Is a Green Lantern by any other name, still just as sweet?

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Debate
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’d like to start by saying that in the comic world, there are generally two types of fans. Those that love DC, and those that love Marvel. Yes, I know there are many other publishers out there, but even those that love one of those others, do love one of those two big companies more than the other. In my case, I’m a DC man. At least I was, before all this New-52 nonsense started in September (which I’ll get into later). I don’t mind Marvel, and do try to read their stories, but my favorites come from DC. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, The Atom, The Justice League, The Justice Society, etc. etc.

For some time now I’ve been in somewhat of a debate with a good friend of mine (for now he will remain nameless, but I have a feeling he will make himself known soon enough in the comments) about the Green Lanterns of the DC Universe. For those of you who do not know, the Green Lanterns are an inter-galactic police corps that patrol the universe. Of their ranks, arguably the most well-known member is Hal Jordan. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the movie this past Spring, or at least heard about it. Hal Jordan is a test pilot, a notorious playboy, and a fearless member of the Corps.


Almost 20 years ago now, Hal Jordan’s good friend (some might say “Super-Friend”) Clark Kent went through a tough time. He died. That’s fine. People do die, it’s the way life works. But Clark Kent wasn’t just anyone. He is actually the secret identity of (I shouldn’t have to even say this, but… SPOILER ALERT!!) Superman. So needless to say it was a big deal. In the wake of Supes’ death, he was replaced by 4 new Supermen.

What could this have to do with Hal Jordan, earth’s most famous Green Lantern, you mat ask? Well, soon after the whole death thing, Superman actually comes back from the dead. Less Walking Dead like, and more Jesus resurrection like. Upon his comeback, he leads the Supermen against the evil Cyborg Superman and his ally (the Alien warlord, Mongul) as they are trying to essentially destroy the earth for their own needs. In this clash, Coast City is utterly destroyed. I don’t mean destroyed, like 50 to 75 percent casualties. I mean WIPED OFF THE FRACKING PLANET! 100% of Coast City’s residents that were present at the time of the incident perished. Coast City was also the home of one Harold “Hal” Jordan. It’s actually a pretty straight forward story from there on out that plays out thusly:

  1. Hal has a mental breakdown
  2. Hal attempts to use his powerful will-powered ring to recreate Coast City and its residents
  3. Hal realizes he needs more power if he’s going to do it
  4. Hal attempts to convince the Guardians of the Universe to give him the power to do it
  5. Guardians turn his request down
  6. Hal goes nuts, kills the Guardians, and destroys the corps, seemingly killing several lanterns
  7. Hal steals all the power and power rings he can handle
  8. Hal becomes the misguided villain known as Parallax

Hal becoming a villain and destroying the Green Lantern corps leaves a nice big hole in the green-shaded variety in the DC Universe at this point. So the powers that be decided to introduce a new character to take on the green power ring. Enter (cue the valiant trumpets) Kyle Rayner, part-time struggling cartoonist, full-time hopeless romantic. The last remaining Guardian shows up, gives him the last remaining Green Lantern ring, and makes him the Universe’s ONLY Green Lantern. Mr. Rayner’s like has several surprising and important twists, but I won’t get into them here.

Basically, the current debate between my nameless buddy and I is that he consistently refers to Kyle Rayner as a “whiny bitch that never deserved to wear to green ring.” This is a constant feeling and opinion of many Pro-Jordan supporters. Kyle DOES complain a lot, and he does second guess himself a lot. And in all honesty, he culd not have been that great of a replacement, because not only did the Green Lantern Corps came back, but so did Hal Jordan (as a hero). Though Kyle stuck around and continues today to be an important character in all Green Lantern titles, it most likely is not a sign of success to go from being the only GL for almost ten years, to being one of thousands.

However, I believe those that share this opinion are missing the real issues around Kyle. He’s a complex character, with the potential to be a great leader (demonstrated in several story lines), a dangerous villain, a vastly powerful omnipotent god like character (when he briefly became Ion), and many other amazing qualities.

Let’s see the core differences between Hal and Kyle.

  • Hal refuses to give in to fear / Kyle lives with his fear, but harnesses it
  • Hal took years and countless adventures to make his name in the corps / Kyle was in the Corps for a short time before he became honour guard lantern
  • Hal killed all the Guardians / Kyle gave birth to the Guardians once more, and raised them to adulthood

Comparing Hal and Kyle is apples to oranges. Their styles of ring slinging are both effective, but completely different. They’re both brave, but have very different philosophies about going around it. They have different costumes, different experiences, different relationships, and different histories within the Corps. Want to know the one real issue with Kyle? He had the sincere misfortune of being Hal’s replacement for that time when Hal went crazy. If Kyle had been introduced in some other way as a supporting character or in his own line or etc, then would those nay-sayers still say their nays??? I doubt it.

In any case, that’s my opinion on Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern. Please leave your own opinions below, and we’ll hash it out real nice! Keep in mind this is for KYLE vs. HAL only. Guy Gardner is a story all in his own right, and we’ll get to that some other time.

HAVE AT THEE!

-Martell

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Comments
  1. Clay Christopher says:

    I prefer Kyle to Hal any day. Hal has an almost cartoonish “lack of fear” (which is also totally false; he was f’n Parallax!). Kyle’s reaction to being given the most powerful weapon in the universe seems far more realistic, and second-guessing yourself was alot more common in 90’s comics. I loved the end of DC One Million where Kyle freaks out & gets that nosebleed from trying to contain an exploding sun… Hal would’ve swooped in, all perfect hair & sh*t-eating grins.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is GUY GARDNER IS GOD. Oh– and Kyle > Hal.

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