Zamaron — A Green Lantern Femme-Site

{July 23, 2006}   A Challenge to Geocentric Feminism

I didn’t answer Ragnell’s survey. The truth is, I’m not sure what some of my answers will be. I did find the results interesting.

Particularly the predominant emphasis on having an Earth-born female Green Lantern.

Why, I wondered, is this particularly necessary? There’s never been a female Flash for example. Some female speedsters but not a female Flash. And yet Flash manages to avoid the same accusations.

The thing is, there are a lot more notable female characters in the Green Lantern franchise than there are in almost any other superhero set. Batman has Batgirl (Oracle’s since moved to the Birds of Prey), Superman’s got Supergirl…Wonder Woman’s got a lot, but hell, she’s Wonder Woman.

But we…we get Carol Ferris, who, regardless of any other character assassination over the years, was a strong woman capable of matching Hal Jordan.

We have Brik, Boodika, Laira, Arisia, Katma Tui…women that were as important to the Corps during their times as Kilowog, Salakk, Kreon or Mogo.

We have characters like Harlequinn or Jade who might not appeal to everyone but still have many people who love them.

Yes, bad things happen. Yes, they’re disproportionately tied to women, but that’s not a solely Green Lantern thing but rather one tied to nearly any Superhero comic franchise. Is it right? No. But stop trying to make one group a scapegoat. The problem’s in the industry as a whole, and that’s what we should be targetting. Not just one book.

As for Earth-born Lanterns…well, fine, Jade’s gone. But have you considered:

The Lantern descendent of Kyle Rayner in the Legion of Superheroes (Post-Zero Hour) crossover is a young woman.

During Circle of Fire, three of the six “alternate Lanterns” were characterized as women, regardless of their ultimate origin.

A funny pseudo-Western/post-apocalyptic story in a Warrior annual had three female descendents of Guy Gardner fighting an evil female descendent of Hal Jordan. All of whom had rings.

Heck, if you count the Justice League issues, Ice once found herself using Guy’s ring, managing to use it in a way no one thought possible.

As a matter of fact, if you look at a lot of Green Lantern Elseworlds, you have a number of female, Earth-born Lanterns. Off the top of my head:

1001 Nights- Scharazade is a female Lantern that uses her ring to illustrate her stories.

Evil’s Might- Kyle Rayner is the main character of this Gangs of New York-style AU, but in the end, the one bearing the ring is suffragette Carol Ferris.

Heck, the Tangent Lantern was female too. Notable because her Lantern just washed up in the DCU proper.

Simply though, the Earth Lantern base is crowded. What with Hal, John, Guy and Kyle, there really isn’t room for another Earth-based girl Lantern out there. Not really.

Not without clearing the path, and I love the characters too much to want to go that direction.

But there’s a wide universe out there. And nothing says that the Earthman must always be the main character. Katma used to show up Hal with some frequency. Soranik is as much the star of Green Lantern Corps right now as Guy Gardner (and if you honestly think she’s dead right now, I’ve swampland in Florida to unload).

I genuinely believe, that when it comes to sheer possibility and potential, the Green Lantern concept is the greatest in the world. I think that the Green Lantern franchise gave birth to some of the greatest female characters in DC comics history, and to ignore that merely because they’re not from Earth is a crying shame.


Ragnell says:

Ahh, but you forgot my personal favorite: Donna Parker, the Lantern that Never Was. She was hand-picked by the Guardians in-continuity, in the 50s, used the ring to save a child from an iceriver instinctively — only to give it up when the Guardian approached her. Not for fear, but because her husband had died and her death would leave three children orphans.

I know I probably sound obsessed with her, but dammit, I want my Elseworlds Donna Parker story! She seemed so awesome.

kalinara says:

🙂 Another good example! I didn’t put her on my list because I haven’t read her yet. Soon though!

soyoerika says:

You bring up good points. Just to play a little bit of devil’s advocate, though… when the majority of the female Lanterns we get are aliens or alternate universe versions, there is a certain subtext of Othering going on that’s hard to ignore. The fact that there are no female Earth-Lanterns is something that occasionally nags at my mind– on the other hand, it also nags at my mind that there are no Earth-Lanterns native to countries other than the USA. What, only Americans can be honest and without fear?

You’re right, though, that we shouldn’t neglect the host of awesome female characters that we already have, and that the way current-continuity is running it’ll be hard to fit a female Earth-Lantern in. I can see it happening years down the road… maybe if another “Green Lantern Corps of Earth” type scenario happens? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I also think the Zamarons haven’t reached their full storytelling potential yet. If I ever got the Lantern books I’d be doing a lot with them.

Finally, suffragette!Carol sounds hot. I know what I’ll be picking up next time I hit the comics shops.

Johanna says:

PMFJI, but there have been two female Flashes: Lady Flash was a one-off character in an imaginary story that’s about how Barry should prevent anyone else, especially a woman, from getting his powers, because they wouldn’t be able to handle them and would screw things up, especially if they were a woman.

(I know I’m repeating myself — I’m mimicking the story.)

The second one was when Jesse Quick took on the mantle temporarily. And that one did get some criticism, especially around Mark Waid’s dismissive comments. I can’t remember them accurately at this point, but they gave me the impression he thought no one would really believe she would be Flash permanently and it was ok to just use her as a plot point in what was really Impulse’s story.

Getting back to your main point, when I think of female GL characters, I think of women dead (Alex, Katma) or terribly abused (Arisia, Jade, Carol). I agree that it’s a problem throughout superhero comics — but GL is much too often the poster child. You’re citing single-appearance or background characters, many of whom did have wonderful stories, and that just doesn’t stack up against the majority of the title issues and runs.

Ragnell says:

Soyo — Well, with Hal, Guy, and Kyle it was expediency. They weren’t just qualified, they were close! John’s really the only active one who was handpicked out of everyone in the world (This is why I am obsessed with Donna Parker — because she was too!). They did have a Russian woman for a time, but that was when Kyle tried to reform the Corps and he really didn’t do a good job of it, so I don’t think she counts as a valid choice — honest and fearless and such (even though Johns implied that Kyle’s “random choice” doesn’t preclude “Qualified” or even downright chosen). I suspect this is a form of “othering” too, since most writers are American. They don’t think to write, even in an Alternate Universe/Timeline, another nationality.

I think I’d see the prevalence of female Alternate Lanterns as the writers wanting to see woman in the role, but the editors feeling that “a girl can’t carry the book” moreso than a way of othering, actually. I’ve always taken this as a way of including women rather than futher excluding them. The Tales of the GLC backups and the GLC Quarterlies also had a tendancy to focus on female heroes. Because the main books just weren’t doing it. There are some who do apply to your theory, I think, like the Tangent Lantern was meant to be strange, but for the most part these were the people we were meant to sympathize with, they weren’t ways of making this an even more exotic world.

Johanna — I think Kalinara was trying to answer some of the survey answers that reasoned that the franchise was misogynistic because it had never had an Eartborn female Lantern. It pretty much has everything the Flash has for female characters — love interests, single stories, one-shot rogues (Lady Flash = Adara), and one woman born to her powers who is constantly represented as less skilled, less powerful than her male counterparts so its considered okay to use her as a plot point for the guy’s stories (Jade = Jesse Quick?), but Flash never gets picked on.

Sure, they don’t stack up to the majority of runs, but neither does Flash as you point out. Which is, what I believe was the point of the post. Why is our fandom getting all the crap and losing female readers even when it does bring female characters back?

Johanna says:

Flash got picked on a lot for all of the Luvvvv Force stuff, but it wasn’t specifically feminist criticism, no. But then, the Flash was always (IMO and in the modern era) male-targeted, with many many of the stories being explicitly or implicitly about a man trying to figure out how to live with a father figure, including trying to escape the shadow, and growing into a man.

More to the point, GL became a poster child because there was nothing most fans considered redeemable about it at the key time period. They didn’t like the writer, the artist, the character, the plot decisions, the editor, anything. Flash wasn’t as vocally criticized because Waid had a lot of defenders and had done other, well-remembered work. The same wasn’t true for Marz. That’s why I think “your fandom is getting the crap”, as you put it.

I don’t think “they did it TOOOO” is going to serve much of a valuable purpose, though. If we’re strategizing, then I recommend talking more about these great, underused characters some of you like so much. Although I’ve read all of GL up until about four years ago, I don’t recall many of them, so I’d like to hear more about them, anyway.

I’m not reading the book currently because it’s targeting the long-term fans with more navel-gazing backwards-looking work. That’s another aspect that’s less likely to attract the stereotypical female fan, who doesn’t have the history with the title the stereotypical male does.

Ragnell says:

Johanna — Good point. Easy to get into finger pointing, especially when on a negative trend. I remember when I was a teenager finding a site that was nothing but profiles of wonderful Marvel superheroines, and I wish there was a site like that for Green Lantern. I was thinking of using the page feature here for that, or maybe casting around for a server to it. We’re starting a bit too negative though, I know for me its because I’m reacting with annoyance at the survey. Soyoerika’s already promised a post on Arisia’s potential, and I need to do one for Donna Parker ebfore I get distracted horribly.

And judging by the survey results, I think Marz does get unfairly targetted because of the Hal mess. Most of the major problems brought up about women on this title happened during Englehart’s run.

Digit says:

Just a quick comment- there was also a third Lady Flash, who was formerly Christina, one of those Blue Trinity members. A little off her rocker.

And I must say, my favorite female Green Lantern was Barbara Gordon in that Maguire elseworlds, “Created Equal”. Although I have no clue what ladies would think of -that- miniseries.

Tinderblast says:

While I agree, based on reading around here, that GL gets a worse rap than it deserves, I’m also not entirely sure the Flash vs. GL comparison is a valid one.

Flash, as I’ve understood it, has always been a legacy title. There isn’t just one Flash, anymore, not since the Crisis, but there is a distinct idea of linearity and a partly-familial legacy: Jay Garrick was the first, Barry Allen the second, Wally West the third, and it now looks like Bart Allen is the fourth. And then there are a couple other tangentially-related characters who move in and out alongside – Max Mercury, Jesse Quick, and XS. While a lot of Flash material is, yes, pretty misogynistic (especially the Jesse Quick thing), I don’t think there’s a lot of clamoring to have a female Flash so much as to treat the already existing female speedsters with more respect. If you made a female Flash, the reasoning goes, you’d have to either completely revamp the Flash legacy set-up (which I get the impression people like), and have multiple same-generational Flashes, or you’d have to displace an already existing (male) character, which isn’t really the goal because people *like* the existing Flash(es).

On the other hand, Green Lantern is a corps. There were checks and balances in the original set-up to limit the number of human Lanterns (I’m not entirely clear what the set-up is post-Rebirth, I’m afraid), but if those checks and balances could be finangled to allow for Hal, Guy, John and Kyle to coexist, well, it wouldn’t be that hard to finangle a human, female Lantern in there as well. Because Green Lanterns have jurisdiction over a vast amount of space, you could do so without having to either displace existing characters or completely retool the way the franchise. (Acually, as a big fan of the old school sci-fi trope, “Lone human making his way through the vast reaches of the universe, with crazy hijinks,” I’d love to see a woman in that role. But that’s kind of an aside.) And I do happen to agree with Soyo on the potential “othering” result of having exclusively alien female Lanterns.

That said, something I’m starting to wonder, now – why is Green Lantern perceived by non-Lantern-fans as overwhelmingly misogynistic over the course of its existence (though fixable), but then Batman’s franchise is considered to be overall non-misogynistic with individual parts that really, really need fixing? Is it simply a matter of popularity?

Ragnell – where did Donna Parker show up? That sounds very interesting, and I’d love to read about her.

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