The Green Lantern Corps is the DC universe’s undisputed police force. Well, until recently. The Darkstars are back and are more powerful than ever. They plan to give the GLC a run for their money. “Darkstars Rising” is a current storyline that began earlier this month in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #44 (July 2018) and was preceded by a Prelude in the previous two issues.
However, this article isn’t about the Darkstars. It is about a supporting character that appears in this splash page from Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #43 (June 2018), beautifully rendered by Rafa Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona, and colored by Tomeu Morey.
It is your basic scene of a large group of Green Lanterns flying into danger, including the first four human GLs – the eponymous Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Kyle Rayner – plus a number of alien members of the Corps.
The diversity of physical form and function of characters is something Green Lantern writers have been able to utilize for decades. At first, the aliens were simply humanoids with different colors of skin. Eventually, the creators realized that they didn’t have any practical barriers to hold them back, so they spread their creative wings with new races across the galaxy.
They introduced fish-head aliens, anthropomorphic chipmunks, aliens with four arms, giants, and space gorillas. It even hit them that they didn’t have to stick with warm-blooded creatures either, so that brought us giant snakes, crystal creatures, conscious plant-beings, zombies, spores that share a hive mind, and even a sentient planet. The humans were the minority because there was such a possibility for variety in space, and it was all available for the Green Lantern Corps.
The one thing all these creatures had in common was that they made a pledge to protect the universe. Just look at that group shot above, with every member representing the Corps proudly with the emerald lantern logo emblazoned on their chest. But wait, what about that one in the upper right? Is that…a bell??
Allow me to introduce you to Rot Lop Fan. While he is obviously a member of the Corps, he isn’t a Green Lantern. He is The F-Sharp Bell.
This interesting character’s path to the Corps began more than three decades ago in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #3 (May 1987) in a fantastic story entitled “In Blackest Night,” written by the great Alan Moore and illustrated by Bill Willingham. The Guardians send Green Lantern Katma Tui into a recently discovered space sector that is completely void of light. Her duty is to appoint a protector from its indigenous people.
Her ring leads her to the worthy Rot Lop Fan and translates his distinct signing language for her so they can communicate. However, since the entire sector is without light, every inhabitant is completely blind. They never had a need for functioning eyes.
With Rot Lop Fan having never seen before, that makes it difficult for Katma to explain things like “green,” and “light,” and “lantern” to him. Check out this wonderful panel when Katma, growing increasingly frustrated by the situation, tries to explain the power ring by charging it using the Green Lantern Oath, which we all know as:
“In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power – Green Lantern’s light!”
Even the ring cannot make a blind being understand colors or concepts like night and day. So Katma improvises and has Rot Lop Fan pretend like he is holding a bell of his favorite note. He settles on F-sharp because it is calming and pleasing to the ear. The ring creates the bell with which Rot Lop Fan can create other solid objects. With a little re-working of the oath and uniform, Katma inducts him into the Corps.
Rot Lop Fan also made another recent appearance in Green Lantern Corps #9 (December 2016). The cool thing about diversifying the GLC is that it gives writers a chance to be clever. In this appearance, his innate ability to hear things others can’t and use sound in a way no one else can helps him single-handedly defeat Starro. He even recites his unique oath to help him concentrate.
“In loudest din, or hush profound,
My ears catch evil’s slightest sound.
Let those who toll out evil’s knell
Beware my power – the F-Sharp Bell!”
In the right situation, what most would perceive as a liability can be turned into a strength.
The F-Sharp Bell has only made a few small appearances since his debut, so it is nice to see current writers like Robert Venditti and Sam Humphries leaning on the long and colorful (sorry, couldn’t resist) history of the Green Lantern Corps to add some high notes (again, I have zero restraint) to their stories.
by Rob Otto