Thursday, May 8, 2008

To Be A Lantern

Today is my "Off" Day. As a simple caregiver (think "Driving Miss Daisy" not "Magnolia"), I get to run around on my own schedule sans duties only one day a week -Thursday.

And so I've got to do something worthwhile on that day.

I play. I try to feed my creativity and do really fun stuff. I have learned over time that it refreshes my soul so much, I am a joy to be around. And so what do I do?

I make stuff. Superhero stuff. In this case, a Green Lantern Power Battery.

You see, when I was a kid, I'd look at my fictional heroes and say "Wow! It'd be SOOOO cool to have one of those." Now I that am a man, I can make my own.

Green Lantern is cool. In fact, I read somewhere that someone said he has the best superhero costume design of all time. That's high praise.

Some heroes were always cool but had bad writers, or they just didn't explore the right things about their character they should have, and the lazy writing showed. Let me give you an example or two, you non-comic-book geek you:

Daredevil was a "poor man's Spider-Man" in the eyes of many. Back in 1981, his comic had dropped to bi-monthly - once every two months.

Then some guy named Frank Miller got a hold of it. Wow. In one year it was the hottest-selling comic on the stands. The movie was bad, but that wasn't Miller's fault.

This is the same guy who wrote The Dark Knight and Batman: Year One, both of which were seminal in getting Batman to the big screen as he always should have been: not as campy comic relief, but as a Dark Avenger of the Night.

So he made Daredevil cool. He made Batman hotter than hot. Why do you think Tim Burton got to make that film at all? ;)

So a good writer can make or break a cool concept. Enter Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern.

Jordan was a test pilot (think of "The Right Stuff" and Chuck Yeager) who was chosen by a dying alien to receive the most powerful weapon in the universe: a ring that could create anything the user desired based on their courage and strength of will. Jordan, as a fearless test pilot, was a prime candidate. He gets a new uniform, the ring and power battery to "re-charge" the ring every 24 hours. He also gets the coolest oath to recite:

"In brightest day,
In blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight,
Let all who worship evil's might,
Beware my power -
Green Lantern's Light

Is that cool, or what?

He later realizes he is only one of 3,600 others who police the universe: they are ALL "Green Lanterns", though some are humanoid, some are extremely alien and some are just flat-out weird. But it does not matter: they are bound by one common goal - to fight evil and to be fearless in doing so.

How cool is that for a boy to read?

Now if I told you what they did to this character from 1994 - 2004, you would weep. He becomes villainous, psychotic and changes identities three separate times. I cannot bear to tell you how bad it was. Just can't. It was awful. Grown men are ashamed to talk about it.

But then a miracle occurred. Right after Lord of the Rings came out in December 2001, suddenly the higher-ups in DC comics decided having a ring-bearing superhero with immense power was not so dumb after all. They got a good writer who justified all the aberrant behavior by explaining a mysterious piece of Green lantern lore: the ring would never work on anything yellow. Why? Well, something was wrong with the Main Power Battery on Oa; it was called "a necessary impurity."

Well, the "necessary impurity" turned out to be a demon - called the "Parallax entity". It had possessed our hero and in his internal struggle with it, he'd done some God-awful things.

But the creature was fought, the hero resurrected, and the once destroyed Green Lantern Corps was returned to its glory. Even more so - now they wanted twice as many Lanterns - 7,200 - AND they found that with training, they could overcome the ring's weakness against yellow. It only stops rookie "GLs" these days.

But now the rings can store only so much energy -or at least this limit was not shown before. They function just like your cell phone -they can give you data, and you can communicate through them, and you can do whatever you want - but you have to recharge them when they are low on power.

And for that, you need a Green Lantern Power Battery. Like the one I am making.

So I am jazzed to see my old hero restored. I even found a creative way to make my own Green Lantern ring out of brass washers and D-rings (go to ). Nnow I've got to finish up by making a Power Battery.

'Cause let's face it: no matter how tough you are, no matter how heroic you want to be, you have to recharge periodically.

And yes, as a Christian, I smile at the similarities.

I know the One who recharges me. The Light I go to and recite my oath on a daily basis.

The parallels are obvious. I suspect the creator of the modern-day GL had some of the following resting in his heart when he created this superhero, whether he realized it or not.

Join me as we recite our Oath to be a Light:

Our Father,
Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name,
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On Earth as it is in Heaven,
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts
As we have forgiven others.

And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil,
For thine is the Kingdom,
And the Power
And the Glory,


And if you'll stop thinking "religion" and think "relationship", you will see how cool that is.

God is your Father.

A "Father of Lights" we are told.

Now go outside and be a lantern in a dark world - by playing.

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