Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Power to Make the Dead Live Again

It would be tempting, wouldn't it?
All it would take, really, is the will. Oh, certainly every last vestige of willpower that could be summoned.
But it would be tempting.
Think of it.
The power to resurrect that which no longer exists...or create that which only exists in the mind's eye. All of it perfect in every detail.
The power to make the dead live again...
...To redress any wrong...
...To rewrite history with a happy ending.
The power to be God.
 - Green Lantern #48
by Ron Marz and Bill Willingham

Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Sector 2814, is going through a rough time. Coast City, his hometown, has been completely destroyed, along with everyone Hal knew and loved. So here he is, a man with a marvelous ring that can create through sheer willpower anything he imagines, and by a massive feat he is able, at least temporarily, to recreate the city and all his lost loved ones.

It would be tempting, wouldn't it?

The mantra of Spider-Man is "With great power comes great responsibility." But it must be so tempting to use great power irresponsibly, especially if that power borders on unlimited power. How would we not fear someone with that amount of power? If you knew a man, and one day realized he had the power of God, wouldn't it be natural to fear him?

And who holds these individuals with great power responsible? We may trust that a benevolent superhero will always perform only good, selfless deeds, but what happens when they don't? What are we to do? This is a question asked more and more often in superhero graphic literature. It is a main theme in Irredeemable, the "Tower of Babel" arc in JLA, and, of course, Watchmen. "Who watches the watchmen?"

This question of power and accountability is also explored theologically in graphic literature. Who holds God accountable for his actions (or inaction)? In Will Eisner's A Contract with God, the main character faithfully fulfills his covenant with God, yet it seems God has failed to uphold his end of such an agreement. In Preacher, God's power has gone unchecked for far too long and someone must finally hold him accountable. God ought to face consequences just like everyone else.

From a Christian viewpoint, questioning the actions of God and how to hold him accountable is a rather arrogant and likely heretical position. In the world of Wednesday Theology, however, it is a fairly common question being asked. Like most theological questions posed in popular culture, this question doesn't have an easy answer. We would be wise to ponder it.

On another note, notice the obvious Christian imagery in the panel above. Hal Jordan hovers in the air in a decidedly Christ-like pose while the green streaks from his power ring form a cross behind him.

Fun Fact: The artist of this issue of Green Lantern, Bill Willingham, would later go on to create and write the popular Vertigo title, Fables. Well, at least I found that interesting.

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