This article contains spoilers for “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps” #10, on sale now.
While White Lantern Kyle Rayner fights to restore Hal Jordan to the land of the living, the Green Lantern Corps led by John Stewart and a contingent of rebel Yellow Lanterns under the command of Sinestro’s daughter Soranik Natu struggle to escape a planet miniaturized and imprisoned within Brainiac 2.0’s bottled collection of worlds. But after luring the Corps to Tomar-Tu’s home planet of Xudar with a Starro invasion, Brainiac himself reports to still another villain he reveres as the “Grand Collector.” In “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps” #10 by Robert Venditti and Ed Benes, the man behind the curtain is revealed as Larfleeze, also known as Agent Orange, and the sole Orange Lantern.
Of course, it makes sense that the master of avarice would want to possess what is currently the entirety of the Green Lantern Corps, but it’s unusual that he would endure a team-up to achieve his ends — and with two villains not themselves known for socializing, either.
Starro the Herald
Starro the Conquerer, the starfish-like villain who first brought the Justice League together waaaay back in “Brave and the Bold” #28, is typically a solo act. Or, rather, he operates via a horde of parasitic mini-Starros that cling to the faces of a planet’s indigenous life forms, joining them to the Starro hive-mind and creating an army from innocent citizens, complicating any counter-attack.
But in “HJ&GLC” #8, the first issue of the “Bottled Light” story arc, Starro and his face-huggers fled after drawing the Lanterns to Xudar — despite having the advantage over John, Soranik, Guy Gardner and company. It’s only when the Green and Yellow Lanterns give chase that they realize the entire planet is surrounded by some impenetrable force, which they soon deduce is one of Brainiac’s bottles.
At this point, it is not clear why Starro would choose to enter this alliance — what does he gain?
Brainiac the Hobbyist
For Brainiac, the appeal is clear: he’s found a kindred spirit in Larfleeze. Like Starro, Brainiac is also a classic villain, known primarily for menacing Superman, flying around in a spaceship shaped like a skull, and shrinking down cities or entire planets into bottles for his collection. In fact, the “Convergence” event revealed that Brainiac had collected samples from many of DC’s past and alternate timelines. Still, similar interests aside, Brainiac is a world-beater not known for making friends. His most famous team-up is the (non-canonical) “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” two-parter by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, in which Brainiac’s disembodied head latched on to Lex Luthor’s face, killing Luthor and mining his genius-level intellect.
A bit like Starro?
Larfleeze the… Mastermind?
Larfleeze, of course, is defined by covetousness. Though his true origins are mysterious and shifting, he is known to have murdered all rivals for the lone orange ring, enslaving their souls to his will as energy constructs. In short: not the sort of person you want on your team, much less calling the shots.
Captions describe Larfleeze as “a passenger aboard a ship of collection” who is on “a trip home.” Yet Brainiac appears subservient to him, hoping to please the Grand Collector with the latest additions. Did Larfleeze draw together this triumvirate of villains, or is he merely taking advantage of them? Is there someone higher up, pulling the strings?
Is this the beginning of a cosmic Society of Super Villains or Injustice League?
The caption narration has a perspective — it further describes Larfleeze as a being whose “presence reeks of feverish rot” — but it’s unclear whose perspective. The boxes are a yellowish-orange, suggesting an affinity with the ringbearer, but the voice is clearly not his. It’s possible that the true scope of the plot against the Green Lantern Corps remains to be revealed.
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