In a 2009 San Diego Comic-Con panel on the DC mini series Blackest Night, longtime Green Lantern scribe Geoff Johns (and writer of Blackest Night) discussed his plans for that mini-series, including his plans for the various Corps he had created. Johns had already expanded the Green Lantern mythos by introducing the ‘emotional spectrum‘ (an energy field fueled by the emotions of all sentient beings). He explored this emotional spectrum by creating various multi-colored (and powered) Corps. The new Lantern Corps harnessed the power of the Red Light of Rage (the Red Lantern Corps), the Orange Light of Avarice (Larfleeze and Agent Orange), the Blue Light of Hope (the Blue Lantern Corps), and the Indigo Light of Compassion (the Indigo Tribe). These were in addition to the already existing Green Light of Will (the Green Lantern Corps), the Yellow Light of Fear (the Sinestro Corps), and the Violet Aura of Love (the Star Sapphires).
Like the Red Light, the placement of the Violet Light at the far end of the Emotional Spectrum means it can have a particularly overwhelming influence on the minds of those who wield it. The power of the Violet Light was discovered by the Zamarons, who found the remains of two embracing lovers fossilized in violet crystal. Their first attempt to harness this power proved its overwhelming effects, as the original Star Sapphires possessed a rabid obsession in their pursuit of love. The Zamarons have since refined their methods for channeling the Violet Light with their new Star Sapphire Corps through new Star Sapphire Rings and Batteries fueled from a massive super battery on Zamaron.
The title of this post refers to a comment made by Geoff Johns in that Comic-Con panel: “Male Star Saphires [sic]? “Anyone can join,” Johns said, “but most men are not worthy,”. To be a Star Sapphire, one must be chosen by a violet ring. Violet rings search out a host who has great love in their heart. So in Johns’ eyes, most men in the DCU don’t have great love in their heart, but women do. This statement strikes me as yet another layer of sexism on top of the Star Sapphires, who have almost always (until recently) been female. The notion that women are driven by their nature to find love (and a husband) is one rooted in archaic gender roles. “Women as nurturing, loving, supporters, driven by emotion.” “Men as strong-willed, courageous, driven by logic.” To have women being the ones driven by love…overwhelmed by love…rabidly obsessed by love…it all plays into stereotypical roles of women in society and how women are ruled by their hearts (and men by their minds or sexuality). I don’t think that Johns set out to define the Star Sapphires according to regressive ideas of femininity (and he didn’t create the Star Sapphire character, who had existed in various forms for over half a century before Johns created the Star Sapphire Corps). Given that he is a product of a society permeated with stereotypes of women and men, I think his ideas were informed by our culture. Nonetheless, one of the end results of his quest to infuse new ideas into the Green Lantern mythos was, paradoxically, a Corps that was a collection of cliched, stereotypical, sexist ideas about women. He could have offset this by balancing the other Corps with more women (with the exception of the Orange Lanterns, while there are women in all the other multi-colored Corps, they are overwhelmingly male) and/or including men in the Star Sapphires. I tend to think doing both would have worked best, as it would have shown that love is not a feminine emotion and that other emotions are not the near exclusive domain of men. Johns’ comment about most men being unworthy of being a Star Sapphire is ridiculous. Here in the real world, both women and men are often driven (even overwhelmed at times) by love. Women and men have great love in their hearts. It’s an insult to men to say that most of them lack the capacity to have great love in their hearts. Men are not loveless meatsacks filled with logic and driven by their dicks. They have the capacity to experience great love. You wouldn’t know this by looking at the Star Sapphires though (and where are the droves of Men’s Rights Advocates to complain about this legitimate slight against men?):
As noted above, the all-female Star Sapphire Corps is about to gain one more member, a man. Specifically, John Stewart, one of the five Green Lanterns of Earth.
Geoff Johns is no longer steering the Green Lantern titles, so I guess someone had the idea to bring John Stewart into the Star Sapphires. I haven’t been following the books at all (yes, I continue to boycott the new 52 because of the reboot), so I don’t know what’s been going on with John, but if this makes sense in-story, then that’s all that matters. The addition of John Stewart to the Sapphire Corps highlights another problematic element of the wielders of the violet light. Take a look at John Stewart’s costume above. Now scroll up a bit and look at the costumes on the female Star Sapphires. Notice anything? Yup. The women’s costumes show a lot of skin. They’re sexualized. They’re meant to be sexy looking women, bc lots of skin=sexy, right (although things are gradually changing, comics is still largely a male dominated industry, so images of so-called ‘sexy’ women are filtered through the lens of what men think is sexy on a woman; which is different than a woman’s idea of looking sexy. I’d be curious to know what type of sexy costume a female artist would come up with)? Why then, is John not showing a lot of skin? Is he not meant to be sexy? Are only female SS Corps members supposed to be sexualized? Why is that? Oh yeah, bc comics are still marketed largely to men, so women in comics get to be sexualized, while men don’t. Male characters get to be buff, manly, male power fantasies while female characters get to be objects of the male gaze. If John Stewart were truly to become a member of the Star Sapphire Corps, he ought to receive a costume that is meant to be as titillating as the female Sapphires*. He ought to receive a costume similar to this (NSFW). But that would only happen if all things were equal between men and women in comics. Which they aren’t (reason #3489 in ‘Why Feminism is still necessary’).
*I realize that John is still wearing his Green Lantern ring, so it’s possible the conflicting rings are an in-story reason why his attire isn’t as revealing as the other Star Sapphires. Still. Double standard. Plus, this:
Chang: There was actually a handful of different designs that I had submitted, some that were more based on his Green Lantern outfit but had some pink accents to it — even a hybrid of both — because he still had the Green Lantern ring on at the same time. There was even one where he was almost shirtless, because the Star Sapphires don’t have a lot of clothing on them. So I thought maybe John would be pseudo-shirtless and half-naked. But at the end we ended up going with this. It’s a little more. A lot of the lines are pretty jagged. I think that has something to do with the recent turmoil that he’d experienced. But the green energy is still very fluid on his exterior. So I think there’s a nice counterbalance, ultimately, with the final design that is uniform but exudes energy.
Also, one day, I saw Van without his shirt on. That was the influence for the initial John design. [Laughs] Luckily, the editors said, “Maybe we should stick with something a little bit more conservative.”