Thursday, January 7, 2010

Green Lantern: First Flight - Can a rookie get it right?

I just got my latest "late" Christmas present from Green Lantern: First Flight.

Now DC Comics has a sort of hit-or-miss on its animated features, but more often than not they are entertaining.

I gotta say, even with them altering a bit of GL canon, they captured the essence and wonder and drama of Hal Jordan, test pilot becoming a Green Lantern, an intergalactic policeman patrolling space sector 2814, under the watchful eyes of the Guardians of Oa.

The wise choices Geoff Johns, writer of the current Green Lantern comics and Peter Tomasi, writer of the Green Lantern Corps, have made are picked up in this re-imagining of Hal Jordan's origin. Not all of them, but just enough to make this an enjoyable re-telling.

Sinestro, Hal's once nearly laughable villain has become the cunning and commanding mentor for the rookie, a strong-willed man of vision who is corrupted by wanting to take control FROM his superiors and become a force for order in this chaotic universe. Sinestro's frustration as an intergalactic cop "always picking up the trash" [i.e. the criminals], when they actually have the power to re-order the universe with their rings is a little too understandable, I'm afraid.

The writer of the screenplay did a fine job of making this a parable of "rookie cop enters into life of senior officer who's lost his vision." Years ago, I read an article in Playboy magazine while I was working overnight at the Quick Stop Food Store #2 on Stateline Rd. It was their last stapled issue and it featured Madonna - and folks, I didn't care. That article still reverberates in my mind.

In it a police officer describes his job: "You start off thinking you are going to change the world, cocky and sure as hell of yourself." After a while you realize what you are: "the garbage collector of humanity."

"Everybody lies to you," revealed another. "Everyone. You start to get a real poor view of human beings and it affects all your relationships."

Jump to 1:26 to see Sinestro's POV.

The message in Green Lantern: First Flight is encouraging and also cautionary. Years of experiences in service may become years of resentment, and what makes a hero is NOT whether or not he can control everything, but how he reacts to unfair and unjust forces. Will YOU be good when no one else is?

Like a human version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Hal Jordan, being a 'human from Earth' a planet known for its atrocities, is considered unsuitable for inclusion in the Green Lantern Corps. But even without the ring, Hal shows his heroism, his bravery, his compassion and his willingness to do what it takes to see goodness win.

Not simply order or law. Goodness. Mercy and compassion. That stuff.

Our laws must bring forth what is good, or they are nothing more than control mechanisms used by bullies.

And the heart-breaking thing is, when good people see something bad happening, we naturally want to take control and fix it. We don't even want the bad thing to happen. Well, that doesn't teach anyone, folks, i fno one can make an error or go the wrong way. Parents have to let kids learn the benefits of obedience and consequences of not obeying. They have to grow in wisdom.

What prevented World War III in the 20th century must at least be attributed in part to the suffering of World War II. What is making young girls reject legalized abortion more and more is, I believe in part, the horror stories of women who have had legal abortions - and cannot forget the pain or shame.

I guess what I am saying is we can trust that the laws God handed down are good, and that authority if rightly held and enforced is designed to protect and preserve us. But if you disagree, you can disobey.

But I wouldn't count on it working out too well.

Every rebel or dictator, large or small, public or private, I have ever known has come to a bad end. Their evil reigned for a season, and then it was gone.

It sure was nice of DC Comics to remind me of that biblical truth.

So don't lose heart when it seems all has been lost. It may just be God granting them their request - for a season.


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