Thursday, September 18, 2008

... In Darkest Night

In Hopeless Day In Endless Night
No Victim Shall Be Lost From Sight
Let Those Who Fear Death's Dark Blight
Embrace My Power, Gray Lantern's Light

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a comic book geek. I make no apologies for it- I love my comic books, they've been a great source of joy for me, they've taught me a lot (introduced me to both art and science, so how bad can that be?), and, as the rest of the world flocks to see comic-book movies, I can be one of those guys who sits there and says "told ya so". I've even gotten a job based on my love and knowledge of comics. Okay, it was with a comic book store, but so what?

Back in 1997, I was finishing my 5-year 4-year plan, and earning a B.S. in Biology. Of course, being the genius that I am, I never found a job in the field. However, rather than moving on and away from State College then, I decided to stick around (I had a number of good reasons for doing so). So I was staying, but I'd need some more scratch to make ends meet. Strangely enough, about that time, I was offered a job at the Comic Swap, State College's Premier Comic Book Store since 1976. Well, who was I to say no to that? I even offered to work for comics, but Kris, being a smart guy, offered me money instead.

While there, I met a great assortment of folks; people of all walks of life, of all stripes, comic fans all. We talked about all sorts of things, politics to the environment, music to movies, and above all, comic books. Of course, no one talked about it as much as the guys who worked there. I worked with some great guys; from Kris, my boss, to Randy, who came up with the funniest sayings ever ('it blew a hole in him the size of a lobster!" being but one of them), to Thad, who's now one of my oldest friends and fellow Hellboy devotee.

As I've mentioned in the past, one of the things I like best about comics is worldbuilding. Well, that's not just me- that's most comic fans. We love imagining "what if" in the existing comic book universes. If only we could make our versions...

Well, one day, that's just what Thad, Randy, and I did. We came up with an entire alternate take on the DC universe (home to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, for you uninitiated out there). We had some pretty smart ideas, I thought- interesting takes on the world of the DCU, things like using real-time for the characters, rather than that static comic-book time (don't bother trying to make sense of that; you had to be there).

And then, we had some... more interesting ideas.

Green Lantern is one of the more popular DC heroes- he's essentially a space cop with a ring that makes anything he can imagine real, as long as he has the willpower to do it. Every 24 hours, the Lantern rechares his ring with a Power Battery (shaped like a lantern) and recites his oath. And he's part of a galactic police force, populated by bunches of aliens. We wanted to revisit that concept, and so came up with some different ideas for them. Thad came up with this one (which I'm further elaborating on here), a horror-styled Green Lantern, which was a far cry from the other characters we'd seen. This guy was a Green Lantern, but also a doctor. While on a mission, he was attacked, mostly annihilated, and left for dead. They ripped out his heart, for Oa's sake. But, as I said, the rings are powered by will. And this guy is one willful SOB. So, with his last firing synapses, he actually wills a new heart into existence. Of course, that's only a stop-gap measure, so he takes his power battery and embeds it into his chest. But he's messed up pretty badly, so he uses his ring to will himself new body parts, most visibly an eye. (I know, messed up, isn't it great?) The hook being, he's insanely powerful, but just surviving requires so much of his willpower, he's at best an average Lantern. Plus, his 'death' and subsequent resurrection have changed his perspective on what it means to serve and protect. He's no longer a Green Lantern, punishing the bad guys. Being a doctor, I thought it would be interesting to take his dedication to life to a more extreme conclusion. He stands between the living and the dead; death is his enemy.

God, it's good to be a geek.
Slight weapons malfunction, so I'll be back with more info about the above later.


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