46 years ago - Bito Wladon is born poor in the Eastern European country of Modora.
30 years ago - 16-year-old Bito is sent to college in Europe by his countrymen.
26 years ago - 20-year-old Bito earns his Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering
24 years ago - 22-year-old Bito earns a Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He returns to Modora, becoming science advisor to the king.
16 years ago - 30-year-old Bito recoves debris from Hal Jordan's battle with Kanjar Ro, securing it in his personal labs.
12 years ago - 34-year-old Bito invents his sonic technology, bringing Modora to the world stage with their new weaponry.
8 years ago - 38-year-old Bito takes control of the Modoran army and begins invading neighboring countries. He is stopped and imprisoned by Hal Jordan & Arisia Rrab, returning the throne to the king.
5 years ago - 41-year-old Bito escapes prison and attacks the Modoran royal heir in L.A. He is the first supervillain Kyle Rayner faces. Alex DeWitt sacrifices herself to help Kyle defeat him.
3 years ago - 43-year-old Bito resurfaces in Modora, again leading a coup against the throne. He is stopped by the Outsiders.
The version of Sonar I was familiar with was the one that appeared in Green Lantern Vol 3, during Kyle Rayner's original appearances. There was nothing particularly wrong with him, but he just seemed like a very generic mid-nineties comic baddie. It wasn't until I started to go back and read Hal Jordan's older stories that I discovered just how different the original version of the character was. Some of my favorite characters are the ones where I see a lot of potential even if it hasn't necessarily been used yet, and I think Sonar fits that really well.
Sonar's Comic History
Sonar appeared for the first time in 1962, in Green Lantern vol 2 #14, making him one of the oldest Green Lantern villains. He is similar to a lot of villains of the era in that he was simply a normal person who developed his particular gimmick weapon thanks to his own 'research', but he also happened to fit into a character mold that was much more prevalent back in the Golden Age of comics, in that he was defined by his country of origin. He was originally a poor sheep farmer in Modora, a country that only had 400 residents in Eastern Europe, and he was constantly working to put his country on the world stage by creating sound based weapons for it. There was a weird sense of nationalism for a 60's era comic character, but nonetheless he was a mashup of a few comic tropes and managed to at least be somewhat original. Later on, a new version of the character would feature less ties to his country and a greater focus on the cyborg implants that gave him his powers, but I happen to think this takes away some of the potential of the character.
Our Sonar Story
There are absolutely elements to this character that we can use to make him a really interesting foil for Green Lantern. The first is a pretty basic one; we have to imagine that his sound-weapons are in fact actually an effective weapon against someone wielding a power ring. That's a little bit of a leap. Obviously, a power ring is one of the most effective weapons in the universe. If we allow that his fine manipulation of sound allows him the same degree of tactile manipulation of his environment that the Green Lanterns rings allow, and ALSO imagine that he's able to disrupt their control of their constructs using his sound attacks, then what we actually have is a pretty cool recurring threat. Defeating him is a matter of focusing their will and overcoming his disruptive attacks, and that's always a cool way to frame a Green Lantern battle.
Another idea that will really set up Sonar as a great villain is if we lean more heavily on his relationship with his country. We've shifted his story a bit so that he starts out as an advisor to the throne, then we made his sound weapons a product of alien technology that he is repurposing. He will at times be leading his people in attacks against other countries, or else be attempting coups against the throne in an effort to take it for himself. This gives him very personal goals and motivations that frame his place in the world.
There are several other character in DC that are either rulers of their country or are constantly trying to retake the throne, both heroes like Geo-Force and villains like Count Vertigo or Queen Bee. What I happen to like about defining Sonar this way is that he's NOT actually royalty. He's been placed in that role a few times, but he's really just a dude who is fanatical about his country and his desire for power, motivated by what amounts to an inferiority complex. There's a lot to mine with that.
Kyle Rayner actually went up against a new version of Sonar a few times, but we think this original version of the character works better. We even used him as the very first supervillain Kyle ever faced, and used that battle as his defining moment when Alex chose to sacrifice herself so that he could be a hero. Sonar becomes a core part of his story that way, which I think works really well. He's now a member of the Legion of Doom, and while he likely won't have a HUGE roll to play in that story, he will continue to provide an excellent framing device for new stories moving forward.