|Red Lantern Corps|
Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns
Art by Shane Davis
|First appearance||Green Lantern (vol. 4) #25 (December 2007)|
|Created by||Geoff Johns (writer)
Ethan Van Sciver (artist)
The Red Lantern Corps is a fictional organization appearing in comics published by DC Comics. They debuted in Green Lantern (vol. 4) #25 (December 2007) and were created by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver. Some of their characteristics were inspired by 28 Days Later, which is one of Van Sciver's favorite zombie films.
The Red Lantern Corps are first mentioned during the Sinestro Corps War storyline. Foreshadowing another major crossover event in the DC Universe, former-Guardian Ganthet reveals the Blackest Night prophecy to the reader, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner. The prophecy describes a War of Light between seven Corps powered by the lights of the emotional spectrum. Part of the prophecy reads: "A force of hate will rise as the Red Lantern is anointed in blood. The bearer's rage unfiltered and unchecked."
According to DC continuity, before recruiting sentient beings to the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians formed a robotic army called the Manhunters to maintain order across the universe. After eons of service, a glitch arose within the Manhunters' programming, leading them to believe that the only way of maintaining order was to completely eradicate the universe of all known life. Sector 666 falls victim to this new philosophy when the Manhunters slaughter all but five of its inhabitants. The five survivors become known as the Five Inversions; a terrorist cell bent on the destruction of the Guardians of the Universe. They are incarcerated on the planet Ysmault, where one member, Atrocitus, is so consumed by his rage that it results in the formation of the first red power battery. He briefly escapes detention but is returned to confinement by (then Green Lantern) Sinestro. Atrocitus uses his power battery to bludgeon Qull and the other Inversions to death; however, he expresses more interest in exacting revenge on Sinestro.
Geoff Johns describes the Red Lantern Corps as likely being "the most violent of the Corps [...] based on violent reaction driven by emotional eruption – rage – instead of any clear-cut plan of war." He describes Atrocitus as "the most coherent and in control of the Red Lanterns," but notes that he'll have trouble controlling the other, more feral members. Sinestro is their primary target.
In Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns, Atrocitus is shown in a flashback as having apparently formed a central power battery by using the blood of the other Inversions in blood magic rituals. The battery stands before a great lake of blood from which he forms his red power ring (crystalized by his anger), as well as other rings and batteries used to form the Red Lantern Corps. Harnessing the red light of rage, he sends his rings out into the universe, however upon accepting the rings, his recruits' hearts are rendered useless. Their blood spoils from within, forcing them to expel the violently flammable and corrosive material from their mouths. Additionally, the Red Lanterns are reduced to an almost animalistic state, with only Atrocitus appearing to be in full control of himself. Once Atrocitus assembles a sufficient force, he leads them on a mission to capture Sinestro (who is being transferred to Korugar for his execution). Coincidentally, the Sinestro Corps have similar plans and they launch an ambush on the Green Lantern escort to rescue their leader. In turn both groups are then ambushed by the Red Lanterns, who are able to take Sinestro captive by slaughtering Green Lanterns and Sinestro Corpsmen alike. Among the many Red Lanterns being seen by readers for the first time is one familiar face: former Green Lantern Laira. After being tried and found guilty for the murder of Amon Sur, she is expelled from the Green Lantern Corps. While being escorted away from Oa, her ship is attacked by a red power ring. It attaches itself to her, and provides her with a vehicle to achieve the vengeance against Sinestro that she seeks.
The introduction of the fully formed Red Lantern Corps continues in the main Green Lantern title, where Atrocitus brings Sinestro to Ysmault and intends to use his blood in another ritual. As Johns promised, Atrocitus strikes at Laira to keep her and the other Red Lanterns from attacking him themselves. With the help of Saint Walker and Brother Warth from the newly formed Blue Lantern Corps, Hal Jordan heads for Ysmault to free Sinestro (due to Ganthet believing he has an important role to play in the approaching Blackest Night conflict). Separating from his companions, Jordan finds Sinestro but is captured by the Red Lantern Corps. Just as Atrocitus orders Laira to kill him, the Sinestro Corps also arrives on Ysmault to rescue their leader. Chaos ensues, but it's temporarily relieved upon the arrival of the Blue Lanterns. The two are able to keep the battling factions from destroying one another for a time, until Sinestro is released from confinement and kills Laira while Jordan attempts to calm her rage. Furious, Jordon's anger attracts Laira's ring and he becomes a member of the Red Lantern Corps himself. With his green power ring now inactive, Jordan attacks the Blue Lanterns and Sinestro. Saint Walker (whose powers are neutralized without the influence of a green ring) manages to get his blue power ring on Jordan's finger, which causes the red ring to explode when combined with the power of his reawakened green ring. Drained of power by Jordan's blue lantern abilities, the Sinestro Corps escapes. Wounded and seemingly beaten for now, Atrocitus and his own Corps also flee. At the conclusion of the issue, Atrocitus is seen using a blood ritual to divine the location of the Blue Lantern Corps homeworld.
In Green Lantern Corps, Vice becomes the first Red Lantern to become a prisoner of the Green Lanterns. He attacks Kilowog and Salaak on the way back from the Red Lantern ambush, but is detained. Fixed with a muzzle to keep from using his corrosive plasma as a means of escape, he is placed in a sciencell on Oa. No longer under the allegiance of the Guardians, Scar removes the muzzle remotely as part of her own plans of bringing the Blackest Night prophecy into realization. Free of his restraints, Vice easily escapes and attacks the sciencell warden: Voz. To the amusement of the Sinestro Corps members imprisoned in their own sciencells, Vice overcomes and brutally assaults Voz. Sinestro's soldiers are horrified to find, however, that Vice is equally likely of attacking their own number. As Vice begins culling the Sinestro Corps detainees, Scar releases their yellow power rings from confinement elsewhere on Oa. As the rings find their respective bearers, rioting ensues that necessitates the immediate attention of the Green Lantern Corps. The riot in the sciencells is eventually contained by the Green Lanterns and Alpha Lanterns. Vice, though given ample opportunity to escape, remains behind to shed more blood, and is subsequently captured and reimprisoned.
During the Blackest Night event, the Guardians of the Universe are shown observing the War of Light unfolding amongst the various Corps of the emotional spectrum; one of the scenes depicting the Lost Lanterns confronting the Red Lantern Corps in order to retrieve Laira's body from Ysmault. As the seven Corps battle one another, a new eighth group powered by death is introduced to the DC Universe: the Black Lantern Corps. Black Hand, a leader of the new Corps, releases black power rings that reanimated the deceased in order to recruit members to their ranks. Just as Atrocitus steps into the fight against the Lost Lanterns, the black rings descend on Ysmault, seeking the bodies of Laira and the four deceased Inversions. 
The passage taken from The Book of the Black at the end of Blackest Night #3 states that rage will be the second emotion to fall in the Black Lantern Corps' crusade against the colored lights. Love is depicted as being the first in Green Lantern (vol. 4) #46, when the Black Lanterns devastate the Star Sapphires' homeworld of Zamaron. On Ysmault, the four Inversions attack Atrocitus and rip out his heart. However, the insatiable wrath contained within his ring prevents him from dying (having functionally replaced his heart), and temporarily destroys the Black Lantern Inversions. Later, Atrocitus is seen temporarily destroying the Black Lanterns in pursuit of Larfleeze, and demands that he surrender the Orange Central Power Battery. After a brief conflict over the Orange Central Power Battery, the two characters are joined by Hal Jordan, Sinestro, Carol Ferris, Indigo-1, Saint Walker, Ganthet, and Sayd. The group needs Larfleeze and Atrocitus to represent their respective colored lights in the emotional spectrum in a group effort to create a collective white light that will destroy the Black Lantern Corps. Atrocitus initially refuses to cooperate, but after deciding that the Black Lanterns are as much a creation of the Guardians as the Manhunter droids responsible for destroying his world, he changes his mind and complies.
During the Black Lantern siege of the Green Central Power Battery, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner release Vice; hoping that the Red Lantern will be able to destroy the Black Lanterns faster than they can regenerate, thereby weakening a giant black construct attempting to destroy the battery. Believing that Vice has escaped (rather than being released), Alpha Lantern Chaselon kills him. Vice's ring later attatches itself to Guy Gardner, who has become full of rage following Kyle Rayner's death. Using both his green and red power rings, Guy slaughters dozens of Black Lanterns. After the planetary Green Lantern Mogo manages to neutralise the Black Lanterns, Guy turns his rage on his fellow Green Lanterns. Mogo uses a special pool of antibodies to remove most of the Red Lantern energies from Guy's body, telling him the only way to completely cleanse him is to bathe in the light of a Blue Lantern.
To date, only a select few of the Red Lanterns have been identified by name in Green Lantern titles. It is notable, however, that many of the members who are known were actually victimized by the Sinestro Corps. As the purpose of the Sinestro Corps is to inspire fear throughout the universe, it is with some irony that their actions have instead planted seeds of rage in their victims; allowing them to become Red Lanterns.
Like other Corps in the DC Universe, Atrocitus created an oath for the Red Lanterns to use when recharging their rings. As the other members of his Corps are rarely seen as being capable of speech, it's unknown how often they use it (if they're able to at all). The Red Lantern Corps oath is recited as follows:
—Atrocitus, Green Lantern (vol. 4) #32 (June 2008)
Red Lanterns use red power rings, fueled by the rage of their users and those around them. Like other power rings, the ring covers the user in a protective aura which shields them from harm and enables flight. The power ring fires blasts of rage energy, which takes the form of corrosive, rage-energized blood. The user can also regurgitate this blood. The blood has the effect of bursting into flames of rage; the flames are so potent that they will burn even in space. The blood can melt through the constructs of other ring wielders, penetrate their personal force fields (sometimes burning them to death in the process), and corrupt their rings, depleting their energy at an accelerated rate. The Red Rings' blood is one of the few known substances that can destroy a Black Lantern's corpse faster than even they can regenerate. Since the Red Ring completely takes over the circulatory processes of the wearer, removing the heart of a Red Lantern only temporarily incapacitates them.
Though most red ring wielders are little more than beasts driven by rage, individuals with strong willpower are able to manipulate the blood to create constructs. The Red Lantern ring is unique in that the user can manipulate its base of power, rage. A Red Lantern can detect the rage in the heart of others and, by connection, the blood that pumps that rage. Those who face a Red Lantern already in a state of anger are even more vulnerable to a red power ring's attack, as their anger only feeds the attack and increases its destructive power.
However, the red power ring has also displayed a number of weaknesses as well. To wear a red power ring is to be overtaken by the red light of rage, reducing the wearer to act on pure instinct, driven to kill and destroy with no reason or forethought. To date, Atrocitus has shown to be the only Red Lantern still in control of his mental faculties. However, Atrocitus intentionally set the rings to select beings who can't control their rage. Also, a red power ring operates by expelling the blood of the wearer, replacing it with red light. As a result, removing a Red Lantern's ring will result in the wearer's death. However, a Blue Lantern's ring can reverse this process, freeing the wearer from the ring. The combined powers of blue and green rings can destroy a red ring.