Little is definitely known about Power Ring's origin, but what was revealed was that a man named Joseph Harrolds met a monk named Volthoom (who has never been shown, but has spoken on occasion), who gave Harrolds nearly limitless power in the form of a power battery and matching ring. Harrolds then took on the alter-ego of Power Ring and joined with four other super-powered beings who sought to conquer their Earth, and together formed the Crime Syndicate of America.
The original Power Ring of Earth-Three was created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky in 1964's Justice League of America #29. The Power Ring of the Antimatter Universe based on Kyle Rayner was created by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely in 1999's JLA: Earth-2 graphic novel. The counterpart to John Stewart was created by Kurt Busiek and Ron Garney in JLA #107 (2004). Hal Jordan's counterpart was created by James Robinson and Mark Bagley for Justice League of America #50. The rebooted Earth-3 Power Ring was created by the writing and art teams of the 2006 maxiseries 52 , in its final issue, Week 52.
The villainous Joseph Harrolds originally hailed from Earth-Three, a parallel universe of Earth-One and Earth-Two where supervillains, not heroes, dominated. Eventually, he met his counterpart Hal Jordan who defeated him by overloading his ring with excessive energy, which Harrolds could not control. He was not shown to have a weakness to anything specific like Jordan or Alan Scott. Like the rest of the Syndicate, he was imprisoned between universes by Jordan. Unlike the later versions of the character, this Power Ring was shown to have incredible willpower, even using the lantern itself as a weapon, a feat which even for the most powerful Green Lanterns impossible. Though it varied throughout his appearances, his early costume consisted of a black body piece with one green stripe running down both sides of his body, white gloves and green boots, while his later costume was a green body piece with white gloves and white boots. Both had a green mask covering his eyes and an "X" symbol on his chest, lantern and ring. (The ring was shaped like a triangular shield instead of a Green Lantern ring's circular form.)
Power Ring is one of the few comicbook characters to have been shown progressively aging throughout his tenure as a villain. In his early appearances he had thick, light brown hair, while later issues showed his hair being darker in color and clearly receding.
With no multiverse in place, new ventures were taken to reintroduce Power Ring and the rest of the Syndicate. When Hal Jordan brough up a file on an old J.L.A. case, he mentioned to Oberon an old supervillain group called the Crime Syndicate, a group the League, the J.S.A. and even Captain Comet fought years ago. The Power Ring shown had the Pre-Crisis version's costume, but was a bald Qwardian being. This version, along with the rest of that Syndicate, were never mentioned again in later stories. (Justice League Quarterly #8)
Power Ring II
Power Ring was later brought back again in JLA: Earth-2, which introduced the Antimatter Universe version of the Crime Syndicate (now from "Amerika"). Whereas the original was a counterpart of Hal Jordan, this one was a blond-haired version of Kyle Rayner, who was weak-willed and cowardly. He was tricked into taking the ring from the previous owner (whose last name, Harrolds, is only mentioned), and as such ended up semi-possessed by Volthoom, the entity inhabiting the ring. (There was never any mention of a lantern.) He was friendly with fellow C.S.A. member Johnny Quick (paralleling the friendship between Kyle Rayner and Wally West). When he and the rest of the Syndicate ended up on the positive-matter Earth, he was brutally defeated by Aquaman (as native inhabitants always win in their own universe) and ended up retreating.
In contrast to the original Power Ring, who had superb willpower and concentration, this Power Ring was actually manipulated by Volthoom (presumably the monk who had originally owned the ring, but was killed by Harrolds) who lived on as a spirit inhabiting the ring. While he let Power Ring think he was in control, Volthoom was in fact slowly coming to dominate the young man, having him hunger for more and more of the ring's power.
This Power Ring had the same general color scheme as Pre-Crisis Power Ring, though with a more sleek look. He also wore a visor covering his eyes, silver metal bracers on his forearms and green metal boots going up to his knees. The "X" was now a smaller emblem on his left breast, and he wore his ring on his index finger rather than his middle one.
Power Ring III
At the start of the JLA: Syndicate Rules story arc in 2004, Power Ring revealed a planet ripe for conquest to the rest of the Syndicate: Qward. The Syndicate went to ravage the planet, committing all sorts of atrocities, until the antimatter universe was briefly destroyed by the travels of Krona (a longtime enemy of the Green Lantern Corps) and rebuilt following the events of JLA/Avengers. After the universe's restructuring, a new Power Ring (a counterpart to John Stewart) appeared, with a similar story of receiving the ring from Harrolds (though it is said that he was a marine in the Amerikan slave armies, of which the blonde Power Ring never claimed he was apart.) while he noticed something was amiss, he simply thought he was always Power Ring. This in turn led to the Syndicate seeking revenge against the Justice League, whom they blamed for their universe's shift.
This Power Ring's costume was generally the same as the blonde Power Ring, though his ring was now round in shape.
Joseph Harrolds (Power Ring I)
The antimatter Crime Syndicate reappeared in writer James Robinson's tenure on Justice League of America as part of the JLA: Omega storyline in 2010. Directly mirroring Hal Jordan's resurrection in Green Lantern: Rebirth, Power Ring had once again changed form and then resembled Jordan (as well as the Pre-Crisis Power Ring) and was confirmed to be Harrolds, the man originally responsible for tricking the blonde Power Ring into accepting his ring. Ultraman mentioned that Power Ring's transformation had happened suddenly and with no explanation much like the first time, but noted that Power Ring was now once again in his "original" form (mirroring the mainstream DC continuity, where Jordan was the first modern Green Lantern).
The Crime Syndicate attacked the Hall of Justice in order to steal Alexander Luthor's corpse from the Justice League's mausoleum whom they believed could restore their ruined world, and Power Ring entered into a confrontation with Jade. Though Power Ring initially gained the upper hand, Jade ultimately defeated him after she absorbed the energy of his ring, rendering him powerless. Jade, however, did not stop draining him after he had lost his powers, sucking out his life force which surely would have killed him had Johnny Quick not intervened. Strangely, his ring (presumably Volthoom) spoke a haiku about his defeat as it lost power. When the Crime Syndicate agreed to work with the J.L.A. to stop a new villain called the Omega Man, Power Ring admitted to Jade that she had bested him, and pleaded with her to give him his powers back in order to defeat the Omega Man. Before Jade could relent, however, the Omega Man ambushed the group and impaled Power Ring in the back, killing him. When the Syndicate was later returned to their world, Power Ring's ring went back with them to seek out a new host.
This Power Ring's costume was visually similar to the Pre-Crisis Power Ring, but his ring still had its round shape. (The ring alternated between a circular and triangular form throughout Power Ring's later appearances, but this was most likely a mistake of the artists.)
At the end of the 2006 maxiseries 52, it was revealed that after the events of Infinite Crisis a new multiverse was created, and with it new Earth-3. Native to it was a new version of the C.S.A. called the Crime Society of America, which was comprised of evil doppelgangers of the new Earth-2 Justice Society of America, rather than the New Earth Justice League. It included a Power Ring, though almost nothing was shown of his powers or origin. He later appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis , where he claimed to Kyle Rayner that he wanted to be rid of his cursed ring. This Power Ring was later on Earth-51 and was presumably killed when Superboy Prime destroyed the universe.
By far the most different of all Power Rings, his outfit was shown to resemble armor more than a costume. It was also lighter in color (almost a chartreuse) and included a helmet with an attached visor. The "X" was still prominent on his chest and ring.
The New 52
Following the DC Multiverse's restructure during Flashpoint, Power Ring and the Crime Syndicate have had their entire history rewritten. No longer do they hail from the Antimatter Universe; instead, they are once again native to Earth 3, a universe where villains, not heroes, are the dominant force. It was revealed in Justice League #23 that the Crime Syndicate of America has been behind the Secret Society of Super Villains' plot, and have been preparing since Darkseid's invasion to take Earth Prime for themselves. Following the success of their plan, Power Ring and his compatriots cross the barrier between the universes and step foot on Earth Prime. He is shown to be a tremendous coward, stumbling in his speech and questioning his surroundings nervously. He also seems to be under the guidance of Deathstorm, who cautions him not to panic, lest he aggravate his "condition". His ring is circular with no design and seems to be the cause of this condition.
Major Story Arcs
The Syndicate Returns!
The Crime Syndicate remained trapped in their prison for years until an experimental dimensional transponder used by the Secret Society of Super-Villains disrupted it's stability. Power Ring, Johnny Quick, and Superwoman used the opportunity to escape. The Syndicate assumed the Secret Society were comprised of heroes and battled them. In a second confrontation, the Society took Superwoman's magic lasso, the ring of Power Ring, and Johnny Quick's helmet. These objects of power were to be used by the Wizard of Earth-Two to gain immense power.
The Crime Syndicate also fought Captain Comet, believing he was part of the Secret Society. Focusing his will through his power battery, Power Ring was able to use it as a weapon, just as he had used his ring. Unbeknownst to the villains, Power Ring's battery had been leaking energy, a result of its long confinement and neglect in limbo. Victims exposed to its energy were stricken with nausea, severe pain and eventual loss of consciousness. Their inert forms would then glow an unearthly green before mutating into horrible rampaging creatures. Captain Comet discovered the source of the transformation, and after capturing the Syndicate, used the power battery to cure the victims and return the Crime Syndicate to their inter-universal prison. Comet destroyed the battery afterwards.
Editor's note: Power Ring's ring and lantern were shown to be intact and in working condition in later issues. While it's possible Power Ring simply repaired them, it most likely a writer oversight.
Crisis on Earth-Prime!
Years later, Ultraman managed to escape on his own before being sent back by Superman and Kal-L . A few weeks after that, the Syndicate would get another taste of freedom. Traveling through time, Per Degaton, an arch-foe of the Justice Society, stumbled upon the Syndicate's fabled prison. He offered to help the Crime Syndicate escape if they would go with him to the year 1962 on Earth-Prime to take Cuba's Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. After they accomplished this task, Degaton had little use for them. When the Syndicate attacked him they were sent back to 1982 on Earth-One, as he had made sure this would happen when they touched him. Without the missiles, Earth-Prime was plunged into nuclear warfare, decimating the planet. The Syndicate members rematerialized on the J.L.A. satellite by the League's teleporter and quickly overcame the surprised heroes, who were waiting for the J.S.A. to arrive so that they could have their annual meeting between the two groups. The Justice Society had been sent to the Crime Syndicate's inter-dimensional prison but were able to escape with the combined powers of Starman and Doctor Fate. Power Ring returned with the Syndicate to assist Per Degaton's plan in ruling the world. Though they had been double-crossed by Degaton, they would help him until the right moment came to strike. The villains once again fought the J.L.A., the J.S.A. and even members of the All-Star Squadron from 1942. When the villains were again defeated, the failure of Degaton's plan wiped the events from existence, Earth-Prime was restored and everyone returned to their proper places in time.
Crisis on Infinite Earths and Last Appearances
Earth-Three was one first Earths to succumb to the Anti-Monitor's evil ambitions. While his antimatter waves erased their universe, the Crime Syndicate of America (free from their prison for the last time) tried desperately to protect the planet they had so long sought to plunder. Their efforts were ineffective, with each villain succumbing to the antimatter wave. Power Ring and Ultraman, the last remaining Syndicators, realized the futility of their actions. The evil kryptonian then decided to charge head-first into the wave. Power Ring, absolutely shocked to see his friend end his own life, was unable to escape the wave and was also erased shortly after. The universe of Earth-Three then ceased to exist.
Years afterwards, a strange disruption in reality (featured in Animal Man #23-24) brought back the Crime Syndicate, as well as other variations of the Justice League that had been erased in the Crisis. Power Ring and Ultraman thought they had come back from the dead, but later learned forces beyond their imaginations were responsible for their brief return. They began to understand that they were merely comic book characters (minor ones at that) and Power Ring wished to return to the way his life used to be. With that thought, he vanished into the Medusa Mask of the Psycho-Pirate. The others joined him shortly after, and they have not been seen since.
Powers & Abilities
Power Ring possessed no known superhuman powers himself. All of his powers emanated from his mystical lamp and its complimentary ring. He was considered to have superb concentration and willpower in order to use his Power Ring for a host of activities at the same time at maximum output, as well as being able to use the lantern itself as a weapon. The ring was shown to have essentially the same abilities as a Green Lantern ring, though no weakness to wood or the color yellow was ever shown. Curiously, the ring did not provide an automatic protective shield like a Green Lantern ring, leaving Power Ring to constantly defend himself with constructs.
In later versions, the ring was shown to have the cursed spirit of the monk Volthoom inhabiting it, promising supreme power, while leaving the wearer semi-possessed and ultimately taking control of them. It did not require great willpower to use, and in fact, was largely automatic in nature (it was implied that Volthoom was simply allowing the wearers to control the ring, or was controlling it for them) and sought out weak-willed cowards in order to trick and manipulate them into wearing the ring. The ring was also shown to have several powers that a Green Lantern ring did not have, such as creating energy that was actually edible (the John Stewart counterpart Power Ring was seen eating artifical popcorn created by the ring with other members of the Crime Syndicate which he claimed gave them a boost of energy) and creating enormous monstrous constructs, the size, detail, autonomy and power of which eclipsed even the Sinestro Corps. The ring (or rather, Volthoom) would provide information when questioned, but sometimes responded with cryptic hints, haikus and even thinly-veiled contempt. The ring still did not provide automatic shields, however.
Almost nothing was revealed about the ring worn by the Power Ring of Earth-3, but it was shown act more like a conventional Green Lantern ring and even provided a shield to its wearer.
JLA: Another Nail
The Earth-Three Power Ring, along with the rest of the Crime Syndicate, made a cameo appearance in the 2004 Elseworlds miniseries "JLA: Another Nail".
Power Ring appeared in the film voiced by Nolan North (who also voiced Hal Jordan in the film). Here, he has long black hair with grey temples, a mask resembling Hal Jordan's later look as Parallax, and a ring powered by a gauntlet. He is one of the main heads of the Crime Syndicate, and ends up fighting Hal Jordan to a standstill. Later, when Owlman and Johnny Quick perish at the film's climax, he, along with Ultraman and Superwoman are taken into custody by the Justice League and a group of U.S. marines led by President Wilson.