Answer by Thaddeus Howze:
Not until the Modern Era
But there are always exceptions in every era. A Green Lantern's weakness is not the ring (s)he's wielding but the writers who's telling the stories.
One of the more impressive feats of the Modern Age Green Lanterns was when John Stewart managed to have more willpower than the Power Ring could utilize in his attempt to restore the destroyed planet of Xanshi. A mark of shame for him as the world was destroyed due to a moment of overconfidence and stands, to him, as a testament of failure during his tenure as a Green Lantern.
In the Golden Age
Overall, Green Lanterns weren't incredibly impressive besides the fact there were, for the first time, more than one of them (unlike the Golden Age, when there was only Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern).
Early Alan Scott's Green Lantern used his ring in a number of relatively simple ways including:
- the ability to instantly change into his costume,
- the power of flight,
- a bit of enhanced strength,
- projection of the Green Power, usually as flames or later beams of force.
With a 1930-1950s audience, this was usually quite sufficient to satisfy the readers.
His power was later claimed to have been derived from the Starheart, an alien construct made by the Guardians of Oa after they gathered rogue magic from the Universe to establish a more scientifically structured reality. This retcon connected the Golden Age Green Lantern with his Silver Age counterpart.
In the Silver Age
Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan was never depicted using very complicated or interesting shapes, forms or constructs. I always imagined him as a guy who used the least amount of effort required to solve a problem.
To be fair to the character, Hal's creativity was limited by the writer and a writer's willingness to think deeply on the Green Power and what might be able to be done to create more interesting feats with it.
The Silver Age is quite long and there are many times Green Lanterns in the hands of more creative writers might do more interesting things with the ring than just simple force projections.
For example: Hal protects himself and the rest of the Justice League from a SUPER NOVA, and then converts his friends to Negative Radiant energy to ride out the supernova and escape an energy being intent on eating them:
In a Silver Age Green Lantern story written by Larry Niven, Hal uses the power rings to go many times the speed of light and was able to go far enough, fast enough, for one of his energy beams to undergo a redshift and turn from green to yellow in a matter of seconds. For me, this was an outstanding and creative use of the ring. Probably one of the most interesting of the Silver Age.
Hal uses his ring to force realign the molecular structure of a cage designed to prevent the Flash from using his vibration powers to escape.
- The cage changes every time the Flash tries to harmonize his vibrations with it. Since Hal is a non-scientist (his greatest weakness) he doesn't quite understand what the Flash wants to do.
- But he uses the ring to create a super-microscope, able to see down to the molecular level and once he understands the problem, realigns and forces the molecules in the cage to stay in a single configuration.
- Then its back to giant mallet time. Writers, you can't live with 'em, you can't shoot 'em. How do you go from using the ring so creatively back to swinging a giant green mallet…
The Modern Age
After the League was thrashed around in the Watchtower (and the Fortress of Solitude) by Fernus:
- Green Lantern, John Stewart recreates a "fully functional and self-sustaining communications/scanning station" which even taps into the JLA teleporters, with his ring.
- John essentially uses the ring's internal database to replicate the technology of the JLA satellite and recreate it and all of the services that technology provided.
- Hal Jordan and Superman effectively tow the Earth against the pull of a powerful alien force, all 5.972 sextillion (1,000 trillion) metric tons of it. Knowing Green Lantern, he let Superman do all the heavy lifting. He just protected the entire planet from being torn apart and stuff like that.
Modern Era readers are blessed with a more diverse group of writers and a more extraordinary opportunity to see the power of the Emotional Electromagnetic Spectrum used in far more interesting ways than ever before. A cornucopia of different and novel uses are shown across the Blackest Night Saga.
While readers are always seeking new ways of seeing their characters perform, they tend to ignore previous generations of writers as limited, not understanding that in the era those stories were told, writers were, at the time considered just as cutting edge as our modern writers are today.
A generation from now, the uses of the Green Power (assuming there are still Green Lantern comics) will be as different, strange and anachronistic as the early depictions of Green Lantern appear to us today. During the Blackest Night saga, there was the first real depiction of Green Lanterns interacting with the Green Energy in different and very personal ways.
Our sector's five official Green Lantern Corps members are:
- Hal Jordan: The first Green Lantern of Earth, test pilot, adventurer, superhero; longest history as a Green Lantern, known for his superior will power and mastery of his personal fear. While Hal gets a lot of flack from writers about his lack of imagination, the character is an everyman, a test pilot, not a scientist. He is a man whose flaws are exceeded only by his supreme willpower, arguably his will is equaled by only a few Green Lanterns anywhere among the Corps.
- Guy Gardner: The second Green Lantern of Earth. He started as a backup Lantern and after saving the day a few times, got to stay active. An insufferable ass for many years, he suffered brain damage which altered his personality, some thought for the better. When he recovered his perspective had changed a bit but he was still loud, brash and barely restrained. His use of the Green Power is also considered similarly, barely contained, with power splashing out from it randomly.
- John Stewart: A replacement for Guy Gardner; Stewart was an architect and former Marine, former Guardian (in a different continuity), and a total badass; blessed with an incredible willpower and a keen analytical mind, he creates the most realistic and effective constructs of all five. His architecture and military training would have him using the Green Power surgically and creatively as a weapon of war. He is also the only Green Lantern to ever wield the power as directly as an actual Guardian of Oa, brief though it was. See: Green Lantern: Mosaic.
- Kyle Rayner: After the destruction of the Corps, the Last Guardian, Ganthet creates a new ring and gives it to Rayner. Rayner restarts the Corps and ushers in a new age of Green Lanterns. And a whole lot of other stuff. Kyle is the most imaginative of the five and uses his ring in ways none of the others ever did. His imaginative creations were so diverse, it was said he never created the same construct twice. He has effectively become the most powerful Lantern ever now that he is the wielder of the White Power, the most capable of all the Emotional Spectrum Powers.
- Simon Baz: Newest Green Lantern of Sector 2814, assigned due to the difficulties the Corps was undergoing and the long periods where Hal, John, and Guy were off-world on Guardian business.
Other Legendary Green Lanterns:
- Kilowog is not a member of the 2814 crew but he has been considered one of the most powerful Green Lanterns to have ever used a ring. He has been a trainer of Green Lanterns for many years and trained Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner.
- Sinestro was also considered one of the most powerful and most creative Green Lanterns to have ever been a member of the Corps. His willpower was unmatched and his constructs were considered the best ever seen. Sinestro has also been a user of various other Lightsmith Corps rings including the Yellow Ring of Fear.
- Abin Sur was the Green Lantern who died on Earth recruiting Hal Jordan. His mastery of the ring was so great, Sinestro who learned from him considered him one of the greatest of all Green Lanterns.
- Which is more powerful, Thor's hammer, Mjolnir or Green Lantern's power ring? (Quora)
- Why doesn't Green Lantern have an official sidekick? (Quora)
- Do Power Rings get resized for each user? (SF&F Stack)
- Why do some Green Lanterns talk to their rings when giving a command? (SF&F Stack)
- Green Lantern Power Ring (Wikia)
Has any Green Lantern ever used his ring with notable efficiency?