From Nathan Fillion’s voice-acting of the character in several DCAU movies to Ryan Reynolds live-action role in Green Lantern (2011), Hal Jordon is a hero that even the newest of DC fans will be familiar with.
But Hal Jordon is one of many, a single member out of thousands of great heroes spanning the entire massive territory of the Guardians of the Universe, an intergalactic police force armed and trained by the Guardians, known as the Green Lantern Corps.
Like any super-armed peacekeeping force, the Green Lantern Corps functions with procedure and purpose and wields through its champions an unbelievable power. Here’s an inside look at some of the details behind the Green Lantern Corps.
1. The Creators
The creators of the green lantern are little blue men (and women) with white hair, clad in red robes. But don’t let their appearance fool you. They are incredibly powerful beings developed from a race of aliens known as the Maltusians, believed to possibly be amongst the first intelligent life forms in the universe. Some of these Maltusians broke away to a new planet and realigned themselves as the Guardians of the Universe. They are highly evolved super-intelligent beings, that over the years began limiting their powers, but before doing so created the Green Lantern Corps, to police the entirety of Guardian Space, the expanse of the 3600 sectors of space that had been placed under the protective care of the Guardians. Each sector of Guardian space has somewhere between 20-100 planets residing within them, and usually only one Green Lantern per sector on active duty, though some have been known to have more. The Guardians were the creators of not only the Corps but first the Green Energy that the Corps members channel into constructs, and the power rings that are run by will. While earlier scientific experiments had been conducted elsewhere, all Green Lantern related activities are assigned and monitored on Oa.
2. Their Headquarters
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like Oa.
It is believed that when the intelligent alien race from Maltus chose to split apart, the Maltusians who would later become the Guardians, moved to Oa, one of the oldest planets in the universe, and located near the center of Guardian space. It has since become the hub of all things Green Lantern. The planet is centrally located to allow most green lanterns to travel from their respective sectors to Oa with ease, as well as patrol surrounding sectors. Though the planet itself is largely lifeless with desert-like conditions, the focal point of Oa is in the city of the Guardians, which brings to life the concept of painting the town green. The city houses all Green Lanterns on duty in Oa, as well as the training facilities, a lounge, and eatery (started by our favorite ginger Green Lantern Guy Gardner), the Central Meeting Hall where assignments are handed out, a library of sorts containing all the knowledge of the Guardians in the incomparable Book of Oa, a Memorial Hall to honour the fallen, and the Sciencells, a prison cellblock specifically designed to house the most powerful and ruthless criminals in the universe, from Atrocitus to Volthoom. After nearly being destroyed on multiple occasions, the Guardians re-strengthened the defensive systems of the planet and placed a full protective armor around Oa making it the safe haven for the Green Lantern Corps it is today. Most important of all, this planet is home to the Central Battery of Oa, the very life force of the power of will, channeled into a monumental. self-charging GL Battery, which powers all the rings and personal batteries of the members of the Corps.
3. The Green Lantern Ring
This fine piece of emerald-shaded jewelry is more than just an odd looking accessory. It is the conduit for the power of will that can be channeled by the heroes of the Green Lantern Corps, and each one comes in a gift set with a rechargeable GL battery. The ring recharges only on the recitation of the Green Lantern oath (I’ll get back to these later). Even though the rings are a creation of the Guardians, they are each in their own right almost sentient beings, and each ring chooses its own wearer and wielder. Yes. The wand chooses the wizard, Harry. Usually, whenever a Green Lantern dies, his ring either scans the surrounding areas for a worthy successor or heads straight back to Oa and its creators to await a new successor to be chosen.
Hal Jordon received his ring when Abin Sur, the previous Green Lantern of Sector 2814 (in which Earth is one amongst nearly 50 other planets) crash-landed on Earth nearby. The power of the rings themselves are channeled by their user Green Lanterns, who essentially can will physical constructs into existence. The power granted by the rings is almost unmatched by any other power in the universe, as has been seen on multiple occasion. Such as in Green Lantern: The Animated Series (2011-2013), where Hal Jordon used the ring to move an entire planet to another dimension or in Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008-2011), when an attack by Despero forced Hal to contain a huge portion of the Green Lantern Corps within his ring. If the wearer can will it, the ring can do it, and that makes the power of the ring almost limitless. It can’t do time travel.
4. The Hierarchy
With a military force consisting of over 7000 members, the Green Lantern Corps maintains very strict ranks. On receipt of their respective rings, GL recruits are first put through rigid training programmes. Numerous veteran GL’s that are no longer on active duty become trainers for the rookies. Hal Jordan learned almost all his fighting skills from Kilowog of the planet Bolovax Vik, and Jon Stewart, one of the later Green Lanterns from Earth, was trained by Katma Tui of the planet Korugar. After their training is complete, recruits are promoted to Sector Lanterns, patrolling specific sectors of Guardian Space as instructed. Hal Jordon was the first Earthling to become the Green Lantern of Sector 2814. Sector Lanterns can then be promoted to Honor Guard. The Honor Guards of the Green Lantern patrol the entirety of Guardian space, way out to the edge of their territory, Frontier space. The highest ranking members of the Green Lantern Corps are the Alpha Lanterns. The Alpha Lanterns made an appearance in Final Crisis, sent to Earth to investigate the death of Orion, leader of the New Gods. Their judgment is considered infallible and they answer only directly to the Guardians of Oa.
5. Members of the Green Lantern Corps
Over the centuries, the Green Lantern Corps has had a lot of interesting members join their ranks. There is Salaak from planet Syggia of Sector 1418, a well-known pessimist and considered socially inept, but as someone well versed in the need for laws and procedure, became the Keeper of the Book of Oa. They also had another member who was a squirrel named Ch’p, from Sector 1014, who was amongst the best fighters of the Green Lantern Corps, trained by the aforementioned Kilowag. There was also the infamous “disco Lantern”, affectionately nicknamed so by Guy Gardner, whose real name was Chaselon, from the planet Barrio III of Sector 1416, a spherical alien life form, with a crystal torso and robotic tentacle-like arms and legs.
Tomar Re, from the planet Xudar of our neighboring sector 2813 and a fellow Honor Guard alongside Hal Jordon in Green Lantern the Animated Series (2011-2013), is a humanoid life form with a bird-like head, and upon his passing, his son, Tomar Tu, became the next Green Lantern of his sector. One Alpha Lantern that made a major appearance in the Final Crisis saga was Alpha Lantern Kraken who hailed from the planet Apokolips, home of the superpowerful ruler Darkseid. There was also a group of lesser-known Lanterns brought out in Green Lantern: The Animated Series (2011-2013), even to those in the Corps, referred to as Frontier Lanterns. They patrol the few sectors spread across the very edge of Guardian space, called the Frontier, and receive minimal training and information from Oa due to the long distance. But they maintain the strength and good will of the Green Lantern Corps and are amongst the noblest and bravest of the lot, from Shyir Rev of Colony 13 who died saving his planet to Green Lantern Iolande, Queen, and sovereign of Betrassus.
6. The Green Lanterns of Earth
Following the comic book anthology, Earth has technically had 6 Green Lanterns. The first lived in Ancient China in the year 660 AD. In the comic special Green Lantern: Dragon Lord, Jong Li, the last surviving member of a religious sect of warriors called the Dragon Lords, is given a Green Lantern ring and a lantern battery by an emissary of the Guardians. Though he did not fully understand the gift he was being given, he understood the greatness of its power, having been told by the emissary to “…use this power to oppose evil, to ease suffering and to protect the innocent”. Jong Li then begins his journey to become worthy of the great power granted to him. The next Green Lantern we see is Alan Scott, who is, in fact, not an official member of the Green Lantern Corps, but an honorary member. His powers were derived from a magical entity called the Starheart, created by the Guardians, thus allowing his powers to be largely similar to that of the Green Lantern Corps. He served as the first Green Lantern with the Justice Society of America. Following him was everyone’s favorite pilot and super-stud Hal Jordon, who came to be one of the Green Lanterns most powerful members.
When Hal Jordon finally had to leave Earth to patrol Oa and other sectors of the Universe, Guy Gardner took over as Green Lantern of Sector 2814, a rough-around-the-edges tough guy, always looking for a fight and a bad guy to bully. He was a formidable Green Lantern, but a less than stellar teammate. John Stewart was then recruited by the Corps, a total contrast to both former Green Lanterns of Earth, once an architect in Detroit, who later received training as a Marine and a flight combat expert, he was a real stickler for following the rules and protocol. Though he was on shaky ground in that regard when he later entered into a relationship with fellow Green Lantern, and his former trainer, Katma Tui. The last Green Lantern to be given a ring from Earth was Kyle Raynor. Following the DCAU storyline, in Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000) Kyle Raynor was an artist for the Daily Planet and a good friend of Jimmy Olsen, and always wanted to be a hero (who doesn’t? Except the villains, of course). As luck would have it, the Guardians were in the market for a new recruit and Kyle Raynor was in the right place at the right time. Later on, along the way, Simon Baz becomes the next Green Lantern and Jessica Cruz, who inherits a powerful Volthoom rings, which can manipulate the entire emotional spectrum for alternate universe Crime Syndicate member, Power Ring.
7. The Legends
With an unending expansive universe filled with war, conflict, and chaos and a massive militant force to try and combat it, one thing is for sure. You end up with a lot of unbelievable and incredible stories. Some I have mentioned above, like the story of Jong LI and his path to power, and the bravery of Shyir Rev. There are two incredible stories that always stuck with me, and you can watch them play out in the movie Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011), along with a couple others. The first is the story of Avra, a simple scribe for the Guardians, who was present at the time the first 4 Green Lantern rings were to be given. In a room filled with the Guardians of the Universe and the best-trained warriors of the galaxies, he was only there as a witness, to write the events as they unfolded in the Book of Oa. But much to the surprise of everyone present, including Avra, the final of the four rings picked him. Overcoming great fear, incredible odds, and no small amount of skepticism, Avra showed truly what the power of will alone can do. He went down in the book of Oa as the first true Green Lantern, and his ring would eventually one day reach our very own Hal Jordon.
The second story is an issue written by Alan Moore (writer of V for Vendetta (1988-1989) and Watchmen(1986-1987)), entitled Mogo Doesn’t Socialise. The story begins with a warmonger, Bolphunga the Unrelenting, who was on a never-ending path to be the toughest guy around. That’s when he heard about Mogo, whose strength was rumored to be so fierce and unbeatable, that Bolphunga found the planet he was believed to live on and began his search for Mogo, to defeat him and prove his superiority. He searched for days, weeks, months, setting traps in every far corner of the planet and sending out search drones to scout every inch, witnessing many strange things on the planet. He really was relentless. But in the midst of his madness, he missed his target. Mogo, the living planet. One of the most powerful members of the Green Lantern Corps. Bolphunga totally relented after that. Mogo also makes a few stunning appearances in Green Lantern: The Animated Series (2011-2013). A creature of pure life, who lives in every tree, rock, and granule of soil in his self. And he’s gotten the GL Corps out of quite a few sticky situations. But he’s a being of few words. Mogo does not socialize.
Another Alan Moore story, I’ll just drop in for funsies. One of Katma Tui’s later assignments had her on the move in sectors of space that had till now been undiscovered by the Guardians. Straying into new territory, she finds herself on a planet completely devoid of any light. It simply didn’t exist, and the inhabitants had never seen it before. A Green Lantern ring had made its way to this unknown land of darkness but had not yet been used. It was then realized that with a planet such as this, there were no words in that planets language for “light”. Therefore, there could be no word for “lantern”, a construct of light. In a place without light, there is still one beacon of hope left. Thus was born the first F-Sharp (F#) Bell of the Green Lantern Corps.
8. Their Enemies
Yes, there are a lot of them. It’s a big universe. So I thought I’d just list out a few of the usual suspects. Let’s start with Atrocitus, and no, I’m not going in alphabetical order, it’s just a coincidence. Atrocitus was from the sector 0666, a sector of Guardian space that came to be known as the Forgotten Zone, after the absolute destruction of his entire sector and all life in it, due to the actions of the Guardians (I’ll explain this next). With his rage fueled by his now triggered bloodlust, Atrocitus became bent of the destruction of the Guardians and lead to the eventual creation of the Red Lantern Corps. But he’s not the only one with issues with the Guardians. The Star Saphhires, inhabitants of the planet Zamaron, were once one with the Guardians of the universe, in their former existence as the Maltusians, but broke away as they disliked the cold and emotionless approach of the Guardians. Carol Ferris would eventually join them and become their leader, but as Star Sapphire, she maintained little memory of her human life and was often at war with Hal Jordon and the Green Lantern Corps.
Another race that the Green Lantern Corps was constantly at odds with was the Spider Guild. A society bred entirely of Arachnid Aliens originally from the Vega system, they are conquerors and warriors. They seek to move from planet to planet, occupying whatever place they can and wiping out the original inhabitants. They also make an appearance in Green Lantern: TAS (2011-2013), as the owners and managers of numerous prisons in Frontier Space, with less than savory methods of dealing with their prisoners. I won’t go into full detail, but it ends with the prisoners being eaten. And now I’m terrified of spiders for life. Speaking of terrified, have you guys met Parallax? Much like the living entity of will dwelling deep within the Central Battery of Oa, Parallax is the literal living embodiment of fear. Unlike our glowing green good guy though, Parallax is a yellow parasitic entity (for those who didn’t know, certain yellow objects are actually a weakness of the Green Lanterns, due to its representation of fear) and requires a host to survive. Its power to control and feed fear and paranoia into the minds of those around him is unmatched, though envied by villains like Sinestro. Parallax once took control over Hal Jordon’s mind, causing the former good guy to almost destroy Oa, and kill thousands in the process.
The final one I’ll mention is Volthoom. He was the original reason behind the creation of the Green Lantern Corps as he found a way to harness the Phantom Ring, one ring that could successfully tap completely into the entire emotional spectrum, giving him immense power over the universe at large and the Guardians. One ring to rule them all. Ha! Love it.
9. Their Dark Past
Though well-intentioned, the Guardians didn’t always know what they were doing. But they tried their hardest. One of their first attempts at creating an intergalactic peace force was through the creation of what they called the Manhunters. An army of automatons was envisioned by Krona, among the eldest, and quite frankly, craziest of the Guardians, and brought to life by the power of the Guardians jointly. They were then sent to the farthest reach of Guardian space for their first attempt at patrolling. They were sent to Sector 666. The programming of the Manhunters required them to monitor the bodily functions of the living beings on each planet, in each city, and to identify when a crime was going to be or being committed. But the Manhunters being machines, programmed to read but not understand the depths of sentient life, they mistook all emotions to be signs of evil. They then proceeded to wipe out anything that displayed any emotion in the entire sector. Though the inhabitants of the sector attempted to fight back, they had little to no success. Eventually, the Guardians managed to shut down the Manhunters and put a stop to the violence. This episode in Guardian history, which came to be known as the Massacre of the Manhunters, left an entire sector in absolute destruction, and only five survivors. One of them was Atrocitus. The Manhunters credo “No Man Escapes The Manhunters”, became the nightmare that haunted both the survivors of the Forgotten Zone and its surrounding sectors, as well as the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps.
10. Their Fellow Lanterns
So even though the green guys are the ones we know we love, there are so many lantern groups floating out in the Universe, most of which utilize the same type of power ring concept, with an oath to recharge the ring with the battery, and channeling the power of the full range of the emotional spectrum. There are the Red Lanterns that are fueled by the power of rage and hate, made up largely of survivors from near the Forgotten Zone, recruited by Atrocitus. And then there are the Orange Lanterns, which makes use of the power of greed and avarice. Which explains why there’s only one Orange Lantern now, Larfleeze, who made a deal with the Guardians to remain on his planet Okaara, in solitude with his Orange Lantern. There are the Star Sapphires, whom I mentioned earlier that embody the spirit and power of love (so no surprise they aren’t big fans of men). The Black Lanterns consists of an army of the dead, resurrected on a dead planet in the Forgotten Zone by their black rings, and a Central Power Battery, powered by a “horrible space dragoon”, known as the Anti-Monitor, that can break down any matter into anti-matter and consume it. The White Lanterns maintain a close connection to their Black Counterparts, though they use the power of the entity of Life, capable of fully resurrecting (as opposed to the Black’s “zombie” resurrecting) many former Black Lanterns. The Indigo Lanterns are wielders of the power of compassion, started first by Abin Sur, Hal Jordon’s predecessor. The Sinestro Corps was formed soon after Hal Jordon was recruited by the Green Lanterns. They are also known as the Yellow Lanterns, and, much like Parallax, they use the power of fear and paranoia to distort the mind and force their victims into submission. Thaal Sinestro formed the Corps after being kicked out of the GL Corps for using excessive force while on duty in his sector. He even attempted to become the sole ruler and dictator of his home planet, Korugar. The last rung of the Lantern Corps, and yes, I saved the best for last, is the Blue Lantern Corps. This Corps was created by two Guardians alone after they were exiled from Oa and the Green Lantern Corps for use of “baseless” emotions. The Blue Lanterns use the power of hope. And the power of the Blue Lantern, when near the presence of a Green Lantern can result in supercharging the powers of the Green Lantern rings. That’s right. Hope can supercharge will. This is why I love comic books.
Just a little-added bonus for whoever is interested! Here are some of the Lantern Corps Oaths!
Red Lantern Oath
With blood and rage of crimson red/ ripped from a corpse so freshly dead/ Together with our hellish hate/ we’ll burn you all – that is your fate!
Black Lantern Oath
The Blackest Night falls from the skies/ the darkness grows as all light dies/ We crave your hearts and your demise/ By my black hand – the dead shall rise!
Sinestro Corps Oath
In blackest day, in brightest night/ beware your fears made into light/ Let those who try to stop what’s right/ burn like my power – Sinestro’s might!
Orange Lantern Oath
It’s mine! Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine! It’s mine!
Star Sapphires Oath
For hearts long lost and full of fright/ for those alone in Blackest Night/ Accept our ring and join our fight/ Love conquers all with violet light!
Blue Lanterns Oath
In fearful day, in raging night/ with strong hearts full, our souls ignite/ When all seems lost in the War of Light/ Look to the stars – for hope burns bright!
Green Lantern Oath
In brightest day, in blackest night/ no evil shall escape my sight/ Let those who worship evils might/ Beware my power – Green Lanterns Light!
F-Sharp Bell Oath (recited by Rot Lop Fan)
In Loudest din or hush profound/ my ears catch evils slightest sound/ Let those who toll out evil’s knell/ Beware my power – the F Sharp Bell!