I have been reading comics upwards of 25 years now and I can honestly say I adore them. I adore them, not for their fantastic nature and outrageous characters but for the truths they reveal about our selves. I tend to be an empathetic soul, and because of this I find myself relating to these characters on a very human level. Over the years these Icons have been forced to face joys and turmoil involving all facets of their lives. I see my life through these books; my experiences, and having read them through out most of my existence, these stories have greatly impacted my Moral code.
I believe that comics can teach us how to be better and strive for ideals that we might forget are available.
In the past, my allegiance in titles had been floating for a while, because it seemed to me that whenever I invested any emotional energy into a character or team the publisher would take notice and almost immediately cancel the book. This had been my fortune since the early 90’s, (If anyone is interested in the list feel free to ask in the comment section I will be more than happy to supply one).
Over the last 5 years I have been converted. I now follow the path of the Lantern Corps. You’ll notice I didn’t say Green Lantern alone, if you don’t know what the Lantern Corps are, I will give you the penny explanation. Various individuals throughout the universe have learned to manipulate emotional energy as weapons. Each color in the spectrum has an emotion associated with it. My sojourn with the Lanterns began when rivals to the Green Lantern corps came on the scene.
For my first column I’m going to focus on a new relationship in comics and what I learn from it. Hal Jordan had been long Dead when I came to know the Green Lanterns, but my first Lantern was Kyle Radner. (yes girlfriend in the fridge Kyle). My interest really peaked when the emotional spectrum and the spectrum of light met. The Star Sapphires (violet, Love) had long been canon in the GL books and aside from the vengeful girlfriend routine amused me but, never really impressed me. With the introduction of the Sinestro (Yellow, Fear) Corp, the Green Lanterns had truly met their match and would have to rely on skill and cunning rather than brute force and will alone. Further more when the Ganthet (one of the immortal Guardians of the universe, creators of the Green Lantern rings) abandoned his beloved corps in order to harness the Blue energy of hope and create yet another group to contend with, I almost lost my mind.
With the introduction of the Orange (avarice) whose sole member refuses to share his power with anyone, the mysterious Indigo tribe (compassion) whose members are able to duplicate any of the other corps energy signatures and had a tendency to speak in an obscure fashion. Finally Red (rage), a savage group whose rage erupted forth like napalm vomit and had their hearts were replaced with fire the moment a ring was slipped onto their finger. The leader of the Red Corp had a serious bone to pick with the guardians of the universe making him a threat to all Green Lanterns in the universe.
Today I’m going to discuss the burgeoning relationship between 2 characters from literally opposite ends of the spectrum. Arkillo, the sole surviving Yellow (fear) Lantern and Saint Walker, the leader of the Blue (hope) Lanterns. On paper the idea that these two would be friends seems highly unlikely. They should not be compatible. Necessity make strange bed fellows, and in Green Lantern New Guardians these two characters have found themselves on the same side over and over again. Arkillo was a brute and a bully and was of little interest to me as a background character. I find this new direction the character has taken very funny, as I have known Men like Arkillo all my life, men who rely on intimidation rather than reason to get a job done, overcompensating blustering fools. Hell, I had a close personal friend who fell rather decisively into that category. All I had to do was stand up to him once and he quickly realized that game wouldn’t work on me and I gained his respect. That is how fear works, once you find it in yourself to stand, up it never has power over you again(at least not in that situation). The thought of any of those men getting a power ring freaks the hell out of me.
Arkillo had been severely injured in several battles, the final and worst involving his tongue being ripped out of his open mouth (he ended up wearing that severed appendage around his neck as a reminder of his failure). His growth as a character began when he first met up with Saint Walker after that incident. His attitude and demeanor had always made him a solitary character, and even though he was part of a team, a villain who intimidated the other villains someone who makes the bad guys stand up and take notice. Saint Walker used the power of his blue ring to heal Arkillo’s wounds even regenerating a new tongue in the process. Something happened to his defiance and arrogance that day, at least where the blue lantern was involved. A self-proclaimed God of Fear had found a friend in a mild mannered disciple of Hope.
In the modern world it is much harder to find an agent of Hope than an agent of Fear. Just turn on the news, radio or Internet and we are bombarded by stories that will either tie our stomachs in knots or liquefy them. The way these tales are told under the guise of sharing information, attempting to manipulate us into cowering away in our closets until the world is safe again.
Today agents of Hope are often cast aside a relics of a by-gone era. A recent biography encapsulates this idea perfectly The Audacity of Hope (all political views aside, it is a great title). Our world has become jaded and our traditional sources of inspiration and faith have been rocked by horrible scandals. We are more prone to believe that some one is trying to sell us something than offer us a genuine message. Rock stars have become our new holy men, and if they were all like John Lennon this would not be a problem. He might as well be the Dali Lama compared to some others who try and inspire. (Both Lennon and Dali would have made excellent Blue Lanterns in my opinion.)
I have not been graced with many agents of Hope in my life. Loosely quoting another famous Sci-fi character “Stress leads to frustration, frustration leads to anger, anger leads to Hate. Hate not hope. I can think of 2 people who truly inspire me. 1st my wife who through acts of eternal patience tries to show me that there are multiple sides to every scenario, not all of which are negative. 2nd was a colleague who despite being in the middle of a messy divorce and struggling every day not to have it effect his kids, still managed to find a way to look forward to better days and not wallow begrudgingly in the emotional turmoil of the present.
Saint Walker (our Blue Lantern and the second half of our dynamic duo) was a holy man living on a simple planet. Something was wrong with his world (it turns out their sun was dying). He decided to go on a pilgrimage to find a savior for his people. Taking his family with him, he found his journey to be wrought with peril. Determined not to give he harnessed his fierce will and strength of faith to find the courage to carry even though at the end of his travels he was the sole survivor, as each member of his family having succumbed to the dangers along the way. Only then did he realize in a great epiphany that he was to be the savior. Returning to his village to share his message of hope only then did Ganthet and Sayd (the other Guardian of the Universe who left the confines of the G.L corps to help create the Blue corp.) reveal themselves to him. Realizing his enormous capacity for hope, the 2 Guardian choose him as their first Lantern, and on a side note, helped to replenish his planet’s fading sun.
The great Irony of the Blue Lantern is that alone they are relatively useless, but in the presence of a Green Power Ring they both become tremendously powerful. Enabling both corps to perform beyond well above their usual limitations. Simply stated this is because hope alone is ineffective, one must also have the Will (Green lanterns) to accomplish the deeds that their hopes has inspired in them.
When Saint Walker met Arkillo he saw that despite his great bravado, he was in pain. Even through the yellow lanterns Protests he proceeded to heal his wounds, an act of benevolence, which was second nature to Walker. He knew what needed to be done and did it. The overbearing Arkillo had more than likely never been on the receiving end of such generosity and unconditional care. That one act changed him forever (or at least until the ret-con comes). The solitary Beast came to Walkers defense in battles and the two characters, though from very different ends of the spectrum, would engage in regular conversation, as opposed to the growling and snarling one might expect from a creature who relies on force and fear to accomplish what needs to be done.
So while the peace loving Saint Walker and the savage Arkillo may seem like an impossible pairing and unlikely friend, I believe that from a psychological standpoint it makes perfect sense. Forever entwined you can never over come fear without hope, and if you allow it fear will destroy all hopes for a better day. It’s also important to point out that you should never underestimate the potential impact of a simple act of kindness.
Stay true reader and remember, “All will be well”