by Jim Leeds
Long before I designed my first piece of jewelry, this budding young artist had different things in mind: I wanted to be a comic book artist. Although I ended up choosing another artistic outlet, my father’s original interest in the medium, coupled with rich storytelling and detailed artist renditions, had a lasting effect on me. To this day, I still collect and keep on top of the running plot lines.
While many heroes (and villains) are granted powers from birth -either otherworldly or by mutation (i.e. Superman or the X-Men, respectively), highly-prized mystical objects have also been woven into the storytelling from nearly the dawn of the genre itself.
And many of these objects have been jewelry.
So today, I’ll share five of the most important artifacts in all of comic book folklore. (I must stress that this list has been reduced to a manageable amount and are not in any specific order of importance.)
Green Power Ring – The Green Lantern
Let’s start with one of the most iconic and recognizable pieces of jewelry in comic book history: Green Lantern’s Ring. Although the original power ring owned by the first Green Lantern (Alan Scott) was powered by the Starheart -a mystical orb concealing cosmic energy- these days the rings are issued to members of the Green Lantern Corps via the Corps immortal founders: the Guardians of the Universe. These rings grant the wearer nearly limitless possibilities by harnessing the willpower of the user. Examples of its power are simple things like material projection and force fields, to amazing things like time travel and mind alteration!
Although no known “real-world” materials are known to be used to create these rings, I envision it in platinum and jade. Bypassing the most typical assumptions (emerald and tsavorite), I chose jade for harness and ability to be polished into stones and weapons as shown in modern and ancient times. Jade is also revered in ancient cultures as a symbol of knowledge and creativity -two attributes that I believe would be of great significance to a member of the Green Lantern Corps!
Eye of Agamotto – Doctor Strange
Doctor Steven Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme! The Eye of Agamotto -concealed in an amulet worn around Strange’s collar- grants its wearer the power of wisdom, both intellectual and meta-physical. Abilities include diminishing the haze of deception, weakening mystical evil powers, and creating portals to other dimensions, making this item as powerful as it is sacred. Created by legendary Marvel Comics artist and writer Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spiderman), it is said that Ditko based the design of “the Eye” on the real-life charm “The Eye of Buddha,” a Nepali symbol meant to protect its wearer against evil.
Nothing is listed in print as to what materials were used, but the Buddhist inspiration in the conceptualizing of “The Eye” leads me to believe that this piece could have been created of a high karat gold (typical of this region), coupled with one or several of the following stones typical of jewelry from this region: turquoise, lapis lazuli, tiger’s eye, or garnet.
Bracelets of Submission – Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman’s bracelets, also known as the Bracelets of Submission, are a pair of metal cuffs worn as forearm guards. They were an original creation by William Moulton Marston as an allegory for his philosophy on loving submission and the emotional control associated with it. These bracelets have thus far proven indestructible and able to absorb the impact of incoming attacks, allowing Wonder Woman to not only deflect automatic weapon fire, energy blasts, and other projectile weaponry, but also to absorb forces from a long fall (as noted by Dan Wallace in the DC Comics Encyclopedia).
This is the only piece on our list where the actual materials have been described in the publication! Depending on the writer, real precious metals, such as silver, have been mentioned along with fictional materials named Feminum and Amazonium.
Martha Wayne’s Pearl Necklace
Although this strand of pearls grants no powers, this is certainly an integral element of one of the greatest origin stories in all of comic books: the origin of Batman. A character so rich (pun intended, I mean he is a billionaire) in back story, we have been given many renditions of his origin throughout the last 50 years, but one element rarely deviates from the canon: that fateful night when Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered before his eyes in a dark alley after leaving a night at the theatre. A simple theft gone terribly wrong, some writers hint that it was a young Bruce Wayne who suggested his mother wear these pearls that evening, possibly contributing to the altercation. Not many comic panels have had such poetic resonance with me as much as the infamous depiction of Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace as it crashes to the ground upon her death (image above: The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller, 1986).
The events of that evening far overshadow any need for a writer to comment on what kind of pearls Mrs. Wayne was wearing, but if I had to guess…a nice strand of genuine south sea pearls would be most appropriate for a billionaire!
The Infinity Gauntlet
Rounding out our list is The Infinity Gauntlet! Comprised of six cosmic gemstones, or infinity gems, these gems have existed under different ownership since nearly the dawn of the universe. The gems, each with their own powers, are listed as follows:
- Red Mind Gem
- Orange Reality Gem
- Yellow Power Gem
- Green Space Gem
- Blue Time Gem
- Purple Soul Gem
Whoever holds all six gems and uses them in concert, such as in the Infinity Gauntlet, gains virtual omnipotence and omniscience. Collected and mounted one at a time by Thanos, the nihilistic intergalactic warlord-of-sorts, in the 2-issue “Thanos Quest,” the Infinity Gauntlet is soon to get some major exposure, as several current Marvel Comic Universe-based films have been dropping hints at the gems’ existence with the grand storyline culminating in the film “Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 1” due out in theaters May of 2016!
It’s hard appropriating materials to a piece assembled from the corners of the universe, but let’s give it a shot. Science dictates that all heavy elements (gold and platinum included) are created from supernova nucleosynthesis (supernova explosion), so what better assumption than gold! As for the gems themselves, star sapphire cabochons would work nicely, since they are the second-hardest gemstones and can come in a multitude of colors.
There you have it: Jim’s list of five of the most iconic jewelry items in comic book history. That’s true comic material. So wear your jewelry proudly and embrace the powers within, whether for good…or evil. But hopefully for good.