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DC Comics and Marvel Comics have several peacekeepers in space, but which Space Force does the best job? For the sake of this op-ed, in order to qualify: officers must have the backing and support of some form of authority, patrols and activities must be on an intergalactic level, and memberships should not be limited to one species or group. This unfortunately means we cannot include the Guardians of the Galaxy because they’re more along the lines of outlaws. We’re going to determine how well these forces operate, both in terms of function and ethics to see who is the most ideal among them.
Let’s go over which forces from the Big Two meet the requirements. Some on the DC side are rather obvious but they do have fair competition. Marvel is also no slouch when it comes to a Space Force.
DC Space Forces
The most obvious contender from DC is the Green Lantern Corps and its other color counterparts. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll be focusing on the Green Corps since its leaders, the Guardians of the Universe are major points of discussion. Also on DC is the Green Lantern’s darker competition, the Dark Stars. They formed in reaction to the Guardians. Finally, we have the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st century for their service to the United Planets.
Marvel Space Forces
From Marvel comes the Nova Corps, a military force on Planet Xandar that accepts outsiders into its ranks when reaching intergalactic levels. Next is the Fraternity of Raptors, who Darkhawk was once part of, a former Shi’ar military force until striking out on their own. Finally, comes the contenders who just barely make the cut: the Space Knights. Please note that this faction will primarily follow the post-ROM era for licensing reasons.
Functions and Ethics
It stands to reason that all of these space forces have codes they have to follow in order to avoid inconvenience. But how functional are they?
While the Green Lanterns are some of the most influential of these forces, their leaders and policies are very questionable. The Guardians are responsible for a number of war crimes and have often not been held responsible. Take, for example, when they tried to wipe out the universe’s magic users, which a recent comic brings back to light. Also, instead of trying to manage the Lantern’s mental health like when Hal Jordan was having a nervous breakdown, they use black-ops and special forces to hunt down people who are threatening their reputation. Only recently are the Guardians making progress after years of corruption.
Not that any of that progress will erase the forces made in reaction to the Guardians, like the Darkstars, made from Guardian offshoots called the Controllers. Frankly it’s not surprising that the Darkstars turn against the Controllers because unlike the Guardians they’re not subtle about their corruption. But here’s the problem, the Controllers instilled in the Darkstars a sense of dogmatic justice. Think of it like legalized lynching where the smallest of infringements means a death sentence. So who would hold these people responsible if their makers couldn’t?
Between the Nova Corps and the Fraternity of Raptors, being military units, their actions prove to be questionable. With the Nova Corps more or less being led by a supercomputer, their operations often lack context. For example: after a peace treaty, they were left defenseless to an attack by the Kree. Next, after recruiting an extremist as a field leader, a number of casualties ensued. The Novas had to be rebuilt three times from all of this chaos, each weaker than the last.
The Fraternity meanwhile are zealots who recruit anyone to push their agenda for the Shi’ar Empire. They were so extreme, they were willing to kill or maim anyone who doesn’t suit their vision, like former empress Lilandra. Even when the Shi’ar disown them, their wishes to be an intergalactic paramilitary force remain present. More frightening is their effort to brainwash others into their cause, like with Robbie Rider. Military ops probably shouldn’t be the primary focus of a comic book space force.
The Ideal Space Force
Now it’s time for arguably the best examples of a Space Force from either side of the Big Two. First, Marvel’s surprising representative, the Space Knights. After the Prime Director (legally safe name of ROM) cleans up Galador of its mechanization philosophies, these space traveling cyborgs put more effort into rebuilding. This doesn’t just mean their planet but other civilizations affected by crises like the Annihilation Wave. They are also not opposed to working with others for better outcomes, as was the case of The Thanos Imperative through the Annihilators. The only problem is, their activities are still mostly limited to Galador.
Then there’s DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes who, unlike the other space forces, are more akin to volunteers than government backed organizations. Following in the footsteps of superheroes from millennia ago, like Superman, Legionnaires are people more than willing to help others out of ethical duty and be held accountable for their screwups. In The Great Darkness Saga, Chameleon Boy is dealing with an incident he caused by order from the United Planets. As such, the Legion is probably comic’s ideal space force.
What Space Force Can We Learn From?
An ideal space force is meant to exemplify the best, brightest, most cooperative, and still be accountable for misconduct. With the Legion holding all of the best qualities, the other groups have something to aspire towards. A few of their recent comics display how. Within Geoffrey Thorne’s Green Lantern, the Guardians are amending their laws and being held accountable for past sins. Speaking of guardians… Al Ewing’s Guardians of the Galaxy run seems to have the titular group qualifying as a legitimate volunteer space force.
What do you all think? Is the Legion of Superheroes the best model to follow? Are some of the other space forces like the Space Knights too limited in depiction to get a proper grade? Is there room for improvement in any of the other forces? Leave your thoughts in the comments.