CHARACTER CLOSE-UP : Black Hand
Black Hand (real name William Hand) is a DC Comics supervillain and a recurring foe to Green Lantern. He first appeared in Green Lantern (vol. 2) #29 (June 1964) and was created by John Broome and Gil Kane. The character's name is a tribute to DC writer and Batman co-creator Bill Finger, on whom the character was based.
William Hand is born an inventive genius; developing a penchant for speaking in extremely old clichés later in life. William's family, the Hands, are renowned in Coastville (a suburb of Coast City, California); however, he grows to dislike them early in life. He feels the best way to distance himself from them, especially his three brothers (David, Peter and Joe), is to start a life of crime. After extensive study, he becomes an expert criminal and evades police at every turn. Eventually, his criminal behavior escalates into becoming a costumed supervillain; dubbing himself "Black Hand" (an inside joke he conceives that refers to his status as the "black sheep" of the Hand family).
In preparation for an inevitable battle with the Coast City-based Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Hand makes his most noteworthy invention. The device he creates is able to absorb the residue of a Green Lantern power ring's energy from any object that it touches. Once fueled by this energy, his device can then be used much the same way as a Green Lantern ring. For a while, he retires from a life of crime and attempts to run an adult theatre. This new lease on life is ended abruptly by Guy Gardner and his girlfriend Ice. Black Hand develops a phobia of super-heroes. While trying to reorganize his life into more peaceful pursuits, he encounters Justice League members at the World Trade Center restaurant and has a mental breakdown.
Shortly before the events of Green Lantern: Rebirth, Black Hand's device locates a spare power ring that Green Arrow holds in case of emergency. Hand tries to claim the ring for himself, but is stopped by Green Arrow and Hal Jordan (who is serving as the current Spectre). As Hand attempts to wield the power ring, the emerald archer pins the villain's hand to the wall with an arrow and the Spectre turns his hand to coal; remarking that now "he can live up to his name." Missing his right hand and insane from the trauma, Hand flees. After hearing of Hal Jordan's resurrection, he decides to live in the rebuilt Coast City in order to stay close to his foe. While on board an airplane, he is targeted and abducted by the Kroloteans, a race of mysterious German-speaking aliens that are akin to the gremlins of myth. They perform experiments that enhance his powers, and abandon him in a public park.
He is seen in the Infinite Crisis mini-series as one of several heroes and villains observed by Kal-L and Superboy-Prime.
Post-Infinite Crisis origin
Black Hand's origin was rewritten in the Secret Origin storyline of Green Lantern, and further enhanced in the Blackest Night storyline.
In his updated origin, William Hand's parents run a coroner's office and funeral home, the logo of which is the same symbol William eventually adopts at the beginning of his criminal career. While still a young boy, Hand is shown as having a severe preoccupation with death and the dead that includes implied necrophilic tendencies. No particular trauma or event seems to have inspired this; even as a toddler, William is deeply fascinated by death and dead people, calling them "pretty". It is implied that his first kiss was with a corpse. At first William tries to control his urges by engaging in taxidermy; however, his hobby becomes a source of concern after he kills the family dog in pursuit of his favored pastime. From this point forward William is sent to various psychologists for the remainder of his life with the Hand family. William simply shrugs off every attempt to "cure" him, learning how to hide the most prurient manifestations of his necrophilia and accept the role of the "black sheep."
As part of his newly written background, his energy-absorbing weapon is now portrayed as being built by Atrocitus, a fervent enemy of the Guardians of the Universe. Atrocitus comes to Earth looking for the being who will coordinate the events that come to be known as the Blackest Night; that being is revealed to be William Hand. Atrocitus locates and attacks Hand, believing the black power literally lies within his body. Atrocitus is stopped by Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Sinestro, while Hand (encouraged by a strange voice) pockets the weapon and flees the scene. He is later seen breaking into a hospital morgue, trying to steal one of the corpses there. When he is confronted by a security guard, he uses the weapon to kill him.
The mysterious voice that tells Hand to steal Atrocitus' weapon for himself traps him under its thrall and influences him into resenting the Green Lanterns. As beacons of light, they upset the perfect balance of darkness and death. Trying to extinguish the light of willpower but unwilling to fight Green Lantern as an "average joe", Hand sews himself a costume using a family cadaver pouch and begins calling himself "Black Hand." Jordan apparently never connects William and his energy-absorbing weapon to his earlier fight with Atrocitus (believing it to be an original creation). Never revealing his weapon's true origin, Black Hand continues to fight him over the years, always retreating to a desecrated grave after each failure. There, he lies with the corpses, hoping for peace and release.
While being transported to prison, Black Hand experiences a sudden power surge that kills his guards and apparently began having visions of the dead planet Ryut and the Black Power Battery.
After the visions he roams the desert, hearing "Death" calling to him. It instructs him to reclaim all the souls it has lost in the DC Universe, including Superman and Hal Jordan. Black Hand returns to his family's house, kills his two brothers, his mother, his father, and then finally commits suicide. While these events unfold, the Guardian Scar arrives at the Hand house. She pronounces that the self-sacrifice "pleases him" and regurgitates the first Black power ring, which reanimated Black Hand. She reveals that Hand is the physical embodiment of death, in the same manner that Ion is for willpower, Parallax is for fear, and the Predator is for love. Hand then announces that he will use his new power to finally extinguish the light.
Black Hand later spies on Hal Jordan and the Flash as they pay their respects at the unmarked grave of Batman. After the two heroes depart, Black Hand digs up Batman's corpse and, speaking his own oath, begins the process of recruiting the deceased hero;
The Blackest Night falls from the skies,
The darkness grows as all light dies,
We crave your hearts and your demise,
By my black hand — The dead shall rise!
—Black Hand, Blackest Night #0 (June 2009)
While holding Bruce Wayne's skull, Black Hand tells the mysterious force behind the Black Lanterns (residing in Sector 666) that no one escapes death. He is later seen after Black Lanterns Elongated Man and Sue Dibny kill Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders. Hand enters the room and proclaims that Hawkman and Hawkgirl will not escape death this time. Two black rings fly out of Batman's skull and Hand commands the two fallen heroes, by name, to rise. Black Hand is also present when the Spectre is taken over by a black ring, gloating to the assembled magic users (such as Blue Devil and Zatanna) that their powers are useless against his "lord's" might.
When the Black Lantern's power levels finally reach one hundred percent, the Black Power Battery teleports itself to the outskirts of Coast City, right on top of the Hand Mortuary. Black Hand watches in delight as Nekron finally rises, and more black rings recruit the bodies of the people who perished when Coast City was destroyed.
When Barry Allen attempts to attack Nekron, Black Hand steps in, using Batman's skull as an "emotional tether" to weaken the hero. He is ultimately defeated when the White Entity is used to convert the several Black Lanterns into White Lanterns, and a white ring attaches to him, reviving him and forcing him to regurgitate several white rings, freeing the Anti-Monitor and destroying Nekron's physical form. He is later seen held in captivity by the Indigo Tribe, chained to the tribe's trademark power staff.
From Blackest Night #2, a back-up feature entitled "The Book of the Black: The Burned-In Thoughts of William Hand" is shown, chronicling Black Hand's childhood memories, and his own personal opinions regarding each of the seven colors of the Emotional spectrum. In the end, his thoughts of the Indigo Tribe turn out to be a scream after his capture, hoping to be released from the Tribe's captivity; but as much of the text is in the Tribe's language thereby remaining indecipherable, except for a few names and four translated phrases.
Black Hand is later revealed to be in an unknown location on Earth somewhat trapped inside of Proselyte, the compassion entity, as the members of the Indigo Tribe gather around them.
When Indigo-1 and Black Hand confront Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Sinestro, Saint Walker and Larfleeze, Black Hand explains that the ring has 'cured' him of William Hand's sickness. This prompts the others to realize that, with their rings, the Indigo Tribe cannot feel any emotion besides compassion. Hal implies that given Hand's role in the Blackest Night, other Indigo Tribe members may have committed evil deeds in the past. Although the Indigo Tribe offer to take the remaining emotional entities into protective custody, Hal rejects the offer, concluding that he cannot trust them in the search for the entities with this new information. Then the being responsible for abducting the emotional entities appears with Parallax, proclaiming that any who feel emotion cannot be trusted.
The New 52
Black Hand returned when he confronted the currently-imprisoned Hal Jordan on the Indigo Tribe homeworld, the Tribe having abducted Hal and Sinestro now a Green Lantern once again with the intention of converting Sinestro into one of the tribe.With his ring depowered, Hal tricked Black Hand into manifesting the green energy of willpower and using him as a battery to recharge Hal's ring, although the charge was still limited compared to what the ring would have been capable of if recharged normally. Black Hand is freed when guardian Natromo destroys the Indigo Central Power Battery. When the battery is restored, Black Hand's indigo ring tries to reach him, however Black Hand kills himself rather than return to the Indigo Tribe. A Black Power Ring later emerges from his corpse, reviving him as a Black Lantern. Following his reanimation, he returns to Earth and murders everyone in a Chinese food restaurant, he then raises his family from the dead to "have dinner" with him. He lays out his plan to kill and reanimate as many people as possible, reanimating his victims as undead murderers. Meanwhile Sinestro takes Hal Jordan to the Book of the Black to reveal the plan of the Guardians of the Universe to replace the Green Lanterns Corps, however as he opens the Book, Sinestro and Hal Jordan are sucked into it and drawn to Black Hand. Although Hal and Sinestro are able to destroy Black Hand's makeshift army of reanimated corpses by detonating Sinestro's old yellow power battery, they are unaware that Black Hand has witnessed a new prophecy in the Book of the Black; that Hal Jordan will be the greatest "Black" Lantern. After trying to reanimate Hal's father, Black Hand is on the verge of being defeated by both Hal Jordan and Sinestro. The Guardians intervene, charging him up - which apparently grants him enough power to kill both his adversaries - before teleporting him in the Chamber of Shadows for unknown purposes "until he is needed".
Powers and abilities
Black Hand possesses a device that can manipulate the energy of Green Lantern power rings. It can obtain this energy by directly draining it from a ring or through the residue a power ring gives off. Like power rings, however, the device needs to replenish its energy on a regular basis in order to operate. Hand usually recharges his device during battles with Green Lanterns, and has been shown to use it in order to help him locate nearby power rings. The device was recently revealed as being Atrocitus' creation, though it was previously assumed he invented it himself.
Black power ring
After his suicide, Black Hand is reanimated by Scar when she releases the first Black power ring, making him the first Black Lantern. Reanimatd by the ring, the head injury he inflicts upon himself during his suicide is erased, restoring his body to a working state. When the first Black power rings choose wearers, they present themselves to the deceased without a charge. The rings (which constantly ask for "flesh") are recharged by killing living beings and removing their hearts; each heart restores .01 percent power to every ring in the Corps. Black Lanterns are also able to read the emotions of the living as a colored aura that correlates to the emotional spectrum (red for rage, violet for love, etc.).
Indigo power ring
After been restored to life, Black Hand is converted to the Indigo Tribe whose power ring allows Black Hand to perceive compassion in others and to force compassion onto those who feel none.
Indigo light has the ability to heal individuals with great empathy and to expose people to pain they've inflicted on other people. Indigo Power Rings can teleport their users and others over intergalactic distances. This ability utilizes a great deal of power from an indigo power ring, and Indigo Tribe members try to use it sparingly. He has since lost this ability and is currently wearing again a black ring.
12/22/2017 07:02:57 am
Black Hand's background story is really an interesting one to read. I am a huge fan of super hero comics and I never thought that a villain's background story is just as interesting as the protagonist's. I really appreciate this post of yours about this DC comic villain. I look forward for more posts and blogs about superheroes and villains from you. I would really love to know the background stories of the superheroes and villains that I grew up loving.
2/8/2019 01:09:52 am
I agree with you. By just reading the story of the antagonist, I have realized that they were once a protagonist. They have painful histories on why they have turned into that bad guy. I am not a fan of comics, but once I had read some superhero stories and watched some like Aquaman, I become so curious and started to like them as well. I hope that the stories I have read will become a movie too. I will surely watch them all.
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