Publisher: DC Comics
First Appearance: Green Lantern v2 #30 (July 1964)
Created By: John Broome and Gil Kane
Back in the days before Sinestro became the infamous “renegade Green Lantern,” he was just a regular Green Lantern, keeping order in his sector of the universe. Oh, and ruling his planet with a totalitarian fist. Spunky young Katma Tui was not about to stand for this, and became a leader of the growing rebellion against Sinestro. She even denounced him in front of the Guardians, leading to his ousting from the Corps.
Impressed by her courage, the Guardians designated Katma the new Green Lantern of Sector 1417. She quickly became one of the best – the actual best, not the “secretly a dictator” (Sinestro) or “everyone says she’s great but one time she killed everyone” (Hal) kind of best. She briefly considered giving up the Corps for love of a fellow Korugarian, but Hal convinced her that her heart belonged to her job. (Needless to say, she was pretty pissed at him when he quit Lanterning to be with Carol Ferris.)
Because of Katma’s spotless record, the Guardians selected her to train Hal’s replacement, John Stewart. After some initial (sexy) tension, they fell in love, and were married soon after Katma settled on Earth for good. Their happiness was short-lived, however, when Sinestro destroyed the Central Power Battery, and Katma’s ring with it. While Katma was powerless, she was murdered by Star Sapphire.
Katma was briefly resurrected at the end of Green Lantern: Mosaic as a reward for John’s higher state of enlightenment or whatever. That ended when the Central Power Battery was destroyed yet again, this time by Hal, who even as Parallax seemed determined to cockblock Katma come hell or high water. Since then, Katma’s only been seen as a Black Lantern, and in John’s weepy flashbacks. (And Justice League Unlimited, where she was great.)
So What’s So Great About Her?
Green Lantern, as a franchise, has been accused of being more sexist than DC’s general, run-of-the-mill sexism. Katma Tui is a powerful argument both for and against that theory.
Let’s start with against. Y’all, Katma is fantastic. Her first appearance, in 1964, was all about whether she would quit her job and get married. It’s no less a person than Hal “Darn That Women’s Lib” Jordan who points out to her how much she loves her job, and how good she is at it, and how much poorer she and the universe would both be if she gave up the ring. Sure, the idea that she can’t do both is a little reductive, but Hal couldn’t do both either. And this is the 60s, when even Lois Lane’s raison d’être was to land Superman and quit the Planet. In that context, Katma is revolutionary.
And she is a hell of a Lantern. During her career, she’s counted among the greats – and she followed Sinestro. If you’re wondering if it’s hard to take over a sector from a much-lauded-Lantern-turned-villain, Kyle Rayner would like to have a chat with you. Katma, though, had it worse than Kyle, because thanks to Sinestro, Lanterns are personae non grata on Korugar, and she’s branded a criminal by her own people – who it’s still her responsibility to protect. Take that, Spidey – her whole planet hates her!
She’s also a successful freedom fighter at a very young age – and spy, because she runs that rebellion while a member of Sinestro’s Cub Scouts or whatever. Everything about Katma in Emerald Dawn II is great, in fact – save for the fact that it retcons her seniority over Hal, who initially didn’t even know there were female Lanterns when he met her. Katma retains her seniority over John, though, and that in and of itself is pretty awesome – she’s his teacher, she outranks him, she could kick his ass, and yet he’s never threatened by her in the slightest. He just thinks – correctly – that she’s keen.
But. But. I said she’s an argument for the extreme sexism of the GL franchise, and that’s true too. She’s depowered, unlike her male counterparts, and then she’s murdered. On her kitchen floor. In order to send a message to Hal Jordan – not even her own husband. The involvement of Carol Ferris, the reigning queen of “ugh the GL franchise is gross sometimes,” really escalates this into the sexist stratosphere. But Carol aside, it’s still offing a 25-year-old character in the most stereotypical location possible in order to make some tangentially-related dude feel kinda bad. And once it was done, she was promptly downgraded to “John’s dead wife,” her other triumphs forgotten and overshadowed by his manpain. Ugh. Not to mention she’s like the only dead GL who hasn’t been brought back out of, like, a million.
There is no reason that Katma should still be dead in the DCnU. She’s tough, she’s brilliant, she’s funny, and she takes a kind of petty enjoyment out of Hal’s misery that I just love. I want to have a space beer with her while she tells me all her tales of victory and rags on ol’ Highball. Bring her back, DC! Even Hal said the Green Lantern Corps needs her – and for once, I agree with him.
Green Lantern v2 #30, 46, 47, 55, 56, 96-99, 107, 124, 127, 149, 150, 172, 181, 182, 185, 187-205
Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #1-3
Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #1-3
Green Lantern Corps v1 #206-213, 216-224
Action Comics Weekly #601-602
Green Lantern v3 #21, 24, 36, 41, 49, 55, 150
Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II #1, 4, 6
Green Lantern: Mosaic #3, 12, 15, 17, 18
Green Lantern v4 #17, 21, 28, 36, 38, 43, 45, 47, 49, 52
Green Lantern Corps v2 #36, 39, 40, 60
Blackest Night #1, 2