Zamaron — A Green Lantern Femme-Site

Well, I think it’s safe to say that the current status of the Green Lantern franchise with regards to female characters/feminism is taking a bit of an upswing!

(Spoilers for GL 12 and GL:C 3 follow)

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It’s a common strategy, when discussing women in Green Lantern, to mention that Kyle Rayner has had three girlfriends die — Alex DeWitt, Donna Troy, and Jenny Hayden (Jade). This argument is intended to capture all the misogyny in superhero comics in a single blow. It covers not just a civilian love interest thrown away for the development of a male character, but two fully powered and fully developed heroic female characters, both with a longer history than the featured male character. The number is important, it adds overkill. With three dead girlfriends, you can almost see the writer smirking as he finished the third one’s death-story. I suspect nearly everyone on the blogosphere has made a joke at Kyle’s expense about it, and I’ve heard more than one reader express disgust with Kyle’s character over this.

The argument is very sound, effective, and difficult to rebuke.

It’s also one-third incorrect.

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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.

I’d been worried about Green Lantern since Rebirth. In Rebirth and Recharge we saw the return of every major male character in the franchise. And we saw the return of Brik, the leaving of Carol, and the creation of Soranik. The numbers were off. But I kept reading. I like the male characters, and Geoff Johns dropped teases that more old female characters would return, and while Patrick Gleason was skimpy on how many background women he drew, Ivan Reis was very generous in throwing in obviously female Lanterns in the background. I kept reading, and there was a payoff in Green Lantern #12. I’d expected only the return of Boodika and Laira. I got a grand surprise and the promise of more. It was fun and exciting and I joined all the fans at Comic-Bloc at heaping praise on Geoff. And I saw, among other things in the thread, that I hadn’t been the only female fan annoyed by the pattern at this point.

Meanwhile, everytime I was at, I glanced around for a thread on Green Lantern #12. I was tempted to create one, but I figured I’d see if there were any other Fanterns besides me and Soyoerika (who hadn’t seen the issue yet when I tried to gush over chat) hanging around. A while passed, and there wasn’t one.

In meantime, I heard another female Fantern express that it was getting hard to be a GL fan and a woman because all the female lanterns keep dying in such horrible ways.

So, I started to post a thread about the issue on the boards. And it slowly turned into a list of questions, designed to feel out the community for how Fantern-Friendly it was, and see if anyone else had seen the last issue as a step in the right direction. Halfway through, I decided to copy it and post it at Comic-Bloc Green Lantern Forum. It was up for maybe half a night when I realized I needed a “control” group and posted it at You’ll All Be Sorry (Gail Simone’s board).

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Found an article on promoting Feminism in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres. It quotes a speech of Nancy Moore’s that lists the kind of stories and books she’d define loosely as feminist:

1. SF and fantasy adventure stories in which women are the lead characters having the adventures.
2. Complex works that tell the stories of women acting in the world in a much broader scope than the roles allowed them in the past.
3. Works by and about men that address issues of gender–such as that by recent Tiptree winners. John Kessel’s “Stories for Men” is one example.
4. Sophisticated science fiction that takes on the possibilities opening up from biology–and artificial intelligence as well–and makes us re-think everything we’ve ever thought we understood about gender.

Number 2 would almost certainly apply, at least in the 60s, given that at its Silver Age concept it doesn’t single out either gender, and after Katma Tui we learn that female Lanterns accepted and normal. Not to mention Carol, not only being able to pilot an aircraft (this is what she was doing when she got drafted as Star Sapphire) but running the company and being her boyfriend’s boss. Nowadays, though, it could be argued that female roles shifted and the traditional role of women in comics opened up to not only allow a wider range of occupations for female characters, but also allow heroic women as love interests. Then, as the female supporting cast in Green Lantern shrunk to only those who were love interests (Jade) it left the feminist category.

Which is pretty tragic when you think on it.

et cetera