Home Types Comics Superhero Academy 101: DC Artifacts – The Ten Power Rings (Part One)
Superhero Academy 101: DC Artifacts – The Ten Power Rings (Part One)

Superhero Academy 101: DC Artifacts – The Ten Power Rings (Part One)

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Welcome Back To Class

Good day, students. It is I, your instructor, Cerebriac 7. Are you ready to dig your heels into our next lesson?

We have a great class lined up for you. Today, We’ll touch upon one of the primal working forces within the DCU. It’s colorful and it’s fundamental.

Write on the top of your notebook the word “Power Rings”. This lesson is all about power rings, lantern corps, what powers them, and who you can expect to see within each group.

If you’ve ever read a Green Lantern comic, seen him on the big screen, or on any of the cartoons, you should know what a power ring is. Simply put, it’s the most powerful single weapon anyone can have.

In short, a man or alien wielding a power ring can create any hard light structures he imagines. All it costs is whatever emotional fuel the ring needs. The thing is, not just anyone can wield a power ring; you need to have the right emotion to go with it. Actually, that’s not quite true. You need to inspire that emotion in some cases.

In addition to making the hard light constructs, the ring grants the wearer flight and protects him from physical harm.  It will even let him travel through the vacuum of space.

Is there more to this? Infinitely so.

Read on.

 

In the Beginning…

The legend of the Lantern Corps is told best by Indigo 1 of the Indigo Tribe (after translation to English, otherwise it sounds like “Nok nek nok nok”).

According to her, for seven hundred years, the universe was nothing but blinding WHITE light. Then the darkness pushed back the white light and splintered it. Every sentient being born from the light contributes to the light’s emotional spectrum into the universe.

The white like of the universe split like a rainbow – like a beam of light shot into a prism glass. Each color feeds off of a specific frequency in the emotional spectrum from living people who feel things.

Emotions equal energy.

Each color of the emotional spectrum is funneled to a central battery and stored, collected, and condensed. Each of these battery sources, is central to each corps of ring bearers. However, the energy is sentient and each color takes the form of a great animal.

Billions of years ago, the Guardians of the Universe, a group of small blue immortal aliens, took the responsibility of protecting the universe. To do this, they needed to make an interstellar police force as its enforcement arm.

After their first attempt in using a robot enforcement arm called the Manhunters (which failed spectacularly), the Guardians settled on recruiting sentient life forms who could think independently and yet act honorably as their agents.

This was the origin of the Green Lantern Corps.

 

The Starheart

Only before the Corps and before the Manhunters, the Guardians thought the biggest threat to the universe was magic. They preferred that magical forces not be allowed to run amuck and they wanted that specific energy contained and locked away.

What they did was collect all of the magical energy in the universe (or as much as they could) and put it all into an orb they called the Starheart.

 

The Golden Age Green LanternThe Golden Age Green Lantern

 

Unfortunately, containing this kind of energy is a lot harder than it sounds. Sure, it looks easy on paper, but when you actually try to keep all of the chaotic magic in one contained place, unexpected crap happens.

Why? Because it’s magic.

The Starheart became alive. It became sentient. And, being alive, meant it needed to make a sense of purpose for itself. So, calling itself “the Green Flame of Life”, it sent part of itself out into the universe to fulfill its destiny.

The piece of the orb ran through space and landed on Earth as a fallen meteor saying that it would flame three times. The first flame would bring death, the second would bring life, and the third would bring power.

When the meteor was found by a Chinese dictator. He saw the green meteor metal and made a green lamp from it. When it flamed, it killed the dictator.

Years later, the lamp found its way into an insane asylum. One of the patients used metal crafting as part of his therapy and made it into an engineer’s lantern. When the lantern flamed again, it restored the man’s sanity – giving him a new life.

The engineer’s lantern turned up again in the possession of a railroad worker, Alan Scott. When the train he was on blew up from sabotage, the lantern glowed again and gave Scott mighty powers to survive the explosion.

Much like the powers the guardians would give to their future Green Lantern Corps, the Starheart gave Alan Scott invulnerability from everything but wood. This was due to its magical nature. Scott could fly and create green energy constructs.

Plus, the green energy kept him eternally young. He’s been fighting the forces of evil since the forties.

He named himself “The Green Lantern” (after the engineer’s lantern) and took part of the lantern’s metal and made a small ring from it. Early in his career, the ring required Scott to touch it to the main lantern every twenty-four hours, but eventually, Scott internalized the lantern’s power.

Nowadays Alan Scott goes by the code name of Sentinel.

Whenever Scott “recharged” his ring, he said an oath.

And I shall shed my light over dark evil.
For the dark things cannot stand the light,
The light of the Green Lantern!

 

The Green Lantern Corps

The Guardians decided magical energy was too uncontrollable. They decided to use more scientific means to gather energy for their space corps. When they discovered the power of emotional energies, the Guardians focused on the most stable emotion of the spectrum – WILL POWER.

Willpower is the drive to go forward and do things. It is initiative and determination. It is the fundamental force to get things done and make things happen. On the light spectrum, it is right in the center.

Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps.

They kept the green emotional wavelength entity, Ion (which physically resembles a humpback whale) as a guard to the yellow parasitic wavelength entity and embodiment of fear known as Parallax (the entity looks like a demon with sharp teeth and spikes).

As both entities were living within the central battery on the planet OA (home of the Guardians) their energy was used to benefit the Guardians vast space police force.

The Green Lantern Corps is the Guardians second attempt to make an enforcement arm after their failure with the Manhunters.

But who could they trust with such power?

The Guardians had a problem recruiting. New officers had to be honest, quick thinking warriors capable of independent thought.  And those weren’t easy to find.

In order to work autonomously within a specified sector of space, they were limited to beings who could tap the emotional spectrum of Ion and resist the fear of Parrallax. Ion was not alone within the battery. Part of the energy was corrupted by the yellow impurity of Parallax’s fear.

The Green Lanterns had to be honest AND fearless, lest the Parallax fear energy consume them.

It wasn’t until Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of Sector 2416, absorbed all the energy from the central power battery on OA in a plan to bring back his home of Coast City from an alien holocaust during which both Parallax and Ion were freed from their containment.  Unfortunately both were now in Jordan’s body.

Parallax was later exorcised from Hal Jordan’s corpse years later and contained back in the central battery again. The good news was now the rings no longer had a vulnerability to yellow.

What you really need to know, though, is how the ring works.

All but one of the Green Lantern power rings are fueled by willpower. The ring bearer needs to be a person of control and determination. The wielder must use the willpower within it’s personal emotional store to work green energy to make constructs or weapons. The stronger the wielder’s will, the stronger their constructs will be.

An average person who gets his hands on a power ring will probably not make it work well. This was demonstrated when Green Arrow got his hands on Hal Jordan’s power ring and through a strenuous effort could only make one arrow. He found the entire process simply exhausting.

The rings do have a number of limitations. Formerly, they were powerless against the color yellow. There was also a limitation that the rings could not be used to intentionally cause someone else’s death. Should the ring detect a wielder with the intent to kill, it will shut down. Sometimes, it may even bring the offending officer back to OA to stand trial to be expelled from the Corps.

Constructs made from a green ring can be absorbed into an orange power ring powered by the orange light of avarice. The rationale is willpower is weakened by greed and temptation.

Consequently, a green ring can be supercharged in the blue light of hope. Blue light can supercharge a ring 200%. The combination can potentially reignite a star. Hope plus determination is a near unstoppable force.

The rings must be recharged every 24 hours. All an officer needs to do is touch his ring to his personal power battery (All Corps members have one) or the central battery on OA, once and recite the Green Lantern Oath.

In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light.

There is one unique ring worn by Kyle Rayner. His has no vulnerability to yellow and does not need recharging. It does not need a ring bearer with significant willpower. However, what Rayner has is imagination. Rayner’s artistic talent and natural visualization skills made him a great Green Lantern.

The symbol for the Green Lantern ring is a circle between a top horizontal line and a bottom horizontal line. Representatives of the Green Lantern Corps are John Stewart, Hal Jordan, Tomar Re, Kilowog, the planet Mogo, Simon Baz, and Jessica Cruz, and others included in the 7,200 strong police force.

 

The Sinestro Corps (Yellow Lanterns)

The Sinestro Corps was founded by the renegade Green Lantern, Thaal Sinestro, of sector 1417.

Prior to his expulsion from the Green Lanterns, Sinestro was renowned as the greatest of the Green Lanterns. What he also liked was being Korugar’s iron-fisted dictator. That’s what got him expelled from the Corps.

Sinestro was exiled to the anti-matter universe world of Qward where he met the Weaponers. They created a new yellow power ring for Sinestro which he used to battle the Guardians. He fought the guardians for years before he had the idea to create his own ring corps.

The Sinestro Corps of Fear

He created more rings from his own and recruited some of the most despicable beings within the universe. The yellow rings are powered by fear and are used by people who could inspire great fear.

As mentioned earlier, the emotional wavelength entity powering the Sinestro Corps is Parallax who feeds on fear. When we think of the phrases “yellow streak” or “gone yellow”, we think of cowardice. As Parallax is a parasitic life form and feeds off the fears of others, corps members do not generate fear from themselves, but generate fear from their victims – ultimately to feed into the yellow battery and/or to Parallax. Ergo, a Sinestro Corps candidate is not a coward. Rather he generates terror in others.

The yellow rings are vulnerable to blue rings. A yellow ring can be drained entirely by a blue lantern powered by hope.

Hope will always triumph over fear.

The symbol for the Sinestro Corps is a crude image of looking down into the terrifyingly large gullet of Parallax. The yellow power rings have all of the conventional powers of a standard power ring and have the added feature of instilling fear into anyone they use their ring against.

The Sinestro Corps attempted to recruit Batman due to his talent of bringing fear to all of his enemies. Batman resisted the call as much of what he has is determination and willpower. Instead, the ring found his enemy, The Scarecrow (Jonathan Crane), who was only too happy to scare people.

The rings require recharging every twenty-four hours and the Corps have their own oath which looks like a perversion to the Green Lantern Oath with Sinestro’s personal twist.

In blackest day, in brightest night,
Beware your fears made into light
Let those who try to stop what’s right,
Burn like my (his) power… Sinestro’s might!

The yellow lantern battery is located in the anti-matter universe of Qward. The Sinestro Corps is made up of some of the most terrifyingly evil characters in the universe – among which were Superboy-Prime, The Anti-Monitor, The Cyborg Superman, Despotellis (a deadly sentient virus), Black Adam, and, of course, Sinestro, himself.

 

The Star Sapphires (Violet Lanterns)

There are two extremes of the emotional spectrum: love and rage.

While one would intuitively think that love would be a unifying force for good in every case, it is not. Love as a force for a “violet lantern” is a powerful, uncontrollable thing. The “violet lanterns” are a product of the sister group of the Guardians of the Universe, known as the Zamorans.

The Star Sapphires (Violet Light of Love)

The Zamarons were the female half of the Maltusian alien race. The male Maltusians split from their female counterparts and evolved into two immortal non-procreating races: the OAns (the Guardians) and the Controllers (a malevolent offshoot). When the Zamarons left the Guardians, they adopted an Amazon philosophy and became female warriors.

The evolutionary paths of both species created two very different races. Contrasted to the OAns, who had focused on their mental powers (making them small with large heads), the Zamorans focused on developing their physical abilities (becoming well-muscled warriors).

The biggest difference between the Guardians and the Zamarons was their emotional states. The cold Guardians suppressed their emotions (making the green “will power” emotional wavelength perfect for their corps).

The latter embraced love.

The emotional energy entity that feeds off the violet energy of love is The Predator. The Predator is exactly what you’d expect a predator to look like – bestial. Love is a parasitic lifeform. It feeds off another. It has large sharp teeth like some kind of velociraptor.

It consumes.

Typically, members of the Star Sapphires are female.

Typically.

There have been male ones. Superman-Prime (formerly Superboy-Prime) was the first male Star Sapphire. Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner have also been part of the Star Sapphires. Much of their recruitment comes from taking other corps ring bearers and encasing them in conversion crystals for “transformation”.

As their light dims, the violet light brightens. An attempt was made on Thaal Sinestro but upon seeing his former love, Arin Sur, he became enraged and broke free. Essentially, the conversion crystals subtly reconfigure the initiate’s mind to feel love, regardless of whether he or she is predisposed to feel that. The energy of the violet conversion crystals infects the inhabitant like a virus. Once the person is released, they are ready for the ring.

There are a few attributes that make a Star Sapphire Ring unique. The first is that it has to be accepted by the wearer. The irony of this is that after a time in a conversion crystal the question of independent thought is a non-issue. However, some have resisted the process (outside of Sinestro). The bounty hunter known as Lobo endured the process and thanked the Star Sapphire (Carol Ferris) for the peep show.

Secondly, the Star Sapphire rings allow them to teleport with an aura that brings confusion to anyone around them. This mind fog helps them make a perfect escape. Escape is much easier when you have a device to befuddle your pursuer.

Thirdly, the rings can show someone who their greatest love is.

Fourth, the ring can resurrect the recently deceased – provided that one who loves them has enough love in their heart to do so.

Lastly, they are immune to being drained by an orange power ring. The message being that love is not selfish.

As mentioned before, love is an extreme emotion. The love between two people is a powerful thing, however, the love that can evolve (or devolve) from a Star Sapphire can border on obsession and stalking. It is unstable. These uncontrollable feelings make the power difficult to handle by anyone and love will make corps members choose love over logic and reason more often than not.

The Star Sapphire power battery is located on planet Zamaron. The head figure for the Star Sapphires is The Star Sapphire, Carol Ferris of Earth. The symbol for the Star Sapphires is a starburst with a circle in the center of it.

The Star Sapphire’s oath is this:

For hearts long lost and full of fright,
For those alone in blackest night,
Accept our ring and join our fight,
Love conquers all– with violet light!

Representatives of the Star Sapphires are Carol Ferris of sector 2814, Wonder Woman (temporarily), Fatality, and Miss Bloss (of Sector 1416). Other former members have been Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Superman Prime, and Krona.

 

There’s the Bell!

Well, there is the bell, ending class.  We’ll finish this discussion in tomorrow’s class.

Tonight, I would like you to go home and study.  You should understand the importance of light constructs in the battle against evil (and vice versa).  You should also understand the vulnerabilities of a lantern warrior.

Traditionally, when a lantern warrior has encountered something his ring is powerless against, he’s had to improvise or lose his life.  There are always problems.  Whether the Starheart warrior encounters a toothpick or wooden arrow fired at him or whether a ring charge runs out at an inconvenient time, a ring-slinger needs to be prepared for the worst.

Always remember, it’s never the ring.  It’s always the person who wears it.

 


Christopher Peruzzi Christopher Peruzzi is a comic book shaman and zombie war survivalist. When our dystopian future falls upon us, Chris will be there preaching in the First Church of Marvel. As a comic book enthusiast for most of his life, Chris has written over 150 articles on geek culture. He does lectures on Superheroes: The New American Mythology and how today’s superheroes are the new pantheon of American Gods. His short story The Undead Rose was published within the zombie anthology, Once Upon An Apocalypse by Chaosium Press. He writes regularly on zombie war preparedness and the Cthulhu mythos. Chris lives in Freehold with his wife and fellow SuperWhoLock fan, Sharon, and both are ready for their first TARDIS trip.