In the official canon, Earth has eight members of the Green Lantern Corps. Even for a seasoned comic fan, it can all get confusing. Now consider a new comic fan who’ll likely discover the Green Lantern Corps sometime in the next two years through the very probable introduction in the DCEU, as part of the Arrowverse or possibly a separate HBOMax show (and not to mention anyone who stumbles upon Ryan Reynolds in 2011’s Green Lantern film).
This is an attempt to clear up some of that confusion around the Earth’s Green Lanterns. The most recent update was on February 14, 2021. Due to the events in Future State, I have moved Sojourner Mullein into the official canon.
And if you’d like to know where all of these Earth Green Lanterns are right now check out this monthly guide.
Earth’s Green Lanterns
In 1959, DC Comics would, for the second time, reach into the Golden Age top hat, pull out a superhero name and powers concept, and reimagine the hero for the Silver Age. The first time was in 1956 when the comic company took the Golden Age concept of The Flash and reimagined that concept as Barry Allen. It was a huge hit, so three years later, in Showcase #22, the publisher would try again with the Green Lantern.
This time the changes were significantly more drastic. While the hero kept the green power ring, nearly everything else was altered. The Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, derived his power ring green energy through mysticism. This new Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, derives his power ring energy through a sci-fi power battery built by blue aliens known as the Guardians of the Universe. Jordan’s costume was green, black, and white. Scott’s costume was red and green with a stylish black cape. Scott was a young railroad engineer. Jordan, a young fighter pilot.
Jordan received his ring and power battery from Abin Sur. The red-skinned alien summoned Jordan after crash landing on Earth. The alien was the protector of Space Sector 2418, one of 3600 sectors under the jurisdiction of the Green Lantern Corps. In his dying moments, he chose Jordan due to his propensity toward showcasing great will and ability to overcome fear.
Jordan, and the readers, would soon learn there was an entire lively Universe populated by a menagerie of species. Over the years, we’d discover most space sectors had two assigned Green Lanterns. Often, a Lantern of a sector could step aside as sector protector but continue wearing a ring as a member of the Green Lantern Corps Honor Guard. Basically, once you’re a Lantern in good standing you’re almost always welcomed back into the folds. That’s one of the reasons Earth seems to have so many Green Lanterns.
Ryan Reynolds was cast as Hal Jordan in 2011’s Green Lantern. It briefly boosted Earth’s first Corps member’s popular culture profile. Today he’s currently the star of one of the best-selling DC titles: Grant Morrison’s The Green Lantern.
What is Hal Jordan’s personality? Risk-taker. Smug but not conceited. A confident top gun willing to speak the truth, and take action, to and against power. Jordan’s a maverick and happier going it alone than playing with the team. He is more than willful; he is the living embodiment of will. He lives without the thought of consequences on his personal life which leaves him emotionally vulnerable under the surface.
Guy Gardner was the runner-up for Abin Sur’s ring. However, time was short and Jordan was closer, so he basically won the luck of the draw. The non-ring wearing Guy Gardner was first introduced in 1968 in Green Lantern Vol. 2 #59. In that issue, the Guardians showed Hal an alternate history where Gardner was chosen instead of him. After that, Hal creepily went out of his way to meet Gardner but never revealed he could have been Earth’s Green Lantern.
Not being close enough to get the ring was the first in a ridiculously lengthy run of bad luck for Baltimore’s favorite Green Lantern. A few years later, in Green Lantern Vol. 2 #87, Gardner would literally get hit by a bus and he was seriously injured. This put Earth’s backup Lantern out of commission forcing the Guardians to choose a new backup Lantern, John Stewart (more on him in a sec).
During his time in recovery, Gardner would meet and fall in love with Kari Limbo. One day, when Jordan had to take time off to get his ring fixed on Oa, Gardner would finally have an opportunity to be the Green Lantern. Tragically, the adventure ends with Gardner apparently being disintegrated. Thinking Gardner was dead, Jordan swooped in and consoled Limbo. The two developed such deep feelings that they almost were married but the wedding was interrupted when Gardner reached out from the Phantom Zone (still with me?). Some craziness with General Zod occurred, but Jordan was eventually able to rescue poor Gardner. Except Gardner came out of the Phantom Zone comatose and remained in that state for many, many years (we’re almost there, bear with me).
Enter: Crisis on Infinite Earths! Gardner escapes from his coma and was officially made a Green Lantern of Earth. The only problem, Gardner, thanks to brain damage and PTSD, was a complete ass. Of course, he gets better and more likable, but over the years his story’s become more muddled. The biggest change was during the launch of the New 52 when much of everything above was retconned out. However, Rebirth might have erased most of the retcon except for the addition of an abusive father?
Anyway, Gardner’s mental issues make his story one of the most compelling of Earth’s Green Lanterns. If you want to do further reading on the topic and why he’s often taken for granted check out Skociomatic’s fairly solid case for Gardner.
What is Guy Gardner’s personality? He’s brash and cocksure. Gardner will often choose fists over talking it out. He can short-tempered. Yet, under the gruff, well-worn surface, Gardner can be a big softie. When he decides someone is a friend he’ll stand with them. Unlike Jordan, Gardner is more likely to be a team player.
After Guy Gardner was hit by a bus, the Guardians of the Universe needed to select a new backup Lantern, thus, they gave us possibly the popularly best known Green Lantern of the mid-aughts, John Stewart.
Stewart would receive the ring in 1971’s Green Lantern Vol. 2 #87. Contrary to popular misinformation, Stewart wasn’t DC’s first black superhero. That honor goes to Mal Duncan who joined the Teen Titans in 1970. However, Stewart was definitely one of the most prominent and important recurring black superheroes. He forced Jordan and the readers to look inward at their own racial prejudices. His storylines often bravely tackled some of the hottest political topics of the day.
Still, for nearly 15 years, Stewart would be second to Jordan’s bright Lantern light. When Jordan finally put down his ring (for real this time!) it would be Stewart who took his place in the Green Lantern Corps.
Over the next 20 years, he’d become not only one of the most important members of the Corps, eventually leading it, but he’d also become the most recognizable Lantern in popular culture. Jordan was mostly MIA when DC launched the new Justice League cartoon in 2001, so it was Stewart who carried the Green Lantern mantle for the popular cartoon. That’s why many were shocked when Ryan Reynolds was selected to portray Hal Jordan in the 2011 Green Lantern film. For nearly a decade, kids grew up with little exposure to Earth’s original ring-slinger.
What is John Stewart’s personality? A former Marine and architect, Stewart is straight-laced and no-nonsense. He’s a natural leader and, compared to Gardner and Jordan, is somewhat risk-averse.
In 1994, Coast City was destroyed and it drove Hal Jordan insane (retconned to being the result of Jordan being infected by an entity of the fear spectrum known as Parallax). The Lantern slaughtered most of the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians of the Universe (later retconned to not have been slaughtered) in an attempt to gain enough power to rebuild his home city and bring back his loved ones. In a last-ditch effort, the Guardian Ganthet traveled to Earth and gave a power ring to Rayner. It made the comic book artist the Universe’s sole Green Lantern. He had big shoes to fill and no none to train him.
Still, Rayner was born to be a Lantern and he soon mastered the rings in ways his predecessors couldn’t have possibly imagined. He’d go on to defeat Jordan, join Grant Morrison’s JLA, become Godlike as Ion, become the first being to master all seven emotional spectrums (at once), and so much more.
What is Kyle Rayner’s personality? He’s an idealist. He sees the best in people which often gets him in trouble. Rayner’s pure of heart and wears that pure heart on his sleeve. Unlike his three predecessors, because he was hand-selected by Ganthet and not by the ring, he is less wrapped up in the concept of will and can be more readily ruled by other emotions. Rayner is an artist, which helps him think outside of the box. However, he’s also unsure of himself, especially when in the company of Jordan and Stewart.
Comics have a long way to go when it comes to Middle Eastern-American and Muslim representation on the pages. Baz, who’s a Lebanese-American, was an attempt to start filling the gaps during the launch of the New 52. He was one of the first characters introduced during the company-wide relaunch when he appeared in the pages of the teaser comic The New 52 Free Comic Book Day Special Edition. Thankfully, unlike most of the New 52 canon, Baz was around after Rebirth.
Much like Rayner, Baz came into his ring through unusual circumstances. Baz was arrested under suspicion of being a terrorist. During his interrogation, he was selected by a fused ring made up of two parts of both Jordan and Sinestro’s rings.
He managed to clear his name, help rescue Jordan from the ‘Dead Zone,’ and even joined the Justice League of America.
What is Simon Baz’s personality? For very good reason, Baz is distrustful of most people. Once you get through his barrier, however, his trust will run deep. The same goes for family. He’s deeply committed to his family and those he considers family. He expects people will unfairly judge him even before he has a chance to make a first impression.
Jessica Cruz is a dual national Mexican-American Latina. While on a hiking trip she witnesses the murders of her best friends. She managed to escape but it leaves her struggling with PTSD and often crippling anxiety. The Ring of Volthoom identified Cruz as a candidate and landed on her finger because of her great fear. she’s able to release her fear and become one of the first beings in millennia to overcome Volthoom’s influence thanks to a beautiful moment with Batman, an inspiring pep talk from The Flash, and an assist from Cyborg during the Darkseid War. As a reward for her ability to overcome great fear by sacrificing herself to save Barry Allen, she receives an official Green Lantern ring.
Cruz and Baz are thrust together when Jordan fused their power batteries together. Those exploits are documented in the excellent Green Lanterns.
What is Jessica Cruz’s personality? This might come off as hyperbole but Cruz is, perhaps, the Green Lantern who best fits the definition of what a Green Lantern is supposed to be. She’s constantly pushing herself to overcome agoraphobia and anxiety. She needs to dig deeper for her bravery than characters like Jordan or Stewart, but when that bravery is unleashed it is fierce. She’s good-natured and spirited. Green Lanterns ends with Cruz taking the ultimate leap to overcome her agoraphobia by heading off into space on an Odyssey.
Teen Lantern: Keli Quintela
Keli doesn’t carry a ring. She has a Lantern-powered gauntlet (that closely resembles one work by the mad Guardian Krona). She made her first appearance in Young Justice, Vol. 3, #1 and we finally learned her backstory in issue #6. She’s an 11-year-old from La Paz, Bolivia who was given the gauntlet by an alien she met in a garbage dump. The gauntlet has bonded to her and she refuses to give it up – even to John Stewart of the Guardians.
She traveled to Metropolis hoping to get an internship at the Hall of Justice. At the end of the Young Justice series, she meets John Stewart who tells her she needs training.
According to a CBR interview with Brian Michael Bendis:
“Teen Lantern is by me and Pat Gleason, and before he had wanted to do the book, he had all these ideas. And I said, ‘Hey want to do Young Justice with me’ and he went ‘I have a whole thing with Young Justice! I have this Teen Lantern character!’ So Teen Lantern started as a [Gleason] idea, and I’ve added on to it… in this instance, she’s Bolivian, and I [went] to Bolivia. I was at this dinner that was hosted at the US Embassy, and they went, ‘We’d like to introduce you to the Bolivian Tony Stark, he’s sixteen years old.’ And you can Google this by the way, he’s online. He literally goes into the garbage and makes working robots out of the garbage. I met him and talked to him for a really long time. He’s a really interesting dude. But I was like, there would be people like this in the superhero world. ‘I’m going to make my own Green Lantern!'”
Sojourner “Jo” Mullein
Sojourner “Jo” Mullein was introduced in the pages of N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell’s Far Sector. Mullein is originally from Brooklyn. She’s a former cop whose background is with the NYPD. Before that, she was in the military. She’s stationed on the City Enduring, a Dyson sphere, where the people have chosen to eliminate emotions. Thanks to a drug epidemic, segments of the population have started having feelings which is part of the reason a human is brought as a space cop.
Why she was chosen for her ring is still a bit of a mystery (as of this Feb. 12, 2021 update). In Far Sector #7, we see a flashback where a Guardian is presenting Mullein with her ring. This Guardian notes most rings are tied to “the will to overcome fear.” They say Mullein’s ring was is powered by “the more nuanced willpower required to live with fear. To push toward a goal over the years, against a whole society, with no hope of reward. This is what fuels your ring, Sojourner Mullein. It spikes lower, in terms of absolute power. But once we learn to harness it fully worlds will fall before you, and arise transformed.”
All I know about Tai Pham comes in the form of a solicitation for the young adult graphic novel Green Lantern: Legacy. The book, which is possibly not in canon, dropped in January 2020 (I haven’t read it, but it is sitting in the middle of my pandemic pile). Here’s what I know:
Thirteen-year-old Tai Pham lives in the apartment above his grandmother’s store, where his bedroom is crammed with sketchpads and comic books. But not even his most imaginative drawings could compare to the colorful adventure he’s about to embark on.
When Tai inherits his grandmother’s jade ring, he soon finds out it’s more than it appears. Suddenly he’s being inducted into a group of space cops known as the Green Lanterns, his neighborhood is being overrun by some racist bullies, and every time he puts pen to paper, he’s forced to confront that he might not be creative enough or strong enough to uphold his ba’s legacy.
Now Tai must decide what kind of hero he wants to be: will he learn to soar above his insecurities or will the past keep him grounded?
Alan Scott was the Golden Age Green Lantern. He’s an honorary member of the Green Lantern Corps, but his power is derived from a lantern forged from the metal of a mystical green meteor. He’s been a part of both Earth-1 and Earth-2’s history. On Earth-1 he had children (see below) and on Earth-2 he was gay. Alan Scott isn’t in the after-rebirth version of the DCU because, uh, well, Doctor Manhattan killed him with a train. Helena Wayne Huntress on the big reveal in Doomsday Clock #7:
In this month’s issue—spoiler alert—Alan Scott’s 1940 origin from All-American Comics #16 is recounted before we learn that Dr. Manhattan killed Alan in the train wreck that originally gave him his powers. In preventing the mystical green flame from saving Alan, he effectively prevented the appearance of the first Green Lantern, and this somehow had a domino effect on history that in turn prevented the formation of the Justice Society on Prime Earth. This also means Alan’s children, Jade and Obsidian, were never born.
Jade, a.k.a. Jennifer-Lynn Hayden was the daughter of Alan Scott and one-time girlfriend of Kyle Rayner. She turned green when she was a child while defending herself from a sexual assault. The skin color change and the accompanying powers were due to the influence of her father’s green lantern. She briefly filled in for Rayner but was never officially considered a Green Lantern of Earth. As for her current existence? See above.