Superman may call the Green Lantern a close friend and fellow Justice Leaguer, but if things had originally gone as planned, the emerald power ring would be resting on the Man of Steel's finger -- and NOT Hal Jordan's.

While most of DC's comic book stars are born, trained, or transformed by chance into godlike champions, Hal Jordan became Green Lantern in a completely different way. The world may not have known about the Green Lantern Corps monitoring the entire galaxy, but when a new recruit was needed, Hal Jordan was deemed fit for the job as a man capable of "overcoming great fear." That quickly, the hero Green Lantern was chosen. Over time DC would reveal other Earthlings who were up for the job, but even devoted fans may have never known that Hal Jordan secretly came second to Superman... and only got the ring on a technicality.

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The full story was first revealed in the pages of Action Comics #642, in a tale fittingly called "The Decision." The events perfectly match those already known to Green Lantern fans, with the alien Lantern Abin Sur dying inside of his crashed spaceship. With only minutes to spare, Abin orders his ring to find his replacement with a simple command: "My successor will be absolutely without fear. Find my successor." At those words his ring sends a tendril of energy off to find such a being on planet Earth. And while readers might expect the story to proceed just as they know it from here -- with Hal Jordan selected to become Earth's newest protector -- the truth is a twist of an entirely different sort.

The man chosen by the ring is none other than Clark Kent of Earth, the man most capable of living up to Abin Sur's directive. While fans might debate the meaning of Abin's words, since a nearly-invincible being would be "absolutely without fear" is more a question of practicality than willpower. But Clark still shows himself to be the compassionate hero the world knows: using his Kryptonian x-ray vision, he shift's Abin's body to relieve his pain for what time he has left. Allowing the fading member of the Green Lantern Corps to learn the truth about the man chosen as his successor on Earth. But there's just one problem.

While not of Earth himself, the Lantern of Space Sector 2814 knows Clark Kent's behavior and abilities exceed those of normal humans. Analyzing him reveals that Clark Kent is actually born of Krypton, located in a completely different sector of space. According to Abin Sur, this means Clark can "not qualify to be my successor... Guardian Law requires a native." As a result, Superman is bid farewell, and has his memory of the encounter completely erased -- paving the way for Abin Sur's ring to fetch his next selection. Meaning Hal Jordan of Earth was more than qualified to become the next Green Lantern... but it was Superman chosen first. Who knew?

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