Death Before Dishonor
The unthinkable occurs when Star Sapphire brutally kills Katma Tui! But while John Stewart seeks revenge on Hal Jordan for not preventing the murder of his love, could another old foe be behind Green Lantern’s woes?
Tom Kalmaku’s Green Lantern Casebook, July, 1986:
No sooner had G.L. returned from a road trip with some of his JLA pals than he was embroiled in a case whose ramifications would exceed what was readily apparent at the time of the adventure. (*) In fact, this casebook entry has been rewritten at a later date to reflect that fact.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: It’s a Guy Thing.]
I had just wished Dr. Hoshi well after the brilliant Japanese woman had completed her work for Ferris Aircraft. She was very eager to return to her children and her homeland. I could not fault her work, but her chilly demeanor never thawed during our time together.
Carl Ferris and Mr. Smith had both been pleased with her work, and for a time neither man had expressed his malice toward Hal Jordan in either a direct or indirect manner.
“Even a shark is happy sometimes,” Hal had quipped.
I had replied, “You seem pretty happy yourself. Did you and Ollie and the rest have a fun trip?”
Hal had shrugged. “Well, yes we did, although it was not without the complications that pop up so often when people in our line of work travel!”
Before he completed the tale, a bright green flash of light appeared in the sky over Ferris as a flying figure soared into view!
“Uh-oh! That’s John Stewart. He’s flying like there is no tomorrow! Something’s wrong!” muttered Hal as his friend drew closer.
I glimpsed the architect’s expression through the green energy aura and frowned. “Your fellow Green Lantern looks like a man who is ready to kill somebody!” I whispered.
Hal nodded, and in seconds he was costumed and flying higher to meet his disturbed friend. As usual, he had concealed his transformation from any onlookers although at this time the field was empty. Hal greeted his friend with concern in his voice. “John, what’s wrong?”
He received a swift right hook that only missed by inches. “Hold it! Why try to take my head off?” he asked as he grappled with the angry Stewart.
Green energy flashed as a huge hand formed and enclosed John Stewart for a minute before he shattered the construct with his own will.
He swung again and again at Hal until his expression changed, and his angry grunts turned into broken gasps. “Why’d she do it? Why?” he said. “We were so happy.”
Hal gently guided him to the ground and said, “John, calm down. Who did what? Is it Katma?”
John nodded slowly. “She’s dead! Katma’s dead. Your girlfriend killed her!”
Hal gasped, “Great Guardians! What are you saying? Poor Katma! You don’t mean that Carol hurt her?”
John’s eyes flashed as pain and anger fought for dominance. “Star Sapphire killed Kat-Lady! I got back too late to stop her. I came here and lashed out at you like a jerk, but that doesn’t change a thing. I’m going to find Carol Ferris and make her pay!” he said.
Hal shook his head and gripped his friend’s arm. “Take me to her. Tell me everything! Show me.”
They flew off, and I was left behind to wonder just what new madness had entered my pal’s life.
At the Green Lantern Citadel, which served as headquarters for the Earth-bound Green Lantern Corps, Hal Jordan and John Stewart viewed a tragic scene. Their compound was silent, since Arisia had gone to the beach, and the other alien Green Lanterns were equally occupied. Still, the silence only made the stark scene of terror and loss more poignant and final.
The reddish-hued alien female called Katma Tui was prone on the floor, and her lifeless body showed no sign of the violence that must have ended her life.
“Carol in her Star Sapphire role broke in here looking for you,” said John. “She found Katma and killed her. I know my lady died defending you! I wanted to blame you at first. Star Sapphire is your enemy, not mine. Still, now all I feel is loss and pain. I wanted to take her to my granny’s place, but now I’ll just have to bring her killer to justice.”
Green Lantern bent over the lovely alien woman’s body and shook his own head in dismay. “She was one of the first G.L.s I met after Abin Sur,” he said. (*) “She was one of the best! I’m so sorry, John! So very sorry!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Once a Green Lantern, Always a Green Lantern,” Green Lantern v2 #30 (July, 1964).]
“Jordan, ‘sorry’ doesn’t bring my woman back!” shouted John. “‘Sorry’ won’t make things better! If you had taken Carol into custody or given her to the Guardians instead of letting her roam free, this wouldn’t have happened! Hal, it’s your fault. Maybe that ring of yours should have remained mine!”
A brilliant explosion of green light filled the area as the two men began a desperate battle. “I’m going to kill you first, Hal!” yelled John. “Then I’ll bring your woman down the way she butchered my sweet Kat!”
Green Lantern struggled to survive as his friend’s angry willpower surged through the ring and threatened even the life of the Corps’ greatest members. The green energy flashed around the battling pair as they fought a desperate struggle that pitted friend against friend without diminishing their mutual grief over their fallen ally.
Unknown to either of them, the struggle was viewed with amusement by a sardonic figure who lounged on a divan on a distant world, while laughing with pleasure. “Excellent! My simple subterfuge has driven Stewart mad,” he said. “He’ll be defeated by Jordan soon enough, but by the time they realize the truth, Katma Tui shall have joined the dreamless dead!” His name was Sinestro, and he stood up and rubbed his hands together as he relished the situation.
“I had hoped that my little trick would lead Stewart to directly attack Carol Ferris in space and thus hurt Jordan where he is most tender,” he said as he gazed out of a small window at the sands of Korugar. “Still, having to fight his good friend while yet another beloved member of the precious Corps dies a needless death should inflict pain as well. Where Hal Jordan is concerned, I shall welcome any amount of grief that strikes him, regardless of its nature!”
“Welcome this, you sadistic creep!” shouted Hal Jordan as he suddenly appeared and belted Sinestro in the jaw.
“You? I assume you left Stewart battered and bewildered and used your keen mind to deduce that Katma Tui was merely under the remote influence of my null rays!” said Sinestro. “She is merely sleeping in a near-lifeless state that is a form of illicit pleasure for members of our race!” said Sinestro.
Green Lantern smiled. “I’d seen and experienced those narcotic-like null rays of yours before. (*) I recognized them by their residual energy and their effect, and used my ring to mentally tip John off to the truth. Your rather sloppy effort to frame Star Sapphire by placing a mental suggestion in John’s mind that she killed Kat, as well as generating a holographic illusion on our security cameras at the Citadel showing the same scenario, broke down on several points. The film and John’s perception of Katma’s body showed a brutal lashing that left her severely lacerated. In truth, what I saw was her undamaged body and nearly lifeless dreaming form.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Secret of Sinestro,” Green Lantern v2 #124 (January, 1980).]
Sinestro created a wide net of yellow energy that snaked between his agile body and Green Lantern’s own wary form. “I felt little need for finesse when dealing with a neophyte like Stewart,” he said with a laugh. “He lacks your experience, and his perceptions were already altered by the intense emotions he felt at seeing his loved one as a corpse!”
Green Lantern frowned. “You wanted to get to me through my friends. Or did you just feel a lingering resentment at the fact that the Guardians gave your old job to Katma Tui?”
Sinestro dodged the dozens of tiny blunt projectiles that Hal Jordan’s ring sent through the holes in his net and created a sword that sliced at Green Lantern’s legs. “I care nothing for those senile old men, nor what they think of me!” he said. “I used Katma Tui merely because her body was receptive to the null rays, even when projected from a distance via my ring!”
Green Lantern created a shield that blocked the sword as he said, “Well, I traced your rays here, and I mean to free Katma by shutting down this dream factory of yours.”
Sinestro rained down a barrage of yellow energy spears as he sneered, “Bah! Too little, too late. While you fought Stewart and bantered with me, her body absorbed enough of the rays to kill her. My ring merely projected them to her. My machines generate them on their own.”
“Ah, but that’s where you are wrong,” said Green Lantern. “You just don’t understand people or emotions. You get the darker ones like hate and fear and lust for power or revenge, but that’s as far as your emotional range extends. Once I tipped John off that Kat was merely sleeping and that we could save her, he and I created that blinding energy flash, and he left behind an energy double to appear to battle me while he freed her.” And Hal’s illusion image flickered out of sight next to the real Hal Jordan.
“I shut off your remote-control null rays while you gloated, you grinning devil!” said John Stewart as he appeared from the rear of the building.
“Teamwork and trust are two concepts you’ll never learn,” said Hal as he and John closed in on the startled alien villain. “That’s why they tossed you out of the Corps. You don’t play nice with others, Sinestro!”
“Well played,” snarled Sinestro. “I truly believed you were too mad with rage and loss to ever accept such a plan in the midst of what appeared to be brutal combat! Well, no matter! I may yet triumph!” His yellow power ring glowed, but instead of creating some attack, the ring apparently sent some mental message to its owner.
Sinestro frowned and lowered his arm slowly. “This day’s combat is done,” he declared. “I have just used my ring to ignite the null ray source beneath this world’s sandy surface. Save the world or bring me in to your feeble concept of justice!”
Hal and John exchanged nods and went to work. “I’ll evacuate the nearest locals,” said John. “You try to stop the blast!” Green Lantern agreed readily, using his ring to create smothering foam, even as it drilled new release holes elsewhere. Soon they had prevented an explosion, saving many natives of the planet.
“He’s long gone,” said John. “He used his ring to escape. Can’t even track him!”
Green Lantern nodded. “He’ll be back, and we’ll get him. At least Katma is coming out of the trance. I wonder what made old prune-face stop fighting so suddenly?”
“Who knows with that mentally defective jerk?” said John.
Elsewhere, Sinestro flew through space and stared out at the dark skies. My ring alerted me that Esmagon is on trial for murder! he thought. (*) I cannot believe the worst of my old mentor. I must find a way to clear his name. Odd, my concern for a friend — perhaps I know more of those emotions than Jordan would ever believe!
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Sinestro: Green Murder.]
It would only be a short time later, after viewing a tape that spoke of possible future events, that Hal Jordan and the others realized that Star Sapphire’s future murder of Katma Tui may have only been a shadow of the false scenario Sinestro had attempted to bring about. (*) The similarities were great enough to give them all pause.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: Time, See What’s Become of Me? Epilogue: The Specter of Parallax.]