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William Hand (New Earth)

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Quote1 Why can't you be a good Christian like your brothers? Quote2
-- William Hand's mother src

Black Hand (real name, William Hand) is a supervillain and an enemy of Green Lantern. He uses a device that allows him to drain the powers of a Green Lantern Ring, and use them for himself. Having trained himself extensively, he is a criminal mastermind who keeps an extensive journal of all of his methods on his person to refer to instantly at any point. He has a fondness for incorporating the themes of old clichés into his work.

Later, after being subjected to alien experiments, he gained the power to completely drain the life force from those around him. His obsession with death proves not to be just a hobby, but a life calling. He has been chosen through Guardian Scar to act as the physical embodiment of death on the emotional electromagnetic spectrum, the herald of Nekron. After killing himself and becoming reanimated, he has become the leader of the Black Lantern Corps during Blackest Night.

Origins

Growing up as part of the wealthy and respectable Hand family in Coastville, California, William had always been the black sheep. He hated his family, and strived to do anything he could to distance himself from his three brothers. As they were all profitable in legitimate business, he turned to a life of crime.
Black Hand 010

Birth of a villain.

Starting with smaller crimes such as pickpocketing, and working his way up to larger felonies, he developed his own methodically written "black book" which contains a complete listing of everything a criminal must do to succeed. And a contingency plan for every situation. However, he knew it was inevitable that eventually he was going to have to fight local superhero Green Lantern. A brilliant inventor, he constructed a device that would allow him to absorb and harness quantities of the power ring radiation, and use it back against Green Lantern.[1]

After Infinite Crisis, his beginnings were altered during Green Lantern: Secret Origin. It was revealed that his family had owned a funeral home, and that from a young age he had been completely obsessed with death. Although he tried to hide his obsession with taxidermy, after he killed and stuffed the family dog, he was taken to see a psychiatrist. While no psychological professional was capable of helping him get over his obsession, he learned to pretend normalcy and at least hide his problems. It is implied that during this time, he engaged in some acts of necrophilia.[2] His life changed forever when an alien monster Atrocitus, an enemy of the Guardians of the Universe, sought him out. Atrocitus is shown to be responsible for creating the weapon Black Hand is most famous for, William having stolen it afterward. Believing Hand's insides held the doorway to darkness, and wanting to control that power, Atrocitus attacked him, but was stopped by Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Sinestro. Afterward, a mysterious voice in his head told him to take the weapon, and flee.[3] Shortly afterward, he would commit his first murder by accident... and like it.[4] He became obsessed with erasing the unbearable light of Green Lantern, and turned it into his life's mission. Fashioning a homemade costume out of body bags to remind him of his family and his identity, he prepared to fight the hero.[2]

William Hand calls himself Black Hand as a reference to himself being the "black sheep" of the Hand family.[1]

Black Hand

The first time his mettle was professionally tested by Green Lantern, Black Hand used a device of his invention to transport the hero to an astral plane, piece by piece. Although he was only able to reduce Green Lantern by half, he took advantage of the stalemate between their powers to rob the city blind. Meanwhile, he attended a gala for the success of his three brothers to gloat over how much greater than them he had become.
Black Hand 024

First fight with Green Lantern.

More famous than his brother Peter the actor, more brilliant than his brother Joe the scientist, and wealthier than his brother David the financier. Green Lantern managed to surprise him using a trick with mirrors, gained the upper hand, defeated and arrested Black Hand for the first time. It would not be the last.[1]

Using his ability to mimic any of his foe's abilities, he would later cloud the minds of the citizens of Coast City to make them believe that Green Lantern was in fact a supervillain, which led to GL's arrest. Escaping from prison with the help of Pieface, Green Lantern challenged Black Hand again. When they both simultaneously ran out of charge, they engaged in fisticuffs which resulted in a massive knockout and Black Hand getting his ass spread out on the pavement.[5]

Black Hand 020

Conspiracy

The next time the two fought, Black Hand was responsible for a cabal that was mass-brainwashing a small town to do their bidding under the guise of a plastics manufacturing plant. After Green Lantern saved the town from a false natural disaster, he was drugged and kidnapped, without his power ring. Black Hand brainwashed the townspeople into believing GL was responsible, and intended to enjoy watching them lynch him and his girlfriend Carol Ferris. They were rescued by Green Arrow with a fresh recharge, and Black Hand was defeated once again shortly afterward.[6]

Black Hand next appeared in Central City to challenge the Flash. He planned to siphon off the scarlet speedster's aura, and use it to make him completely invulnerable even to the traditional weaknesses associated with the Green Lantern Ring. Although Black Hand believed himself to have burned the Flash alive by taking away his resistance to friction, Flash escaped into his own ring. Later, the Flash knocked the villain out by tricking him into getting hit with his own beam.[7]

When he next ran into his arch-nemesis, Black Hand was in jail. Green Lantern had been unjustly incarcerated for "harassing" Goldface and his minions, well-known criminals.[8] Goldface paid Black Hand off to start a riot, and lead his fellow inmates in murdering Green Lantern in prison. After a brutal rumble in which GL was nearly beaten to death, he was finally able to overcome the forces against him when at the last second he received his recharged ring from Tom Kalmaku. Black Hand was defeated, his device broken again, and thrown back into his cell.[9]

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, more members of the Green Lantern Corps were stationed on Earth. In the middle of a press conference, John Stewart, Katma Tui, Kilowog, Salakk and Ch'p caught him attempting to break into a bank. Rather than be intimidated, Black Hand absorbed power from all of their rings, making him nearly as powerful as five lanterns put together. Although he was stronger than all of them together, he was finally defeated again when Kilowog tricked him into wasting his charge and then beat the tar out of him with his bare hands.[10]

Black Hand 042

Guy Gardner

Following this last encounter, he decided to go straight, seek psychiatric care and enter legitimate business. He began running his own bawdy movie house in New York City. He was even considering turning it into an art house. However, a chance encounter with Guy Gardner and his girlfriend Ice triggered Hand back into his old costumed identity to fight superheroes once again. After trying to kill Gardner, he realized he was no longer up to the fight, and showed remorse. After Gardner kicked his butt, he surrendered, and was knocked unconscious.[11] This emotional breakdown convinced him to begin seeking professional help once again, as he was diagnosed "hero-phobic". Unfortunately, when he was finally back from his stay in a mental care facility, he had his recovery dinner at the same restaurant where several members of Justice League International were eating. Seeing Martian Manhunter, Kilowog and G'nort threw him into another "episode" and attacked the heroes. Afterward, he was forced to go into further therapy.[12] Eventually, he made a full recovery and went back into his regular career as a costumed supervillain. While he was running an illegitimate massage parlor in Times Square, he fought Guy Gardner again, and was able to beat the hero up while both of them were depowered; albeit with the help of his minions. Later, when Gardner was trying out a new way he could fight crime, he shot up the entire place with a massive arsenal of guns and Hand was revealed to still be seeing a psychiatric professional.[13]

Eventually, Green Lantern turned evil and became Parallax during Emerald Twilight, destroying both the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians of the Universe.[14] When he nearly destroyed the universe in Zero Hour,[15] and later died sacrificing himself to save earth from the Sun-Eater in Final Night,[16] Black Hand finally felt a sense of relief. The light he had been working to extinguish for his entire life was finally put out, with little more than a mere spark remaining.[2]

During Underworld Unleashed, when the villains of the world were called down to Hell and offered vastly increased powers in exchange for their immortal souls, Black Hand was apparently one of those who refused Neron's offer.[17] He was also involved in kidnapping the Mist's daughter, in an effort to blackmail her into stealing a government device for him. This time he was thwarted by Mary Marvel.[18] Later, he showed up back in Central City again as part of a vast underground criminal network being run by Blacksmith and her new Rogues.[19]

Infinite Crisis

Shortly before Hal Jordan's resurrection in Green Lantern: Rebirth, Black Hand's device located a spare Power Ring that Green Arrow held in case of emergency. Hand tried to claim the ring for himself, but was stopped by Green Arrow and Hal Jordan, who at that point was the current Spectre.
Black Hand 004

Crippled by the Spectre

As Hand attempted to wield the power ring, the emerald archer pinned the villain's hand to the wall with an arrow and the Spectre burnt his hand to ash, stating "(now) he can live up to his name".[20]

Now missing his right hand and driven insane from trauma, Hand fled. However, after hearing of Hal Jordan's resurrection, he decided to relocate to the rebuilt Coast City to take revenge on his old foe. While on board an airplane, he is targeted and abducted by the Kroloteans, a race of mysterious German-speaking aliens, who are akin to the gremlins of myth. They performed experiments that enhanced his inherent power, and abandon him in a public park. As he soon pieced together the mystery of his new powers, he went to a nearby hospital and drained the lifeforce from twenty two people, completely reforming his hand.[21]

Black Hand 003

New Powers

Locating the Green Lantern onboard the Kroloteans spaceship, Hand began draining the life from the Green Lantern, with his power ring being unable to stop the attack, only slow it down. As he continued to drain his foe, Hand ranted that Jordan had cheated death, something people were not allowed to do. Their fight spilled into the graveyard where Hal had saved him from Atrocitus, and Jordan was able to slice off Black Hand's newly reformed Hand and leave him in a grave, saying that death was nothing without life. Hand continued that death was stronger, and black was the most wonderful color in the universe.[22]

He has since resurfaced from the Infinite Crisis, one of the several heroes and villains observed by Superman and Superman-Prime, and resurfaced.[23]

While being transported to prison, Black Hand experiences a sudden power surge, killing his guards in the detonation and teleporting him to what appears to be the Black Lantern Central Power Battery.

Blackest Night

Main article: Blackest Night

Somehow returning to Earth after the Final Crisis, Black Hand was lounging in an open grave with some skeletons when he began hearing the voice of the Guardian of Death, the being who formed the Black Lantern on Ryut. The voice began speaking the names of various heroes who had died and come back to life, including Jordan, Superman, Wonder Woman, Kilowog, Flash and Kid Flash. Returning to his family home, Hand murdered each member of his family one by one before finally turning his cosmic diving rod on himself. Scar, who also worshiped the Guardian of Death, made a Black Lantern Ring which reanimated Black Hand, dubbing the herald of their lord.[24]

Heading to Gotham City, Hand recited the Black Lantern oath and dug up the skull of Batman.[25] Following this, the Guardian of Death released thousands of Black rings from the Central Battery, heading for Earth and Oa. Among those added to the Black Lantern Corps were former Justice Leaguers J'onn J'onzz, Ralph and Sue Dibny. J'onn was sent after Hal and Barry Allen, while the Dibnys were sent after Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who had been in a cycle of death and reincarnation for over three thousand years. The Dibnys murdered the Hawks, and Black Hand sent rings from Batman's skull to add them to the Black Lantern Corps.[26]

Black Hand remained largely absent during the initial power build up for the Black Lanterns, waiting in Coast City for when the Black Lanterns power levels reached 100%. He did observe the taking of the Spectre and noted that the Phantom Stranger did not register on the Black Lanterns emotional readout as living or dead, something which interested him.[27] Finally, once the power levels reached 100%, Black Hand beheld the arrival of the Black Central Battery's from Ryut to Coast City, then commanded Nekron, the Guardian of Death, to "RISE".[28] Black Hand helps Nekron battle the heroes of Earth and the Lantern Corps. In the final issue of Blackest Night it is revealed that Black Hand is Nekron's link to the living plane. This prompts Hal Jordan to bond with the white entity of life and use it's power to resurrect Black Hand, destroying Nekron's link to the living plane, and causing the villain's defeat. Indigo 1 takes Black Hand to the Indigo Tribe's home world. He appears to be dazed and confused.

Brightest Day

Black Hand comes back to Earth with the Indigo Tribe in order to assist in gathering the emotional entities. It is revealed that the coalesced compassion channeled by the Tribe has altered him into a being who's focused on caring for the well being of others.

Secret of the Indigo Tribe

When the Indigo Power Battery was shut down, Hand was set free from the power ring's control. When his ring tried to force him once more into the tribe, he killed himself by jumping off a cliff. A Black Lantern Ring emerged from his mouth and resurrected him.

New 52

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The DC Universe heavily changed its continuity into the DCnU following the events of Flashpoint in 2011. This was part of an effort to make storylines more accessible to newer readers, beginning with the New 52. This new timeline combines elements from the DCU, Vertigo Universe and Wildstorm Universe while drastically changing the origins and histories of characters.

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Powers

  • Life-Force Absorption: Following the actions of extraterrestrials who subjected him to experimentation, he now has a means to recreate his hand. The experiments granted Black Hand the ability to consume the life-force of the living to create a new hand for himself. The amount of life-force he consumes relates to the amount of time he can control the limb.
  • Cosmic Awareness

Abilities

  • Genius Level Intellect: Black Hand spent years compiling a book that contained the solution to any possible problem a criminal could run into, and his photographic memory enabled him to recall every piece of information in it.

Weaknesses

  • Life-Force Depletion: As an after-effect of the experimentation, when he has not consumed enough life-force, he assumes burnt or decaying appearance.
  • Mental Illness: The physical and psychological trauma of losing his hand, coupled with years of defeat by various superheroes, has left William Hand mentally unstable.


Weapons

  • Power Rod: Black Hand possesses a device which can manipulate the energy of Green Lantern power rings. It can obtain this energy by directly draining it from a ring, or via the residue a power ring gives off. Like power rings, however, it needs to replenish this energy on a regular basis in order to operate. Hand usually does this during battles with one or more Green Lanterns, and has also used it to help him locate nearby power rings. This technically makes the device somewhat similar to Qwardian power rings, especially those wielded by Sinestro. Though this device is a product of his creative genius, it is unclear if he can create any other such powerful technology, especially with his current mentally unstable condition.
  • Black Lantern Ring
Black Hand 027

Breaking the fourth wall. But it's okay, he has visual aids.

  • Black Hand frequently breaks the fourth wall to talk to the reader... or at least he did, Pre-Crisis. The current version of the character has exhibited no such literary awareness. In Green Lantern (Volume 2) #29, he directly addressed the reader to explain his origin story. In Green Lantern (Volume 2) #39, he directly addressed the reader again to explain his motivations as a villain. During his appearance in The Flash (Volume 1) #258, while in his civilian identity he explained that he was the same figure from the splash page, but that readers probably wouldn't recognize him in different clothes. Then later, he actually stopped the entire story from his hotel room, brought out an easel and took a full page explaining his plan to kill the Flash with visual aids he had apparently drawn to help the reader understand. On an easel.
  • Unlike the black lanterns, Black Hand is not a puppet manipulated by his ring. As the physical embodiment of the black, Black Hand remains the same alive or dead. This implies that while Black Hand is dead, his spirit or essence is still in control.
  • Black Hand showed symptoms of being a sociopath from a very young age as in his history it was shown that he killed and stuffed the family dog and when sent to a psychiatrist he "learned to say what they wanted to hear". How much of this is natural and how much is the fault of being connected to the black is unknown.
  • Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985-86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
  • The name Black Hand is actually a tribute to writer Bill Finger.[29]
  • Black Hand is a necrophiliac.[2]
  • In the "Book of the Black" in the Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps graphic novel, it translates some of his words as an Indigo Lantern as "Please help me."
  • Black Hand is also known as the Herald of the Black Lanterns.

Related


Footnotes



Sinestro Corps 01
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This character is or was a member of the Black Lantern Corps. Those who have died may wield the Black Power Ring, symbolizing their lack of both life and emotion.

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This character is or was a member of the Indigo Tribe. These are individuals who show an incredible capacity for compassion, and were given Power Rings

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