So the cover for Green Lantern #0, out in September, was released to the Internet today. On it, we see a new Green Lantern. And people are already throwing a shit fit about it.
What do people hate? Mostly the gun, tattoo, and outfit, especially the mask. I’ve never really been one to adopt an opinion just because it was popular. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to agree with the crowd, but you should really try to form an opinion for yourself first. And so, using this guy’s design and what I’ve read in a few comics so far, it’s time to play devil’s advocate for this new GL, who for now, we’ll call Lantern 6 (I don’t care about Earth-2, I’m still counting Alan Scott).
WARNING: The rest of this article contains spoilers for the current runs of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, as well as some information about Free Comic Book Day’s New 52 #1.
Now the first major complaint I see about Lantern 6 is his gun. I think people are afraid that this is reverting to a 90’s mentality, when guns and blood and being gritty and dark were the surefire way to get a crowd’s interest, so everybody got a psycho upgrade. I think the gun’s there for smarter reasons. See, recently in Green Lantern Corps, the GLs faced an army of enemies that were pretty much immune to their power rings. When it was time for round 2 with this group, Guy Gardner led the charge with a special task force he wrangled up using normal bullet-shooting guns. In addition, it’s not uncommon for a GL to lose power in the middle of a big battle, so having a backup weapon really isn’t a bad idea. Pretty good thinking on Lantern 6’s part.
The next complaint is that the guy has a tattoo. Again, I think this is fear of the 90’s X-TREME attitude. But if you look closely, you’ll see that the tattoo is actually written in what appears to be Arabic. That means that our new GL is a Muslim.
Next is the face mask. At its core, this boils down to an aesthetic preference. Personally, I don’t think it looks that bad. But I think it means something a bit more. The difference between this guy and the other Lanterns is that this guy looks a lot meaner. Looking back at the other lanterns, and how they first appeared on covers, this guy really stands out. Alan Scott appeared as a mysterious costumed crime fighter, which seemed to be the most popular motif in the golden age. Hal Jordan’s first appearance was that of the traditional high-flying superhero. Guy Gardner debuted as an arrogant jerk taking Hal’s place. As I’ve stated before, John originally appeared as a blaxploitation character, made more for diversity than anything. And Kyle Rayner, well… It was the 90’s.
But even with scowly Kyle, there’s something different about this guy. And I’m sure that some people are going to call me out for being racist with this, and honestly, the fact that he’s black does factor into my speculation here. I think Lantern 6 is an ex-con. He’s big, built, serious, wielding a weapon besides the ring, and has a religious tattoo, which, while not exclusive to prison culture, tattoos aren’t encouraged in a lot of religions, including certain subsets of Islam (it’s a very divided religion, but I think most religions are). But looking at the history of Islam, and especially Islam in America, lots of black people adopted the religion thanks to Malcolm X, who himself learned about it in prison. Again, I’m not saying that this means it’s a prison tattoo, but I have my suspicions.
My suspicions also come from the way the uniform looks. Aside from the sleeveless shirt, this looks more like police armor than a traditional superhero costume. (Even without the sleeves, as it turns out.) That thing on his head looks more like a helmet than a mask to me, and the (barely noticeable) stars on his shoulders and stomach look like they’d be symbolic of something. Of course, the stars could also be interpreted as him being an athlete, which actually may fall in line with the fingerless gloves and lack of sleeves. The whole costume does also resemble a football uniform.
Now, of course, there’s the big question of why a new GL is being introduced. The thing is, we’ve already seen Lantern 6. Where? In Free Comic Book Day. And he was fighting Batman during the Trinity War.
Because using chains on a man who is, among other things, a master escape artist is a foolproof strategy.
Now we still don’t know much about the Trinity War, except that it will be related to the Trinity of Sin (Pandora, The Phantom Stranger, and The Question) and that it’s going to be DC’s first company-wide event in the New 52. Now why would a Green Lantern, an intergalactic enforcer of justice, especially one from Earth, be fighting in a war against the Justice League, Earth’s greatest heroes? While I’m sure it’s not the whole reason, I’m going to pin that one at least partly on the Guardians for now.
God damn Space Smurfs.
In the current Green Lantern books, the Guardians of the Universe are shaping up to be the bad guys right now. They’re been talking about disassembling the Green Lantern Corps to make their “Third Army” (the first army was the Manhunters, the second is the GLs). One of the first things we see them do is brainwash Ganthet, the only guardian who had a conscience, to rid him of emotions. They’ve also reenlisted Sinestro, who was the Corp’s greatest enemy, against his will, something nobody is too happy about. But one of the big things they’ve been doing is trying to get the GLs from Earth out of the picture. Hal Jordan has been decommissioned from the Corps, John Stewart has been sentenced to death for murdering another Lantern (his actions were recorded, but the events leading up to them were “mysteriously” not), and Guy Gardner is being promoted to a general in the Corps, in an attempt to try and distance him from the other members (this actually sounds like a dumb idea to me, because for all of Guy’s faults, he seems pretty damn good at rallying the troops when he wants to).
If my theory of Lantern 6 being an ex-con is right, then other members of the Corps are going to be very uneasy with his joining, which could make them distrust Earthlings even more. Earth is the center of the multiverse, with the highest concentration of superpowered beings in the known universe, and the Guardians may want to try and get rid of it altogether in their attempt to retain order in the universe, seeing it as a threat. They may even make Lantern 6 choose between Earth and his duties as a GL at some point, pointing out that he has an entire sector to take care of, not just one planet. All I know is that while everybody else is crying foul based on the character’s design, I’m becoming very interested in what Lantern 6 has to offer us.