You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. We’ve had to get some experts in though – there’s so much going on that needs to be explained!
We’re actually back in Infinite Crisis, and even more – we’re headed into outer space! There are so many characters knocking around in space, y’know, and we’re going to try and catalogue as many of them as possible! Dave Shevlin! You’re up first, please can you tell us about this Green Lantern chap?
Dave! Who is Kyle Rayner, and how did he become a Green Lantern?
Dave Shevlin: I’m glad you ask Steve. First off, he is DC Comics’ best character.
Stay with me. I’m EXTREMELY serious about this.
DC has always been the comic universe filled with either the super rich heroes, the destined legacy successors, or the mythical god-like beings. Kyle is not that. Kyle is the quintessential everyman. He is the loveable, relatable Gen X dope trying his best. Kyle is DC’s Peter Parker, except he’s cooler because he goes to bars and wears Nine Inch Nails T-shirts.
He’s the first regular person character that ever “WORKS” at DC (apologies to Will Payton, Starman). Kyle was created in 1994 by writer Ron Marz and artist Daryl Banks and he’s what I often call a blatant attempt at ‘Marvelizing’ the DC Universe. Marz takes the old, stale piece of white Wonderbread Hal Jordan, the previous main Green Lantern, and has him deal with his trauma and mental health problems in a rather troubling and editorially forced way. He single-handedly dismantles the Green Lantern Corps – space’s magic wish ring police force – and turns into an extremely powerful new villain, Parallax, which was Marz giving DC their very own Magneto.
Ganthet, the last remaining Guardian, flees the destruction and makes it to Earth, ending up in a back alley in California, where Kyle Rayner just so happens to be taking an air break from a crowded bar. With no strength and no time left, Ganthet hands Kyle the last remaining Green Lantern ring and peaces out. Kyle sort of bumbles around, not believing just what has happened to him and he only gets his shit together through the help and care of his girlfriend, Alex DeWitt.
Sadly, Alex gets “fridged” (in the origin of the term) when villain Major Force kills her and packs her into a refrigerator to strike at Kyle during his introductory gauntlet. It’s sad, it sucks and I hate it. But from there, he goes on to give the readers a very easy everyman perspective into the DC Universe, as he develops into a trusted superhero among all the other icons – in what I consider to be one of the best runs in comics period. It’s an inspiring, exciting journey of a young man growing up, overcoming trauma and hardships, and resolving to live and live happily, doing everything he can to help people. DC gets their own Spider-Man and it is glorious!
What’s his approach to the role of, y’know, space cop? What makes him unique?
Shevlin: Kyle Rayner is the best Green Lantern because he’s not a cop. The Green Lantern Corps for most of DC Comics’ history have been an enormous cosmic police force. All the members are inducted when a ring finds them and tells them they have the ability to overcome great fear or have a bunch of willpower or whatever. Bam! Insta-cop! Not so as I explained for Kyle. For him, this grand organization doesn’t exist. He’s just a struggling artist that gets this superpowered jewelry foisted on him, whether he likes it or not. He doesn’t answer to any old, blue commissioners or work within some ridiculous system. He’s just a good dude, trying to be responsible. He exists as the one SOLE Green Lantern for about a decade before, sadly, helping to reestablish the Corps and becoming a homogenised part of a much larger, regressive police force. As we all know, ACAB, so this sucks.
What also sets Kyle apart from the rest of the Green Lanterns is that he is an artist and that shows in the wild, creative ways he uses the Power Ring. Gundam mechs, convertibles, bizarre monsters, skimpily dressed maids, an electric chair, a comically giant safe to hold an exploding star – you name it, the guy has made it with his ring. Previous Green Lantern ring projections usually consisted of “large green hand” or “green beam” so Kyle really brought some exciting, fresh energy to what a Green Lantern was capable of when the wearer possessed a creative mind.
Is he the only Green Lantern from Earth, or are there others out there?
Shevlin: There are others!! Too many if you ask me. And Earth at this point has FOUR Green Lanterns. As I said, Kyle eventually brings back the entirety of the Green Lantern Corps during his solo run, and writers – obsessed with rebirthing the status quo of comics they read as a kid – reverted Hal Jordan back to heroic Green Lantern: Duke of Earth A-Number-One. The return of Hal Jordan and the Corps unfortunately pushes Kyle out of the spotlight as he becomes a bit cast member for the various GLC books around this time.
John Stewart was another GL that came back. He was previously the second Earth Green Lantern, a proud Black man and architect whom modern writers mistake for a soldier for some reason. And lastly, there’s Guy Gardner, basically Budnick from the 90’s Nickelodeon TV show “Salute Your Shorts” as a superhero. He is the unapologetic son of a bitch that you want in your corner to shotgun beers with or to have your back if a rumble goes down. He is terrible and incredible all at the same time.
Thanks so much, Dave! This is going to open up a whole new can of Green Lantern worms, isn’t it?