When DC's new Young Justice title launched under Brian Bendis' Wonder Comics banner, the series brought back several teen heroes that had been neglected since the New 52 launched in 2011. More than just a triumphant return for Superboy and Impulse, the series also welcomed several newcomers to the DC Unverse, including Keli Quintela, a.k.a. the Teen Lantern.
The character's origin and connection, if any, to the Green Lantern Corps has been a mystery, until now. Young Justice #9 not only reveals the character's origin story, it also hints that her signature weapon might have a far more dastardly origin of its own.
Origin of Teen Lantern
The beginning of Young Justice #9 shows Keli in La Paz, Colombia, where she's rummaging through a pile of trash for superhero related objects. She and her friend Marcos are witnesses to a motorcycle riding gunman shooting a member of the Green Lantern Corps, who has a strange gauntlet and accompanying device attached to their arm. Keli later returns to the scene that night, finding the mortally wounded alien still faintly alive.
The Lantern bequeaths the gauntlet to her, remarking that she can use it to create things in a similar way to a Green Lantern ring. While this is an interesting set up that connects yet differentiates Keli with other Green Lanterns of Earth, the weapon itself appears be the willpower gauntlet created by the evil Krona.
The power gauntlet first appeared during the War of the Green Lanterns story that occurred right before the New 52 continuity began. The gauntlet was created by Krona, who had seen the potential power in the spectrum of emotions the other Guardians of the Universe discarded. Thus, the gauntlet functioned as the first lantern ring and battery, of sorts.
It was this gauntlet that allowed Krona to defend himself when the Guardians sent the Manhunters to arrest him for his crimes. Ironically, he was also the first to state "beware my power" while using the willpower based energy his weapon manifested. After capturing Krona, the Guardians saw no direct use for the gauntlet, though they did reverse engineer it to create the Green Lantern rings.
Hal Jordan: Outlaw
Eventually, the Guardians lost favor throughout the cosmos for their actions, and devised a plan to atone. Thus, they used Hal Jordan as a sort of renegade spokesman, who would be a Green Lantern without being an official member of the Corps anymore. To achieve this, Jordan stole Krona's power gauntlet, which had the same abilities as a Green Lantern ring. Unfortunately, the weapon was highly unstable, threatening to turn Hal into pure willpower energy and eventually causing him to discard it.
The villainous Sarko eventually recovered the gauntlet, taking it back in time to attack the newly formed Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps alliance. In a twist, the gauntlet had attained sentience, becoming the monstrous Cataclysm. It and its creations were impervious to Green Lantern ring energy, forcing Hal to destroy the present day gauntlet. The various shards were then taken to vaults housed on Mogo, the sentient planet Green Lantern.
Threat of the Gauntlet
The possibility that Keli's gauntlet is a restored version of Krona's original is possible. Again, it was worn by a Green Lantern, who logically would've had access to fellow Lantern Mogo and whatever he contained on his surface.
It's not clear why this Lantern would recreate the gauntlet, or what he was doing on Earth, but the two are likely related. It would also explain why it works so much like a Green Lantern ring. If it is the same gauntlet, of course, there's the potential for the same disastrous effects as before to occur again. Keli could run the risk of becoming pure willpower energy from continually using the gauntlet. There's also the potential that it would become sentient, like the future gauntlet Sarko brought back in time. While it might not necessarily become an evil monster, considering it's not a villain trying to control it this time, it could still be too huge a problem for a teenager to deal with on her own.
Another possibility is that this isn't the same gauntlet as the one that Krona first created, and is simply an attempt to recreate it. This prototypical nature of the device might explain why the otherwise (literally) armed Green Lantern simply stood and took a series of bullets to the head from his human attacker. This lack of the dangers of the original may be why the Lantern is so eager to give the weapon over. Either way, the gauntlet brings willpower and light to the blackest of nights, due, of course, to its wielder's willpower and imagination.
Young Justice #9 is available now.