.
Yes, she is dangerous, and yes she is unpredictable, but isn't that also life?
The Phoenix is the eternal persistence of life, the mythological creature constantly reincarnates itself and renews life and heals life wherever it goes.
I can only reiterate what the being itself said: "I incarnate."

Agree? Disagree? Got your own? Let me know!