Hal Jordan’s journey from rookie into the greatest Green Lantern ever wasn’t an easy one. He got his ring in dangerous circumstances after narrowly surviving a jet crash. He had to stop his first partner and friend, Sinestro, who wound up being an insane despot ruling over his homeworld with an iron fist. And it’s impossible to forget the whole, “got possessed by an evil space insect, went insane after the destruction of his hometown, attacked and decimated the entire Corps” thing. Nonetheless, Hal Jordan has managed to counter tragedy with triumph time and again, even saving the Corps-- and all of creation -- several times over.
Though it took awhile, eventually Hal earned back that title of greatest Green Lantern of them all. Plus his recent adventures have given him another leg up -- spending time using rogue Guardian Krona’s gauntlet has augmented his body, and allowed him to do the impossible: Hal Jordan doesn’t just know how to tap into the collective willpower of the universe, but he knows how to create Green Lantern Rings himself. But despite all that he’s done with his ring, Hal isn’t necessarily the best ring slinger ever. While he excels at controlling the Green Ring in ways his peers can only dream of, the GLs aren’t the only game in town anymore. Over the past decade, an entire spectrum of Lanterns have established themselves, and a few of them have even managed to surpass Jordan himself! So let’s take a look at ten Power Ring users who are even better than Hal Jordan, and ten who couldn’t even polish his Lantern.
20 BETTER: KYLE RAYNER
Though this might drive a certain contingent of fans crazy, Kyle surpassed Hal some time ago. His knowledge of working to overcome fear was the reason he was able to fight Parallax off so well when he first sought to bring down a nascent Corps back in Green Lantern: Rebirth.
Plus, he held the line when no other former GL could as the Torchbearer, and was granted the power of the emotional guardian of will, Ion, because of his service. Lastly, Kyle managed to learn to master all seven different rings to become the White Lantern, something Hal was never able to even attempt thanks to his singular focus on the Green Light of Will.
19 WORSE: MONGUL
Someone who can trade blows with Superman himself owning a power ring sounds like a nightmare, but it definitely happened. The alien despot took control of the Sinestro Corps by force while Sinestro was MIA, brutally demanding everyone in their army either kneel or surrender their ring.
He easily defeated Arkillo, Sinestro’s number two, even going so far as to rip his tongue out. But despite all his strength, when it came down to it he wasn’t able to defeat Sinestro once he came back to reclaim his Corps. Easily outsmarted, Mongul proved that for him the rings were nothing more than a brute force tool to try and enforce his reign.
18 BETTER: INDIGO-1
Underneath their tribal outfits and almost indecipherable language, the Indigo Corps hides a great secret: Their rings don’t seek out people capable of great compassion, but rather they force those who normally are incapable of compassion to feel it. Within their ranks lie dangerous thieves and criminals, and Indigo-1, or Iroque, was once the worst of them all.
But she devoted herself so thoroughly to her Corps that the connection to compassion remained even after she once lost her ring. Plus, the Indigo Lantern Corps has some limited ability to access the powers of all the emotional spectrum, granting her experience that Hal or most other Lanterns could only dream of.
17 WORSE: OLIVER QUEEN
No, this didn’t happen in some strange Elseworlds storyline where Oliver Queen suddenly happened upon the ring and became Green Lantern. When the current era of Green Lantern was just starting during 2005’s Green Lantern: Rebirth, Oliver Queen was forced to battle against Sinestro on his own briefly.
It took literally everything he had to use the ring just one time, and even then he only managed to create a construct of a single arrow. Just that single use of the ring left him drained and barely able to walk, reminding us the Green Lantern Ring isn’t meant for just anyone.
16 BETTER: NEKRON
Other than Larfleeze, there isn’t any other ring wielder on this list (or in existence) that has more experience with their power than Nekron. That’s because he isn’t the sole wielder of its power -- he’s the avatar of death, so he generates and creates his own power himself.
The Lantern is more of a formality and a beacon for the members of his Corps, because he certainly doesn’t need it to channel his energy. It took the creation of the first White Lantern, as well as all of the heroes of Earth and the other Lantern Corps working together to take this guy down.
15 WORSE:POWER RING
There have actually been several versions of Power Ring, but for this list we’ll go with the one introduced most recently. Harold Jordan was once a cowardly janitor working for Ferris Air, when a chance meeting with the alien Abin Sur resulted in him accidentally taking on Sur’s ring.
Granting him powers equivalent to Green Lantern, Jordan became a part of the Crime Syndicate afterwards, finally giving him a shot at the big time. But much like the rest of the Crime Syndicate, Power Ring gets the breaks beat off him by the good guys every time they get into it. Plus this version of the character is being controlled by Volthoom, the power inside the ring.
14 BETTER: CAROL FERRIS
Carol was a thorn in Hal’s side time and again when she came into possession of the original Star Sapphire, which would often take control of her and cause her to strike out against her on-again, off-again beau.
But it was this experience with using the powers of the violet energy spectrum which led to her being one of the first women to be chosen to be one of the new Star Sapphires. She also eventually became queen of the Sapphires after the Zamaron Aga’po stepped down, which elevated her to a level far above anything Hal’s ever been accustomed to.
13 WORSE: ROMAT-RU
While Tomar-Re and his son Tomar-Tu are legendary members of the Green Lantern Corps with storied careers working to enforce order across the universe, not every member of Xudar can say the same. If the backwards name didn’t tip anyone off, Romat-Ru is about as bad as they come, responsible for countless lives lost on his planet.
Still, dangerous as he was on his home planet, he was far more of a threat without the ring than with one. As a member of the Sinestro Corps, he never stood out much as any kind of virtuoso with his ring, just a criminal happy to do his master’s gruntwork.
12 BETTER: SINESTRO
It might be easy to just discount Sinestro as a member of Hal’s rogues and assume Hal’s stronger because he’s beaten him time and again, but that doesn’t really do credit to everything Sinestro’s accomplished. For one, he taught Hal quite a bit of what he knows, but he’s also managed to master the powers of two separate rings -- yellow and green -- while Hal’s only ever dabbled outside of his mastery of will.
But most importantly, while Parallax drove Hal mad and caused him to wipe out the Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro allowed Parallax to possesses his body and still wound up staying firmly in control of his mind and body.
11 WORSE: SIMON BAZ
Simon Baz was one of two rookie Lanterns introduced during the first half of the New 52. Make no mistake, despite his inexperience he can do things with the ring no one else can -- he’s the first person to ever figure out how to heal people with the ring, for instance.
But he also just barely learned how to trust his ring, as he spent the first few years as a Lantern wearing a gun because he thought it was a bit more trustworthy than a ring which could run out of power at any time… and one he didn’t completely know how to use to begin with.
10 BETTER: VOLTHOOM
Dubbed “The First Lantern”, Volthoom started out as a simple traveler from another Earth but wound up with the power to harness the entire emotional spectrum thanks to the Guardians’ experiments. Boasting abilities like altering reality itself, he became a threat even to the Guardians and was eventually locked away for billions of years.
When he finally got out, it was an all hands on deck situation to put him down again -- every Corps had to work together to finally end his threat. Hal even had to kill himself to gain access to the Black Lanterns for their fight against a fully powered Volthoom.
9 WORSE: JESSICA CRUZ
A young woman introduced to ring-slinging barely a few years ago, Jessica definitely didn’t start out fitting the qualifications to be a Green Lantern. Struggling with massive anxiety, rather than being fearless, she was literally too frightened to leave her room, until she was suddenly gifted the Harold Jordan’s Power Ring from Earth 3.
Overcoming her fear to de-power that ring and release herself from the ring’s control is certainly impressive, but Jessica just barely learned how to make constructs with her ring not too long ago. She’s certainly not equipped to go head-to-head with one of the best ring wielders in the universe.
8 BETTER: ATROCITUS
In the aftermath of the destruction of his sector by the malfunctioning Manhunters, Atrocitus became one of the five remaining survivors amongst a sector of millions. His hatred for both the Manhunters and their creators the Guardians pushed him to learn the secrets necessary to create the powers of the Rage Lanterns, even at the cost of the lives of the other four survivors.
But unlike most Red Lanterns, Atrocitus is one of the few who isn’t so consumed by rage that he can’t make constructs, and he knows secrets about his powers the rest of the Corps can only begin to guess at.
7 WORSE: KILOWOG
It’s true, as the drill sergeant of the Green Lantern Corps, Kilowog isn’t just known for having taught Hal Jordan how to use his ring -- he’s almost single-handedly responsible for whipping every sorry recruit ever dragged onto Oa into proper fighting shape.
When Hal was a rookie he tried to take on Kilowog and got embarrassed, so this is definitely a case of the student surpassing the master. Years later, in Green Lantern vol. 4 #4, a more experienced Hal got in a one on one sparring match with Kilowog and easily gained the upper hand, even without the use of their rings.
6 BETTER: LARFLEEZE
When it comes to experience wielding their ring, few on this list can hope to compare to Larfleeze. He’s been using the orange light of avarice for billions of years, dating back to before the Green Lantern Corps existed and when the Guardians were still using Manhunters. Plus, as the sole owner of the Avarice Lantern, no one else can even begin to know how to use this power the way he does.
Thanks to him constantly keeping his ring and lantern next to one another, his ring is always super charged, which is fortunate since there are always people seeking to take the power of his lantern from him.
5 WORSE: SUPERBOY-PRIME
One of the most surprising moments of the Sinestro Corps War was the reveal of the group’s lieutenants, a veritable who’s who of dangerous bad guys: Cyborg Superman, the freaking Anti-Monitor, and Superboy-Prime. Yes, the spoiled manchild from another world briefly decided to be a team player for the sake of inflicting more pain on the universe he considered to be inferior to his own.
But Superboy-Prime never really learned how to use his ring all that well, spending most of his time relying on his already incredible Kryptonian abilities. Plus, he doesn’t even keep his ring after being transported into an alternate universe.
4 BETTER: SODAM YAT
It’s true, Sodam Yat doesn’t possess nearly the experience with the ring that Hal does but as a Daxamite, whenever he’s under a yellow sun he has access to power far exceeding that of any other ring wielder, making him roughly equal to a Kryptonian in powers.
But it isn’t just his status as a Daxamite that places him above Hal -- in the aftermath of Kyle Rayner having Ion pulled out of him as part of the plan of the Sinestro Corps, the entity of willpower needed a new host. This connection is bestowed upon Sodam, making an already absurdly powerful Lantern even greater -- granting him almost limitless access to the green light of will.
3 WORSE: ABIN SUR
The Lantern in charge of patrolling sector 2814 before Hal Jordan, Abin Sur was forced to hand his ring over after crash landing on Earth and becoming mortally injured. Now it’s true that being someone’s successor normally doesn’t necessarily mean you’re better than they are -- particularly when Jordan was never trained by Abin Sur in the first place.
However, in Hal’s revised origin story in Green Lantern: Secret Origin, Abin Sur crash-landed thanks to him not believing in the powers of his ring enough in the first place. Meanwhile, Hal refuses to give into fear, and trusts his power ring implicitly even if he’s also aware of its limitations.
2 BETTER: ALAN SCOTT
Hal Jordan is often regarded as the greatest Lantern in the Green Lantern Corps, but there’s another Green Lantern who existed long before Earth ever knew there was a Corps. Alan Scott, as a member of the JSA and having protected his home town of Gotham and America since World War II, had dozens more years of experience with his ring.
He’s also got his own ring and Lantern separate from the power of the Guardians, and over the decades he’s managed to internalize a lot of his Lantern’s energy, making him a powerhouse even without having to constantly recharge.
1 WORSE: GUY GARDNER
It might not sound all that good, but if we’re being honest isn’t Guy automatically not as good as Hal? He was chosen to be Jordan’s back up in case something went wrong, which means he wasn’t the most fearless person on Earth -- he was the second, at best.
While Guy has always portrayed himself as a competent ring wielder, he also has massive temper problems and that’s always gotten in his way compared to more focused Lanterns like John or Hal or even Kyle. That’s why he took a detour and spent some time as a Red Lantern for awhile -- the Red Ring appeals to his nature almost as much as the green.