A story proposed by Steven Grant and Paul M. Smith
As near as I can recall (it's been ten years):
A space armada approaches earth 50 years after Green Lantern left to go
into space by himself (obliquely referred to in DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, oddly
enough, though Paul and I concocted this story before that). The armada is
commanded by an alien who has made a lifetime career out of slaughtering
Green Lanterns, and he wears their rings as souvenirs and jewelry; he's
covered with hundreds of them.
He is on a search to find the greatest Green Lantern of all -- known far
and wide as the Haljor -- the GL who met and defeated him years before, and
then destroyed his honor by leaving him alive to suffer the shame. (In the
alien's culture, to live after defeat is considered on the level of wetting
your bed, something that just is not done, and killing yourself is unheard
of.) The last remaining GL, a callow youth who has just inherited a ring
(years before Kyle Raynor) tries to stop the armada and fails, being
captured, and the alien is going to torture him for information. He pauses
long enough for a storyteller to tell the story of the Haljor -- and the
tale of the Haljor's flight from Earth is told, as well as the full tale of
his meeting with the alien.
As you might expect, the storyteller IS Hal Jordan, who has come out of his
hermitage to deal with this threat once and for all. The alien is thrilled
and ready -- all GL had going for him before was a power ring, and the
alien has dozens of them, fully charged. Wham! The alien just blows him
away without a thought.
Except the Haljor gets up again.
The Haljor gets up again.
The Haljor gets up again.
Finally big alien starts to panic -- he's hurling everything he's got at
the Haljor and nothing is working. He elects to destroy Earth instead, and
while the Haljor is busy saving Earth, the alien makes a run for it. Too
late. The Haljor is back for the final battle, but the alien is just too
shaken to be able to put his will into the ring.
The Haljor just blows him away. Yes, kills him. And as the alien is
dying, apologizes to him. The Haljor has come to realize the grave faux
pas he made years before, the unintended but potent slight that has
destroyed the alien's life as surely as if the Haljor had killed him. The
alien is at peace, crying with joy as he dies; he has his honor back.
The Haljor stands over the body and sternly warns all the other aliens to
change their evil ways, and they all take off for high ground before the
Haljor changes his mind. Soon it's no one but the Haljor and the alien GL,
who freaks as the Haljor collapses. Reaching him, the kid sees that the
Haljor is an old man, not the seeming immortal he looked like before, and
his body is ruined -- half his skull ripped away, limbs hanging by a
thread. In fact, every one of the alien's power ring blasts delivered
terrible terrible damage, but he used his own ring to make it look as if no
damage was done. Which shattered the alien's confidence and broke his
Then it's the alien GL, many years older, delivering this sermon to a new
crop of GLs. Whether the Haljor is dead or alive, he doesn't reveal, and
he may return -- but in any case his legend lives on forever. That was the
gist of it, anyway.