Thanks to the DC Universe’s ultimate weapon, the Power Ring, the members of the Green Lantern Corps can make anything they can imagine (providing they have the necessary willpower). While different heroes have used this power to the extreme – rescuing lives with fighter jets, power armor, and gigantic anime characters – there are those who prefer its darker potential.
From Sinestro to the Dawnbreaker to even some of Earth’s protectors, there are Green Lanterns who have used their rings to create horrors. Here are the twelve best Green Lantern constructs that take the ultimate creative superpower and take it to some very dark places.
In Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special #1 (from James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebela and Ariel Olivetti), Hal Jordan winds up on a strange planet after falling through a wormhole. The planet is filled with hostile aliens who don’t take kindly to visitors from space and send a squadron of armed forces after him. To get rid of the army peacefully, Hal comes up with the most terrifying thing he can think of: a giant manifestation of Batman, which does cause the army to flee. Fans may forget that Batman’s entire persona was crafted to instill fear in others – but Hal Jordan sure hasn’t.
In Crime Syndicate #4‘s ‘Walls Closing In’ from Andy Schmidt and Bryan Hitch, fans see the new origin of Earth 3’s Emerald Knight. The evil reality’s John Stewart is a corrupt cop in thrall to the criminals who bribe him. When a mysterious Power Ring arrives offering Stewart the power to escape his situation, he accepts gladly, and his first use of his new constructs is to set a crime boss’ son on fire. It’s a horrific example of how the Power Ring can create anything, and is so brutal that the new Emerald Knight’s daughter refuses to ever see him again, traumatized by seeing the monster her father so quickly became.
In Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s JLA: Earth 2, the Justice League encounter a morally-flipped, evil version of their team. After the League is transported to Earth 2 in the Antimatter universe, the villains are transferred to the League’s Earth to stabilize both worlds. While on the League’s world, Power Ring – the evil copy of Green Lantern – uses his abilities to create a series of demonic-looking giants to destroy the Capitol. The implied death and destruction gives these constructs a major body count, and there’s extra cruelty in making the citiziens of Washington believe that hell has arisen.
The fallen Green Lantern Sinestro got a second chance to wear a Power Ring in Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke’s Green Lantern #1. Unfortunately, this backfired when a member of his own Corps discovered Sinestro had gone Green and attempted to rat on him. Sinestro began hunting down members of his Corps he felt had betrayed him and used his ring to produce weapons to kill them. However, true to his nature, Sinestro kept it small, showing how he sees the Power Ring as a weapon in the purest sense of the word. In this Corpsman’s case, Sinestro created a garrote and choked the life out of his former underling – a long way away from giant boxing gloves and playful mech suits.
John Stewart’s sinister Emerald Knight returned in War for Earth 3 #1 (by Robbie Thompson, Dennis Hopeless, Steve Pugh, Dexter Soy & Brent Peeples). As Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad arrive to liberate Earth 3 from the Crime Syndicate, she finds herself challenged by Emerald Knight. The out-of-control John Stewart launches into the fray with a smile on his face as he unleashes his ‘Monster Punch’ attack. The construct is a giant fist with monster truck wheels that then horrifyingly unfurls its fingers and begins crushing people like bugs.
For the longest time, the Green Lanterns had a strict no-kill code built into their rings. But the Corps’ ultimate enforcers the Alpha Lanterns were exempt from this rule. In fact, Cyborg Superman demonstrated the extent of their powers when he took them over in Tony Bedard and Ardian Syaf’s Green Lantern Corps #51. Hank Henshaw made one Alpha Lantern blow their own head off using their ring, complete with viscera we can’t show the entirety of here. There’s something truly dark about using a tool that can create anything you can think of purely for an explosion of lethal force.
Kyle Rayner had an uphill battle to face when he took over as Green Lantern after Hal Jordan went rogue and became Parallax. But Hal was ready to fight for ownership of his ring and got into a battle with his replacement in Ron Marz and Darryl Banks’ Green Lantern #63. As the two fight with constructs, Jordan summons a giant version of himself as a Lantern to viciously beat up the junior hero. While this was later retconned to be Parallax controlling John, it was a truly damning moment to see the former Justice League mainstray create a giant version of himself to beat another hero to a pulp.
Not all dark constructs are rooted in violence. John Stewart’s most tragic attempted construct tried to rectify a mistake he couldn’t stop blaming himself for. In Geoff Johns and Mike McKone’s Green Lantern #26, he sits among the remains of Xanshi, a planet the Lantern failed to save due to trying to defuse a bomb without vital back-up. Using his Power Ring, John attempts to recreate the entire planet and surrounding system, but unfortunately, the effort is too much for his ring to bring to life. This failure was one of the defining moments of John Stewart’s life, so his desperation (and failure) to recreate it carried real weight.
Kyle may have fought Parallax to remain a Green Lantern, but he wasn’t immune to darkness. In Green Lantern #55 (by Ron Marz, Darryl Banks, Derec Aucoin and Craig Hamilton), the young hero confronts Major Force, the villain who infamously killed Green Lantern’s girlfriend, and Kyle is determined to avenge her death. After charging his ring to full capacity, Kyle creates a working electric chair and attempts to use it to torture Major Force. Kyle is thankfully stopped from crossing this line, but the fact that he came so close was a shocking development for one of the more peaceful and creative Green Lanterns.
Jessica Cruz had an unconventional first experience with a Power Ring. In Johns and Mahnke’s Justice League #33, she’s under the control of the Power Ring from Earth 3, which feeds off her fear and anxieties. The ring conjures up images of the two men who murdered her friends and have been plaguing Jessica’s thoughts for years. The experience was intensely traumatic for Jessica, so having her friends’ killers recreated – able to kill her with ring-constructed guns – showed the horrifying potential of a Power Ring governed by fear.
When it comes to nightmares, nothing is scarier than the Dark Multiverse, home to unstable worlds built on DC’s worst fears. Sam Humphries and Ethan Van Sciver’s Batman: The Dawnbreaker #1 presents a world where Bruce became a Green Lantern the night he lost his parents. But in his rage and grief, he overrode the Power Ring’s safety protocols and corrupted it with darkness, enabling him to create a legion of skeletal monsters he uses to keep his city in line through abject fear and the threat of death.
Hal Jordan’s attempt to bring back Coast City is the darkest Green Lantern construct of all time. Shortly after Mongul and Cyborg Superman destroyed Hal’s hometown, the Lantern used his ring to recreate the city through sheer willpower in Ron Marz and Bill Willingham’s Green Lantern #48. The construct made it clear Hal could never truly bring back everything he’d lost, and represented his fragile mental state as he attempted to return to his prior life. What makes it worse was that this was actually the beginning of Parallax’s possession of Hal, as the fear entity latched onto him and convinced Jordan to slaughter his allies in the Corps to gain the power he’d need to maintain the “new” Coast City. This is the moment the most celebrated Green Lantern ever fell to evil and fear.
While most of the constructs made by Power Rings are often awe-inspiring creations, these creations show the dark potential that rest within DC’s ultimate weapon – and why only those who can resist great fear are considered for the rank of Green Lantern.