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

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

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Settle Down and Take Your Seats

Welcome back to class. I hope you enjoyed our last discussion about the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott), The Guardians of the Universe, The Green Lantern Corps, The Sinestro Corps, and the Star Sapphires. These ring wielding groups have had their origins firmly planted in the DC pre-Crisis Universe and have been the fuel for many classic tales.

Granted some of these old stories were pretty hokey. After all, why would someone wielding one of the most powerful weapons in the universe be concerned about the color yellow or a scrap of wood? Plus in the case of Ferris Aircraft: Is it normal for your boss to not only be your main squeeze but also have an alien made split-personality that turns her into the psycho girlfriend from hell?

These are the things that keep me from sleeping at night.

However, the universe is a big place and there are other corps groups out there.

One that the Guardians of the Universe wish everyone would forget would be the terror quarantined for thousands of years known as…

 

The Agent Orange Corps

Of all the emotional wave length energies perhaps the one that’s the most repulsive is the orange light. While Gordon Gekko preached to an entire generation of Wall Street traders “greed is good” and “greed works”, no one knows it is as intimate with the sickening orange energy of avarice like Larfleeze.

Larfleeze, also known as “Agent Orange”, is the sole wielder of the Orange Lantern Corps.

Without question, he is a greedy, selfish, childish bastard. While he certainly deserves every bit of scorn heaped upon his name, being as selfish as he is, it isn’t entirely his fault. Proximity to the orange light fills any orange power ring bearer with an insatiable hunger for just about everything. Getting things and having things is all he can think about… all the time… forever.

Larfleeze, Agent Orange

Agent Orange has been around for billions of years and is as long lived as any of the Guardians of the Universe. When the Guardians tried to acquire the orange battery, they found they could not while Larfleeze was guarding it. Indeed, not only does he wield the only orange ring (as he views all of the corps rings as his to own), he is also rarely separated from his power battery. As he is never (or rarely) away from it, Agent Orange’s strength is many thousands of times greater than any Green Lantern.

As it is the nature of avarice to have things, it is the power of the light to take them. The orange light emotional entity of avarice is Ophidian the Tempter. In an almost Biblical way, we see Ophidian as a snake.

The Orange Lantern Corp is about Larfleeze and the thousands of greedy souls who have attempted to take the lantern from him and failed. They live on as orange ghosts who do nothing but slave for him. It is the ultimate in greed to steal the soul of another while murdering its body. These ghosts are extensions of his greed.

Larfleeze’s orange ring can not only steal souls but also steal the green light of willpower from a Green Lantern.  The downside of wearing one of these rings (if you should steal one from Larfleeze) is that it infects the consciousness of the wearer by making them greedier. When Lex Luthor was chosen to wear the orange ring, it completely consumed and corrupted him. Indeed, the moment Hal Jordan touched the orange power battery, all he could think of was to gather and keep more and more things until the one overriding thought he had was “MINE!” The ring is attracted to people who are naturally envious of others. Characters like Lex Luthor and Hector Hammond found the ring’s power irresistible.

The orange light cannot absorb blue or violet light energy. The indigo light of compassion will turn orange light in on itself.

Originally, the orange lantern oath was to be nothing but “MINE!” Later writers came up with an oath specific to Larfleeze. It goes like this:

What’s mine is mine.
And mine and mine.
And mine and mine and mine.
NOT YOURS!

 

The Blue Lantern Corps

When people talk about the scant few members of the Blue Lantern Corps, they speak of people and aliens so full of faith that they can’t help but be inspired by them. Much like the Green Lantern Corps are powered by will, the Blue Lantern Corps is powered by that very elusive and frustrating emotion, hope.

They are here to bring hope to the desperate.

The blue light of hope is actually quite ordinary by itself. Outside of the natural power of solid light construction, flight, and its ability to grant its wielder protection from the rigors of space travelers, blue lanterns can drain the power of a yellow power ring. Why? Because hope is the antidote of fear.

The blue light of hope is very difficult to manipulate when all the ring asks is “What do you hope for?” However, once it does detect true hope, it becomes incredibly powerful.

The Blue Lantern Corps of Hope

The other thing a Blue Lantern can do is pump the power of a green lantern to double its max power. While a blue lantern is in the presence of a green lantern, its power is so awesome it can reignite a star.

The founders of the Blue Lantern Corps are the Guardians, Ganthet and Syed. Each member brought into the Blue Lantern Corps has the responsibility to bring in the next member.

The Blue Lanterns, for the most part, were killed and the only surviving Blue Lantern now is Saint Walker who had briefly lost his hope and his ring – only to get it back when his hope was renewed.

The best known Blue Lantern is Saint Walker, a being so full of hope and faith that he naturally inspires anyone he’s with. The other blue lanterns were Brother Warth, Brother Eesok, Brother Hymm, Sister Sercy, and Brother Shon. The Blue Lantern base was on the planet of Odym and its entity is Adara, a bird-like creature.

The Blue Lantern Oath goes like this:

In fearful day, in raging night,
With strong hearts full, our souls ignite,
When all seems lost in the War of Light,
Look to the stars– For hope burns bright!

 

The Red Lantern Corps

If you’re looking for what will get you into the Red Lantern Corps, all you really need to do is watch any incarnation of the Incredible Hulk. Yes, my apologies for crossing comic book lines, but there literally are only a few examples of describing the very rage required to be a Red Lantern. If you’ve seen the movie 28 Days Later, it’s anyone who’s contracted the rage virus. Red Lanterns are full of mindless rage.

Rage powers them.

It’s very hard to imagine that type of lunacy. It’s beyond anger. Furious is a good word if you take the word “fury” for its original meaning – like unto a mythical beast – a fury. Anger implies rage with a directed thought which will eventually die out like a fire. Common anger happens to people all the time and then they calm down become rational.

Red Lanterns don’t do that.

Let me try to describe the rage and fury that goes into the initiation of a Red Lantern. It is rage and fury so maddening all thought and reason disappear, leaving nothing but a screaming blind juggernaut of absolute wrath in blind hatred. A Red Lantern doesn’t even really use his ring; he vomits blood-like plasma from his mouth to release his power.

The Red Lantern Corps

It’s pretty frightening. Even the symbol of the Red Lantern Corps shows how out of balance the group is. It’s a circle at the bottom center of another circle, surrounded by two crooked lines. The circle that’s off center implies signifies the lack of stability in any of the members, much like the Star Sapphires at the other extreme of the emotional spectrum, the emotions are hard to control.

The official leader of the Red Lantern Corps is Atrocitus. Atrocitus lost his entire family to a horde of Manhunter automatons made by the Guardians. It drove him mad. Using his tangible rage he constructed a red power lantern and became the first of his Red Lantern Corps. Each subsequent member would have great anger in their hearts and use it to kill anything in their path.

Red Lanterns are too angry for strategic thought and plans of revenge – although some may calm down enough to follow one.

Once a person is recruited as a Red Lantern their blood is replaced by corrosive red plasma. This plasma is rage filled energy that is so powerful it burns in space. It can penetrate constructs of other colored ring wielders and corrupt their rings. The plasma is one of the few things that can eat through the body of a black lantern.

The only way to effectively stop a member of the Red Lantern Corps is to remove their heart. With the exception of Atrocitus and Guy Gardner, few members of the Red Lantern Corps can calm down enough for rational thought, and act on pure animal instinct. A Blue Lantern can calm them down and then a bathing in the red lake of blood on planet Ysmault will restore their intelligence.

The Red Lantern entity looks like a red bull (no, not the drink) and it’s called The Butcher.

The Red Lantern Oath goes like this:

With blood and rage of crimson red,
Ripped from a corpse so freshly dead,
Together with our hellish hate,
We’ll burn you all–That is your fate!

 

The Indigo Tribe

Perhaps the least understood corps of the seven basic colors is the Indigo Tribe. The easiest way to describe this group built on compassion is that they are the very opposite of the Orange Lanterns.

Where an Orange Lantern (or the Orange Lantern) is fueled by greed and avarice, the Indigo Tribe want nothing and own nothing. For the most part, members of the Indigo Tribe have even forsaken their birth names.

The Indigo Tribe of Compassion

In the Indigo light of compassion, wielders use staffs instead of rings. The members of the group are infected with a consciousness that brings out this nature and allows the wielder to emulate any of the other ring energy it encounters. Much like the old children’s rhyme, “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say to me bounces back and sticks to you.” Indigo members use other ring power groups against themselves. Ironically, the best wielder would have no compassion at all and is never affected by the emotions he or she must deal with.

If a member becomes a member of the tribe involuntarily, once they leave the tribe and leave the indigo power behind, they lose all memory of their time in the tribe. However, if a member of the tribe joins voluntarily, like Ray Palmer, he will retain his experiences with them.

The other power the tribe has is to heal beings with empathy and punish people with the just deserts of the evil they’ve inflicted upon others.

The “leader” of the Indigo Tribe is known as Indigo-1. The entity powering the Indigo Tribe is a squid-like creature called Proselyte.

Initially, the Indigo Tribe had no language any ring could translate and so their oath went like this:

Tor lorek san, bor nakka mur,
Natromo faan tornek wot ur.
Ter Lantern ker lo Abin Sur,
Taan lek lek nok–Formorrow Sur!

Later, the English translation came as:

In sorrowful day, in misfortunate night,
We help those, who need our might,
With the lantern power of Abin Sur,
We rid your misery…,
With compassionate might!

 

The Black Lantern Corps

The very worst nightmare anyone can have is to encounter a member of the Black Lantern Corps. Perhaps it would be better to call them the Death Lantern Corpse. Why? Because the Black Lanterns are full of dead people.

You heard me right.

The thing that powers a Black Lantern power ring is death. For every person a Black Lantern kills, their main power corps powers up a bit. The black lantern is different from the rest of the power rings because as the rest of the rings represent a spectrum of light, the black is the absence of light. It is what the light was fighting against.

The Black Lantern Corps of the Dead

The corpses powered by the black power of the Black Lantern Corps are distorted versions of the people they’ve reanimated. Anyone encountering a Black Lantern will find them a darker more malevolent version of that person. Almost anyone who has died is eligible to be a Black Lantern. The exceptions are people who died peacefully like as Don Hall (aka Dove from “Hawk and Dove”) where he was immune from the black.

Black Lanterns can see the emotions within a victim. They see each color of the emotional spectrum and upon killing that person absorb that energy to power their rings. The rings are generally powered by the corpse of the Anti-Monitor – a being of immense cosmic power and the entity of Death from the character known as The Black Hand.

The preferred way a Black Lantern takes his victim is to pull their still beating hearts from their chests.

A zombie powered by the Black Lantern force can be defeated by a White Lantern or the combination of a Green Lantern’s power combined with another corps’ member.

There is no entity for the Black Lantern Corps although the being known as Nekron seems to be the main architect of the corps resurgence. The aim of the Black Lanterns is to extinguish all life and add to their numbers.

Their oath, composed by The Black Hand, goes like this:

The Blackest Night falls from the skies,
The darkness grows as all light dies,
We crave your hearts and your demise,
By my black hand, the dead shall rise!

 

The White Lantern Corps

If the Black Lantern is powered by death, then it’s certainly logical that White Lanterns are powered by life. Whether people can consider this a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of philosophical debate. After all, in the grand scheme of things, death feeds life and life feeds death. It’s an eternal struggle.

The ring has a few primary functions aside from creating light constructs.

The White Lantern Corps of Life

How you become a White Lantern is not quite clear, but one of the criteria has to do with knowing how to use the other seven light spectrum rings. Much how a prism splits light into a rainbow of color and another can put them back together to make white light, a wielder should understand how the other rings work and experience them for himself.

Another way is to have a White Lantern choose you or to be resurrected from being a Black Lantern with a White Lantern’s light.

White Lanterns can resurrect the dead and purify them. In other words, they won’t be zombies. They can also act like the other seven rings.

Former members include Sinestro (no, I’m not kidding), Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, and Deadman.

Unfortunately, other than Aquaman, Hawkman & Hawkgirl, The Martian Manhunter, Dove, and Jade, the White Lanterns also brought back criminals like Professor Zoom, Captain Boomerang, and Maxwell Lord – people who should have stayed dead.

The entity for the White Light is known as “The Trespasser” and looks like a human angel.

By the way, there is no White Lantern Oath.

 

Final Comments

This article took a long time to write and after some consideration, I had to split it into two parts because it was entering novella territory.

The creation of the different spectrums and different corps marked a definite turning point in the Green Lantern mythos. Where prior to the invention of a third corps, the main conflict was a simple one. It was the battle between Green Lantern and Sinestro and their power rings.

Why and how Gardner Fox chose the color yellow to be the spectrum opposite of the green power ring is a mystery. However, what I do know is that Geoff Johns used his inspired creativity to make sense of something left open like an airplane hangar door.

Which would you wear?Which would you wear?

 

Green Lanterns were chosen because they were fearless and they had willpower. From the first issue of the silver-age Green Lantern story, Abin Sur had his ring find a man with those two specific criteria and chose Hal Jordan because he was closest. Later on in the mythos, we learn that both Guy Gardner and John Stewart were both equally deserving – but that’s beside the point.

When Sinestro, a Green Lantern who disgraced himself for abusing his powers while subjugating an entire planet, got booted from the corps, he decided to be the opposite of a Green Lantern.

Johns used two bits of the puzzle to create a new path. Green Lantern rings were vulnerable to yellow and they needed will power to work. Abin Sur said that there was a yellow impurity within the central power battery and that it could not be removed without it losing its power.

When you look at the natural predators of your own willpower and determination, our natural fears are most likely behind it. Willpower plus fearlessness gets things done. You can manifest anything with that combination. However, when you’re afraid, fear can eat at your mind like a cancer.

Fear.

What is the color of fear? Cowboys used to call cowards “yellow”. And fear is a strong, strong emotion. Even when we look at our chakras, the yellow one is over our stomach – where the butterflies come when you’re nervous.

Can it be overcome? Yes. When your willpower overcomes your natural fear of something through bravery, it will win out. And vice versa.

A rainbow’s central color is green. Right next to it is yellow and blue. Green is a stable color in the spectrum and when we apply it to this philosophy we see hopes (blue) win out over fears (yellow), combined make determination (green) to make hopes come true.

Look at extreme emotions like the inflamed burning fury of blood-pressure red and the romantic passion of a violet/purple that conjures harems and boudoirs. Rage and Love are two very powerful emotions at the opposite ends of the spectrum. It’s hard to reason with either an angry man or a passionate lover who’s been spurned.

We also see opposites in greed and compassion. One emotion centers around one person, hence the loneliness and revulsion of a greedy materialistic man. Compare that with the peace, serenity, and compassion of a Buddhist monk or a compassionate person who lives a selfless life. The man filled with avarice is constantly trying to fill a hole that can’t be filled. The man filled with compassion finds peace in the service of others.

It is certainly something we all need to meditate on.

Your homework tonight is to figure out what ring you wear.

 
 


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.