How Star Trek's KHAN Became A Green Lantern Supervillain
When DC's Green Lanterns join the the Star Trek universe, they pass impossible rings to famous Trek characters... and not all of them are heroes.
Most comic book crossover stories follow a fun but predictable formula – one company’s hero gets sent to the alternate reality of a different company’s universe, battles a popular hero, teams up, and returns home. It’s a popular story that’s been retold again and again with Green Lanterns, the X-Men, and the crews of Star Trek.
But what if the hero in question didn’t return home? What if circumstances stranded that hero in a foreign universe, forcing him or her to adapt to a brave new world? How would those experiences change that hero – and how would he or she change the new universe?
Incredibly, the comic book miniseries Star Trek/Green Lantern: Stranger Worlds dares to answer this question. A sequel to the popular Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War, the comic follows a group of Green Lanterns transported to the Kelvin timeline of J.J. Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek franchise. Unable to return home, the Lanterns decide to establish a new life working side by side with Starfleet. As it turns out, adapting to this new world is not easy for either group.
Following the events of The Spectrum War, multiple Lanterns – from Hal Jordan, to Sinestro, to Carol Ferris – find themselves stranded in the Star Trek universe after their (alternate) DC universe was destroyed by Nekron. Some of the Green Lanterns find this change of scenery welcoming – as the United Federation of Planets has brought peace to most parts of the universe, allowing Lanterns like Guy Gardner to kick back and relax.
However, living in this new universe comes with a price – since none of the Lanterns have a power battery, the energy in their rings will soon run out, leaving them powerless. Essentially running on fumes at this point, Hal Jordan continues assisting the crew of the Enterprise whenever he can, while keeping an eye out for Sinestro, who’s managed to take control of the Klingon Empire with the remaining power in his yellow ring.
Both Sinestro and the Green Lanterns make a startling discovery, however, when they encounter robotic Manhunters in this universe – indicating that OA, the planet where the Green Lantern rings and battery were originally forged exists in the Star Trek universe. Even more incredibly, it seems that events are proceeding out of sequence in this timeline – meaning the Guardians of OA have just begun to establish themselves, using robot Manhunters as their champions (who eventually went rogue in the DC Universe).
Realizing the OA Power Battery could mean new life for all the Corps, multiple Lanterns engage in a race to OA. Unfortunately, since OA is at the center of the universe, it proves difficult to reach even for the fastest ships in Starfleet. Undaunted, various Lanterns come up with innovative strategies. Sinestro assembles a suit of armor out of a Manhunter and combines his ring’s power with the orange ring of Larfleeze (along with the stolen power from St. Walker’s blue ring). Meanwhile, Kirk and Hal Jordan manage to get a Manhunter to grant the Enterprise passage through one of their teleportation gates.
While all of this is happening, the Red Lantern Atrocitus seeks out new sources of rage to power his red ring – and discovers the floating prison of Khan Noonien Singh and his Augments (who were all put back into cryo-sleep after Star Trek: Into Darkness.) Although Atrocitus does find great rage in Khan, it proves to be his undoing, as the Augments overpower him and Khan takes the ring to become a new Red Lantern. (Interestingly, in keeping with the rebooted timeline, Khan resembles Benedict Cumberbatch, letting readers see a Red Lantern with a passing resemblance to the MCU’s Doctor Strange).
Khan engages both the Enterprise and multiple Green Lanterns in battle, but – with his ring already at low power – is forced to retreat and lead his Augments first to the Klingon Empire where he uses their ships to take him to OA as well. Ultimately, Sinestro reaches the Power Battery first and absorbs its yellow impurity to fully recharge his ring and then attack the Guardians, in hopes of preventing the Green Lantern Corps from ever existing in the Star Trek universe.
Luckily, the Enterprise and the Green Lanterns arrive to provide support even as Khan and his fleet of Klingon Birds of Prey launch their own attack. Things quickly escalate into a three-way war, prompting the Guardians to activate their new weapon – the first Green Lantern ring made in the Star Trek universe – and send it to empower one who can conquer great fear.
The ring’s choice turns out to be (who else?) Captain James Tiberius Kirk who quickly adapts to his new power and helps turn the tide of the battle by taking on Khan himself. In a scene that will satisfy anyone disappointed with Kirk and Khan’s “battle” in Star Trek: Into Darkness, the new Green Lantern beats up the new Red Lantern – and finally takes him out with one punch without using his new powers.
In the aftermath, Sinestro escapes and Kirk – finding himself the first Green Lantern of his universe – decides to split his duties between Starfleet and the Green Lantern Corps. Together with Hal Jordan and the newly empowered Corps, they decide to take a new look at the galaxy – by first heading to a planet orbiting a red sun…
Star Trek/Green Lantern: Stranger Worlds is a brilliant example of what can happen if comic book creators take the basic concept of a crossover and continue running with it beyond the limits of what has come to be accepted for “normal” comic book crossovers. While Stranger Worlds appears to be the last entry in this particular crossover saga (at least for now), it certainly leaves the door wide open for a third miniseries – or even an ongoing series if the creators decide to really push the envelope.
Aside from the fanboy appeal of seeing Kirk and Khan go at it as Green and Red Lanterns, the comic explores other intriguing possibilities of an ongoing crossover – showing Scotty create Starfleet-replicated power rings that function as personal shields and phasers. Scotty even gets into a relationship with Hal Jordan’s ex-girlfriend Carol Ferris (aka Star Sapphire), who looks surprisingly good in a Starfleet-issued red dress. As the final issues reveal that the Star Trek and Green Lantern DC universes may be more similar than one might expect, one can only hope the series continues in the future.
Next: Marvel Vs. DC: The Amalgam Crossover Heroes Explained