Power ring (DC Comics)
The Green Lantern Corps' rings.
|First appearance||All-American Comics Number Sixteen (July 1940)|
|Created by||Bill Finger (writer)
Martin Nodell (artist)
|In story information|
|Element of stories featuring||Alan Scott
White Lantern Corps
Green Lantern Corps
Red Lantern Corps
Blue Lantern Corps
Black Lantern Corps
Green Lantern Corps
The first appearance of a power ring was in All-American Comics Number Sixteen on July 14, 1940, the flagship title of comic book publisher All-American Publications, which featured the first appearance of Alan Scott. Creator Martin Nodell has cited Richard Wagner's opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung and the sight of a trainman's green railway lantern as inspirations for the combination of a magical ring and lantern.
Alan Scott's ring is powered by the Green Flame, a magically empowered flame contained within a metallic orb that fell from space. The orb was found by a lamp maker named Chang, who fashioned into a lantern and ring. Later writers revised this to be a fragment of an object called the Starheart, the result of Guardians of the Universe collecting and isolating most of the magic forces in the universe. This early version of the ring is shown as being powerless against wooden objects.
When the Green Lantern character was reinvented, beginning with the introduction of Hal Jordan, the magical ring concept was replaced with a scientifically based one. The new version of the ring is created by the Guardians of the Universe, who also create the Green Lantern Corps.
No hard upper limit to the power ring's capabilities has yet been demonstrated; it is often referred to as "the most powerful weapon in the universe."
The power ring's most distinctive effect is the generation of green, solid-light constructs, the precise physical nature of which has never been specified. The size, complexity, and strength of these constructs is limited only by the ring-bearer's willpower; whatever the wearer imagines, the ring will create.
When active, a power ring will encase its user in a protective, life-supporting force field. This force field allows the user to fly, travel through inhospitable environments (outer space, underwater, etc.), and enter hyperspace in order to move vast distances quickly. The ring also generates its wearer's Green Lantern uniform: the uniform appears over their normal attire and vanishes at the user's will. The uniform varies from Lantern to Lantern, based on anatomy, personal preference, and the social norms of their race.
Power rings are able to give off electromagnetic radiation of various frequencies. This radiation can be focused by the wearer into a beam, similar in appearance and effect to a powerful laser.
Originally, Green Lantern power rings typically held a limited charge. In earlier appearances, they required recharging every twenty-four hours, but more recently they possess a fixed amount of regular charge: that is, the charge is good for twenty-four hours of 'typical' use, but extended or extensive use will drain the charge more quickly. Green Lantern rings typically reserve a small portion of their power for a passive force field that protects its wielder from mortal harm. In dire emergencies, that energy reserve can be tapped at the expense of said protection. Power rings are usually recharged by a Green Lantern's personal battery, which looks like an old fashioned lantern made of dark green metal. The user typically points the ring towards the lantern, and usually gives the Green Lantern oath (below) while recharging the ring. These batteries are directly linked to the Central Power Battery on Oa and do not themselves need recharging.
Various devices and abilities can drain the ring of its power against the will of its wearer, or absorb or store its energies for later use. Doctor Polaris constructed "power absorbers", both man-sized and in the form of a fortress, that drained Hal Jordan's ring's charge and transferred it to Polaris for his own use. A Manhunter robot drained most of the charge from Hal Jordan's ring using devices hidden under its face-plate, and Hal later recharged his ring from the severed head of the destroyed Manhunter. Alpha Lanterns used technology similar to the Manhunters' to drain power rings. The device used by recurring Green Lantern foe Black Hand drains power ring energies from rings themselves, their constructs or objects that have been affected by them, for later reuse by the device's wielder. In the Marvel Comics/DC Comics crossover JLA/Avengers, Marvel superhero Photon, following an initial encounter with Kyle Rayner, successfully prepared herself to absorb the charge from his power ring when he attacked her with it, later reusing the energy to attack others.
Others may be able to track a ring's user by the energy trail it leaves behind. In the revised post-Infinite Crisis origin of Green Lantern nemesis Black Hand, Black Hand's ring-draining device was originally constructed as a "cosmic divining rod" by Atrocitus to track Green Lanterns on Earth.
Originally, power rings were unable to affect objects colored yellow, though Lanterns have typically found ways around the limitation by indirect manipulation. The reason why the rings were unable to affect yellow objects has changed significantly from writer to writer. In early stories, it was because of a design flaw. Gerard Jones revised this, in a story that revealed that the Guardians could change the weakness randomly and at will. After the destruction of the central battery Ganthet revealed to Kyle Rayner that an "imperfection" in the central battery was responsible for the yellow weakness (which his ring did not share as there was no Central Battery at the time it was created). In Green Lantern: Rebirth, writer Geoff Johns revealed that the "yellow impurity" was the result of Parallax, a yellow energy being made of pure fear, which had been imprisoned in the Central Power Battery. This change to the fictional history also allowed characters to overcome the yellow weakness by recognizing the fear behind it and facing that fear.
By far, the most significant limitation of the power ring is the willpower of the wielder. The requirements needed to wield a power ring have changed sporadically during the history of Green Lantern titles, often creating continuity confusions. Allowing power rings to fall into the wrong hands has been a favorite plot device in many previous Green Lantern stories. However, only people with exceptional willpower can use a power ring, a restriction which makes use of the rings by average individuals incredibly difficult (if not impossible). For instance, when Green Arrow used a power ring to attack Sinestro, it pushed the hero's body to the point of exhaustion (and for all his effort he was only able to generate a single arrow, which did little to Sinestro other than annoy him). Mind control, hallucinogens, psychic attacks, "neural chaff" and other phenomena that disrupt thought processes will all indirectly impair a power ring's effectiveness. During Identity Crisis, the villain Deathstroke was able to use his own willpower and physical contact to prevent a wounded Kyle Rayner from operating his ring, at least momentarily, although this was taxing enough to leave Deathstroke completely open to attack from others. More abstractly, a weakening of resolve and will can impair the ring's effectiveness. For example, during the Millennium crossover, Hal Jordan fights a Manhunter who psychologically attacks him, to make him doubt that the people he is protecting value the principles he is fighting for. Jordan's resolve begins to weaken and his ring loses effectiveness until one of his charges strikes the Manhunter, declaring that she does deeply value Jordan's principles as well. With this dramatic affirmation, Jordan's faith in his cause is restored and the ring instantly returns to full power. The ring, though, does have some psychic defenses: Guy Gardner's ring apparently is able to put up psi-shields around him and Blue Beetle in their battle against the Ultra-Humanite. There is also a limit to the amount of willpower the ring can take, as seen when John Stewart attempted to use his ring to re-build a destroyed planet, only to have his ring inform him, "Willpower exceeding power ring capabilities."
In the current incarnation of the Corps, the ring originally possessed programming to prevent the wearer from killing sentient beings. Hal Jordan was thought to have used power rings to kill a number of Corps members during Emerald Twilight, though he did tell Kilowog that he "left them enough power to survive." During the Sinestro Corps War event, they were revealed to be alive, held prisoner by the Cyborg Superman on the planet Biot. These Lanterns are referred to as the "Lost Lanterns". Any attempt to kill using a green power ring was automatically diverted, and in some cases resulted in the ring locking out the user. However, this restriction was rescinded by the Guardians to combat the Sinestro Corps, then for the general execution of their duties. However, the Rings are apparently still unable to be used against a Guardian, although Hal Jordan was apparently able to overpower this restriction when he killed the renegade Guardian Krona in the final battle.
It has been claimed in-universe that only a pure form of willpower can use the ring effectively. When Green Arrow tried to use Hal Jordan's power ring against Sinestro, it caused him great pain and difficulty because (according to Sinestro) Green Arrow's will was "cynical". It has also been shown that the user's stamina is drained with every construct. When Green Arrow fires a small arrow-like construct from the ring, he describes the experience as feeling like losing a week's worth of sleep. When he questions Kyle Rayner about this, Kyle affirms that the feeling is normal.
It was believed for a long time that only the Guardians could create new rings, but Hal Jordan was able to prove this wrong when he reforged his ring after the disappearance of the rest of the Corps while using Krona's prototype gauntlet.
All power rings need periodic recharging. When doing so, many Green Lanterns recite an oath while the ring charges. The oath is not required to charge the ring, but is recited to reaffirm the person's commitment to the Green Lantern Corps. While many Green Lanterns create their own oath, the majority use the Corps' official oath as a sign of respect. This practice has been abandoned with the reinstating of the Green Lantern Corps. As additional Corps have been introduced into DC continuity, with their own power rings (see below), corresponding oaths unique to each Corps have been formulated as well.
Kyle Rayner's ring
After the destruction of Coast City during the "Reign of the Supermen!" story-arc, Green Lantern Hal Jordan goes mad and betrays the Corps. He defeats most of the Corps on his way to Oa, enters the Central Power Battery, and absorbs most of its energies along with the yellow impurity to become the villain Parallax. With the Central Power Battery destroyed, all the remaining power rings stop working. In desperation Ganthet, the only surviving Guardian, uses what little power remains to create a new power ring and gives it to Kyle Rayner.
Kyle's ring is unique throughout the history of the Green Lantern characters, and was for a time the only working power ring throughout the DC Universe. His ring is not dependent on the Central Power Battery, and is free from the yellow impurity. However, the ring does not prevent mortal damage automatically. The ring no longer needs to be charged every twenty-four hours; instead, its use is based on how much power it absorbs when recharging and how much is expended when it is in use. For example, after the destruction of Oa, Kyle's ring has more power than ever before and does not need to be recharged for an extended period of time. Unlike Hal Jordan's ring, it is unable to make copies of itself. After Kyle became settled into his role as the new Green Lantern, a Hal Jordan from the past visits Kyle's time after his own death as Parallax. He gives a copy of his ring to Kyle, which has the ability to replicate itself. Kyle attempts to use Hal's ring to restart the Green Lantern Corps with limited results.
The apparently random induction in the Corps, more than once contested by Ganthet as simple chance during most of the Green Lantern v3 run, is later retconned into the very first induction of a new breed of Lanterns. Since the Corps has become aware of the Emotional spectrum, and the crippling effects the yellow light of Fear radiated by Parallax has over the green light of Will radiated by Ion, the Lantern rookies are not anymore chosen by merely people unable to feel fear, but from people able to feel, and overcome, their fear. Since Kyle had always been able to do so, wrestling against his fears for his entire life, his ring gained immunity against the Yellow Impurity and his particularly fortified will was instrumental in bringing about the rebirth of the Corps and setting an example to follow for the newer recruits.
Before giving up the power of the Central Battery Kyle further modified his ring. He gave the ring a permanent back up charge (so his ring could never be totally powerless). He also designed a recall feature that if his ring were ever removed from his hand that it could be summoned by him wherever he was.
In the Marvel/DC crossover JLA/Avengers, after Photon drained and absorbed the energy from Kyle's power ring, Kyle was able to will his ring to recharge itself from the energies of a Cosmic Cube, coating Kyle in a chrome blue glow and Kirby krackle. He recited Hal Jordan's Green Lantern oath during the task and implied he believed the oath would help his ring "hold together" under the strain of the Cube's "serious mojo".
Kyle has recently shown an ability to use his ring to communicate with members of the other six Corps despite them operating on a different 'wavelength' to his ring that would normally prevent such communication, convincing the ring to draw on the emotions of hope and fear that he himself was feeling and use that to communicate with them. After at the start of the New Guardians storyline, Kyle has been able to tap any color of the emotional spectrum that he is feeling at the time, eventually progressing to the point where he can channel the power of all seven Corps, 'evolving' into a White Lantern. The Guardians have stated that, unlike a normal Green Lantern's Ring, his ring is too contaminated with different emotional energies for them to track his location. His original ring was destroyed after he tried to use it to restore the Blue Lantern Corps, hinted to be the result of some external force, but Kyle has accepted a return to a Green Lantern ring.
In the New 52- Rebirth era, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz found themselves facing Frank Laminski, a man obsessed with becoming a Green Lantern himself, who acquired the Phantom Ring, an early prototype of the Green Lantern rings created by the Guardian of the Universe Rami, which could theoretically be worn by anyone as opposed to later rings choosing their wearer. The Phantom Ring is capable of channeling the entirety of the emotional spectrum, but unlike Kyle's ring after he 'evolved' into a White Lantern, which channeled the spectrum at will, the Phantom Ring shifts depending on which emotion the wearer is feeling most strongly, creating the risk of them becoming compromised by the ring's power. As well as this, the ring does not have an external battery but relies on the wearer's own life-energy, creating the risk that they would destroy themselves if they push themselves too far. Laminski almost kills Simon and Jessica when he confronts them after trying to act as a hero, his greed and anger causing him to tap into the Red and Orange rings, but when he is forced to face the damage he has done, he reverts to an indigo ring long enough to remove the ring himself.
Created by the Guardians of the Universe by using in conjunction sorcery and science, the user of this ring can tap directly into the energies of the emotional spectrum, and harness any color of it, despite whatever emotion is being felt regardless of intentions. This ring can also drain the other rings of the energies that powers them, rendering them useless. However the Guardians of the Universe would eventually discover that user of the ring will eventually succumb to its corrupted power and forced to create more rings of itself. As they were unable to destroy it, they sent it away, to a version of Earth locked in a time loop, therefore isolating it from the rest of Hypertime, hoping that it could never be found.
In the alternate universe of Superman & Batman: Generations, it was stated that the rings' weakness is actually only based on what the users believe the rings are vulnerable to; Alan Scott – whose ring here is a lost Green Lantern ring rather than the Starheart – believed that his ring was vulnerable to wood because he was caught off-guard by someone wielding a wooden block the first time he used the ring. After his retirement, the ring was passed to Kyle Rayner, who uses it with the belief that it is vulnerable to yellow, until Hal Jordan- here the President of the United States, previously approached to become the new Green Lantern before he decided to go into politics- dons the ring to fight off Sinestro, correctly deducing that it has no true vulnerabilities, with the Guardians explaining the truth to the heroes.
In the crossover miniseries Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War, various members of the seven Corps are transferred into the new Star Trek timeline when Nekron's latest attack causes Ganthet to initiate the 'Last Light' protocol, transferring the last power rings and living wielders to another universe. After Hal Jordan, Carol Ferris and Saint Walker make contact with the USS Enterprise, along with Doctor Leonard McCoy, Nyota Uhura and Pavel Chekov being chosen by reserve rings of the Indigo Tribe, Star Sapphires and Blue Lantern Corps respectively, Montgomery Scott's analysis of the rings allows him to create his own version. Although he freely admits that the rings are so complex he feels like a caveman trying to understand a warp core, Scotty's rings can generate personal force-fields and fire energy blasts at the user's will, Scotty comparing it to a phaser worn on the finger. At the conclusion of the series, Kirk's log notes that Scotty has received permission to put the rings into mass production. In the sequel Star Trek/Green Lantern: Strange Worlds, the Enterprise discovers the version of Oa that exists in their universe, with Sinestro's attack forcing the Guardians to release their prototype Green Lantern ring, which chooses James T. Kirk as a wielder as he confronts Sinestro and Khan simultaneously.
- Martin Nodell, Preface to The Golden Age Green Lantern Archives volume 1, 1999
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- Green Lantern: New Guardians #6 (February 2012)