The Green Lantern Corps is one of the greatest forces for good in the DC Universe. Equipped with rings made of technology so advanced as to basically be magic, they act as a sort of universal police force. Protecting the innocent, punishing the guilty, and defending the universe from threats to existence, the Green Lanterns are DC's largest and most organized superhero organization. Multiple members have allied with the Justice League, and the Corps has been key in defeating some of the largest threats in the universe. From Superboy Prime to Mandrakk the Dark Monitor to Nekron and the Black Lantern Corps, the Corps is on the front lines.
Created in 1959 by John Broome and Gil Kane, the Green Lantern Corps covers the entire known universe with only 7202 members. Dividing the universe into 3600 sectors, a Green Lantern ring selects two worthy candidates for their ability to overcome great fear. The rings function off of a being's willpower. The stronger the willpower, the greater feats a Green Lantern can achieve. Naturally, all Green Lanterns are powerful heroes in their own right, but some rise above the others. This list looks at the absolute best of the best, from a tiny fly to Hal Jordan himself.
Created in 1992 by Gerard Jones, Pat Broderick, Romeo Tanghal, Albert De Guzman, and Anthony Tollin, Boodikka is an alien who worked as a mercenary before joining the Corps. Although Hal Jordan was initially wary of her aggressive attitude, she quickly proved herself in battle against Star Sapphire and Eclipso. While she proved a skilled and able member of the Corps, her anti-authority problems caused trouble for the Corps. She would continue to defend the universe ably until the tragic events of Emerald Twilight. Unable to stand up to Hal Jordan's willpower, she lost her hand and her ring, and was left floating in space on his rampage towards Oa.
After Hal's rebirth and redemption, Boodikka rejoined the Green Lantern Corps after escaping from the Manhunters and the Cyborg Superman. She replaced her lost hand with one formed out of pure willpower, using her ring. After the events of the Sinestro Corps War, she became a member of the Alpha Lanterns, hybrids of Lanterns and Manhunters that acted as Internal Affairs for the Green Lanterns. Granted a second power ring and an internal power battery, this resulted in a large power boost. She was also one of the few Alpha Lanterns to retain her emotions and personality, which were usually lost in the conversion to Alpha Lantern.
Stel is a robot. Created in 1962 by John Broome and Gil Kane, Stel has been kicking around the Green Lantern Corps for almost as long as Hal Jordan himself. Trained by Sinestro before his fall, Stel has long been a mainstay Green Lantern for various space adventures. Battling Qwardians, Nekron, and the rogue Guardian Krona, Stel has been through it all. Even dying, well before Hal Jordan gave it a shot. He was fortunately revived, and went on to continue to be one of the Corps' most steadfast members. In the Sinestro Corps War, Stel almost died again, but then proved to be a key component in the defense of Mogo.
Stel would later be the first Lantern to encounter Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern. Although he didn't walk away unscathed, he did survive the encounter with the immensely powerful Orange Lantern, and alerted the Guardians to his presence. He was key to Oa's defense against the Black Lanterns in the Blackest Night. After the Blackest Night, he was chosen by Kilowog to become the new drill instructor for rookie Lanterns, confirming his skill and ability as one of the strongest Green Lanterns. He was later sent to apprehend Hal Jordan after he defied the Guardians once again.
Created in 1982 by Marv Wolfman and Joe Staton, Salaak was a bit of a minor player before the revival of the Green Lantern Corps after Emerald Twilight. Introduced as a veteran Lantern, he was generally a loner and a pessimist. He did eventually come out of his shell a bit, befriending squirrel Green Lantern Ch'p. Salaak even married a human woman, during a time when he lived in the future. He was unfortunately unable to stop the destruction of the Corps when Hal Jordan became Parallax and drained the Central Power Battery.
After the Corps' revival, he was promoted to senior administrator and keeper of the Book of Oa. He essentially ran the Corps for a time, before the increasingly emotionless Guardians of the Universe begin cutting him out of decisions, such as the creation of the Alpha Lanterns. He later took command of the Corps outright during the Blackest Night, circumventing the Alpha Lanterns and basically saving the Corps from the threat of the Black Lanterns. His skill and power with the ring are undeniable, but it's more his brilliant mind that makes him one of the Corps' most valuable Lanterns. Able to coordinate and command the Corps, he frequently acts as second-in-command to the Guardians, and is a valuable adviser to anyone else who might be leading the Corps.
17 ROT LOP FAN
In the 1980s, Alan Moore wrote a few Green Lantern comics. Some of his creations would go on to be key elements in the Lantern mythos, including Mogo and Sodom Yat. Most importantly, Geoff Johns would come back to one of the stories, and spin out his entire Blackest Night storyline from a single page in one of Moore's Lantern comics. Indeed, Johns referenced Abin Sur's encounter with Qull of the Five Inversions as the prophecy of the Blackest Night, making it a central element of the first half of his Green Lantern run.
But this list isn't about how Geoff Johns took his big idea from Alan Moore. Instead, it's about the one seemingly inconsequential Green Lantern story Moore wrote. In 1987, he wrote "In Blackest Night," a story about Katma Tui seeking a new Green Lantern in the Obsidian Depths, an utterly lightless area of space. There, she finds the new Lantern, Rot Lop Fan, but is unable to induct him properly, as he has no conception of the color green, what a lantern is, or even light itself. Eventually, Rot Lop Fan overcomes this difficulty by reconceptualizing light as sound, and becoming the F-Sharp Bell, with a unique oath and everything.
Bzzd is a fairly minor Green Lantern in the context of narrative, but in the context of the Green Lantern Corps, he is one of the most respected and powerful members due to his incredible willpower. A wasp-like alien no bigger than a house fly, Bzzd is one of the smallest Green Lanterns. While his willpower allows him to create incredible constructs, he also has his natural stinger, capable of disabling enemies far larger than him in size. Partnered with the largest Green Lantern, Mogo, Bzzd proved time and time again to be a great Green Lantern.
Key in the battle against the Sinestro Corps, his mastery of improvisational tactics and small size make him excellent for stealth missions. It is revealed that his greatest fear is being stripped of his ring and being reduced once again to an insignificant insect on his homeworld. During the Sinestro Corps War, one of the most powerful Sinestro Lanterns, Mongul, attempted to use the Black Mercy to spread fear across the universe. Bzzd was key to defeating him, made all the more impressive by how often Mongul goes toe-to-toe with Superman. Unfortunately, Bzzd died in the battle. His ring was passed on to the creator of the Black Mercy plants.
15 GREEN MAN
From the planet Uxor, Green Man is a bit of an anomaly. The Uxorians frown upon individuality and as such don't like it when others demonstrate it. Green Man bucked this trend, rebelling against this sentiment, and longing for a personal identity. Joining the Green Lanterns was the biggest way he could do so, and he leapt at the chance. Unfortunately, Uxor is in the Vega system, which meant Green Man could never return home. Eventually, this inability to bring justice to his home system led to him leaving the Corps and joining the Omega Men. He would later die in the Invasion! event.
Apparently, the first Green Man inspired someone else on Uxor, and a second Green Man is shown partnered with the robot Stel in the reborn Green Lantern Corps after Hal Jordan's return. He stands firm defending Oa against Superboy-Prime in Infinite Crisis, and joins the fight against the Sinestro Corps. He later joins the Alpha Lanterns, and is one of the more just members. Along with the rest of the Alpha Lanterns, he regains his emotions after their confrontation with the Cyborg Superman. And again, like the rest of the Alpha Lanterns, he dies at the hands of Alpha Lantern Varix during the War of the Green Lanterns.
In the wake of Hal Jordan's rebirth and redemption, the Green Lantern Corps is reborn and reconstructed once again. One of the first recruits is the squirrel-like H'lvenite B'dg (pronounced Badge). A successor to fellow H'lvenite Ch'p, who met his untimely demise by way of getting flattened by a yellow truck, B'dg quickly establishes himself as one of the Corps' proudest members. Facing off against the Spider Guild and Superboy Prime, much of his training happens on the job. He first learns to overcome the yellow impurity in the midst of battle against the Spider Guild. Like the rest of the Corps, he battles against the Sinestro Corps, facing off against Superboy Prime once again.
B'dg finally gets some more narrative focus when he is sent to Earth to track down Hal Jordan's successor in the wake of his disappearance. Finding Simon Baz, he instructs him in the basics of being a Green Lantern. Together with Baz, B'dg tracks down and captures Black Hand, formerly one of the driving forces behind the assault of the Black Lanterns during the Blackest Night. B'dg then fades into the background, which is perhaps a better fate than what befell his predecessor.
13 SORANIK NATU
In order to talk about Soranik Natu, we first have to talk a little bit about Sinestro. Once regarded as the greatest Green Lantern, Sinestro fell from grace after it was revealed he had used his ring to set up an absolute dictatorship on his home planet of Korugar. Soranik, another native of Korugar, thus came to view the Green Lanterns as a symbol of oppression, along with the rest of her people. A talented neurosurgeon, Natu was naturally horrified when a Green Lantern ring chose her, although it did lead to her saving a patient.
Recruited in the the Corps' reconstruction in the wake of Hal Jordan's rebirth and redemption, she is part of the defense against Superboy-Prime during Infinite Crisis. She is deemed a worthy successor by Sinestro during the Sinestro Corps War, and he even allows Korugar to think Natu saved the planet from Sinestro in order to improve the image of Green Lanterns. Eventually, it is revealed that Natu is Sinestro's daughter, and his conquest of Korugar was spurred by him wanting to keep the planet safe for his daughter. She would later join the Sinestro Corps, and come to lead them in a tenuous alliance with the Green Lanterns, which has since been broken.
12 LEEZLE PON
Another of Alan Moore's oddball Lantern creations from the '80s, Leezle Pon is a super-intelligent smallpox virus. First introduced in a list of Lanterns unable to attend group meetings on Oa, they avoid the meetings due to a risk of infecting their fellow Lanterns. It would not be until Geoff Johns started using some of Alan Moore's more off the wall ideas that Leezle Pon would reappear, and as more than just a mention. With the resurrection of the Green Lantern Corps following Hal Jordan's return, Leezle Pon is reinstated with a new partner, Reemuz. In the prelude to the Sinestro Corps War, Reemuz, along with 85% of the planets in his and Leezle Pon's sector, are infected by the sentient virus Despotellis, a member of the Sinestro Corps.
Leezle Pon, devastated by the loss of their partner and so many other lives, redoubles their efforts as a member of the Corps. Standing firm against the Sinestro Corps when they attack Earth, they finally get revenge against Despotellis. After Despotellis infects Guy Gardner, Soranik Natu injects Gardner with Leezle Pon, who battles against Despotellis and his rapidly reproducing cells within Gardner. Leezle Pon is able to overcome Despotellis and capture him, so that Soranik Natu can develop a vaccine.
11 JESSICA CRUZ
The most recent of Earth's Green Lanterns, Jessica Cruz is an interesting case. You see, Jessica Cruz has anxiety and agoraphobia. A lot of fans were confused about how someone afraid to even step outside could be a Green Lantern. After all, the one requirement for being a Green Lantern is the ability to overcome great fear. At first, she wielded the Ring of Volthoom, a relic from Earth-3 formerly wielded by Power Ring of the Crime Syndicate. Able to overcome the fear caused by the Ring, she is granted a Green Lantern ring upon its destruction.
At first, she struggles with the ring, due to her aforementioned fear of everything. She even struggles to create constructs at first. As she grows more confident with the ring, she grows more powerful. In the excellent Green Lanterns #15, by Sam Humphries, Miguel Mendonca, Scott Hanna, and Blond, the reader sees firsthand how Jessica deals with her anxiety, and how it makes her a strong Green Lantern. When she's feeling great, she impresses even Superman with her power. But it can all come crashing down in an instant. As she describes it, she overcomes great fear every day, just to get out of bed.
10 SIMON BAZ
Simon Baz is perhaps the DC Universe's greatest "Who?" Created by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke in the last days of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern epic, Baz made some waves as the first Muslim Green Lantern. Of course, because Geoff Johns is not the subtlest writer, he is introduced stealing a car with a bomb in the trunk and getting sent to infamous extralegal terrorist prison Guantanamo Bay. He manages to escape with the help of a newly acquired Green Lantern ring. Because the ring is created from a fusion of Sinestro and Hal Jordan's rings, it's a bit wonky, so Simon carries a gun just in case it fails at an inopportune time.
Simon has access to two very unique powers. The first, Emerald Sight, allows him glimpses of the near future. He doesn't often use this power, mostly because he more often than not forgets it exists. The other allows him to heal people. This power also isn't used often, as it takes extreme effort and exhausts Simon. He eventually gave up his gun, at the advice of Batman, as it was acting as a manifestation of fear that his ring would fail once again. Since then, he has partnered with Jessica and become an unflinching force for good in the galaxy.
9 JOHN STEWART
The third human Green Lantern, John Stewart was introduced in 1971, created by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams. Most people will recognize Stewart as the Green Lantern of the DC Animated Universe. One of DC's first black superheroes (Jack Kirby's Black Racer was THE first by a matter of months, and Marvel's Black Panther and Falcon by years), John Stewart proved himself an able Lantern on his first mission. A politically charged story, the Guardians tasked Stewart and Hal Jordan with protecting a racist politician. Stewart would later take over as Green Lantern full-time when Hal Jordan gave up his position in the 1980s.
Stewart would later become the first human Guardian of the Universe, known as the Master Builder, on the patchwork Mosaic world. A former architect, Stewart was the perfect caretaker for the Mosaic. He worked to forge the disparate patchwork communities of Mosaic into a new society. Unfortunately, his newfound powers and community were lost when Hal Jordan destroyed the Central Power Battery in Emerald Twilight. Stewart would later regain his ring, and stand with the Corps throughout Geoff Johns' run. Later still, he would become the leader of the Green Lantern Corps, in the absence of the Guardians.
Another Alan Moore creation, Mogo got an entire story dedicated to it. A sentient planet, little is known about Mogo's origins, or how it came to hold a Green Lantern ring. In its first story, it is revealed that Mogo's gravitational field would wreak havoc on any planet it tried to "visit," hence its absence from Green Lantern Corps meetings on Oa. Although initially a one-off character who made occasional appearances, he would rise to much greater prominence later on when Geoff Johns took over the Green Lantern line. With the resurrection of the Green Lantern Corps, Mogo would become a training and recreation planet for the Green Lanterns.
But Mogo's greatest role in the Corps is revealed in the Sinestro Corps War. Mogo, in fact, directs the Lantern-less Rings searching for beings who can overcome great fear. Without Mogo, the Corps would be rudderless, unable to recruit new Lanterns. Mogo is also capable of purifying people of the influence of corrupting rings like those of the Red Lanterns. He can also fire massive Death Star-esque blasts of Lantern energy. After the destruction of Oa by Relic in the "Lights Out" crossover, Mogo becomes the headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps.
7 SODAM YAT
One last Alan Moore creation, Sodam Yat was first introduced in the story that would go on to form the basis of a large part of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern epic. A Daxamite -- a race with all the powers of Superman -- he was described as the "Ultimate Green Lantern." Despite his great power and impressive title, he was still prophesied to die in the final destruction of the Green Lantern Corps. While Moore planned to use Yat in his proposed but never published Twilight of the Superheroes, Sodam Yat would go unused until Geoff Johns brought him in for his Green Lantern epic thirty years later.
There, Yat is introduced as a rookie Green Lantern who is unaware of the power his Daxamite heritage can have. He is chosen for special protection, specifically to avert the prophecy that would come about with his death. He is chosen as the new host of the Ion entity, after it is stripped from Kyle Rayner by the Sinestro Corps. He later courageously holds his own against the immensely powerful Superboy-Prime, only losing due to his Daxamite physiology's weakness to lead. He later uses the Ion entity to reinvigorate Daxam's red sun into a yellow one, allowing the rest of his race to regain their superpowers.
Created in 1986 by Steve Englehart and Joe Staton, Kilowog is a central part of the Green Lantern Corps. Acting as the drill instructor for rookie Lanterns, every currently active Green Lantern was trained by him in some capacity. From the basics of controlling the ring, to more advanced construct and willpower application, Kilowog demonstrates probably the greatest mastery of the ring, second only to virtuosos like Sinestro. Beyond that, his intimidating stature and great strength make him a powerful warrior with or without the ring. Kilowog also briefly relocated to Earth, even aiding the Justice League for a time.
Kilowog would later die in a confrontation with Hal Jordan in Emerald Twilight. Kyle Rayner and Ganthet later revive him, and he returned to the Corps upon their reformation in the wake of Hal Jordan's return. He would join the Corps in the battle against the Sinestro Corps and the Black Lanterns, proving himself again and again to be one of the Corps' greatest Lanterns. He was also the only alien Green Lantern able to resist the control of the rogue Guardian Krona, due to his previous encounter with the Parallax entity. He also resists the Guardians when they enact their plan for the universe-assimilating emotionless Third Army.
5 KYLE RAYNER
Kyle Rayner is the fourth human Green Lantern. After Hal Jordan's slaughter of the Green Lantern Corps and destruction of the Central Power Battery in Emerald Twilight, the Guardian Ganthet escaped with the last working ring. He gives it to Kyle, at first for no apparent reason beyond right place, right time, saying "You will have to do." Later, he reveals that Kyle was chosen not because he is fearless, but because he both feels and can overcome great fear, key to overcoming the influence of the Parallax entity. The ability to overcome great fear would later become the key to finding new Lantern recruits.
Kyle would spend several years as the only Green Lantern in the universe, joining the Justice League in Grant Morrison's JLA. Later, he would ascend to near-godhood as Ion, absorbing the energy left by Hal Jordan in Earth's sun in the wake of Final Night. While he gave up a large chunk of his power, he remained as Ion for a time, losing it permanently in the Sinestro Corps War. Later still, he would gain one of each Lantern Corps' rings, and learn to control each of them. This in turn led him to becoming the White Lantern, one of the most powerful beings in the universe.
These final four entries were a bit hard to rank. After all, who could really be said to be THE BEST? Sure, Hal Jordan is called the Greatest Green Lantern all the time, but so is Sinestro. And the other two entries are certainly no slouches. So we'll just toss them all in a pile and let you, the readers, decide which one you think is the best. The first of the four is none other than Sinestro. Former MVP of the Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro went through an incredible fall from grace. After Hal Jordan, his student, discovered that Sinestro had set up a dictatorship on his home planet of Korugar, he was stripped of his ring and banished from the Corps.
Throughout the years, he would harry the Corps as a villain. During Emerald Twilight, he was reinstated as a Lantern as the last hope of defeating a grief-crazed Hal Jordan on his unstoppable rampage toward Oa. He even created his own Lantern Corps, in the form of the Sinestro Corps, harnessing the yellow light of fear. After the Sinestro Corps War, his alignment shifted more heavily towards anti-hero, frequently allying with Hal and the Green Lanterns throughout the rest of Geoff Johns' epic. He would even regain a Green Lantern ring once again, after Hal Jordan lost his.
3 GUY GARDNER
We were very, very tempted to put Guy Gardner at number 1. After all, he is one of the best Green Lanterns of all time. His brash, at times arrogant attitude doesn't prevent him from being one of the greatest heroes of Earth. He was even one of the two options when Abin Sur died. Since Hal Jordan was closer, though, it went to him instead of Gardner. Possibly the best-educated, and definitely the most "real world hero" of the human Lanterns, Gardner worked as a social worker before the New 52, which retconned him into an ex-cop.
Gardner was also one of the few Lanterns to maintain a hero career after Emerald Twilight and the destruction of the Green Lantern Corps. First using a yellow power ring from Qward (in fact, it was Sinestro's original one), he would later become an alien hybrid hero going by the Warrior. Later, he is promoted to Sentinel Lantern, second only to the Guardians in the chain of command, although this is part of a plot by the Guardians to engineer a massive fall from grace. Guy is also one of the few Green Lanterns to master multiple other Corps' ring, and one of the only ones to use them for an extended period of time. This occurred most notably while Gardner led and reformed the Red Lantern Corps in the wake of Atrocitus' disappearance.
2 HAL JORDAN
Here he is, the Greatest Green Lantern. "But wait," you say, "this is only the number 2 entry! Surely the Greatest Green Lantern would be number 1!" Well don't you worry reader, we'll get there. Yes, Hal Jordan is the Greatest Green Lantern in the Green Lantern Corps. His willpower and ability to overcome great fear are unparalleled, although he had to go through some incredible falls from grace before that became true. Created in DC's explosion into the Silver Age, Hal Jordan was introduced alongside the Green Lantern Corps. He would later destroy it in the events of Emerald Twilight, which saw him descend into the villainous Parallax.
After his death, rebirth, and redemption, Hal regained his status as one of the greatest Green Lanterns, standing on the front lines against the various threats that began to emerge in the prelude to the Blackest Night and beyond. He stood toe-to-toe with Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern, and the Red Lantern Corps. He even briefly became a White Lantern during the Blackest Night, and commanded Nekron, rule of the Black Lanterns, in the battle against Volthoom, the First Lantern. His sheer willpower grants him incredible strength, and while his constructs are simple, they are eminently effective.
1 ALAN SCOTT
Some of our more well-read readers probably saw this one coming. Alan Scott is the original, Golden Age Green Lantern. Introduced well before the Green Lantern Corps was ever conceived, Alan Scott operates a bit differently from other Green Lanterns. Drawing power from a green meteor wreathed in green flame, he became the crime fighting Green Lantern. The ring granted him immense power, allowing him to walk through walls, hypnotize people, melt metal, and even time travel. It was hindered by its weakness to wood, however. A founding member of the Justice Society, he became one of DC's premiere superheroes during the Golden Age.
After entering the main DC Universe after Crisis on Infinite Earths, his powers were rejiggered slightly to be more magical in nature. They also vastly outstripped a standard Green Lantern's power, as he didn't need to charge his ring, and eventually became able to use his powers without even needing his ring. During Green Lantern Rebirth, while the other Green Lanterns are controlled by the Parallax entity, Alan manages to resist it, although the effort of doing so severely weakens him. He is later key to destroying hundreds of Black Lanterns attacking New York during Blackest Night.