Anger is a widely discussed emotion in the realm of philosophy and from Buddhism to Stoicism, it is more often than not thought of as a destructive, negative emotion. While expressing rage in the moment might feel good, we don’t usually like being mad at people and in the long run it causes more harm than good.
Anger management is often at the centre of many philosophical practices and a medium that shines an interesting light on anger management is comics. Specifically with the superhero Rankorr from DC Comics and his identity as a Red Lantern.
Who is Rankorr?
John Moore was born in England and he grew up to be shy and quiet. After their grandad died, Moore’s brother, Ray wanted to take revenge on the killer because he felt the police weren’t doing enough. Moore warned his sibling that it was a bad idea, but his advice was ignored. Hoping to mediate the situation, Moore called the police to tell them what Ray was planning. The police arrested Moore’s brother, only for Ray to be beaten to death for resisting.
Moore witnessed the police brutality, causing him to be overwhelmed by anger. His emotions were so strong that it attracted a Red Lantern ring, transforming him into Rankorr. Like other Red Lanterns, Rankorr lost control of his senses, tracked down his grandfather’s killer and came close to murdering him. The Green Lantern Guy Gardner intervened before Rankorr could finish the job, trying to calm him. This was shown to have some effect on Rankorr’s psyche.
After flying to Ysmault, the Red Lantern homeworld, Rankorr became embroiled in a fight to save the Red Power Battery. During this time, Rankorr was able to retain his intelligence and become the first of the Corps to generate constructs. He proved himself to his teammates, growing into a respected member of the Corps. This caught the attention of Bleez, who he was partnered with on several occasions, and she wanted to unlock the power of making constructs for herself.
Philosophising on rage
Rankorr’s desire to hold onto his humanity made him different from other Red Lanterns. While the others were prone to extreme violence, Rankorr took a more diplomatic approach. He controlled the rage inside of himself enough to be able to think rationally, a goal of ancient Stoics like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.
This demonstrates incredible self-control for a character that’s meant to embody rage in its purest form. It’s similar to anger management because Rankorr takes steps to regulate his fury on a daily basis, even though it could consume him at any time.
What’s even more interesting is the source and type of Rankorr’s anger. Over the years, Moore built up his anger without expressing it properly. It was a kind of slow burn that he pushed down and bottled up, an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Ironically, the Red Lantern ring could have been the best thing that ever happened to Rankorr because it taught him how to be more in touch with his emotions, leading to him becoming more self-confident and assertive.
Managing your anger is important, but it can also be healthy to express it in appropriate circumstances. The trick is finding the right balance and Rankorr serves as a strong representation for how to cope with rage.