Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kyle Rayner: Adult.

It's all fiction, right?

In my four years of writing "Seven Hells!" I came to appreciate the absurdity of the comics medium. No... I came to love it. One of the things that made comes fun was re-reading old comics with a "supposedly" adult's eyes.

One of my favorite things to do was the taking of comics panels, decades in circulation, and re-purposing them, mining them for every ounce of subtext and innuendo contained within the gutters of the comics page.

And it was fun. We were able to make them ours.

And then, one day, I can't explain why, not so much.

And then it was on to something else; and that's when he came along.

That kid. The one who took the other guy's place, the usurper. The one who wasn't on The Superfriends so he's not the real one. The pretender. The one who got the ring because he happened to be in the right place (alley) at the wrong time.

Kyle. Rayner. The Lantern of the '90's. The "grunge" Lantern.

Kyle Rayner, for nearly one full decade, the only Green Lantern.

Last week, his time as a character was brought to an end and I must say, I am not unhappy for one reason and one reason only:

He went out the way he came in; simply doing what comes right. Simply doing whatever it takes to keep The Corps going.

He did it, initially, by taking the ring and the responsible of being the sole Green Lantern. With Green Lantern Corps #42, it was sacrificing himself to keep the central power battery intact, an act ensuring that the Lanterns would be able to fight on.

Once again, he did what was right.

Four years ago, I started making fun of Kyle on a weekly basis in a little thing called "Kyle Rayner: ADULT." It started out as an exercise in writers subliminal or overt (mis)understanding of who he was as a character. What we got mainly was a Kyle who would be portrayed as "green" in ever sense of the word.

At the time, it was comedy gold. Every week, as I worked hard to make fun of Kyle, without knowing, I came ever closer to understanding the character of Kyle Rayner. Rash. Selfish. Unsure. Oblivious. Cocky. Imaginative.

Kyle Rayner was YOU as if you'd been handed the last, most powerful weapon in the Corps lineage and use it to the best of your human ability.

In his first outing, he experienced horror as his his then girlfriend was killed while he wore the Green Lantern ring.

There was no Corps, no Guardians of The Universe to guide him through this. Still, he went on.

When The League needed a Green Lantern, he filled the role and the tradition of a Justice League Green Lantern. He did this on a team where he had to live up to and live down the legacy Hal Jordan had left behind.

In his time as Green Lantern, we saw him learn, grow, love, respect and ultimately, earn respect. Kyle, as a character, was allowed to become something many others never became: human. Kyle was a human character. He worked hard to simply be OK and sometimes shocked himself by doing more than he thought he could. He, not by circumstance but by deed, became THE Green Lantern. He became MY Green Lantern. In the eyes of many, he became OUR Green Lantern.

If this truly is the last we see of Kyle for a while, I'm OK with that and for two reasons; he died a hero's death. He got what deserved.

Second? It's all fiction. Right?

"Would I have killed Blue Beetle? No, I wouldn't have, but I'm not the guy writing it. It's not like they went out and took the guy out back and shot him. Any one of us could get a call a month from now saying, 'Bring him back' and you type 'Blue Beetle walks in the door' and everyone goes, "Oh, he got better!" - Keith Giffen


Samax said...

they offed Kyle, huh?
too bad. i didn't think his character ever reached his full potential.

oh well...

Anonymous said...

They needlessly offed Kyle in a miniseries whose whole purpose seems to be resurrecting characters who were needlessly offed. This is about as permanent as when Batman allegedly dies in a boat explosion.

I strongly disagree with the notion that Kyle is just a normal person who was given the ring by chance, though. Exactly how "average" is Kyle? Well for starters, he's a twentysomething in athletic physical condition -- so within the top 10% of the population right there. (This is only the first and most blunt of criteria, and already the odds are against the ring being given to someone as well suited for it.)

How about intelligence? Kyle is clearly smarter than the average bear, so let's say he's in the top 25%. (I figure he's far sharper than that, but even if I underestimate him, it still serves my point.) How about willpower? There are no known ways to measure this, but he's no slouch here, so let's go for the top 5%. The ability to visualize forms that the ring can use? Top 1%, easily. How about moral fiber, for example being tortured by DeSaad and not throwing in the towel like "normal" people would? Top 1% (actually I figure top fraction of a percent, but again no value in quibbling).

Just winging it with some numbers here, maybe only one person in eight million (as a generous estimate) brings as much potential to the table as Kyle. There's nothing "normal" about the guy -- he may like to hang out at a coffee house, but he's no run-of-the-mill twentysomething, and he wasn't assigned the ring by chance.

ChrisM said...

I think you guys are reading too much into this.. I mean, they killed a bunch of the Justice League in the first issue of Blackest Night, including Hawkman and Hawkgirl.

...I also think that people slamming on DC for killing & bringing back characters is kind of unfair. Esp. since Marvel has been doing that for years-especially lately. How many of the Scourge's old victims are back now? How many times has Phoenix been kiled? Cap is almost back. At least Blackest Night is about undead characters. I think there's a certain transparancy to that...

I do agree that Kyle has a lot more meaning then most people realize. I always enjoyed the Grant Morrison statement about how Kyle would exceed his predecessor's accomplishments..

Devon Sanders said...

@ Chris

Oh, trust me, I'm good with characters dying. It's a comic book staple.

All I was trying to get across in the piece was Kyle's significance and what his "death" meant to me.

Peter said...

Yeah, I accidentally spoiled this for myself last week, on this site no less, but it still hit hard when I read it. I was genuinely sad!

While I hope he comes back, I do think his death was handled well (Tomasi FTW). It's funny cause it's actually a precedent that Kyle Rayner can and will die for the cause (Obsidian Age I'm looking at you).

Kyle Rayner: Hero. And my favorite Green Lantern

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