When you get right down to it, being a Green Lantern is one of the more random experiences that there is in the comic book universe. You could be just minding your own business and – wham! – you are given a ring and now you’re a member of the Green Lantern Corps (well, if you’re on Earth, then you first have to make sure that you’re from the United States. Somehow all five Earth Green Lanterns are from the same country)!
However, sometimes other people manage to wear the Green Lantern ring at certain times. Here, we will list 15 comic book characters (including characters from alternate realities) that have worn a Green Lantern ring at one point or another despite never being members of the Green Lantern Corps in the main DC Universe. They are listed in chronological order.
For years, there seemed to be a sort of unwritten rule that Green Lantern rings would not work for anyone other than Green Lanterns themselves. This was almost never actually said explicitly, though, it was just a custom. That custom changed in “Justice League Quarterly” #5, in a lead story by Mark Waid (one of his earliest DC Comics stories), Mike McKone and Andrew Pepoy. In it, the most powerful super-beings are being attacked and put into comas. As it turned out, Professor Ivo had been sending androids to steal their powers.
Meanwhile, Ice had decided that she was going to leave the Justice League, as she felt she was not powerful enough to contribute much to the team. Martian Manhunter explained to her that she had to stay, as she was the “heart” of the team. She did not buy that reasoning, though. The Justice League ended up tracking Ivo and during a battle against his androids, Guy Gardner was knocked out cold and Ice ended up taking his ring. She discovered that Ivo had been mutated to grotesque degrees and he wanted the androids so that they could kill him (he was cursed with immortality at the time). The androids failed. Ice wished she could cure him, and the ring did so! In the end, her “heart” saved the day, so she remained with the League.
14. BRUCE WAYNE
“Elseworlds” comics were still in their relative infancy in 1994, when Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham delivered one of the most memorable Elseworlds stories, and one of the most explicit “What IF…?” type stories. “Batman: In Darkest Knight,” was set in a world where Hal Jordan was passed over by Abin Sur and instead, Bruce Wayne was chosen. Bruce Wayne had just finished his unimpressive debut as a vigilante and was sitting at his mansion, hoping for some sort of sign. Instead of a bat flying through the window, though, Abin Sur summoned Bruce to become the new Green Lantern of Earth.
Bruce soon became one of the most powerful and acclaimed members of the Green Lantern Corps. However, after defeating a rogue Green Lantern, Sinestro, Sinestro later escaped and went to Earth and merged with Joe Chill, the murderer of Bruce’s parents! Bruce then became obsessed with stopping Sinestro. This put him at odds with the Guardians of the Universe, as he had a whole sector to serve and all he could do was obsess over stopping Sinestro!
13. DIANA, CLARK KENT AND BARRY ALLEN
The Guardians of the Universe were in a bind when Bruce Wayne defied them in “Batman: In Darkest Knight” (by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham), so they had a two-fold plan. First, they sent four of their most decorated Green Lanterns (most of them friends of Bruce Wayne) to Earth to get the ring back from Bruce. Second, they decided that a Green Lantern as notable as Bruce Wayne needed multiple replacements, so they sent out requests to farmboy Clark Kent, Princess Diana and Barry Allen (they came to him in a green chemical explosion).
These three new Green Lanterns were thrown into the deep end when they had to take on Sinestro and his two allies, Harvey Dent (who Sinestro had mutated into a monstrous half-scarred being) and Selina Kyle (who had become a Star Sapphire). They defeated the trio of villains, but then Sinestro helped them escape once again. Bruce Wayne headed off into space to stop them, despite their pleas to stay on Earth and train them. He told them that experience would be their best teacher.
Doomsday burst on to the scene in a major way when he actually killed Superman in the classic 1992 storyline, “The Death of Superman.” Superman soon returned to life in the “Reign of the Supermen” storyline. However, just as Superman returned, so, too, did Doomsday. Along with his return, we discovered something very important about Doomsday. While he could be “killed,” he would resurrect himself and now adapt himself so that he could not be killed the same way again.
During the “Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey” miniseries in 1994, we learned that Doomsday had spent some time in the past roaming around the galaxy, bouncing from one planet to the next. In the 1995 “Doomsday: Year One Annual” #1, we got to see some of those past exploits, in short stories written by the various writers of the “Superman” titles of the time. Roger Stern, Gil Kane and Jerry Ordway showed Doomsday running afoul of a Green Lantern. Doomsday ended up beating the poor Lantern to death and taking his ring. Doomsday traced the ring’s power to Oa, where a Guardian sacrificed himself to temporarily destroy Doomsday.
In late 1999, the “Superman” series of books saw their biggest creative upheaval since “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” with new writers and artists taking over each of the main “Superman” books. The last few months before the changeover were interesting, though, since obviously no new long term stories could be started. One thing that the titles did was try a couple of mini-crossovers. One was called “The One-Man JLA,” and took place in all four “Superman” titles of the time. Likely based on a similar story in an old issue of “Action Comics,” writer Fabian Nicieza and penciler Tom Grindberg did four issues where Superman became a different type of hero in each issue.
The covers were drawn by the legendary Walter Simonson. The notion was that a villain had captured Superman and was using simulations created by Superman’s father, Jor-El, to put Superman through other possible scenarios other than him landing on Earth. In the first part, we see what would have happened had Kal-El been raised by the Guardians of the Universe. He would have become one of the greatest Green Lanterns of all-time, but in teaming up with Hal Jordan, he would learn that he lost some of the humanity that informed his decisions as Superman. A similar concept occurred in “JLA” #8-9 by Grant Morrison, Oscar Jimenez and Chip Wallace, but we will skip that one because it’s the same basic idea as this one (Superman becomes a Green Lantern in a simulation).
10. KID FLASH
It’s interesting to note that while Green Lantern and Green Arrow’s team-ups have become the most historically significant due to the famed Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams run on “Green Lantern” when the two heroes shared the title, the first significant superhero that Green Lantern teamed up with was the Flash. This was something that was later picked up on in the New 52. However, by the late 1990s, both Barry Allen and Hal Jordan were then dead.
That did not stop Mark Waid from re-visiting the past with an excellent six-issue miniseries, “Flash/Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold,” co-written by Tom Peter with striking artwork from Barry Kitson. The series was a followup to Waid and Kitson’s brilliant “JLA: Year One” maxi-series from 1998. The miniseries showed team-ups between Barry and Hal at various points in their history. In the second issue, Kid Flash also shows up, with Wally West learning Hal Jordan’s secret identity for the first time. In a battle against the Black Hand and Mirror Master, Kid Flash steps in front of a blast meant for Green Lantern. In reality, the villains intended for Flash to intercept the blast, as it was designed to steal his speed. Instead, Wally lost his speed, so Hal gave him a ring and let him be Kid Green Lantern until they got his speed back!
9. BARBARA GORDON
In the 2000 Elseworlds tale, “JLA: Created Equal” (by Fabian Nicieza, Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubinstein), a plague ended up wiping out all of the men on Earth outside of Superman (protected by his Kryptonian DNA, although being Martian didn’t save the Martian Manhunter) and Lex Luthor (protected through his powerful suit of armor). The world obviously now had to adjust to there only being women on the planet. Wonder Woman and the Amazons ended up reaching out, as they had a lot of experience with living with a society of just women. Ultimately, Superman and Lois Lane’s son, Adam Kent, ended up leading to more men being on the world, although Lex Luthor stepped in to make that a problem.
Before that, though, the death of Kyle Rayner sent the Green Lantern ring spiralling. It was temporarily stolen by a failed comedienne who used it for her own greedy purposes. After the female heroes defeated her, the ring then chose Oracle, Barbara Gordon, to be the new Green Lantern for Earth. Besides being a powerful new hero, the ring also helped Barbara walk for the first time since her shooting at the hands of the Joker.
8. CLARK KENT
In the 2000 Elseworlds miniseries, “Superman: Last Son of Earth,” writer Steve Gerber and artist Doug Wheatley turned the Superman mythos on its ear with the story of astrophysicist Jonathan Kent, who discovered that Earth was going to be hit by a meteor. He built a spaceship to take his wife and son off of the planet before it was devastated by the deep impact of the meteor. Baby Clark landed on Krypton, where he was adopted by the Els. After being raised on Kryton as Kal-El, Clark received a Green Lantern ring. He then ended up rescuing Krypton from its own destruction.
After learning about his birth planet, Clark/Kal headed back to Earth, where he was shocked to learn that all of his time on Krypton had given him super-strength on Earth (due to the difference in gravity on each planet). Earth was in a sort of post-Armageddon situation, and Clark/Kal helped team up with the good survivors, including Lois Lane, against the evil ones, led by Lex Luthor.
7. THE GREEN LOONTERN
One of the most popular members of the Looney Tunes group of characters is Daffy Duck. In 1953, Daffy started in the spoof of “Buck Rogers of the 25th Century” with Daffy as “Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century.” While the original theatrical short was more of a specific Buck Rogers spoof, when the concept was brought back for its own TV series in 2003, it opened up its satirical style to all manners of science fiction stories.
In the eighth episode, “The Green Loontern,” Duck Dodgers and Hal Jordan get their costumes mixed up at the dry cleaners. Now a member of the Green Lantern Corps, Duck Dodgers gets sucked into a massive conflict against Sinestro. Being generally not the most competent hero in the bunch, Duck wasn’t a huge help, but he did end up reviving a group of Green Lanterns who had been put to sleep by Sinestro. So, in a way, Duck Dodgers ended up saving the day! Hal Jordan soon showed up wearing the Duck Dodgers uniform and the heroes switched clothes.
6. BIG BARDA
Released in 1998, the Elseworlds miniseries “JLA: The Nail” (by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer) is based on the famous proverb “For want of a nail,” which argues that the smallest thing might end up becoming very significant in the great scheme of things. In this instance, the nail in question went through the tire of Jonathan and Martha Kent’s truck, preventing them from driving by the spot where baby Kal-El crash-landed from Krypton. As a result, Superman never came about the way that he did in the regular DC Universe. The Justice League formed without him, but things ended up falling apart until finally Kal-El took on the role of Superman in the end.
Six years later, Davis and Farmer returned to the concept with a new miniseries, dubbed “Another Nail.” This time, the story involved a battle with Apokolips. In the beginning of the series, we see Darkseid torture Mister Miracle to death. However, Mister Miracle “escaped” into the Mother Box of his wife, Big Barda. The Green Lantern Corps and the heroic New Gods were undergoing an assault on Apokolips. When one of the Lanterns was killed, their ring went to Barda, who also used the ring to sort of revive Mister Miracle as a being made out of energy.
5. UNCLE SAM
In the storyline “Absolute Power” in “Superman/Batman” #14-18, writer Jeph Loeb and artists Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino depict a terrible alternate reality where the Legion of Super-Villains traveled back in time and adopted young Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. They then raised them to be despotic rulers of Earth. Most of the Justice League was killed off and there is only a handful of superheroes fighting in resistance left on Earth.
Two of the most notable heroes still fighting against Superman and Batman were Wonder Woman and Uncle Sam, the superhero who is powered by the will of the American people. Uncle Sam’s specific power set played into an awesomely clever sequence where he gets a hold of a Green Lantern ring, and since he is powered by the will of the people and Green Lantern rings run on willpower, Uncle Sam becomes tremendously powerful. Batman and Superman still prevail, but ultimately they realize their true heroic selves and find a way to undo what their adopted parents had done.
4. GREEN ARROW
In the miniseries “Green Lantern: Rebirth” (by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver and Prentis Rollins), it was revealed that Hal Jordan, who had seemingly gone insane with grief over the destruction of his home in Coast City, had never actually gone crazy. It turned out that there was a fear entity known as Parallax, who was trapped inside the Green Lantern Corps Central Battery, that Sinestro helped foster and empower so that it could take control of Hal Jordan and force him to destroy the Battery. With the Battery destroyed, Parallax was released and bonded with Hal (which is why Hal called himself Parallax).
The entity was now on the loose and, slowly but surely, the prior Green Lanterns like Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner returned to stop it. Along the way, though, Hal’s willpower was weakened, as Sinestro and Parallax convinced him that no one believed in him. Hal’s old friend, Green Arrow, though, proved that not to be the case. He had turned on the possessed Hal, but he now knew the truth and trusted Hal again. He also mustered up enough willpower to shoot an arrow construct out of an emergency Green Lantern ring that Hal had given him, hitting Sinestro with it, preventing Sinestro from killing the then-current Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner.
When Hal Jordan returned to becoming Green Lantern, most of his former Justice League teammates were thrilled to see him back. One hero, though, was unwilling to forgive and forget. Batman did not put much faith in the idea that Hal was not responsible for his actions as Parallax, as while Parallax did possess Hal, Batman found some doubt into whether a “true” hero would ever be swayed by something like Parallax. Batman was so cold to Hal that Hal even sucker-punched him at the end of “Rebirth,” to show that he didn’t care whether Batman trusted him or not.
In “Green Lantern” #9 (by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver and Prentis Rollins), we see their relationship slowly heal, as Batman called Hal in to assist on a case involving the new Tattooed Man, since the original Tattooed Man was an old enemy of Hal’s. By the end of the story, they were in a better place. While back at the Batcave, Hal lent Batman his ring so that Batman could see his greatest fear and then get past it. However, Batman was still driven by the loss of his parents, so he ultimately chose not to get past it.
As noted earlier, the New 52 has solidified the importance of the friendship between Green Lantern and the Flash. When the Justice League formed for the first time in this new continuity, Green Lantern and Flash were the only heroes who were already friends before the group had formed. In “Flash Annual” #2 (by Brian Buccellato and Sami Basri), we find out how they first met. It was a hilarious case of mistaken identity at first, but they soon teamed up to save some kids from a bunch of alien thieves.
That was the past, but in the present, their prior fight against the aliens ended up with them owing a debt that they now had to pay off on Arena World. They battled for some time until Green Lantern got temporarily taken out of commission. Flash’s powers were also being drained, so he had to take on Green Lantern’s ring and use it to free them both and save the day.
1. HARLEY QUINN
“Harley Quinn’s Little Black Book” is a fun series that teams Harley Quinn up with major superheroes like Wonder Woman, Superman and, in “Harley Quinn’s Little Black Book” #2 (by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and John Timms), Green Lantern. It seems that a Red Lantern Ring was loose on Earth and some evil aliens were coming to get a hold of it. First, Harley Quinn ended up getting possession of the ring, and in turn, the ring pretty much possessed her.
She fought Green Lantern to a standstill, but then lost the Red Lantern Ring to the evil aliens. Green Lantern had to save her, but after he was knocked out, she took over the ring. She then had to think of what to do with her ring, and she came up with the idea, of course, to use a giant green sledge hammer to destroy the aliens’ ships and save the day.
Who is your favorite member of the Green Lantern Corps? Let us know in the comments section!