Corruption Within the Corps in Green Lanterns 49

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Over the past few years, as police injustices have been brought more and more into the open and it’s become harder and harder to justify supporting them (or often even tolerating them) as an organization, it’s become harder for me to fully buy into the idea of the Green Lantern Corps as well. It’s not the characters that give me pause — I adore Jessica, Simon, Kyle, and Guy — but their space cop routine. I don’t know, maybe that’s the point — so many Green Lantern stories in the past decade have positioned the Corps’ own leadership as their greatest enemies — but it’s certainly a thought that ran through my mind in Green Lanterns 49, where the biggest threat to Jessica Cruz isn’t the crime-lord who helped frame her, but the leaders within the Corps who already had it out for her before that even happened.

That’s the big reveal Aaron Gillespie and Roge Antonio drop at the end of the issue: the Guardians are after Jess because of an anomaly in her ring, because she changed its programming with her sheer willpower — her run-ins with Obazaya V’Sheer, Accampo, and their rage-gun were just a convenient excuse to sic the entire Corps on her. That means that the Guardians are willing to pursue one of their own agents across the universe simply because she bucked protocol — a sign of a corrupt agency if there ever was one. That goes hand-in-hand with Hal’s harsh behavior; last issue Patrick called him out for having once been mind-controlled into atrocities himself but not even for a moment giving Jess the benefit of the same doubt, and this time around Jessica calls him out for the same behavior.

Hal eventually stands down because he remembers that he’s done the same thing Jessica’s being charged with himself — his new ring is forged completely from his own willpower, and for a while, his entire being was as well. Between Parallax and his own experiences with altering his ring, Hal had every reason to approach Jess with compassion instead of accusations, so why couldn’t Hal think of this before harassing Jess across the universe? I’d guess that he was too caught up in his orders and bureaucracy to really give it much thought. Hm — does that sound familiar? The rules and structures of corrupt agencies are designed so that even the noblest of members have a hard time scrutinizing their own actions.

This kind of corruption is also highlighted by the cops and politicians on V’Sheer’s payroll, but refuted by Simon Baz, who has the utmost faith in his partner and is willing to go to bat for her without the slightest hesitation, before even hearing her explanation. It’s good to see that there are still noble members within the Corps, and V’Sheer’s criminal organization justifies the need for the Corps themselves (or at least an organization like the Corps), even if there is something fishy going on within it’s leadership, perhaps even its very structure. I appreciate that Gillespie and other Green Lantern writers are resisting the urge to make the Green Lantern Corps a perfect organization, and instead leaning into many of the same problems that plague real-life peacekeeping forces. Those acknowledgements go a long way towards not only making these stories feel more relevant, but towards making the Corps much more comfortable to read about.

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 Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

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