DENNIS O’NEIL: Green Is The Color Of My Lantern
Now let’s see – where were we? Last time we decided that parallel evolution caused a duplicate David Niven… well, almost duplicate; there is the matter of that magenta complexion… a duplicate David Niven to evolve on the planet Korugar, because parallel evolution will have its way and Sinestro’s mom was so smitten with the magenta Dave’s moustache that she insisted her son grow a similar one. Or something like that. (And from here, Freudians can have their field day.)
Let’s call the moustache question settled, even if it isn’t.
Just two more items on the Green Lantern movie agenda and we can tuck it into our memory banks, at least until the sequel appears.
First, the Guardians. I dimly remember that when I was writing the Green Lantern comic book, I had the tiniest bit of a niggle over the Guardians. I mean, these aren’t just any lower case-g guardians…these are the big, honkin’ Guardians Of The Universe. The wisest, smartest, most advanced beings in the…well – in the Universe! And yet – look at them! Little blue fellas in red night shirts. Stately? Majestic? Not a bit of it. They look like first cousins to Smurfs.
Okay, I know, I know…maybe the most powerful being in the universe, if such exists, is the size of a microbe and looks like Elmer Fudd. I’m a fan of Mr. Mind, the criminal genius who bedeviled Captain Marvel and who, when his identity was finally revealed, proved to be a worm. But aren’t we allowed a bit of imagination here? Can’t our Guardians resemble something we can relate to when we’re thinking ageless galactic savants?
Here, we must offer kudos to the Green Lantern film makers. Without changing the basic design of the Guardians – still little blue guys in red gowns – they art-directed a certain gloominess and gravitas into the fellas and, if my aging eyes did their job properly, at least one gal, and these worked for the characters and the narrative. Watching the film Guardians, I had one of those uncomfortable why didn’t we think of this moments.
Next, and final, item: the colors that shoot out of the rings. We’re told that green is the color of will. I don’t know of any reason why will should be green, or any color at all, nor could I find any such reason. (Okay – I didn’t research it to death.) And yellow, we’re assured, is the color of fear. Really? There is a slang usage of the word that is synonymous with “cowardly,” as in a cowboy’s snarl, “Why yew yeller-bellied polecat!” But there seems to be little if any agreement about how the usage originated, though it seems to be totally arbitrary.
Know what I think happened? When Julie Schwartz and John Broome were reinventing Green Lantern in 1959, they decided that the new guy’s ring should have a weakness, just like the ring of the guy they were reinventing. That weakness was wood – the original GL’s ring wouldn’t work against anything made of wood. Maybe Julie or John didn’t like the wood gimmick, for whatever reason – one of their mothers was scared by Pinocchio while in the family way?–so they…decided to make yellow the ring’s Achilles heel. ‘Cause why not!
The rest might parse something like this: Hal Jordan was picked to be a member of the Green Lantern Corps because he was brave and cowardice is the opposite of courage and so if we, the film makers, have to have something shoot out of the villain’s ring – it has to be some damn color – and yellow is already in place as Hal’s nemesis and whatever Hal fights is, logically, the opposite of courage…
Unless that makes no sense at all.
FRIDAY: Martha Thomases
- DENNIS O’NEIL: Green Lantern’s Pink Stash (comicmix.com)
- Reader’s Guide to the New DC Universe: Green Lantern (tor.com)