Teen Lantern's Origin Is a Tragic Twist on a Classic Green Lantern Tale

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Young Justice #9 by Brian Michael Bendis, Andre Lima and John Timms, on sale now.

Little is known about Teen Lantern, one of the newest members of Young Justice, outside of her superhero identity. Working with a strange hijacked version of the Green Lantern power, she's quickly trying to acclimate herself to the rest of the team and the shenanigans that superpowered teenagers tend to find themselves in.

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However, it turns out she already has experience with some twisted takes on superhero cliches. Young Justice #9 revealed how she gained her Lantern powers, and it's a strangely sad and dark reflection of how another famous Green Lantern received his power ring.

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Teen Lantern Background

A flashback cuts to Bolivia a month before the current events of the series. Keli Quintela, a young inventor, was exploring a dump for supplies with her friend, Marco. While scavenging, the two happened to witness the gangland execution of what appeared to be a Green Lantern. Returning to the dump later that night, Keli discovered the Lantern. Revealing his name to be Iorl, he explained that he was too wounded to survive.

He entrusted Keli not with a Green Lantern ring, however, but instead with his gauntlet. The device is attached via a long tube to what appears to be an external battery. Keli accepts it, as Iorl perishes and his body turns to dust.

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When she shows the gauntlet to Marco, he suggests that while it may not be a ring, it might just be a way to hack into the Green Lantern spectrum and hijack some of its power. The pack is larger than what Keli wears as Teen Lantern, hinting that her own modifications on the tech helped streamline it for easier use. Marco tries to convince her to turn it over to the authorities, but Keli chooses to blast off and keep the power for herself. This eventually leads to her tinkering with the tech and becoming Teen Lantern.

Last Hope

This is similar to the origins of Hal Jordan, which were first established all the way back towards the beginning of the Silver Age in Showcase #22 by John Broome and Gil Kane. Hal Jordan first received his Green Lantern ring from Abin Sur, the former alien protector of the galaxy sector that contains Earth.

After being fatally wounded, Abin Sur crashed planet-side and used his ring to find a worthy successor. He found Hal and then died, leaving Hal to become the first human Green Lantern. Like Keli, Hal embraced his new identity, but there are some clear differences between the two ring-slingers.

The fact that Keli has proven intelligent enough to modify her new weapon might mean she's already got a better handle on its power than Hal did when he first got his. In addition, Marco has a point when he tells Keli that the design of the gauntlet suggests it's something different than just a normal power ring. It could be a stolen or illegal device, siphoning Green Lantern energy for some nefarious cause. It would explain the gangster who shot Iorl, as they may have been involved in a shady scheme together.

The device also bears a passing resemblance to the Power Gauntlet created by the renegade Guardian, Krona. The gauntlet was the first battery and ring to be able to harness the green light of willpower, eventually being used to reverse engineer the Green Lantern rings. If that's what Keli's gauntlet is, then this twisted passing of the torch takes on an even darker dimension. Krona's gauntlet has the side-effect of breaking down the wielder into pure willpower energy (much as it almost did to Hal Jordan). Keli might have been doomed by her own origin, making hers the most tragic version of the Green Lantern story yet.

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