Unearthing Nekron

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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…

The creature known as Nekron is a being of immense power, the self-proclaimed Lord of the Unliving, which dwells in a realm somewhere between Limbo and Purgatory.  Nekron first became acutely aware of the world of the living when the immortal being known as Krona arrived in his realm (Krona had been reduced to a state of pure energy by the Guardians of the Universe in Green Lantern #40, October 1965).  The paradoxical presence of a being that cannot die in the realm of the unliving created a tear in the fabric of reality, allowing Nekron to see into the DC Universe. 

Whether or not this was Nekron’s first exposure to the greater DC Universe is open to debate (and almost certain to be elaborated on in the pages of the Blackest Night).  The prophecy of “The Blackest Night” had existed for years (Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2, 1986), first divined by The Five Inversions.  Seemingly seeking to prevent the end of all life, the leader of the Inversions, Atrocitus, entered into a reluctant “partnership” with the Green Lantern known as Abin Sur.  Arriving on Earth, the prophesized birthplace of “the Black,” Atrocitus attacked Sur, dealing him a mortal wound (Green Lantern #30, June 2008). 

Fashioning a “cosmic divining rod,” Atrocitus sought out William Hand, the man destined to be the herald of the Blackest Night.  As Atrocitus approached Hand, Green Lantern Sinestro and Green Lantern rookie Hal Jordan both arrived to apprehend the Inversion.  During the ensuing battle, a voice (assumed to be that of Nekron) bid Hand to take the cosmic divining rod (Green Lantern #34, October 2008).  At the prompting of the voice, Hand begins using the cosmic divining rod to kill (Green Lantern #35, November 2008), becoming the enemy of Hal Jordan known as Black Hand (first appearing in Green Lantern #29, June 1964).

Regardless of the timing of Nekron’s influence over Hand, the Lord of the Unliving used Krona’s presence to launch an incursion of the DC Universe.  Unable to pass through the rift personally, Nekron empowered Krona to lead an army of lost souls with a mission to slay the founders of the Green Lantern Corps, the immortal Guardians of the Universe (believing their deaths would widen the rip, allowing Nekron himself to pass through).  During the initial conflict, Krona’s forces destroy the central Green Lantern power battery (Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #1, May 1981), shattering the morale of the Lanterns.  As more Guardians and Lanterns fell, Hal Jordan threw himself into the rift, entering Nekron’s realm (Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #2, June 1981).  There, he rallied the lost souls of deceased Green Lanterns to rise against Nekron, seemingly stopping the monster’s advance on reality.  With the aid of the spirit of Abin Sur, Krona and the undead army were turned back and the rift was sealed (Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #3, July 1981).


Nekron’s next encounter with the DC Universe came thanks to a singer/actress/mage by the name of Rebecca Carstairs (later known as Witchfire of the Power Company).  Substituting a chant found on an ancient scroll for background vocals during one of her concerts, Carstairs inadvertently allowed Nekron to cross over from his realm.  Before he could rise to full power, Wonder Woman arrived on the scene, forcing Nekron back into his own dimension (Power Company: Witchfire #1, March 2002).


Nekron next altered his approach, tapping into the Quantum Field to influence the subconscious mind of Captain Atom.  Preying on Atom’s desire to see his late wife again, Nekron tricked the atomic hero into committing suicide, and crossing over into the land of the dead.  After meeting several aspects of Death, Atom came face-to-face with Nekron, as Death as an inevitability.  Seeking to return to life, Captain Atom drew on the Quantum Field for power, inadvertently empowering his rival.  Altering his tactics, Atom plunged into Nekron’s physical form, absorbing the Lord of the Unliving’s own energy and ending the battle (Captain Atom #41-43, May-July 1990).

Following the destruction of Dr. Fate’s tower, Nekron made another brief foray to Earth.  With the massive release of magical energies at the former site of the tower, several demonic beings attempted to cross through to the earthly plane in hopes of conquering it.  During this incursion, Nekron clashed with Nebiros, a foe of Blue Devil.  Thanks to the intervention of Jared Stevens (Fate) and Alan Scott (Sentinel) Nekron’s passage to Earth was blocked (Fate #12-13, October-November 1995).


Given that Nekron was only able to enter our universe when a tear in reality was created, his next opportunity did not come until Felix Faust began raising the dead as part of a scheme against the JLA.  Targeting each Justice Leaguer individually, Faust sent various “ghosts” or “zombies” that would emotionally rattle his enemies.  Kyle Rayner, then the only remaining Green Lantern, was forced to square off with several deceased members of the Green Lantern Corps, wielding rings capable of harnessing “dead energy.”  With their “resurrection,” Nekron was able to reach through to the DC Universe and take control of these Lanterns.  By destroying their bodies and freeing their souls, Kyle was able to once more close the rift, trapping Nekron yet again (Green Lantern Annual #7, 1998).

Recently, Nekron appears to have been manipulating events from his own universe.  Apparently at Nekron’s bidding, Black Hand began a murderous spree that was stopped by Hal Jordan (Green Lantern #5-6, November-December 2005).  During the Sinestro Corps War (2007-2008), a Guardian of the Universe was critically wounded by the Anti-Monitor, opening her to be susceptible to “the Black” (and enabling her to hear the call of Nekron).  Once the Anti-Monitor was defeated by the Green Lantern Corps and Superman-Prime, his remains landed on Ryut, a dead world in Space Sector 666.  There, Nekron bid the Anti-Monitor to rise, and as the weakened entity struggled, a Black Power Battery formed around him (Green Lantern #25, January 2008). 

With the groundwork for his Black Lantern Corps laid, Nekron turned his attention back to William Hand.  Stating his desire to reclaim all those who had escaped Death’s grasp, Nekron sent Hand on an initiation.  Hand returned to his family home, murdering his brothers and parents, before turning his cosmic divining rod upon himself.  The Lord of the Unliving then sent the wounded Guardian known as Scar to raise William Hand as the first Black Lantern – the embodiment of the Black Lantern Corps, The Black Incarnate and the herald of Nekron (Green Lantern #43, September 2009).


Communing with Nekron, Black Hand recognized the Lord of the Unliving’s hunger, as well as that of his children (the Black Lantern rings through which Nekron is connected to his Corps).  As the Black Lantern rings raise the dead, they are deployed against those who will react with the strongest emotions.  Once the victims are in a heightened emotional state, the Black Lanterns kill them, consuming their hearts.  At that point, the Black Lantern rings intone an increase in power level, building by 0.01% with each death (Blackest Night #1, September 2009).  Given that massive hands were seen craving the flesh of two Green Lanterns who located the Black Lantern Power Battery (Green Lantern #42, July 2009), one can easily imagine who will rise when the Black Lantern power levels reach 100%...

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