Black Lantern Corps
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|Black Lantern Corps|
Black Lanterns from the Green Lantern Corps crypt. Blackest Night #1, artist Ivan Reis
|First appearance||Green Lantern vol. 4 #43 (September 2009)|
|Created by||Geoff Johns (writer)|
Ethan Van Sciver (artist)
The Black Lantern Corps is a fictional organization of revenants appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The group is composed of deceased beings within the DC Universe. They are a counterpart of another group of beings called the Emotional Spectrum which seek to rule or enforce their will upon all living beings in their own way. Unlike them, the Black Lantern Corps seeks to eliminate all life and emotion from the universe.
An early version of the Black Lantern Corps first appears in Green Lantern Annual vol. 3 #7 (1998), written by Steve Vance and drawn by Ron Lim, where a group of dead Green Lanterns is animated and empowered by Nekron.
Fictional group history
Prior to the Blackest Night event, Black Hand (leader and first member of the Black Lantern Corps) had already been established as a villain within the pages of Green Lantern. Writer Geoff Johns revisited his origin and expanded upon certain aspects of it during the Secret Origin story arc. During the arc, Hand's energy-absorbing weapon (previously thought to be an original invention) is revealed to have been constructed by Atrocitus; a fervent enemy of the Guardians of the Universe and future founder of the Red Lantern Corps. Atrocitus comes to Earth and approaches Hand, recognizing him as a "doorway to the black" that possesses the power to bring about the Blackest Night. Hand manages to escape and pockets the weapon as he flees. The possession of this weapon soon leads him to become an enemy of the Green Lantern Corps, as he now feels a need to extinguish the light of the emotional spectrum. 
While being transported to prison, Black Hand experiences a sudden power surge that kills his captors. He roams the desert, hearing a voice instructing him to reclaim the souls of characters who were resurrected. Hand murders his family and commits suicide. The Guardian Scar arrives, and creates the first black power ring, which resurrects Black Hand. She reveals that Hand is the physical embodiment of death, and serves as the avatar of the Black Lantern Corps in the same manner that Ion, Parallax, and the Predator are for willpower, fear, and love respectively. Hand later digs up Bruce Wayne's corpse, removes his skull, and recites the Black Lantern oath for the first time. Soon after, black power rings descend upon the universe and begin reviving the deceased as Black Lanterns that attack the heroes of the DC Universe. Black Hand is seen holding Wayne's skull in all future appearances, embracing it in a necrophilic manner in Blackest Night #1 as the black power rings appear from the Black Power Battery, exclaiming that Wayne's death "plays a far greater role in the Blackest Night" than anyone thinks. At the end of the issue, it's shown that Black Hand uses the skull to produce new power rings at will, creating two rings for the newly deceased Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders.
In Blackest Night #3, Indigo-1 describes the premise behind the Black Lantern Corps' fictional relationship with the universe. She explains that the darkness in existence before the creation of the universe is what powers that Black Lanterns. Banished at the dawn of time by the white light of creation, it fighting back causes the white light to be fractured into the emotional spectrum. The events transpiring throughout the titles of Blackest Night are a result of the darkness, once again, fighting back against creation. She goes on to describe how a combination of all seven lights can restore the white light of creation and bring an end to the Black Lanterns. Throughout the Blackest Night event, each time a Black Lantern successfully removes the heart of one of their victims, a black, lantern-shaped speech balloon (used within Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps to indicate that a power ring is speaking) depicts an ever-rising power level increasing in increments of .01 percent. In Blackest Night #4, the power meter is filled and Scar is able to transport the Black Central Power Battery to Coast City, and the true mastermind behind the Black Lanterns is able to step into the main DC Universe: Nekron.
After being introduced into a primary role within the Blackest Night event, Indigo-1 recruits Hal Jordan to gather a team capable of recreating the white light of creation (chosen for having a personal connection to the most powerful members of the five remaining Corps). The story unfolding in Green Lantern depicts Jordan and Indigo-1 recruiting Carol Ferris, Sinestro, Saint Walker, Atrocitus, and Larfleeze to their purpose. In Blackest Night #5, the team assaults the Black Central Power Battery with the opposite results intended. Nekron is strengthened and able to recruit living characters resurrected from death to his Black Lantern Corps.
At San Diego Comic Con 2009, Geoff Johns was able to discuss his reasoning behind choosing Black Hand as the leader of the new Corps, the character properties of the Black Lanterns, and his own goals in writing their depictions. Commenting on the characters being chosen to resurrect during Blackest Night, Johns said:
|“||The black rings aren't about who's dead; the black rings are about who's alive. So, scenes like Elongated Man and Sue Dibny taking on Hawkman and Hawkgirl is kind of the beginning of that emotional conflict and terror that you'll see throughout Blackest Night. So the black rings are, again, seeking out the dead that matter to our heroes.||”|
During the creation of Blackest Night, Johns (not being interested in or frightened by zombies) wanted to bring back the deceased characters in a way that seemed horrifying and emotionally disturbing to the living characters they encountered. To accomplish that effect, the Black Lanterns have personalities and actively seek out those who will be affected by their appearance. A prime example of Johns' use of personality distortion with the Black Lanterns is Elongated Man (typically depicted as being a "light" character that uses his detective skill to "smell" when something isn't right) looking upon his victims and remarking to his undead wife: "I smell a mystery." Johns identifies the power of the Black Lanterns as not necessarily being evil, but not being good either.
During his initial creation of the new Corps, Johns drew from information he had collected on light while taking physics classes. With the Corps of the emotional spectrum personifying life, he knew that this Corps would need to represent death. Black being an absence of light, he chose Black Hand as the leader of the Corps both for the character's name and also because of how much he enjoyed revamping villains while writing for Flash. Like the other members of the Black Lantern Corps, Johns wanted to take a different approach in his portrayal of Hand. Whereas other villains may have a particular motivation, Hand is meant to be depicted as a character who is clearly insane and whose presence makes others uncomfortable.
In Blackest Night #2, multiple black power rings attempt to reanimate the body of Don Hall, only to be prevented from disturbing his grave by an invisible barrier. As they collide with the barrier, the rings' typical command ("rise") is interrupted; the rings instead respond: "Don Hall of Earth at peace." This is the first depiction of the black power rings failing to recruit a member for the Black Lantern Corps. In an interview with IGN, Johns provides an explanation behind Dove's immunity to the black power rings: "You'll learn more about this as we go forward. But really it speaks to the nature of Don Hall. He can't be desecrated by the likes of these things. He's untouchable in death and at total peace more than any other being in the universe." Reflecting on the limitations of the rings, Johns goes on to state that, even though magic is a "joke" to the black power rings (though the undead Giovanni Zatara is capable of wielding black magic), Don is quite the opposite. Similarly, Blackest Night: Titans #1 shows Black Lantern Hank Hall unable to read Dawn Granger's emotions; her aura depicted as being white rather than a color from the emotional spectrum.
In Blackest Night: Batman #1, the spirit of Deadman is unable to prevent a black power ring from reviving his remains. Deadman attempts to possess his own corpse, but is unable to control it. During the Blackest Night panel at San Diego Comic Con 2009, Geoff Johns was asked whether the revived corpses of the Black Lanterns were speaking for themselves or if they were being controlled by an outside force. Johns declined to answer, implying that the question would be answered during the Blackest Night storyline. Similarly, while being overcome by a black power ring, the Spectre declares that he "will not be used." Prior to The Spectre's conversion, Black Hand makes note of Shadowpact members Zatanna and Blue Devil being surrounded by an aura of life. Upon scanning Phantom Stranger, Black Hand remarks that Stranger is "neither living nor dead", and notes him as a person of interest to his Corps.
List of Black Lanterns
Though an exact list of the former Green Lanterns reanimated by black power rings doesn't exist, Kyle Rayner's ring states that all of the deceased Green Lanterns within the Oan crypt in Green Lantern Corps (vol. 2) #39 are transformed into Black Lanterns.
As with the other Lantern Corps, Black Hand devised an oath for the Black Lanterns:
—Black Hand, Blackest Night #0 (June 2009)
Powers and abilities
The Black Lanterns are corpses reanimated by black power rings, which are fueled by the power of death. The symbol on the rings (a triangle pointing downwards, with five lines radiating upward from the base) is the same symbol used by Green Lantern super-villain Black Hand. It is also the symbol of the Hand family's mortuary. Scar explains that Black Hand is the avatar, or living embodiment of the Black Lantern Corps as Ion, Parallax, and the Predator are to the green, yellow and violet lights of the emotional spectrum, respectively. The central Black Lantern Battery is located on the planet of Ryut, and contains the dying essence of the Anti-Monitor.
As noted by Ray Palmer, the fictional structure of black power rings is similar to dark matter, which permeates the universe and constantly transmits energy to an unknown source. Corpses reanimated by black power rings are reconstructed if damaged, keeping the body in working order at all times. Black power rings are capable of regenerating typically fatal injuries inflicted upon their users (including decapitation and complete dissolution). The rings generate black tendrils to "root" themselves into the corpses, making it impossible to remove them by physical force.
The first black power rings possess no charge, but each time a Black Lantern kills someone and removes their heart, .01 percent power is restored to every ring in the Corps. At San Diego Comic Con 2009, Geoff Johns explained that the characters he chose to reanimate were picked to elicit a specific response from their victims. In Blackest Night #3, Indigo-1 solidifies this theme by explaining that those who rise feed off of emotion. Even at low power levels, black rings enable their user to fly and create black energy constructs. They are also unaffected by magic. In "classic" zombie fashion, the bite of a Black Lantern induces a slow-acting necrosis that eventually turns the victim into a fellow Black Lantern. It's unknown if this power can work on any living being, or only those characters who have been resurrected from death before (such as Donna Troy). It is also potentially lethal to touch a Black Lantern's "blood," as Barry Allen experiences strange sensations similar to Donna Troy's after touching a black residue found on Bruce Wayne's grave.
Black Lanterns are able to read the emotions of the living as a colored auras that correlate to the emotional spectrum. Multiple emotions read as a multi-colored aura, while unreadable emotions come out as white. Furthermore, demonic and underworld dwellers (such as Etrigan) are read with a black aura, apparently as unreadable as the white one due to their dead nature. A state of profound suspended animation is enough to fool a Black Lantern by making the target of suspended-animation invisible to the senses of the Black Lantern. Emotionless hearts such as the Scarecrow's render their bearers equally invisible to the Black Lanterns. When facing beings with warped mental states, or otherwise addled minds (such as Bizarro), the correlation between the emotion detected and the actual color that the Black Lanterns see is inverted. In addition to the abilities granted to them by the rings, Black Lanterns retain any superpowers they may have had in life. As of Blackest Night #5, characters that have been resurrected from death in the past are also vulnerable to being recruited to the Black Lantern Corps.
A combination of the green light of willpower with any of the other six lights of the emotional spectrum can neutralize the black rings, rendering them vulnerable to conventional damage. Once a black ring is destroyed, the corpse it animates becomes inert.
Black Lanterns are shown to be fatally vulnerable to the white energy, described in Blackest Night #3 as, the "white light of creation." Indigo-1 explains that, within the fictional DC Universe, everything was filled with this light before it was split into the seven lights of the emotional spectrum. Until Blackest Night #5, the flagship title and Green Lantern followed Hal Jordan and Indigo-1 assembling a team of various Lantern Corps members to recreate this light. Once assembled their combined efforts are ineffective against the Black Central Power Battery, and realize that they need the entire seven Lantern Corps to unite to create enough power to destroy it.   However, the heroes that have fought as Dove have a unique connection to this light as well. The Black Lanterns are unable to hit Dawn Granger in direct combat or read her aura, in addition to being unable to reanimate the corpse of Don Hall. In the one instance in which a Black Lantern attempts to remove Dawn Granger's heart, a backlash of white light severs the connection between the corpse and its ring (destroying both). Dove can also release this white energy in a visible flash that instantly discorporates any Black Lanterns caught within its radius; destroying their power rings.
Other methods exist for destroying Black Lanterns. Kimiyo Hoshi and Halo have both been able to completely destroy Black Lanterns and black power rings using their light-based powers. Conner Kent uses the Medusa Mask to destroy Black Lanterns Roger Hayden and Kal-L by forcing them to experience the fullness of the Emotional Spectrum; irritating their black power rings enough that they remove themselves from their bearers and flee. While this does not destroy the ring itself, the bearers are left inert again and unable to continue their assault. The Black Lanterns have also shown to be vulnerable to Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth, as its life renewing properties are a polar opposite to their undead forms and is capable of destroying dozens of Black Lanterns at once. Negative Man manages to take control of the Black Lantern Negative Spirit and sends both it and his own spirit into Black Lantern Valentina Vostok's body, destroying it from within and severing the ring's connection. Superboy-Prime takes control of a black power ring and is forced to experience all of the emotions of the emotional epectrum except for hope; forcing the ring to shift abilities and uniforms as his emotions go out of control. The ring ultimately detonates, destroying all Black Lanterns in its vicinity. The "touch" of a Black Lantern, typically used to remove their victims' hearts and drain them of emotional energy, can also sever the connection between other Black Lanterns and their black power ring. Time travel can deactivate a black ring, as Barry Allen uses his time-travelling capability to send himself and Hal Jordan two seconds forward, leaving the pursuing rings with no present targets, deactivating them. One way to stop a Black Lantern is to basically injure the revived person faster than the ring can regenerate their body.
The Black Lantern Ring's effect on the already undead has not been fully explored. However in Green Lantern #49, former Green Lantern Driq (part of whose tenure as a Green Lantern was spent as a zombie) is shown to be able to still wield his green ring. He attempts to communicate sanely to John Stewart through it, asking him to destroy them.
In regards to the heroes who had once died and were resurrected prior to the Blackest Night, and are now puppets of Nekron, their situation is also not fully explored. However in the Wonder Woman Black Lantern tie-in, Diana was able to fight against the Black Lantern ring's control of her, indicating that the Rings only suppresse a resurrected being's true nature. It appears that if a being has a strong enough emotional tie (such as Diana's intense love for assorted people such as Bruce Wayne), the ring's hold on them can be weakened. In Diana's case, the ring was final destroyed through a combination of Diana's love for life, Aphrodite's power and a Star Sapphire ring. When Barry Allen is empowered by a Blue power ring, he senses that Bart's body is slowly dying under the black ring's influence.
Other characters have also shown an ability to resist the Black Lantern rings: most prominently Shade (Richard Swift), who had his heart ripped out but couldn't be recruited by a Black Lantern ring due to the fact that he was immortal and never actually died.
- ^ a b Blackest Night #0 (June 2009)
- ^ Green Lantern (vol. 4) issues #29-35 (May - November 2008)
- ^ Green Lantern (vol.) 4 #32 (August 2008)
- ^ Green Lantern (vol.) 4 #33 (September 2008)
- ^ Green Lantern (vol. 4) #34 (October 2008)
- ^ a b c d e Green Lantern (vol. 4) #43 (September 2009)
- ^ DC Universe #0 (June 2008)
- ^ a b c d e Blackest Night #1 (September 2009)
- ^ a b c Blackest Night #3 (November 2009)
- ^ Green Lantern (vol 4) #46-48 (November 2009-January 2010)
- ^ Johns, Geoff. DC Comics: Green Lantern: Blackest Night (11:06). San Diego Comic Con 2009. San Diego Convention Center, San Diego CA. 25 July 2009. Accessed 2 August 2009.
- ^ a b c Johns, Geoff. DC Comics: Green Lantern: Blackest Night (29:30). San Diego Comic Con 2009. San Diego Convention Center, San Diego CA. 25 July 2009. Accessed 2 August 2009.
- ^ Johns, Geoff. DC Comics: Green Lantern: Blackest Night (31:34). San Diego Comic Con 2009. San Diego Convention Center, San Diego CA. 25 July 2009. Accessed 2 August 2009.
- ^ Johns, Geoff. DC Comics: Green Lantern: Blackest Night (42:31). San Diego Comic Con 2009. San Diego Convention Center, San Diego CA. 25 July 2009. Accessed 2 August 2009.
- ^ a b c d e Blackest Night #2 (October 2009)
- ^ a b Geoff Johns: Inside Blackest Night - Part Two, IGN, August 14 2009
- ^ a b Blackest Night: Batman #1 (October 2009)
- ^ Johns, Geoff. DC Comics: Green Lantern: Blackest Night (38:55). San Diego Comic Con 2009. San Diego Convention Center, San Diego CA. 25 July 2009. Accessed 2 August 2009.
- ^ a b Blackest Night #4 (November 2009)
- ^ Adventure Comics #0 (February 2009)
- ^ "Amon Sur". DC Comics. http://dccomics.com/sites/greenlantern/?pr=amonsur. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
- ^ "Pantha". DC Comics. http://www.dccomics.com/sites/greenlantern/?pr=pantha. Retrieved 2009-12-23.
- ^ Green Lantern Corps (vol. 2) #39 (October 2009)
- ^ Green Lantern (vol. 4) #25 (January 2008)
- ^ Blackest Night: Superman #1 (October 2009)
- ^ Montgomery, Lauren (Director). Johns, Geoff (Commentator) (2009). Green Lantern: First Flight (Behind the Scenes of Blackest Night). [Animated Film/DVD]. Warner Home Video. Warner Bros Animation. DC Comics.
- ^ Green Lantern Corps (vol 2) #41 (December 2009)
- ^ SDCC 09: Blackest Night Consumes Comic-Con, IGN, July 25 2009
- ^ a b Blackest Night: Titans #3 (December 2009)
- ^ Green Lantern (vol. 4) #44 (July 2009)
- ^ Blackest Night: Titans #2 (November 2009)
- ^ Blackest Night: Batman #3 (October 2009)
- ^ Superman/Batman #66 (November 2009)
- ^ Blackest Night #5 (January 2010)
- ^ a b Blackest Night #6 (February 2010)
- ^ Blackest Night: Titans #1 (October 2009)
- ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #40 (December 2009)
- ^ Outsiders (vol. 4) #25 (December 2009)
- ^ Blackest Night: Superman #3 (December 2009)
- ^ Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1 (January 2010)
- ^ Doom Patrol (vol 5) #5 (February 2010)
- ^ Adventure Comics (vol 2) #5 (February 2010)
- ^ Teen Titans (vol 3) #78 (February 2010)
- ^ Catwoman (vol. 3) #83 (January 2010)
- ^ The Phantom Stranger #42 (January 2010)
- ^ Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 (January 2010)
- ^ Blackest Night: The Flash #2 (January 2010)
- ^ Starman (vol. 2) #81 (January 2010)