A Green Lantern ring has long been established to be the most powerful weapon in the DC Universe. It channels the green light of willpower on the Emotional Spectrum, and serves as the tool used by the Green Lantern Corps to establish peace throughout the cosmos. The greatest Green Lanterns of all time — Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner — have all mastered the use of a green power ring. However, just because it is a weapon to be used for the good of the universe, doesn’t mean that every wielder has used it for that purpose.
Sometimes those who have been deemed worthy to wear a ring have ultimately turned their back on their oath to protect the innocent. Other times, a villain’s willpower has proven to be so strong that the ring has no other choice but to become their weapon, even if we know what a mistake it will end up being. Sometimes it works out, but most times it proves to be disastrous. Just like Captain America proved in Secret Empire that being worthy of Mjolnir is all about perspective, a Green Lantern ring doesn’t judge your willpower. Here are 15 times a villain has managed to gain control of a Green Lantern power ring.
In 1995, the Doomsday Annual told the story of how Doomsday originally made it to Earth prior to his fateful meeting with the Man of Steel. Written and drawn by Jerry Ordway, this Year One story saw the monster cut a path of destruction through the cosmos. At one point he fights and kills a Green Lantern only to seize the alien’s ring for his own.
Seeing the destructive capabilities of Doomsday enhanced by a Green Lantern ring, the Guardians of the Universe sent the entire might of the Corps after him. Doomsday managed to kill dozens of Lanterns and land on Oa before a Guardian was forced to sacrifice himself in order to stop the monster’s rampage. Still the creature survived, and he would continue his journey through space.
The fear entity known as Parallax has used those he has infected to wield the power of the Green Lantern ring on more than one occasion. The first time was insidious — it slowly took possession of Hal Jordan, turning him evil to the point that he destroyed the entire Green Lantern Corps. Hal’s possession continued even after death.
Parallax did it again, only this time it was far more forceful. During the Sinestro Corps War, Kyle Rayner was captured and forcefully exposed to the fear entity. His body became possessed by Parallax and a Green Lantern ring was once again the tool of fear itself. It took Hal Jordan’s help for Kyle Rayner to finally free himself. Parallax has killed dozens of Lanterns with the use of a Green Lantern ring.
Before Hal Jordan brought the Green Lantern Corps back together, Kyle Rayner dabbled in his own team building exercise. In Green Lantern: The New Corps from 1999, Kyle treks across the cosmos in order to grant five aliens their own Green Lantern rings. He brings these temporary Lanterns together in order to fight a genocidal army from destroying any more worlds.
Over the course of the two-issue story, it becomes clear that Magaan is actually a member of the Imperium that controls the army. He betrays his teammates and uses his ring to strengthen his side of the fight. This betrayal ultimately leads to the death of one of his former teammates before Rayner is able to defeat Magaan in an epic head-to-head battle and finally take the ring away from him.
12. THE PENGUIN
In the Season 5 episode “Ring Toss” of The Batman television show, Green Lantern comes to Earth in search of the evil Sinestro, and he teams up with Batman and Robin. Over the course of their adventure together, Hal Jordan attempts to pass his ring to Batman, but the unlikeliest of villains manages to get involved. Instead of Batman temporarily becoming a Green Lantern, the Penguin manages to intercept and take control of the ring.
Batman and Robin become engaged in a fight with the Penguin that they can’t possibly win. Despite his inability to control the ring, Oswald Cobblepot proves to be a more than formidable ringslinger until a powerless Hal Jordan fights back and is able to help take the ring back.
11. MARIA CONTRANETTI
The Elseworlds tale JLA: Created Equal by Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire tells the story of how all men in the world die from a mysterious illness brought on by radiation. Superman and Lex Luthor are the only men left in the world and superheroines fill the roster of the Justice League.
The death of all men means that Kyle Rayner has passed away, but his ring was taken by his neighbor Maria Contranetti. She uses it to her own personal gain, living a life of leisure, committing crimes and becoming a supervillain. The reformed JLA tracks her down in order to convince her that she must join them. In the end, the Justice League fights her and takes the ring back in order to give it to Barbara Gordon instead.
10. WEAPONS MASTER
In Justice League America #62, relatively unknown villain the Weapons Master managed to take possession of a Green Lantern ring. A weapons dealer who specializes in powerful alien technology, the Weapons Master is hired by the Dominators to collect Guy Gardner’s ring from him. He sends the Justice League into an alternate dimension, where he is able to manipulate the team to his will.
Weapons Master takes Guy’s ring for himself, and oddly enough, uses it to generate a pretty woman and a cocktail. In that moment, Blue Beetle is able to give Guy the opening he needs to fight back and take the ring from him. It was an attack by a small-time villain that could have been successful, had he actually committed to his plan and not stopped to have a drink.
9. LORD MALVOLIO
Told in a story between Action Comics #632-634 in 1988, Hal Jordan meets Lord Malvolio, an Earthman born in 1612 who was the son of a visiting Green Lantern. Years later, he murdered his father in order to take the power ring for himself. He acted as the planet’s protector for a time before leaving for the stars to take control of his father’s old space sector.
Hal Jordan discovers him in control of a vast empire, but the two don’t get along. A prolonged battle ends with Jordan’s ring destroyed, but he seemingly manages to kill Malvolio and take his ring. Malvolio then shows that he is not dead and that this is somehow part of his plan, but we never see the character again. Strangely, he resembles the Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott.
8. LEX LUTHOR
The Challenge of the Super Friends animated television show gave us what a Green Lantern Lex Luthor looks like in the 1978 episode “Secret Origin of the Super Friends.” The Legion of Doom plots to use a time machine to travel back in time to the moment of each Super Friend’s origin in order to replace them.
After seeing the Cheetah replace Wonder Woman, Sinestro demands that they target Hal Jordan next. Sinestro’s left out, though, because Luthor ends up being the one to replace Green Lantern in his origin. When Abin Sur lays dying, he hands the ring to Lex instead of Hal. Of course, everything works out in the end, and the remaining heroes bring Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Superman back into existence.
7. CYBORG SUPERMAN
In 2006, Geoff Johns was still laying the groundwork for his run on Green Lantern. Cyborg Superman re-emerged in issue #11 as the new Grandmaster of the Manhunter robots. When Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner travelled to Biot (the Manhunter homeworld), Hank Henshaw attacked them with a robotic army and a fist full of Green Lantern Rings.
Cyborg Superman was always a tough enemy, but with several Green Lantern rings in hand and a power battery in his chest, Hal Jordan has a tough time against him. It isn’t until he frees the Lost Lanterns from captivity that they are able to defeat Henshaw. Arisia cuts off his arm and the Lanterns manage to end the Cyborg’s threat. Henshaw may have lost his green rings, but he would soon trade those in for yellow.
6. HECTOR HAMMOND
The much maligned Green Lantern film from 2011 makes this list because the primary villain actually got his hands on a ring at one point, even if it’s just for a brief moment. Hector Hammond uses his mental abilities to control Carol Ferris, holding her hostage until Hal Jordan agrees to hand over his Green Lantern ring.
With the power of a Green Lantern on his finger, Hammond attempts to renege on his agreement with Hal. He shoots a bolt of green energy at his nemesis, but it doesn’t work; something’s wrong. Hal Jordan tricked Hammond because, as it turns out, you can’t just take the Green Lantern ring, you have to be chosen. He can’t use the ring against its owner, and it backfires, sending him flying.
5. HARLEY QUINN
In Harley’s Little Black Book #2, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner team Harley Quinn with Hal Jordan. Harley’s purchase of a mysterious and powerful red and black ring puts her on a collision course with Green Lantern. The two ringslingers end up in a fight at first, but when Harley’s ring gets stolen by actual villains, they learn to work together.
When they attack the bad guy’s spaceship, Hal Jordan gets knocked out and they fall down to Earth. In midair, Harley takes off his ring, puts it on, and uses it to save their lives. She also blows up the villains’ ship and everything works out in the end. It’s too bad we didn’t get to see much more of Harley as a Green Lantern. She has potential.
4. POWER RING
If there’s one thing comic books have taught us, it’s that every hero on one Earth has a villainous doppelgänger in an alternate universe somewhere else. The Crime Syndicate was introduced as the opposite of the Justice League, with evil versions to match each member. The villainous version of Green Lantern is known as Power Ring.
Just as Green Lantern rings are used as tools for galactic peace, the power ring is used on Earth-3 (or in the Anti-Matter universe) as a weapon of villainy. Power Ring has taken on many forms as a mirror image of Earth’s own Green Lantern. It is later learned that Power Ring wears the ring of the evil entity Volthoom and is simply its tool. Just when you think you wear the ring, the ring actually wears you.
Thaal Sinestro was one of the greatest Green Lanterns of all time before he used his ring to enslave his home planet of Korugar in order to enforce peace and order on his people. He helped train a rookie Hal Jordan before his partner discovered the truth about how he chose to use his ring. Sinestro was reported to the Guardians of the Universe and expelled from the Corps.
Sinestro is later given a Green Lantern ring by the Guardians of the Universe in order to stop a villainous Hal Jordan. That didn’t work out too well for him. Years later, he gained one again during the War of the Green Lanterns storyline. Sinestro goes on to do some good as a Lantern until he trades the green for yellow again after Volthoom destroys Korugar.
2. EARTH MAN
When Geoff Johns reimagined the 31st Century in his “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” storyline from Action Comics, he introduced the villainous Earth-Man to the future. Kirt Niedrigh was a former Legion hopeful who returned as a member of the xenophobic Justice League of Earth. Superman and the Legion defeated him in order to keep the world a safer place for aliens of every world.
The government of Earth later forces the Legion of Super-Heroes to take Earth-Man on as a member, and he is also given a Green Lantern ring. The former villain manages to do good in his time with the Legion; however, he soon gives up the ring. He later sacrifices his own life and proves himself to be a true hero.
1. THE DAWNBREAKER
Comic book readers are familiar with evil versions of the greatest superheroes in the world. Scott Snyder is taking that to its extreme in Dark Nights: Metal as the Dark Multiverse invades reality. Among this menagerie of worlds, there exist dark reflections of the DC Universe, including a stable of evil Batmen called the Dark Knights.
One of these Batmen, the Dawnbreaker, shows what would have happened if Bruce Wayne became a Green Lantern as a child. In previews, a young Batman sees his parents gunned down in front of him, only for a Green Lantern ring to induct him into the Corps. He uses his new power to murder the gunman before he heads off to do whatever he wants with the most powerful weapon in the universe.
Did we miss another time a villain wore a Green Lantern ring? Let us know in the comments!
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