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Jessica Cruz is the most recent Green Lantern of Earth, making there a total of 6 human Green Lanterns that protect Earth. That is way too many Green Lanterns to protect one planet, but I digress because Jessica is actually a very interesting character that I think many people will be able to relate to. Well... I don't know how many people will relate to her origin story.
Essentially Jessica Cruz became a shut-in that suffers from extreme anxiety to the point where she did not leave her apartment for about three years. The reason that she developed this anxiety is because she and her friends were out in the woods doing their thing, minding their own business until they stumble upon these two guys burying a dead body. This leads to the guys burying the body attacking Jessica and her friends, and killing them all, leaving Jessica as the only survivor. Traumatized by the experience, she decides to not leave her apartment for three years, and would have continued doing so had a green ring not found her.
The green ring I'm talking about, it's not a Green Lantern Corps Ring, it was a ring of Volthoom from Earth-3. For those of you who do not know, Earth 3 is an alternate universe where everybody that is a superhero in the main DC Universe is a villain. So Superman would be Ultraman on Earth 3. Batman is Owlman. So Green Lantern's equivalent on Earth 3 is Power Ring.
We are not going to go into the story or stories where the Justice League fights the Crime Syndicate. But it is important for you to know that Power Ring, who you can see in the right side of the picture above, y'know, the guy that looks like Green Lantern is killed by Sinestro. After, this Power Ring dies, the ring of Volthoom looks for a suitable replacement.
Green Lantern Rings choose there host by their willpower and ability to overcome fear. The difference between the Ring of Volthoom and Green Lantern Rings is that it feeds on the fear of those whose willpower is weak. The Power Ring (AKA Ring of Volthoom) recognizes that Jessica Cruz has great fear due to her traumatic experience and her anxiety and chooses her as a host. She does not want the Power Ring for herself, in fact, she refuses it and tries to shoot it with its shotgun. That didn't work and she became the new Power Ring.
The Ring controlled her for a small amount of time until Batman was able to convince Jessica to overcome her fears, and she regained control. Batman then introduces her to the Justice League where Barry Allen, the Flash trains her until Hal Jordan, the first Green Lantern of Earth, returns to Earth. Hal Jordan then trains her to overcome fear and teaches her how to effectively use the Ring of Volthoom.
During a scuffle between Darkseid, the Anti-Monitor and the Justice League, Jessica seemingly sacrifices herself and jumps in front of the Black Racer (The embodiment of death) to protect the Flash from Black Racer. However, Jessica is not the one that dies, it's the Ring of Volthoom that does.The ring shatters and Jessica is shown to be alive, and almost immediately after that, Jessica is chosen by a ring and is inducted into the Green Lantern Corps.
Right now Jessica is one of the two main characters in the Green Lantern series called "Green Lanterns," which follows the adventures of her and Simon Baz, another rookie Green Lantern of Earth. The first time the two of them meet, they get into an argument and Hal Jordan decides that the two need to learn from each other to make each a better Green Lantern, and they also need to learn to get along. So what Hal Jordan does is take their Lantern Batteries, which give the rings energy, and combines them into one Lantern Battery. This means that they both share their power with each other. Essentially what Hal does is make them partners against their will and instates them as the official Green Lanterns of Earth.
I'm not going to go further into what happens in "Green Lanterns" in this post. I will be going over individual story arcs in the "Green Lanterns" title though. But let's get into why I like this character.
The creation of Jessica's character really helps pave the way for diversity in comics because she is a Latina Superhero that has mental health issues. The detail about her being Latina is important because it is representation in comics contributing to the idea that anyone can be a hero. I also feel that the introduction of Jessica Cruz is a good example of making the comic universe more diverse without taking away from older characters. For example, we have Amadeus Chos a Young Korean Boy that is the eighth smartest person in the world I believe, is the Hulk right now, and has replaced Bruce Banner, which angered a lot of fans, me included. I enjoy the concept of Amadeus Cho being a Hulk that has full control over himself when he is the Hulk, but I also really enjoy Bruce Banner and the Hulk as well as the Bruce Banner/Hulk dichotomy. What DC did right was create Jessica Cruz, which leads to a more diverse DC Universe, but they didn't take away any of the older Green Lanterns, and therefore, do not take away from the aspects of Green Lantern and Green Lantern characters that older fans love.
The importance of including a character with mental health issues is also a great thing to happen in comics because I think it questions what it means and what it takes to be a hero. Jessica Cruz, like me, like many others, finds it difficult to get out of bed on some days. In fact, that could be the hardest thing in the world to do, but she gets up. Being able to muster up the will to get up when your mind tells you not to is a significant feat that someone can accomplish. The ring didn't choose her because she wasn't afraid of anything, the ring chose her because even though she may be afraid of many things, she is able, or is slowly becoming more able to overcome her fears. And that is key to becoming a Green Lantern, not to be completely unafraid of anything, the key is to overcome whatever it is that scares you. And any little thing that you are afraid of that you overcome is still a fear that you overcame. And what I like even more is that it's taking a long time for her to get over her anxiety because that's how it works in real life. You don't just stop being scared of things. It isn't something that just happens. It takes time for you to get better, and some people take longer than others, but that's okay. But even more, her initial relationship with Simon Baz really is reflecting the dynamic that some people that have mental illness have with some of those that do not. Baz is someone on the outside looking in. Baz, he just doesn't get it, and he probably never will, and there isn't a problem with that. With Baz he needs to learn that sometimes there is nothing you can do. It's a tough truth to deal with, but it is the truth. There are some times where you can't help. You can, however, be by their side during their journey. At least, as much as they allow you, and as much as it is in their comfort level, and that is slowly what Baz is achieving. So all in all, I love the Green Lanterns title, what the writers are doing with Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz . Especially when it comes to the accurate portrayal of those with mental illness.
That concludes this post. There will be more of Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz in my future posts. I'm going back and reading all of the All-New, All-Different Wolverine, and going to talk about Laura Kinney and her sitster Gabby. See you in the next post!
Note: I do not own the art, characters or panels shown in this post. All art, characters, and posts belong to their respective owners.