Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Green Lantern 9, originally released May 9th, 2012.
Shelby: If you had a terrible personality flaw that you could change with a flip of a switch, and essentially become someone else, would you do it? What if you had done terrible things, but you could just snap your fingers and become a better person, would you make that change? How about if someone else had that control, and made that choice for you? You’re a better person for it, but does that make it ok? These are the questions running through my head, not as I’m on a trip of contemplation and personal discovery, but as I read this month’s Green Lantern.
Issue 9 opens with Sinestro’s “rehabilitation” into the Indigo Lantern Tribe. He relives his memories of Arin Sur, his lady friend and sister to Abin Sur. She died during the war on Korugar when Sinestro was killed by a child suicide bomber (ooh, topical). By the end of the session, Sinestro is in a much more “nok” sort of place. He’s feeling so good, he’s up to pinning Hal Jordan down by the neck. You know, so he can apologize for being kind of a dick.
According to Indigo-1, Hal can leave whenever, but Sinestro is going to hang back. Hal doesn’t like being told what to do (even if it’s kind of what he wants to do) so he rushes off into the jungle on a series of manly constructs to find the Indigo power battery. There, he finds a tiny little man named Natromo. Apparently, Natromo and Abin Sur created the Indigo Tribe back in the day by forging rings for “the worst killers and sadists the universe had ever seen.” You know Indigo-1? Yeah, she killed Abin Sur’s daughter. Anyway, the rings were put on criminals to test them, make sure they would work to stop The Guardians from destroying the Corps. Let that sink in for a minute: The Indigo Tribe was created to stop the Guardians. Speaking of the Guardians, they’ve been super busy; they found Starstorm to ask where Sinestro had taken The Book of the Black. When he didn’t have the answers they needed, they melted the skin from his bones. So maybe Abin Sur wasn’t so far off the mark with his plan.
Unfortunately, when Natromo finds out Abin Sur is dead, he immediately gives up all hope, and shuts the whole fucking thing down. Which means that Hal and Sinestro are now on a planet solely inhabited by the worst of the worst, including Black Hand, who for all we know could still technically be a Black Lantern.
Wow, we’ve got a lot going here, kind of. Action in this issue is a little on the low side, but we’ve got some major revelations, the biggest being Abin Sur’s creation of the Indigo Tribe. I’m assuming his vision of the future was something he gleaned from the demons on Ysmault, when he visited so very long ago. I’m really interested in this idea of false compassion. We’ve always seen the Indigos as a force of good in the universe; they are compassion as the balancing force against the avarice of the Orange Lantern Corps. And generally, compassion is considered a good thing. Let’s not forget, though, how the emotional spectrum works; the further you get from the center, the willpower of the Green, the more the ring controls the wearer instead of vice versa. The only other Corps we’ve seen convert Lanterns by force is Violet, love. Like love, compassion can be forced upon someone, and twisted to serve their needs, which is what we have here. How long has The Tribe been forced to act compassionate? In other words, how pissed off are they now that they are no longer slaves to the Indigo light?
I’m happy with this issue. I have been wanting to know more about the Indigo Tribe since their first appearance in Blackest Night. I think Johns has done something really interesting with the Tribe being forced to feel compassion, and I am really really looking forward to next month to see if there’s any lasting effect on them, or if destroying the Indigo Tribe is really as easy as flicking a switch and turning off a light. It begs the question: even though these people are horrible monsters, does anyone have the right to turn them into something else as Abin Sur did?
Patrick: When I first started reading Green Lantern, I didn’t know about Hal Jordan. And I don’t mean that his characterization made me uneasy: I mean I literally didn’t know the dude. So, Johns, anticipating that I liked fleshed-out characters with rich histories, would litter Hal’s stories with flashbacks to his youth — losing his father, nearly ruining Ferris air, etc. And it totally worked on me. I don’t need to see every beat of an origin story, but occasionally slipping in emotionally relevant moments from the origin into a present-day story? Perfect. Blackest Night: Green Latnern #1 (The William Hand origin issue) remains one of my favorite lantern issues to date for this same basic reason.
So I starting smiling a full-on goon-smile when I realized we were getting that kind of sampler pack of Sinestro’s history. Sinestro’s got a huge amount of history and much of it remains foggy, but the creative team here knows to mine the character’s imaginary past for the juiciest bits. I think they leveraged all those moments really well and the whole sequence does a really good job of furthering my ambivalence regarding the Indigoing process. On the one hand, the light of compassion does free Sinestro, and allows him to release all his baggage. But on the other hand, dude is the sum total of all his experiences, even the bad ones – and I love him for it.
I think the same can be said of the Indigo Tribe and, specifically, of Abin Sur. Abin is one of those characters that I will always want to know more about, but the character is just always dead. It’s pretty remarkable how much of what’s driven the GL titles in the last decade has been set in motion by the words and action of a dead man (or alien, or whatever). I’d risk asking for an Abin Sur series, even though I know full-fucking-well that his mysterious nature is like 98% of why I like him so much.
I want to talk about Notromo! I don’t trust that guy. And not just because he detonated the Indigo power battery (more on that laterz). I may be looking for connections where they don’t exist, but dude looks like a Guardian to me. I mean, if the Zamarons can evolve from the same species, sure that’s little guy could have. Also, like the Guardians, at the first sign of trouble, he reaches for the ultimate Ctrl + Z and tries to wipe out his whole Corps.
Then there’s the tease of another prophecy. We’ve mentioned prophecy in this space before, and I think the specific predictions (like Starstorm’s from a few issues back) we’ve discussed all feed into this “The End of the Corps.” Notromo mentions it in the same breath with Blackest Night, and we all know that thing happened. It’s an intriguing concept, especially when you take into consideration our discussion of that mystery Green Lantern in the Free Comic Book Day New 52 book. I feel like there are too many franchises on the line for this to actually happen, but what if the soldiers the entire emotional spectrum are eliminated, leaving one new guy claiming to be “The” Green Lantern? There’s a GL event in the brewings scheduled out sometime between B4 Watchmen (which is our preferred sarcastic spelling) and Trinity War, so who knows what that thing will be about.
Oh and I always gotta give props to Johns for writing Hal well:
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?