Unearthing Dr. Light

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As the Blackest Night spreads across the DC Universe, Broken Frontier unearths the histories of several of the players in the event.

SPOILER WARNING: Read no further if you’ve not had the chance to dig into your most recent Blackest Night titles…

A brilliant physicist, Dr. Arthur Light was introduced in Justice League of America #12 (June 1962) – the second criminal at DC Comics to use the name (the original, unrelated character having appeared a handful of times in the 1940s, beginning with All-American Comics #82).  Years later (Secret Origins #37, February 1989), another Dr. Light was retroactively added to continuity, this one being an associate of Arthur who developed a costume that enabled the wearer to control light.  In this revised origin, Arthur Light inadvertently caused the death of his colleague (who had begun a career in super-heroics) and co-opted the costume for himself.  Embracing a life of crime, the new Dr. Light first set his sights on crushing the Justice League of America (Justice League of America #12, June 1962). 

Following a narrow defeat at the hands of the League, Light clashed with individual League members such as The Atom (The Atom #8, August/September 1963), Green Lantern (Green Lantern #33, December 1964) and The Flash (The Flash #171, June 1967).  Following another handful of battles with League members, Dr. Light nearly succeeded in ending the League forever, by uncovering their secret identities and using a device to cause them to believe they were different people (Justice League of America #122, September 1975).  In the end, the League prevailed, and Light's scheme actually drew them closer together (after turning Light’s device back on him, causing the villain to forget their secret identities, the heroes decided to voluntarily share their other identities within the League).  Under the shadow of these defeats, Dr. Light shifted targets.  Executing an attack that resembled his first against the Justice League, Light struck out against the junior partners of the League, the Teen Titans (Teen Titans #44, November 1976).  

Not long after, Light resumed his direct attacks on the League, actually gaining access to their satellite headquarters at one point (Justice League of America #149, December 1977).  Years later, it was learned during his incursion onto the satellite, Dr. Light encountered Sue Dibny, the wife of League member, the Elongated Man (Identity Crisis #2, September 2004).  Light raped Dibny, who was saved from further harm by the arrival of several League members.  With Dibny moved to safety, a restrained Light taunted the League, threatening their family members and using his powers to create holograms of the rape.  With some trepidation, the League enacted a morally ambiguous plan - utilizing magic, they erased the memory of the attack from Light’s mind, as well attempted to “clean up” his brain (as it turned out, this was not the first crime of a sexual nature the criminal committed).  Despite their intentions, the “reprogramming” did not work exactly as planned, as Light was effectively lobotomized, his intellect stunted. 


Light would later resurface as a member of the Fearsome Five, a group of villains aligned against the Teen Titans (The New Teen Titans #3, January 1981).  The group clashed with the Titans several times, but following a disastrous outing against both the Titans and the Outsiders, (New Teen Titans #37 & Batman and the Outsiders #5, December 1983), Light was booted from the group.  Setting his goals lower, Light next attempted to rob a bank, but was soundly trounced by a foe he never even saw (actually Kid Flash, Tales of the Teen Titans #49, December 1984).  Light finally reached the lowest point in his career when he was beaten by the sons of Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys – 3, non-powered pre-teen children (The Flash #12, May 1988).

During his next stay in prison, Light elected to join Suicide Squad – a government sponsored team of expendable agents, who would risk their lives in exchange for being pardoned of their crimes (Suicide Squad #19, November 1988).  On one mission, Light battled the patriotically themed superhumans, Force of July.  Pursued by the youngest member of the team (the child known as Sparkler), Light’s former personality briefly reasserted itself.  Faced with the memories of his past defeats by children, Light lashed out, killing Sparkler instantly (Suicide Squad #27, May 1989).  A short while later, Light himself was killed during an off-world mission (Suicide Squad #36, December 1989).  Eventually, Light was resurrected (Suicide Squad #52, April 1991) and went on to devil Green Lanterns Hal Jordan (Green Lantern 36, February 1993) and Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern #80, November 1996).

During the investigation into the murder of Sue Dibny, several of the heroes suspected Dr. Light due to his past history with her.  During their attempt to apprehend him, the “mindwipe” performed by the Justice League was undone.  The pathetic, almost comedic Dr. Light disappeared, replaced by his former, vicious self (Identity Crisis #1-7, 2004-2005).  Desperate to reclaim his reputation, Light issued a public challenge to the Teen Titans.  With his mind once again lucid, Light single-handedly bested every member of the Titans roster – past and present, only to be defeated by a desperate 11th hour gamble.  As he was being apprehended, Light was spirited away by Deathstroke and Ravager, in order that he could be offered a place in Lex Luthor’s Secret Society of Super-Villains (Teen Titans #20-23, March-June 2005). 


Following Infinite Crisis (2005-2006) where Light participated in the Society’s attack on Metropolis, the villain battled Green Arrow and his successor, a heroine who adopted the name “Dr. Light” (Green Arrow #54-59, November 2005-April 2006).  Light continued his crime spree, eventually finding his way into the membership of a new Secret Society.  Led by the enigmatic Libra, Light was one of the criminals directly implicated with the murder of the Martian Manhunter (Final Crisis #1, July 2008).  As the world began to fall under the power of evil, Light seemed on top of the world.  While enacting a mock superhero orgy rape fantasy, Light was interrupted by the spirit of God’s vengeance, the Spectre.  Finally paying for his many crimes, the Spectre turned Light into a candle, burning him to death (Final Crisis: Revelations #1, October 2008).


Light’s remains were sealed away beneath the Justice League’s Hall of Justice, until recently, when a Black Lantern ring arrived, reanimating Light to serve Nekron (Blackest Night #3, September 2009).

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