The Green Lantern Corps has experienced some of the most drastic upheavals of any DC property, making tremendous changes to the mythos almost every other arc. Time and again, these characters found themselves in a wholly different status quo from more traditional settings. In this world of aliens wielding rings that grant incredible powers, things change constantly.
While the 2016 “Rebirth” event has reset the DC Universe to something more traditional, restoring elements of the original status quo like the Guardians of the Universe and building a “New Oa” in which to set new stories, the mythos has proven it is subject to dramatic changes at a moment’s notice, and many more are surely still to come.
The greatest upheaval yet was when Hal Jordan turned his ring on his fellow Lanterns. Driven mad by the loss of Coast City and the Guardians’ refusal to allow him to use the ring to help him cope with the loss, he rampaged through the universe on his way to Oa, cutting through Green Lanterns and collecting their rings. He even took the lives of friends like Kilowog.
Finally, after killing Sinestro, deployed as a last resort to stop Hal’s rampage, Hal consumed the energy of the Central Power Battery to achieve his ultimate villainous form, powered by the entire Corps. The rest of the universe’s Lanterns found themselves powerless and the Guardians perished, and with the death of the Corps, “Parallax” became the deadliest and most powerful Green Lantern villain.
7 Sector Partners
The new millennium is when everything began to change. Following the restoration of the Corps and the return of Hal Jordan proceeding the events of Green Lantern: Rebirth (2004), a new standard was introduced in the limited series Green Lantern Corps: Recharge (2005): that each Lantern would be backed up by a partner, doubling the ranks of the Corps.
The process was slow, however. One by one, new Lanterns were recruited to gradually rebuild the Corps and restore its former strength after its destruction by Parallax and resurrection by Kyle Rayner. During this period, the Corps was in a weakened, vulnerable state. Various enemies sought to take advantage during the restoration process, but ultimately, the Corps emerged twice as powerful.
6 Lethal Force Authorized
At the height of the Sinestro Corps War, the villain’s minions of terror threatened to triumph in their quest to spread fear to every corner of the universe. With their backs against the wall, unable to use the maximum force necessary to preserve their own lives, the Green Lantern Corps was at its wit’s end — until the Guardians made the dramatic choice to authorize lethal force.
Some Lanterns embraced the authorization, readily cutting down the Sinestro Corps warriors with enthusiasm. Others, such as Kilowog, staunchly refused to take a single life. It was an interesting time when the Lanterns found themselves questioning their role and the steps taken to ensure victory. The Corps now found itself wielding terrifying power — exactly as Sinestro had intended.
5 Alpha Lanterns
After the Sinestro Corps War, the Guardians of the Universe decided that steps should be taken to preserve the integrity of the Corps with a new unit to enforce loyalty. Deprived of their emotions and cybernetically altered, the “Alpha Lanterns” would do just this. Suddenly, Green Lanterns found themselves permanently watched by these unsettling, mysterious servants of the Guardians.
Introduced in Green Lantern #27 (2008), the story of the Alpha Lanterns would not reach a head until the “Alpha War” storyline in 2012, when the emotionless entities had finally gone too far and made enemies of the entire Corps. Truly, the mistake the Guardians made with the Manhunters had repeated itself, and emotionless beings had become the enemies of life once again.
4 War of Light
The introduction of the Sinestro Corps had risen the tally of organizations built on the Emotional Spectrum to green, violet, and yellow. The conflict proceeding the Sinestro Corps War upped that count. Atrocitus formed his Red Lantern Corps, the Guardians Ganthet and Sayd formed the Blue Lantern Corps, Larfleeze had his personal “Orange Corps,” and the Indigo Tribe were introduced.
It was a veritable rainbow brigade of Lanterns, coming together in a battle spanning the breadth of the universe. Powered by emotion itself, the Green Lantern Corps found itself struggling with who to trust and where to fight its battles. The universe was a different place now, and the emerald space cops had become soldiers fighting a cosmic war unlike any other, which even inspired plot points in DC’s most underrated animated show Green Lantern: The Animated Series.
3 Evil Guardians
The New 52 era following the Blackest Night event is when the mythos became wildly susceptible to dramatic twists and turns. Almost every other issue was a major event that shook the foundations of the Corps. The first great leap was when the Guardians manufactured the “Third Army” as their final solution to the persisting problems of the universe.
Spreading from person to person, transforming them like a werewolf virus, the Third Army would deprive all living things of their emotions and free the universe from those ills the Guardians felt they contributed to. Of their own free will, no mind-control involved, the Guardians had become the next greatest enemy of the Green Lanterns. The creators of the Corps were now one of Green Lantern’s coolest villains.
2 Death of the Guardians
The Guardians of the Universe are immortals, having lived for billions of years. They were killed once before when Parallax destroyed the Corps, but after the “First Lantern” Volthoom weakened the deceptive beings, a Parallax-empowered Sinestro exploited the opportunity in Green Lantern #20 (2013) to slaughter them, leaving one for Atrocitus to satisfy his own need for vengeance.
Not only had the Guardians become villains, but now they were dead, leaving the Corps with no leaders except the Earth Lanterns whose willpower kept them together. Yet, unbeknownst to the rest of the universe, Sinestro had been merciful. He spared the Guardian Ganthet, allowing him to reunite with his beloved Sayd in secret, who would eventually return to rebuild Oa.
1 Destruction of Oa
In Green Lantern Corps #24 (2013), the “Lights Out” arc hit new stakes. The villain Relic, a survivor from another universe destroyed by its abuse of the Emotional Spectrum, sought to destroy the “lightsmiths” of this universe threatening to drain it dry yet again. After the Corps failed to stop him from destroying the Central Power Battery, the resulting chain reaction led to the destruction of Oa.
The surviving Lanterns fortunately escaped, but the destruction was unprecedented. Not since Hal Jordan became Parallax in 1994 and the resulting conflicts had there been such devastation. The home of the Green Lantern Corps had been destroyed. Fortunately, Mogo served as the new base of the Corps, but with the Guardians dead and Oa destroyed, everything was different.
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