Life is not fair. I mean, this should go without saying since “fairness” is a subjective concept. Still, people yearn for the idea of life being fair.
Right now I am struggling with how inequitable circumstances arise at the most frustrating of times. For various personal reasons, I decided to take a “mental health” trip to my homeland of New Jersey this week. As a resident of Philadelphia, I am not far from my home, but since I live in the northern area of the ol’ Garden State, it still is a decent drive.
Upon arriving home, and basking in the nourishing glow of friends and family, I received news that my favorite neighborhood bar in Philly is closing. Not in the future, either, but this week. This meant that I would not be there to experience the final days of a spot that completely transformed my life in the Philthiest of cities. You can read more about the love I have for this bar in an article I wrote for Spirit News, here.
Why not indulge in this feeling with me as we explore one of the most unfair moments in comic book history?
Death does not mean much for comic book characters. All one has to do is look at Superman, Batman, and Wolverine to know that death comes and goes. Hell, Jean Grey has died and been resurrected so often that it pretty much is just a personality trait of hers by now.
Unfortunately, some deaths are a bit more permanent. Especially, it seems, if you are a Green Lantern.
Being a Green Lantern fan is like being a Game of Thrones fan. You really are never quite sure when one of your favorites is going to die. Sometimes you see it coming and other times… well…. all we have to do is look at the lovely Katma Tui to get a better understanding.
Katma Tui got dealt a shitty hand. Her homeworld, Korugar, was known for producing the hero-turned-despot-turned-villain Sinestro. Once Sinestro was stripped of his ring and his duties, Katma was selected to become the Green Lantern of her sector. But, because the people of Korugar were as simple and frustrating as those here on Earth, they called Katma a traitor for aligning with the same organization that Sinestro did. Classic. Katma even considered leaving the Corps quite early because she found love… but Hal Jordan told her love wasn’t worth leaving the GLC for… that douche.
Stern and caring, Katma was one of the more capable GLs introduced over the years. Though all Green Lanterns must have unparalleled willpower to become the wielder of their sector’s ring, a lot of them wind up dying quick. I mean, the universe is rough. Katma even got a pretty amazing story of her own, written by the infamous Alan Moore, where she was faced with the problem of recruiting a Green Lantern from a world that did not have a concept of light or sight. The ideas of both “Green” and “Lantern” were pretty meaningless there.
Like many female characters, Katma’s biggest obstacle in regards to character would come in the form of a man. Two men, technically. Hal Jordan decided to pull an LOL on Katma and disregarded his own advice, leaving the GLC for his ex-girlfriend Carol Ferris. John Stewart, the substitute Green Lantern of Earth not the former Daily Show host, was quite uncertain about taking over the GL mantle from Hal Jordan full-time so Katma came on along to Earth to help him out. During this training period they fell in love and eventually were married (after, of course, John Stewart was able to explain Earth customs.)
The duo was adorable, fighting side by side on Earth when the Green Lantern Corps was allowed to break with tradition and patrol wherever they pleased. They even got matching costumes to show how unified they were. Couple stuff sure is fun.
Unfortunately, happy endings are not really in store for John Stewart. Dude is a complex and rich character who has been victim to some serious tragedy. I mean, he had the deaths of an entire planet on his head at one point.
After a bit of fun, the Green Lantern Corps realized that they were in trouble. Sinestro, who everyone hated still, was put on trial and sentenced to death by his former comrades. So, making the only logical move, the GLC executed Sinestro… and then things went sour for them. Sinestro’s spirit (or something) infiltrated the main power battery of the Green Lantern Corps and corrupted it. Almost all of the known Green Lanterns lost their power rings, including Katma Tui. Powerless, she settled down with John and began her life of domesticity.
Of course that didn’t last long. With the cancellation of the Green Lantern Corps title and a switch in focus to Hal Jordan in the DCU, there was a decision made to bring back his former flame Carol Ferris. Thing about Carol Ferris is that she is also the supervillain known as Star Sapphire. When in the form of Sapphire, Ferris is a complete and utter lunatic.
Wanting revenge on Jordan, Star Sapphire hunted him down to his home, only to find Katma Tui in the kitchen. Without a ring, Katma was powerless to do anything and Star Sapphire chopped her up into tiny little bits. Cold. Blooded. Murder.
And, as you can imagine, John Stewart did not take it well. Katma’s death would lead to plenty of storylines for Mr. Stewart but for Ms. Tui, the tale was over.
This was, and still is, one of the dumbest deaths in comic book history. Not only was Katma Tui a longstanding character with lots of development and interesting traits, she was also the first (shown) female Green Lantern and an entirely capable one at that.
She did not get to go out in any kind of glorified way. She was chopped up, without even having a chance to fight back, by the bonkers ex-girlfriend of one of her closest friends. Her death was used to show how unstable Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire had become, as well as add to the “man pain” of John Stewart AND Hal Jordan (because the bros were not happy with each other after this murder, obvi).
While characters come back all the time in comics, Katma has stayed quite dead. When John had his own title in the 90’s, the philosophical and wonderful Green Lantern: Mosaic, he sort of developed all these god-like powers. One thing he (seemingly) did was resurrect Katma. It was weird, and never fully explained, but she hung around as a ghost or something for a bit before the title was cancelled and the whole thing was forgotten about.
So, life is unfair. Sometimes your favorite bar closes suddenly. Sometimes your alien wife is hacked to pieces by the ex-girlfriend of your best friend who is possessed by a space gem that makes her bonkers for boys. That’s the way it goes.
I will miss my local bar, the same way I miss Katma. But, life is what it is, and we have to accept that from time to time.
Until next time, folks!