In the past 10 years, we’ve seen the number of power rings grow considerably in the DC Universe compared to what readers knew before. Where we only had the Green Lantern Corps and Sinestro with his yellow ring, we now have Lanterns of all colors. These rings react to emotion, but they are only a conduit, elevating the characters that wear them, making them great… or terrifying.
There have now been tons of characters, old and new, that have worn a Lantern ring, in every corner of the DCU, from the past to the future to every alternate reality in-between. Armed with these rings, some of these characters pose a great threat to the universe. Today, CBR takes a look at 15 of the most dangerous power ring bearers there ever were in the DCU.
He’s the Batman. Sure, he doesn’t need anything more to his name. But there was a time – before the “Sinestro Corps War” – when a yellow ring sought out a new host on Earth and found none other than Bruce Wayne himself, recognizing his ability to instill great fear. The ring attached itself to him long enough to give us a taste of Batman in a Sinestro Corps outfit, but Batman proved himself just as strong-willed when he managed to remove the ring (also thanks to his previous connection to a Green ring).
Years later, during the “Forever Evil” event, it was revealed that Batman, as prepared as always, had kept a yellow ring after the war, in case he ever had to use it against a Green Lantern. He used it shortly to fight Power Ring but the ring was almost depleted of its charge before he could take him out. In DC Comics continuity, we have never seen Batman wield a fully-charged power ring long enough, but there is no doubt that someone as prepared, strong and terrifying as he is would pose a great danger to those on the receiving end of that ring.
14. POWER RING
During the “Forever Evil” event, the Crime Syndicate invaded the Earth. Originating from Earth-3, the Crime Syndicate is an evil version of the Justice League, and counts as its members Owlman, Ultraman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick and Power Ring. As the evil version of Hal Jordan, Harold Jordan has a similar origin story to his double, but with just enough wrinkles to make him different. As Sinestro points out, he may look like him, but he is not him.
Contrary to Hal, Harold’s will is weak, and he is portrayed more as a hostage and victim of a ring that is slowly poisoning him. That hasn’t stopped him from destroying worlds and killing immortal beings with the help of the Crime Syndicate. He is as strong as any Green Lantern and powerful enough to get Sinestro’s attention. Power Ring was more than able to hold his own against the yellow light, even going so far as crushing Batman’s yellow ring.
Jonathan Crane has always been a Batman villain, terrorizing the citizens of Gotham City with his fear toxin. Crane has gone through so many experiments involving his toxin that he can’t feel fear anymore, except if he is being chased by the Batman. But when the “Blackest Night” came to Earth and life itself was threatened, everyone was called to action. When various rings of the different corps sought new hosts, a yellow ring of fear found a new bearer in the Scarecrow.
With his ability to instill great fear in others, Crane found joy in his ring when he realized that it made him feel fear again. No longer needing the Batman, he embraced this new power as a new version of the Scarecrow, one that now had a power ring to terrorize his subjects. While he lost the ring by the avarice-fueled Lex Luthor, his fascination with the yellow light hasn’t stopped, as he was recently seen trying to harness it once again in the “Green Lanterns” series.
12. BLACK HAND
William Hand has been a Green Lantern villain for a very long time. His weapon of choice used to be a rod that he used to siphon GL energy and use as his own. But when he was chosen by the fallen Guardian Scar and Nekron to become the Herald of Death itself, Black Hand murdered his entire family, and killed himself. Then, he was brought back to “life,” thanks to the first Black Lantern ring, essentially becoming the leader of the Black Lantern Corps.
During the “Blackest Night” event, Black Hand’s fascination with death made him the ideal person to fight the heroes of the world alongside his army of zombies. He nearly managed to unleash Nekron upon the entire Universe. Though he failed, he would return once again, to torment Hal Jordan and the rest of the Corps. “Blackest Night” is one of the biggest events to involve the Green Lanterns, and it all started with Black Hand and his obsession with death.
11. CYBORG SUPERMAN
A tragic figure among Superman’s rogues, Hank Henshaw only wanted one thing: to be able to rest in peace after a long and torturous life as an immortal cyborg. Unable to die by the hands of Superman or the Green Lanterns, he struck a deal with the Anti-Monitor who promised to end his life. Replacing the “S” on his chest with the logo of the Sinestro Corps, Henshaw wore a yellow rings on all of his fingers, something he had experience doing when he first wielded as many GL rings back in “Green Lantern” #12.
Combined with the powers that made him the Cyborg Superman, Henshaw is more than able to hold his own against Superman. With a death wish that never seems to come to pass, a connection to the Anti-Monitor – the absolute villain of the DC Universe – and 10 yellow rings in his arsenal, Hank Henshaw is not only one of the most dangerous beings to wear a ring, he’s also one of the most compelling.
10. LARFLEEZE: AGENT ORANGE
For a very, very long time, there was only one Orange Lantern: Agent Orange, aka Larfleeze. The creature made a deal with the Guardians of the Universe, to return something he had stolen from them, in exchange for the Orange Lantern. But he wasn’t the only one in that room. There was also one of his friends, a fellow thief, who also wanted the lantern. Only one would get to keep it. And Larfleeze won.
Corrupted with the avarice inside of him, Larfleeze spent his days feeding his greed, letting nothing or anyone stand in his way. As Agent Orange, he has the ability to transform every life he takes into a construct,who in turn become a part of his corps. He may be the only member of his corps, but he has an army behind him, created by his own hand. He may be alone, but with the Orange Lantern, Larfleeze is extremely dangerous.
As one of only five survivors from the Manhunter massacre in space sector 666, Atrocitus lost everyone dear to him. The rage inside of him unmatched, he became the leader of the Red Lantern Corps. Contrary to most members of his corps, Atrocitus has more control over his rage and does not devolve into a rage-filled animal. This fact alone makes him the most dangerous member of his corps, one with a vendetta against the Guardians of the Universe.
With boiling blood and red energy, he is not only powerful but extremely dangerous. Outside of the ring, Atrocitus also has access to blood rituals that allow him to make prophecies and glimpse into the future. He predicted Abin Sur’s failure and the arrival of the Blackest Night on Earth, and he very recently declared that something else would be coming in the “Green Lanterns” series… something called the Red Dawn.
8. KYLE RAYNER: THE OMEGA LANTERN
As a White Lantern, Kyle Rayner is extremely powerful, but he’s also a great man who wants to save everyone he can. A man who wants peace. But things got a lot more complicated in Tom King’s brilliant series “The Omega Men” when Kyle was kidnapped by the titular characters. They planned to use him as a bomb in their grand plan to free the Vega system from the oppression of the Citadel. The simple fact that they called him a “bomb” spoke volumes about Kyle’s involvement, and his potential danger.
As the series progressed, King explored the blurred lines between good and evil, and Kyle found himself fighting alongside his captors as the Omega Lantern. Now a member of the team, Kyle fought a series of battles in a brutal war. With a White Lantern by their side, the Omega Men emerged victorious, but at great cost. While Kyle is a hero and a good man, his involvement in the battle turned the tide of the war and help overthrow the Citadel. To all those who lost, the Omega Lantern was as powerful as he was dangerous.
7. GUY GARDNER
As a Green Lantern, Guy Gardner has always been a fan-favorite character. Whether he was part of the Justice League International and getting punched in the face by Batman or leading the Green Lantern Corps against certain doom, Guy always had a hardened but lively attitude that made him popular. But when the “Blackest Night” fell upon the Universe and Kyle Rayner seemingly died in front of him, Guy was consumed by rage. (Un)luckily for him, a Red Lantern ring was close by.
But, as much as Guy was controlled by rage, it didn’t negate his willpower. Somehow, Guy managed to control both his red and green ring at the same time. Equal parts rage and will, Guy became an incredibly vicious Lantern as he plowed through his enemies, maiming them along the way. With those forces combined, Guy Gardner, while a hero, earns himself a position as a very dangerous ring bearer.
Thaal Sinestro could be considered as the Green Lantern Corps’ greatest enemy. Considering that he started out as a Green Lantern himself and dropped his green ring of will for the yellow ring of fear, he has been a thorn in Hal Jordan’s side for a very long time. As an old friend, he knows the Green Lanterns in a way all their other enemies don’t. Sinestro thrives on order and control, to the point that he has been called a tyrant by some.
When the Green Lantern Corps came back thanks to Hal Jordan’s reappearance, Sinestro went back to Qward and created his own corps as an answer — the Sinestro Corps — swearing to spread fear throughout the galaxies. Thanks to special circumstances, he may have come to help Hal Jordan and the other Green Lanterns from time to time, but as long as he aims for control, he will always remain one of the most dangerous Lanterns out there.
5. VOLTHOOM: THE FIRST LANTERN
After escaping his doomed planet, the man called Volthoom traveled through time and alternate realities to find a way to save his home and his mother. When he found the beings who would be called the Guardians of the Universe, he had found what he was looking for. He showed them the Emotional Spectrum, and the Guardians let go of their emotions, siphoned inside a lantern they called the Great Heart. That experiment resulted in the creation of a ring — the first power ring — and Volthoom grabbed it for himself, to become the very first Lantern.
But, with the Great Heart implanted directly into him, Volthoom grew to become unstable, his connection to the Spectrum simply too much for a single person. The Guardians defeated him and locked him in a cell for 10 billion years. 10 billion years where he was forced to face the reality that he hadn’t saved his planet or his mother, that he had been betrayed by his friends the Guardians. Once he got out, he only wanted one thing: revenge against those who made him what he is.
4. PARALLAX/HAL JORDAN
Hal Jordan is considered to be the greatest Green Lantern of them all. But there was a time when, following the destruction of Coast City, his home, Hal Jordan lost his mind, killed his friends and destroyed the Central Power Battery on Oa, as well as the entire Green Lantern Corps. It was later revealed that this happened because Hal had been possessed by the yellow entity known as Parallax, a parasitic creature that was the living embodiment of fear.
Hal spent a long time paying for his actions as Parallax. Once he came back fully redeemed, Hal saw it as necessary to merge with Parallax once more during the “Blackest Night” event. Only this time, he was a willing participant, hoping to defeat the Black Lantern Spectre, which they did. With Parallax inside of him, Hal single-handedly almost put an end to the entire Corps and defeated a zombified version of one of the most powerful creatures in the DC Universe, and that makes this parasite one of the most dangerous.
3. THE DEAD
Of all the beings to wield a power ring in the DC Universe, there are few more dangerous than the dead. Thanks to Nekron and Black Hand, black rings flew all across the Universe and brought the dead back to life as Black Lanterns. Anyone and everyone that weren’t at peace were risen from the grave, as distorted, monstrous versions of their old selves that were able to regenerate whenever hurt.
Portrayed as zombies, any Black Lantern, from Superman and Martian Manhunter to Deathstorm and Hawkman, tormented those they knew and loved back when they were alive. They remembered everything about them, and used anything they could to hurt them, emotionally as well as physically. The dead can sense the emotions inside of someone, and they kill their victims, ripping out their hearts so they can feed on the emotions inside. It took the combined might of all the other colored Corps, as well as the White Lanterns, to defeat the Black Lanterns, making them one of the worst threats in the Universe.
2. FRANK LAMINSKI: THE PHANTOM LANTERN
Frank Laminski was just a normal guy, who only wanted to be Earth’s newest Green Lantern. To a fault. In fact, it became an obsession, something he dedicated his entire life to, shutting everything else out. He endured so much, and still kept believing he could one day be chosen. So when one day, a ring finally found him, only to change its course and head off to find Simon Baz instead, his dreams were shattered. Little did he know that he would find another ring, one tailored to his needs.
With a little bit of help from Volthoom, Frank got hold of the Phantom Ring, a ring that functions not on just one color of the emotional spectrum but all of them. Essentially, the ring is its own power battery and it feeds off of the wearer’s emotions. That’s what made Frank so dangerous. He may have started out with the best of intentions, but there was also a lot of fear inside him, and rage and avarice. So much so that he became incredibly unstable, with a ring in his grasp that could potentially charge up and destroy everything in its path.
1. LEX LUTHOR
Lex Luthor is Superman’s greatest villain. He may not have super-powers in his arsenal, but he has an intellect and a thirst for power unmatched by anyone else in the world, a world he has put in danger countless times in his quest to defeat his greatest enemy. During the “Blackest Night,” Luthor came into the possession of an orange ring for a day. It sought him out because of his avarice, and he fought Larfleeze to keep possession of it with all his might.
As an Orange Lantern, Luthor fought the Black Lantern Corps and helped saved the world. Thankfully, the ring was taken from him when his 24 hours were up. If someone as ruthless and cunning as Lex Luthor had been able to keep this ring, there is no telling the dangers he would have brought upon the world. Luthor may see himself as the hero of his own story, but as an Orange Lantern, with an army of his victims as his own Corps, he could potentially be the most dangerous villain in the DC Universe.
Who do you think is the most dangerous ring bearer at DC? Let us know in the comments!