The Green Lanterns' Secret Final Power Is Their Ultimate Hypocrisy

The Green Lantern Corps is a force of space cops that's well-known in DC Comics for their immense willpower, but when close to death, a Green Lantern’s ring betrays them in a way that becomes the ultimate hypocrisy. Getting to die in a final reverie of victory might sound like a nice way to go out, but losing your ability to choose your fate in the process isn’t what Green Lanterns are all about.

Touched on in a story from 1987’s Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #3, the short titled, “Guardian Angel,” by Michael Carlin and Paris Cullins, sees a Green Lantern named Shingo-Wol as he beats back an entire army of alien combatants hellbent on seeing him fall. Taking on these yellow-tinged forces all by his lonesome, this story takes place at a time when Green Lantern rings were weakened by the mere sight of the yellow pigmentation, placing Lanterns in more danger than their current incarnations have to worry over.

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Starting this story off with the narration blatantly telling readers that Shingo-Wol will die before this short concludes, the art depicts a determined and intense Shingo-Wol as he dives into battle headfirst. Fighting against hundreds if not thousands of enemies, the narration explains that Shingo-Wol’s ring “…knows its wearer well, and it sees things Wol would rather not,” setting the stage for a secret final power that might come off as being well-intentioned, but ultimately isn’t exactly in line with the supposed values the Green Lantern Corps hold so dear.

Striking down combatant after combatant, Shingo-Wol believes himself invincible even though he’s fighting against yellow-hued bad guys. And as the story continues, the narration and panel layout hint that not all is well for this Lantern, culminating in a reveal that shows while Shingo-Wol has indeed been fighting for his life, his ring has triggered a fantasy depicting an entirely different scenario — a real scenario — where Shingo-Wol is losing the fight spectacularly.

Stabbed through by the various weapons wielded by the overwhelming onslaught of enemies, the fact that Shingo-Wol’s ring would show him a false reality as he enters his death throes not only betrays what the Green Lantern’s free will is all about, but robs him of the consequences and final choices he could be making as his life comes to an end. Chosen specifically for their abilities to use their immense will to decide on and initiate actions in the field, the Guardians of the Universe supposedly value this quality above all else when it comes to their soldiers, so forcing an inversion of Shingo-Wol’s free will by taking away his will is a head-scratching — and highly hypocritical — way for a Lantern’s ring to work.

Green Lanterns are heroes whose command over their willpower is something to be reckoned with, and when that’s taken from them, their entire purpose is corrupted in a way that comes across as more a hypocritical lie than anything else. The Green Lantern Corps’ will is and always will be their lifeblood, it’s just too bad that once their watch is over, all of that goes right out the window.

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