FIRST APPEARANCE: Showcase #22 (1959)
After basing themselves on the planet Oa – located at the centre of the known universe – a group of beings known as the Guardians began to dedicate their lives to creating an orderly universe. After a failed attempt to use a robot army known as the Manhunters to keep the peace, the Guardians set about creating the ‘power rings’.
Known as the most powerful weapons in the universe, the power rings utilised the force of willpower, and allowed their wielders to fire energy blasts and form constructs that were limited only by their imagination. These rings were given to select beings from different portions of the galaxy; which the Guardians had divided into 3600 ‘sectors’.
For a time, an alien known as Abin Sur policed Space Sector 2814 – the location of the planet Earth. After one of his missions left him mortally wounded, Abin Sur crash-landed on Earth; the nearest inhabited planet, and his ring left him in search of a new host. The host in question would turn out to be test pilot Hal Jordan, whose ascension in the Green Lantern Corps would one day lead to him being known as the greatest Green Lantern of all.
As the centre of the multiverse, Jordan’s home planet was prone to more intergalactic (and inter-dimensional) problems than other planets in Jordan’s sector, and thus, in time, the number of Lanterns operating on Earth grew, each becoming renowned heroes in their own right, and oft times members of the world famous Justice League.
Hal Jordan is the first human to have ever been inducted into the Green Lantern Corps. Inheriting his ring from former Sector 2814 Lantern Abin Sur, Jordan had proved his bravery and promise by becoming a test pilot despite witnessing his father die in a plane crash at a young age. A founding member of the Justice League, Jordan is admired by much of the superhero community, many of whom refused to give up on him even when he was corrupted by an evil entity known as Parralax and turned into a mass-murderer. However, in time, Jordan would go to great lengths to reestablish himself as one of the premiere heroes in the Galaxy.
Another potentialy candidate to replace Lantern Abin Sur, Guy Gardner lost out on his initial chance to become a Green Lantern purely because Hal was closer to Sur at the time of his death. A rambunctious and very patriotic American man, Gardner spent some time acting as Jordan’s back-up, before becoming a fully-fledged Green Lantern himself. Since then, he has also spent time under the persona of Warrior, a super-strong cybernetic hero, after his ring’s power started to fade, and later as a rage-fueled Red Lantern. He has since returned to his original post as a Green Lantern Corpsman.
After Guy was caught in an accident and rendered comatose, architect John Stewart was selected to be Jordan’s new back-up. Due to his antagonist nature towards authority figures, Stewart and Jordan initially got off to a rocky start, but the former architect would prove soon prove himself as a trustworthy and effective combatant. Stewart would often fill-in for Jordan as a member of the Justice League, when Jordan was otherwise indisposed. When the Corps was restructured to have two full-time Lanterns on active duty in each sector, Stewart stepped up to become Jordan’s partner.
Known as ‘the Torchbearer’, struggling artist Kyle Rayner was selected to be the sole Green Lantern in the universe after the Corps’ destruction at the hand of a possessed Hal Jordan. Unlike his peers, Kyle was notable for not being completely fearless, and much more down-to-Earth, and as a result, was tutored by many of Earth’s greatest heroes, including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern (who derived his powers from a different source, and thus was not part of the Corps). In time, the Corps as a whole would return, by which point Rayner had proved himself as a very capable hero.
The current Green Lanterns of Sector 2814 are Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. After Jordan and the others ventured off into space, Baz and Cruz were left behind with their power-batteries linked, so as to force them to work effectively as a team. Both are very different personalities than your usual Lantern recruit, with Baz being a Lebanese-American car-thief and suspected terrorist, and Cruz being a traumatised young Latin-American woman who was previously possessed by an alternate-reality version of a Green Lantern ring. The pair each overcame the various challenges and stigmas set against them, joining the Justice League and becoming protectors of Earth.
One of the most dangerous threats the Lantern Corps has ever faced is the entity known as Parallax. The personification of fear itself, Parallax once travelled from world to world, forcing the various planets populace to destroy themselves out of fear. Eventually, it was stopped and imprisoned by the Guardians beneath the Central Power Battery on Oa, which caused all power rings to have a weakness to the colour yellow. In more recent years, Parallax was able to escape, possessing Hal Jordan and corrupting him to wreak havoc on both the Earth and the Corps as a whole.
Thaal Sinestro was formerly one of the Guardians’ most prized Lanterns, and tutored Earth’s Lantern Hal Jordan. Using his immense power, Sinestro had become a totalitarian leader of his home planet, and was later outed and banished from the Corps. He was exiled to Oa’s twin planet in an anti-matter universe, Qward, where he became involved with a group called the Weaponeers of Qward. With their resources, Sinestro built a yellow power-ring, in-part powered by the might of Parralax. Years later, Sinestro would make more of these rings, and create his own ‘Sinestro Corps’, chosen to spread fear throughout the Galaxy.
His people a casualty of the Guardians initial attempt at universal protection, Atrocitus grew to hate the Manhunters that ravaged his planet and those who created them. Swearing vengeance against the Guardians, Atrocitus was eventually sought out by Abin Sur, and was the villain responsible for mortally wounding him. Later, like Sinestro, he forged his own power-battery and rings. Seeking out those who possessed great anger and hatred, Atrocitus dubbed them his Red Lanterns, leading them to corrupt the populations of different worlds.
In the same way that the male Maltusians became the Guardians and created the Green Lantern Corps, the females of the species became a warrior-race known as the Zamarons, and similarly formed the Violet Lantern Corps by uniting their disciples, the Star Sapphires, under one banner. The Saphires had initially come into the Lanterns of Earth’s radar when Hal Jordan’s long-time love, Carol Ferris, became one, and was forced into a mission to prove men’s inferiority to women.
After a stint as a low-tier Green Lantern villain, the death-obsessed criminal known as Black Hand attempted an early costumed retirement, but the constant interference of superheroes in his life started to give him a phobia of costumed heroes, which in turn further damaged his already shaky mental state. He eventually became a big-time threat after being empowered by a being called Nekron in a similar way that the Guardians empower the Green Lanterns and the Zamarons empower the Star Sapphires, gaining his own Black Lantern ring, and creating a Black Lantern Corps by empowering the deceased with their own rings, and waging war against the heroes of Earth.
CURRENTLY APPEARS IN: Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, Justice League, Justice League Odyssey