In the DC Comics lore, the Green Lantern power ring is an omni-tool of great power – weapon, security system, diagnostic tool, translator, space transport system depending on the aptitude of the person using it.
Bestowed by the Guardians of the Universe, these rings are the central tool utilized by their agents protecting the Universe from unknown and potentially dangerous threats. The rings are incredibly powerful and depending on who you ask, are arguably some of the most powerful technologies in the DC Universe.
This is not hyperbole. This is a statement of fact. The ring has no moving parts, does not wear out, is extremely durable, and in the hands of a user with sufficient willpower, capable of doing almost anything, from reshaping matter to splitting the atom. Someone with the right medical knowledge could perform surgery or create a medical theater complete with everything necessary to scan and treat any injury.
Such a powerful tool, the Guardians had given it to their agents is centuries past without limits. Those agents were eventually corrupted and tried to go off and become dictators because their powers made them god-like. The Guardians realized such power needed limits and would engineer limits into the rings as they thought they needed.
Two of the most important safeguards were:
- A Green Lantern could not take a life using the Green Power. You could subdue an opponent with the ring, but you could not kill someone with it, directly. I imagine if you destroyed the warp core of a ship and it exploded this might circumvent the ring, but since the ring is also an intelligence object keeping a record of everything you do, the need to explain oneself might be required in the future.
- The ring would have a secondary limitation such as it would not work directly upon a particular color or against a particular material. Once upon at time the Green Lantern ring could not be used against any yellow object. The pretext was a yellow impurity in the ring prevented it from being used against any yellow object. Later this was retconned away, claiming another emotional entity was trapped in the Central Green Lantern battery which provided power to ALL of the Green Lantern rings and polluted the Green Power. The yellow entity fed on fear and if a Green Lantern lost didn’t focus sufficiently the ring was less responsive and would not work on anything yellow. Some Green Lanterns had such great willpower they could overcome this limitation but it was considered a necessary limitation.
Other limitations could be imposed by the Guardians if they thought it was necessary, but if they did, it usually meant they didn’t trust you and that would be intolerable for very long, so if you were on probation, your ring’s capacity could be limited.
One final limit that was placed on the rings was a 24 hour power limit. Every day, a ring would need to be recharged, reciting an oath to make the connection to the Central Power Battery. The recharge happened at a smaller portable unit, a replica of the Central Battery.
This recharge limit was to prevent Green Lanterns from perverting their power because without a recharge, which the Guardians could control remotely, cutting off the battery, a ring would last 24 hours and not one second longer.
In recent years, the rings have changed dramatically as the Green Lantern Corps has had to face new and dangerous threats. The rings had, for a time, been able to take lives as needed – but that power has once again been restricted to be removed only as the Head of the Green Lantern Corps or the Guardians deem fitting for a particular mission.
During a time when the Corps was all but destroyed, a new ring was made which did not need to be recharged every 24 hours. It would simply hold a charge and slowly lose that charge until it was gone, or until the user recharged. The more power they used, the faster it would need to recharge. Kyle Raynor used this ring when he was the sole remaining Green Lantern in the Universe. Designed by Ganthet, the last Guardian at the time, it was a deviation from the norm.
It was asked by a fan a few years ago, had the Guardians ever designed a ring which could recharge without a battery. My answer was, to my knowledge, no. It wasn’t impossible they could do it, but no such ring had ever been known to my knowledge.
Introducing Far Sector’s Green Lantern
Meet rookie Green Lantern Sojourner “Jo” Mullein, operating out of the City Enduring, an advanced post-scarcity micro-democratic civilization, populated by three distinctly different species, whose technological capacity gave them control over time, space, and fundamental forces of nature.
The City Enduring is FAR off the Guardian’s path and they have generally refused any interaction with the Guardians. They know of the Green Lantern Corps and told the Guardians they did not need or want their help. With the technological support of a technological genetic modification which suppresses emotion, these three cultures repressed their urges toward violence and coexisted peacefully for centuries.
Until now. Assigned to this FAR SECTOR, Jo Mullein is tasked with investigating the first murder in 500 years. To do that, she has also been given a special ring.
It has been my understanding the Guardians didn’t give our rings without Power Batteries. It would appear Jo’s ring does not have a power battery. It recharges itself from either ambient environmental energies and converts them into the Green Power, or she is somehow being beamed energy from the Great Battery of Oa and her ring is slowly being trickle-charged.
This is not a standard procedure and the apparent price tag is the physical capabilities of her ring are limited. Having the capacity to recharge from the ambient environment means some aspect of her ring’s energy manipulation or management capacity has been changed. Her ring is radically different from other ring designs and it has been revealed in the story that her ring is less powerful than a normal power ring.
Fundamentally, Jo’s ring looks and acts like any ring, but with constant use, it will eventually lose it’s charge and require some time to renew itself. How this will play out in the story is anyone’s guess, but her enemies believe because her ring is trickle-charged, if they can force her to use enough power, she will run out when she needs it most.
A week’s worth of normal Green Lantern ring-slinging appears to require about five days of inactivity to recharge. This is sure to be a challenge in the story at some point.
It appears in my documents on this subject, I will have to include this specialty device, created specifically for Green Lantern of Earth, Sojourner Mullein, for her duty to the Enduring City.
FAR SECTOR is written by N.K. Jemisin and drawn by Jamal Campbell. It is an incredible read, one of the few modern comic titles I can happily recommend without hesitation. The artwork is also incredible, rich, satisfying, revealing emotion and subtlety in every frame. Likely to be the best thing you read all year.
Built on the framework of the police procedural, the series has proven to be complex, nuanced and filled with challenging characters as well as interstellar and interspecies intrigue. Nothing is as it appears and it would be wise not to forget that. Despite their urbane and civilized appearance the City Enduring also has its share of monsters.
Jemisin mixes messages from our own world into this story and uses Jo’s Human experiences to inform her choices while she is involved in her investigation. Is this standing her in good stead? We’ll find out. Jo is a wonderful change of pace from the typical Green Lantern and has earned her seat among the Green Lantern lore despite her current novice status.
FAR SECTOR is a DC Comics production.
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.