Good and Evil in Green Lantern

While not directly linked to the Blackest Night story arc, the themes of good and evil are at the forefront of the Green Lantern comics and is best represented by the Emotional spectrum.

One one end, we have the Red Lantern Corps (Rage), Agent Orange (Avarice), and the Sinestro Corps (Fear). At the other end of the spectrum, we have the Green Lantern Corps(Willpower), Blue Lantern Corps (Hope), Indigo Tribe (Compassion),and the Star Sapphires (Love) Lantern Corps. The Blackest Night arc also saw the introduction of the Black Lantern Corps (Death) and White Lantern Corps (Life).

There are several important interactions between the different Corps. For instance, there is a symbiotic relationship between the Green and Blue Lanterns. Blue Lanterns are only at their full power when physically near a Green Lantern and Green Lanterns become super-charged when near a Blue Lantern (their power levels excede 200%). But then, there is the relationship between Green Lanters and the color yellow (the color of the Sinestro Corps). Originally, Green Lanterns were unable to affect the color yellow. This limitation of the Green Power Rings has changed over the years. Most recently, this weakness was due to the presence of the Parallax, the Yellow Entity, in the Green Lantern central battery. Green Lanterns need to overcome their fear in order to overcome the yellow impurity. Because of this recent explanation, rookie Green Lanterns are usually the ones that have problems with the color yellow.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to label the Red Lantern Corps, Agent Orange, the Sinestro Corps and the Black Lantern Corps as evil and the Green Lantern Corps, the Blue Lantern Corps, the Indigo Tribe, the Star Sapphires, and the White Lantern Corps as good.  Although, as we will see in the Blackest Night arc, this label is not entirely helpful (more on this later).

Take the Red Lanterns. Their power is fueled by rage. This rage is so great that it overpowers the individual. In essence, their only driving force is rage. Just take a look at the Red Lantern oath:

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! [1]

Compare that to the Star Sapphires on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum:

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! [2]

I’ll be looking at the different Lantern oaths in a future post, but wanted you to see the obvious differences between the oaths of the “good” Corps and the “evil” Corps.

This does raise some interesting questions that will be explored in more depth when I get into the meat of the Blackest Night arc: Are there times when rage, avarice and fear can be used for good? Are there times when willpower, hope, compassion and love can be used for evil? Just some food for thought for the time being!

[1] Atrocitus, Green Lantern (vol. 4) #32 (June 2008)

[2] Carol Ferris, Green Lantern (vol. 4) #38 (March 2009)


About Craig

I'm a former American Baptist turned Agnostic turned Lutheran. I have a Master of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. I write for Simul Iustus et Peccator and Unsettled Christianity. View all posts by Craig

3 responses to “Good and Evil in Green Lantern

  • RodTRDH

    Craig, I just don’t think the Red Lanterns are completely evil. They are the victims of genocide, Thus, their anger is somewhat justified. I imagine certain persons in history who have been historically oppressed getting Red Lantern rings and using it for good. On the Green Lantern:The Animated Series, Razor is a good guy, and he’s a Red Lantern.

    • Craig

      True, Razor is a good guy…most of the time. And I think that in the New 52, the Red Lantern image is changed somewhat. Bleeze is even a member of the New Guardians. However, not all Red Lanterns were victims of genocide. Take Laira for example. She kills Amon Sur as a Green Lantern, is expelled from the Green Lantern Corps and gives into her rage during the Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps/Red Lantern fight that breaks out while transporting Sinestro to his execution.

      Like I said, that label is just for the purposes of this post and isn’t really helpful when we talk about the Red Lanterns in the Blackest Night arc and beyond.

      That said, yes, I agree that their rage is somewhat justified and, as such, their actions may not always be construed as evil.

  • alex

    i’m pretty sure batman uses fear for good, if so, why can’t yellow lanterns?

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