Attention Must Be Paid

Welcome to another regular feature here at Event Fatigue, something that I'm calling "Attention Must Be Paid" where I spotlight major deaths in comic books by delving into the history of the character and their subsequent death. Now, of course, there are MAJOR SPOILERS after the jump so if you missed last week's comics and are unaware of any major death that happened, for the love of Jeebus don't read this article yet. Otherwise, hit the jump.

Okay, so again, SPOILERS on.

Kyle Rayner, RIP

In last weeks Green Lantern Corps, my favorite Green Lantern Kyle Rayner went to the big comic book Valhalla after a giant explosion killed him as he sacrificed himself to save the rest of his fellow Green Lantern Corps members and the Central Power Battery that fuels the Corps. Now, since the main event in Green Lantern is the dead returning to life then I sincerely doubt that this death will actually stick, there is still the outside chance that this death will be permanent. The simple fact is that major deaths tend to happen only during major events and there needs to be a major death to drive the stakes up higher in the story. There have been some deaths, with character like Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Tempest, Firestorm's girlfriend, and Damage all getting killed off, but none of these characters are incredibly high profile or big enough to have made a major impact after the story is over. Kyle fits that bill, since he is a fan favorite character and he had the stigma of being a legacy character which made him an automatic target with Dan Didio's vendetta against characters that were not created in the Silver Age, a terrible idea in my opinion. But first, let's look at Kyle's life.

Kyle Rayner, The Last Green Lantern

I started reading comic books back in the early 1990's. As I've said before, I had no interest in comics until the X-Men cartoon started airing on Fox's Saturday Morning line-up. I started reading comic books non-stop because of that show, I think that I probably really began reading comics in earnest when I was in fourth grade, around 1994. Why is this important? Kyle Rayner debuted in January of 1994, which means that from the time I started reading comics Kyle was the only Green Lantern. He was the one that I was first introduced to and he was the Green Lanter of Grant Morrison's JLA run, a run which solidified Kyle as a character and was one of the best interpretations of Kyle through his entire run.

Kyle's history, basically, started when Hal Jordan (the "main" Green Lantern) was possesssed by a creature that turned him evil and Hal destroyed all of the other Green Lanterns and their leaders the Guardians of the Universe, leaving only one Guardian left with one last Green Lantern ring. The Guardian went to Earth and through fate Kyle Rayner happened upon him and was bestowed with the ring, making him the only Green Lantern left in the entire universe. Here was an ordinary guy who was given a weapon of immense power without any guidance or training, and while he had his share of screw-ups and did not automatically win every fight he got into, Kyle still became a real hero. And then, as with so many heroes, tragedy struck him at home, as his girlfriend Alex DeWitt was brutally murdered and stuffed into his refrigerator by a psychotic supervillain named Major Force. But Kyle dedicated himself to becoming a better hero to honor her memory and avenge what happend to her.

Kyle was a Marvel character disguised as a DC character, which is probably why I loved reading his adventures so much. He had trouble with women, he had money troubles, he wasn't sure of himself, he didn't go into every battle confident he could easily win, and he was a character that was mostly defined by tragedy. Kyle was like you or I, but he had a power ring which actually made his life worse instead of better. But he never gave up the mantle despite the fact that it would make his life easier to not be Green Lantern, because he was a hero who had that sense of responsibility.

When Grant Morrison took over the Justice League with JLA #1, he reunited the "Big 7" of the DC with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, and GL Kyle Rayner. Our guy had made the A-list finally and was beginning to be known as his own man instead of Hal's replacement. Kyle started off unsure of himself working with the best of the best, but he eventually became at home with the team and earned the respect of Batman, something which does not happen easily. Also, Kyle during his tenure with the team became good friends with Wally West (the Flash) despite not liking each other at first, they grew to be extremely close, closer even then Hal Jordan and Wally's predecessor Barry Allen. Hal and Barry were the Brave and the Bold because Hal was fearless and Barry was a true friend and unflappable, but in Identity Crisis Meltzer refers to Wally and Kyle as the brave and the bold because Wallly was the fearless one and Kyle was the trust-worthy All-American. In fact, the big difference between Kyle and Hal was the fact that Kyle was not fearless, as Hal's big thing was that he was never afraid of anything his whole life, whereas Kyle was a regular guy who was afraid of things but never let that stop him from doing the right thing. Morrison in JLA introduced the idea that Kyle would surpass Hal as Green Lantern because he knew something that Hal didn't, fear. Kyle never got the chance, because soon Hal Jordan was back from the dead and put in place as the #1 Green Lantern again.


Hal was brought back in the mid-2000's in an excellent story called Green Lantern: Rebirth, which on it's own would be alright if it weren't for the fact that this was just the first of many instances of important legacy characters being marginalized for the sake of a return to the Silver Age of comics. The Silver Age was the time period when Marvel was formed and the new generation of DC characters debuted. This was in the 1960's. And in the 2000's, almost 40 years later, the editor of DC and many of the writers went out of their way to try and restore all of their characters back to the way they were created in the Silver Age, basically undoing a good portion of the comics that came out from the end of the 1980's to now. Wally West became the Flash in 1986, but screw that because DC is now shoving Barry Allen down our throats despite there not being any uproar for over 20 years. Let me put this in perepective and tie it back to the main point of the article, I'm 25 years old and have been collecting comics for the last fifteen years, and for most of that time my favorite characters were Kyle Rayner and Wally West. Now? I feel like I'm too young for most DC comics because I don't have the same love for Hal, Barry, Lex Luthor's power suit, the Legion of Super-heroes, or any of the other Silver Age things that are now all over the DCU. This is a problem or at least it should be considered a problem, since at 25 I should be towards the older end of the spectrum of comic book fans except that now fans are older and older I'm actually a really young comic book fan. Also, DC doesn't have the same presence in films that Marvel has which means that DC is not bringing in new fans while Marvel is. So why is DC not trying to keep their young fans? Why wouldn't you go out of your way to try and keep Wally and Kyle important since people like them and most of their fans are the younger generation? These are serious questions

Kyle's Death

As I said, Kyle did die a hero, in a touching death that really befits a character as good as Kyle. Rather than write about it, I'm posting it here so all can see.

It's a good death of a great hero, and I just hope that at the end of the event all who have died come back solely because I don't want to see Kyle go. Not even like this. Attention Must Be Paid.

1 comment:

  1. I know I just posted on the Roy Harper rant, but Durkin just sent me the link to this, and I also felt the need to express my Rayner frustration.

    While I'm a huge Jordan fan, and really love him as a character - even when he was an insurance and traveling toy salesman - Rayner deserves a spot among the best DC characters around.

    From Morrison's take on the character in JLA to his appearances in the DCAU (in the best single episode of Superman), Rayner got to have actual character development and earn his stripes as a hero, just like Wally.

    I'm upset about the death, if only because Rayner deserved something bigger and better. Sure, he got to go out as a hero, and his death turns Guy into a Red Lantern, but he should've had something bigger.

    I only hope he gets to come back, and could really see him serving the role that Abin Sur did way back in Nekron's first appearance arc (thank you for getting me that 3 years ago coincidentally, Alaina). Or, if Jordan's dad has that role (where I think we'll finally find out what his last words are), that Kyle is one of the souls that Jordan pulls out of the underworld on his trip back to the living.

    Can hope, right?