Since the dawn of the Silver Age, legacy characters have been a staple of superhero fiction, and having a new character step into a well loved role can open up new opportunities for writers and artists to tell different kinds of stories. In The Replacements, we’ll look back at the notable and not-so-notable heroes and villains to assume some of the most iconic mantles in the superhero genre.
Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, gained his powers from a magic lamp and wielded the energy with a ring forged from its metal. As one of the first superheroes in what would become the DC Universe, Alan Scott was a founding member of the Justice Society of America and paved the way for generations more heroes, and though his successors come from a very different lineage, the name Green Lantern has always represented indomitable will.
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Created by John Broome & Gil Kane (Showcase #22)
When Green Lantern Corps member Abin Sur crash landed on Earth, he instructed his ring to recruit a man without fear to be his replacement, and it brought him test pilot Hal Jordan. Jordan took Abin Sur’s place as the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 and was partnered up with the alien Sinestro to train, but quickly learned that Sinestro used his powers to rule his planet with an iron fist, so he helped to bring down the despotic Lantern.
Hal Jordan quickly rose to be one of the best Green Lanterns of all time, but when his hometown of Coast City was destroyed by the Cyborg Superman, he suffered a mental breakdown that caused him to become the villain Parallax. As Parallax, he decimated the Green Lantern Corps and terrorized the DC Universe, but eventually sacrificed his life to reignite the sun during the Final Night.
Hal Jordan briefly became the newest incarnation of The Spectre, but was resurrected after it was revealed that Parallax was an ancient entity that represented the concept of fear. Together with the surviving Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan helped rebuild the Corps ahead of the discovery of the emotional spectrum and a plethora of other Lantern Corps representing different concepts.
Jordan helped guide the Corps through some of their blackest nights and brightest days, and when the Guardians of the Universe were deposed, the Corps looked to him for leadership. When the universe held the Lanterns responsible for some of the darkest tragedies in recent memory, Hal took the blame and went rogue with an experimental power glove to keep the Corps’ name intact.
Green Lantern (Guy Gardner)
Created by John Broome & Gil Kane (Green Lantern #59)
Guy Gardner was very nearly Abin Sur’s replacement, as the ring was forced to choose between Guy and Hal and ultimately opted for the latter because he was closer. Guy instead was chosen to be Hal Jordan’s back-up in case anything should ever happen to him, and was eventually recruited into the Green Lantern Corps proper, but after being trapped in the Phantom Zone, Guy emerged comatose and was diagnosed with brain damage.
When Guy awoke, his personality was radically changed and he was much more of a hothead, braggadocious individual who believed himself to be the “true” Green Lantern. He joined the Justice League and often clashed with Batman, who refused to sanction Gardner’s buffoonery and famously laid the “true” Green Lantern out with one punch.
Following the decimation of the Green Lantern Corps, Guy Gardner discovered he possesed alien DNA from a race known as the Vuldarians, and upon activation he gained the ability to create weapons with his body. At first he struggled with the powers, and the transformation caused him a great deal of pain, but he would get a handle on them and later lose them entirely before rejoining the reborn Green Lantern Corps.
Guy would later join the Red Lantern Corps, sent in undercover by Hal Jordan to take down Atrocitus and assume the leadership position, an objective that he successfully completed. He would later leave the Red Lanterns and become trapped in the universe that existed prior to the current one with a small band of Green Lantern Corps members, pressed for time to return home before the universe collapsed in on itself.
Green Lantern (John Stewart)
Created by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams (Green Lantern #87)
John Stewart was an architect and veteran US marine who was selected as Hal Jordan’s back-up when Guy Gardner was indisposed. Jordan objected to the appointment due to Stewart’s apparent attitude problem, but ultimately they were able to work together and prevent an assassination in a way that Hal wouldn’t have been able to on his own.
When Hal Jordan gave up the role of Green Lantern, John Stewart became Earth’s primary Green Lantern and joined the Justice League, working alongside them during the threat to all reality posed by the Anti-Monitor. Stewart’s arrogance would later lead to the destruction of an entire world — the planet Xanshi — and the staggering loss of life is a persistent weight he carries with him every day.
John Stewart has had multiple roles throughout the DC Universe, including as caretaker of the Mosaic world. Following the destruction of the Corps, he became a Darkstar operative until he lost his ability to walk in battle. Parallax restored his ability to walk as a final gift before sacrificing himself, and John found himself Green Lantern again when Kyle Rayner left Earth for a prolonged period.
When the GLC was restructured, Stewart shared Sector 2814 with Hal Jordan as its primary Green Lanterns for a time. When Krona gained control of the Green Lantern planet Mogo, John was forced to relive his greatest trauma and destroy another planet — this time a friend — in order to keep the universe safe, a decision which plagued him greatly until Mogo was resurrected to serve as the new base of the Corps.
Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)
Created by Ron Marz, Bill Willingham & Darryl Banks (Green Lantern #48)
When Hal Jordan devastated the Green Lantern Corps, Ganthet — the last remaining Guardian of the Universe — had one final Green Lantern ring, and with no-one left to turn to or trust, he gave it to a random guy in an alley behind a bar. That guy was Kyle Rayner, a struggling artist who leapt into the role of Green Lantern with enthusiasm until his girlfriend Alex was killed and stuffed in a refrigerator by the villain Major Force.
This forced Kyle to take things more seriously, and he grew into the role of Green Lantern while living in the shadow of Hal Jordan, who was still something of a sore wound for the heroes of the DC Universe. Kyle spent some time as a member of the Titans before joining a new incarnation of the JLA alongside iconic members such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
Kyle is sometimes referred to as The Torchbearer, because he carried the light when there was no-one else to do so, and when Hal Jordan brought the Corps back Kyle became Ion, merged with the green entity that represents the concept of all will. He would later be the only person to truly master the entire emotional spectrum and became the White Lantern.
While on a peacekeeping mission in the Vega System, Kyle was forced to surrender his ring and was kidnapped by the terrorist group known as The Omega Men. However, they were able to show Kyle how corrupt the government was, and he joined them in toppling the regime and bringing some sense of order back to the system, eventually recovering his White Lantern ring in the process.
Green Lantern (Simon Baz)
Created by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke (Green Lantern #0)
Simon Baz grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, and as a teen fell into the world of street gangs, racing, and eventually car theft; a life of crime that led to his brother being hospitalized and left comatose. When the recession hit, Michigan was one of the worst affected areas, and Simon was fired from his job. Desperate for money, he stole a van that happened to be wired with explosives and drove it safely to the abandoned factory where he used to work, where it detonated. Simon was arrested as a terrorist.
While undergoing an interrogation, Simon was recruited into the Green Lantern Corps by a faulty amalgamated ring, and was tracked down by the Justice League, who assumed that he had done something with Hal Jordan. He was able to escape, and with the help of the Green Lantern B’gd, began to learn more about his predicament and his role in the larger Green Lantern Corps.
As he came to understand his new power, he joined the Corps in stopping threats from the likes of The Third Army and The First Lantern. He also joined Amanda Waller’s Justice League of America briefly as their counterpoint to the Justice League’s own Green Lantern.
Still relatively new to being a Green Lantern, but with some experience under his belt, Simon was later partnered up with the rookie Jessica Cruz, and the pair were forced to share a power battery by Hal Jordan. Still discovering the powers of the Green Lantern ring, Simon unlocked the ability of Emerald Sight, a sort of precognitive power that was previously hidden.
Green Lantern (Jessica Cruz)
Created by Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis (Justice League #30)
Jessica Cruz was the only survivor of the brutal massacre of her friends when they stumbled into the wrong place at the wrong time. She was later was the victim of an aggravated assault. The combination of the two attacks caused her to become severely agoraphobic, and she locked herself inside for four years. Plagued by nightmares and PTSD, Jessica was the perfect candidate for the Power Ring of Earth-3, which seeks out the most fearful to be its host.
Under the influence of the Power Ring, Jessica attacked the Justice League and the Doom Patrol, but was talked down by Batman. She was able to gain some semblance of control over the parasitic piece of jewelry, and she joined the Justice League shortly before they became caught up in the conflict between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, where she was seemingly killed by The Black Racer.
In fact, The Black Racer killed Volthoom, the entity inside the Power Ring, freeing Jessica from it influence. The act of bravery on Jessica’s part caused a Green Lantern ring to appear and welcome her to the Corps for her ability to overcome fear. A rookie Green Lantern, she was instructed by Hal Jordan to work alongside Simon Baz as the Green Lanterns of Earth, and members of the new Justice League.