The most unexpected Green Lantern of all had to be Jessica Cruz. Continuing the legacy of Green Lanterns such as Hal Jordan and John Stewart, Jessica Cruz brought a fresh perspective to the DC Comics universe. She was initially introduced as a reluctant hero, battling an anxiety disorder that made her afraid to leave her own apartment. But, as fate would have it, she ended up becoming a Green Lantern, and her journey from fear to courage has become a fan-favorite story. Despite her struggles, Jessica has proven time and time again that she has what it takes to be a hero, making her a beloved character among fans and a source of inspiration for those struggling with their own mental health.
To understand Jessica’s role as a Green Lantern, it’s important to understand the situation she was in. In the DC Comics universe, the Crime Syndicate is a group of super villains from an alternate Earth. Some of the members include Ultraman and Owlman. Power Ring, a member of the Syndicate, possessed a Power Ring similar to the ones used by Green Lanterns. However, after his death, his ring sought out Jessica as its new wielder.
She is first seen in Justice League issue 30, is cowering in her apartment. She was attacked one night, left for dead, and four years later she is still dwelling. That fear attracted the ring, as it would fuel the destruction of every life form on the planet. It floats and glows, as it communicates with her, trying to convince her to take it. She refuses, and tries to shoot it with a shotgun. The ring retaliates and attacks her, forcing her to accept the ring.
In the following issues, she is uncontrollably attacking areas, causing destruction. The group Doom Patrol tries to step in, but The Justice League ultimately ends up dealing with her. Lex Luthor is present, as he has been trying to get into the Justice League. He tells Batman that he thinks her ring is fueled by her fear. Batman calms her down by telling her that he can relate to going through tragedy, and helps her overcome her fear.
We also learn her backstory. While hunting in the forest with some friends, they encounter a couple of men burying a body. While her friends were killed, she fled. Her running away is the only reason why she survived. She had been hiding in her apartment for several years, since the attackers were never identified, and feared that they would find her. She never went to the police, or told anyone. It is this fear that attracted the ring toward her.
Later, The Flash examines her ring. It is infused to her body, especially the area of her brain that induces fear. After another fear attack where the monsters inside her ring are unleashed, Flash is able to run around and avoid any harm while verbally reasoning with her. She is able to put a lid on the chaos. Flash offers to bring her to a lab where they could research the ring and try to get it removed. She tells him that she would rather learn how to use it than get it removed.
What’s important to understand is that the ring was attracted to her because of her overwhelming fear that she couldn’t control. This made her the ring’s puppet. She was not wielding the ring, but rather the ring was wielding her. Be sure to acquire (Affiliate Link) Justice League issue 30 to see Jessica Cruz, um, cruise her way through fear and into courage.
In her role as a Green Lantern, Jessica possesses the ability to imagine and manage any entity or situation. However, this power might also manifest her most awful fears and concerns, which prevent her from deciding what to do. It remains a relentless battle for Jessica as she combats her own personal demons even while striving to save the earth.
Another irony is that Jessica is one of the characters in a superhero team where she has to be courageous and capable all the time. However, she happens to be as fearful as anyone else or even more so – with her own package of fears and doubts.
The most fascinating aspect of Jessica’s character is that she is a woman in a male-dominated superhero domain. Green Lantern men are always shown to be strong and fearless, but Jessica goes against it. She stands as an example of the hardships women have to endure when they live in a male-ruled society, where they are under the obligation to be flawless and fearlessly perfect all the time.
The inclusion of a superhero character dealing with anxiety and PTSD in a superhero story is an innovative approach towards addressing mental health issues. It allows readers to connect with the character on a personal level and, at the same time, helps in spreading awareness about such issues that usually remain hidden due to the stigma attached to them.
Jessica Cruz’s character reminds us that what can be our greatest strengths can also be our greatest weaknesses. To have the ability to transform anything and control everything may seem like a wish, but it likewise comes with great weight. It is a vital principle of mindfulness for us to know how our actions can influence ourselves as well as others.