Team Kyle

July 7, 2014

Here’s something that’s long been in the works. Before I digress into the particulars, I’ll come right out and say it: Hal Jordan is no longer my favorite Green Lantern.

Kyle Rayner is.

aaaand there goes most of my readership. For those of you that are still sticking around, let’s continue.

I’ve been a big Kyle fan since day one, but this change in allegiance, as it were, has its genesis in the atrocious Green Lantern: Rebirth. Kyle got kicked around a bit in that book, but it wasn’t too bad. However, during and after “The Sinestro Corps War,” writer Geoff Johns and editor Dan DiDio seemed to go out of their way to shit on the character, constantly denigrating him, altering and even retconning away his achievements. Cripes, DiDio even dumped on Kyle to elevate Hal in a DC Nation editorial column! I hated that, and along with plenty of other awful retcons to the Lanternverse in general, it led me to quit reading Green Lantern comics for years.

Fortunately, by the time I came back into the fold during Blackest Night, Kyle had regained some semblance of respect, presumably because the powers-that-be finally realized that he has his fans, and they spend money on comics, too. Kyle’s new place in the DC Universe couldn’t hold a candle to his classic tenure as Hal’s successor, but it was better than the raw deal he got during “SCW,” and recent stories — including his own book, Green Lantern: New Guardians — have finally made his adventures exciting to read again.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind, Kyle’s been my favorite since about 1997 or so, and it just never kicked in. (Almost twenty years late is better than never, right?) I chalk it up to that tendency we all have to stubbornly stick with the past; I did grow up on Hal stories, after all. I don’t hate those classic tales now, I just enjoy Kyle’s adventures a lot more. It probably helped that in the late 1990s, I was studying towards my degree in art and graphic design, so I had a lot more in common with Kyle than Hal. Granted, I had no power ring or hot green girlfriend, but I could at least relate to the struggles of an artist and trying to meet deadlines. Kyle’s “everyman” qualities always made Green Lantern fun to read, whether he was fighting villains new and old, out saving the universe with the Justice League, or just talking with friends over coffee at Radu’s.

I’ve often maintained that Kyle’s starring role in Green Lantern (Vol. 3) #50-181, spanning late 1993 through 2004 leading right up to Rebirth, was the best the franchise has ever had. (It’s probably no coincidence that this span of time is my favorite comics era, period.) Sure, it had its ups and downs like any other book, but I’m talking about the era as a whole. In particular, Ron Marz’ run from #48-125 was absolutely stellar from start to finish. I’m even picking up the trade paperback collections from that era simply because they’re easier to pluck off the shelf and read than digging out the individual issues. (Since they all out of print, though, a few seem to command a ridiculous price on the secondary market; tracking those down could be a pain in the ass.)

Overall, that ten-year block of Kyle solo stories remains my favorite. I’ve read it many times, finding new things to enjoy with each successive reading. Aside from the usual space adventures, I find the Kyle-on-Earth stories as well as his tenure in the Justice League to be fascinating reading even after all of this time. Like I said, Kyle was the everyman Green Lantern back then rather than just another guy with a mood-powered ring, and he proved himself to be up to the task of being a hero in his own right as well as living up to the Corps’ legacy.

As you’ve previously read, I’ve been strongly considering ditching Rebirth and all of the revamped Lanternverse comics that followed it from my collection. “But wait!” you say, “Isn’t New Guardians included in there, too?!” Why, yes, it is. New Guardians started out great, got dragged through the mud during the atrocious “Wrath of the First Lantern” story, then shockingly became the best of the Lanternverse books shortly thereafter when it started featuring one- or two-issue science fiction stories rather than crossovers and events. I’ll get those new tales in trade paperback form (minus the awful “Wrath of the First Lantern” volume) eventually; DC Comics takes a long time to release trade paperbacks nowadays, as they want to push their hardcover collections for as long as possible. Personally, I refuse to pay extra for cardboard.

Anyway, modern Kyle is finally back to being a top-tier character, which is great. He’s a White Lantern rather than a green one at the moment, but we all know that can change. As with Hal’s return, it’s only a matter of time before Kyle becomes a Green Lantern once again. I look forward to that day, and until then, I’ve got loads of classic stories to enjoy time and time again.

Burying the modern Green Lantern

June 26, 2014

As we come up on the tenth anniversary of the infamous (to me, anyway) Green Lantern: Rebirth, I’ve taken a long look back on Green Lantern (Vol. 4) as a whole. I do consider Rebirth an integral part of that, as it kicked off Green Lantern‘s fourth ongoing series, bringing us a decade of Geoff Johns-helmed tales (for better or for worse).

I’ve written at length about why I didn’t like Rebirth, and how Johns’ many retcons eventually led me to drop Green Lantern. Things got better by the time I started reading again years later, but by the end, I tore apart Johns’ swan song “Wrath of the First Lantern,” which was just as bad if not worse than Rebirth.

Those bookends left a sour taste in my mouth, to be sure. Overall, Johns completely changed the Green Lantern universe from a science fiction police tale (and later an everyman’s heroic journey) to one of weaponized feelings and constantly rehashed events and crossovers. It’s obvious that I don’t like the “Geoffcon” era and what followed nearly as much as the older material. Sure, the Lanternverse may change in the future, but given Johns’ prominent executive position within DC Comics (as well as that of head honcho Dan Didio, who also spearheaded the massive changes to Green Lantern), it’s highly unlikely.

When I was getting caught up with Green Lantern in 2009, I went back and bought the trade paperback editions and recent single issues of the books I’d missed, because I am a completist (read: idiot). I realize that I’m almost certain never to read those stories again. (This applies to plenty of other comics, too, as chronicled on my other blog.) The things I liked about Johns’ Green Lantern tenure are vastly outweighed by the things I dislike, and as such, those issues and trade paperbacks are just taking up space. “The Sinestro Corps War” was a good crossover, but the plotholes and constant shitting on Kyle Rayner kinda ruins it. I did enjoy Blackest Night, despite many other fans apparently hating it, but it was such a sprawling saga (as it technically begins at the end of “SCW”) that I doubt I have the patience to plod through the whole damned thing all over again. The same goes for Brightest Day, which turned out to be a massive disappointment. Really bad endings can retroactively ruin entire properties for me, as LOST and the Battlestar Galactica revamp have proven. I try to have a positive outlook even when confronted with a crappy finale, but eventually, the truth comes out. No sense defending something I dislike.

My favorite Green Lantern era is when Kyle Rayner was the star of the show from 1994-2004. Yes, that makes me a heretic amongst most Green Lantern fans, but I don’t care. Consider it the same as how many Star Wars fans dislike the prequels, or how some folks prefer one series of Star Trek over another. At any rate, Kyle’s Green Lantern (Vol. 3) run is a pretty big block of comics, and one which I still enjoy. I’ve read that run many times before, so it’s going nowhere. Everything else, though…do I really need to keep it?

As such, I’m thinking of parting with my Green Lantern (Vol. 4) collection. Any possible purge would also include the relaunched Green Lantern Corps and other spinoff titles, stretching up through the current “New 52″ era; unlike other DC Comics series, the Lanternverse was seemingly unchanged following Flashpoint (creating a whole shitload of associated story problems, mind you). I stopped collecting single issues many months ago, relying on friends’ copies to keep current and write my reviews. If I ever feel a random need to reread the Johns era at some point in the future, I could always go that same route instead of just keeping boxes of comics lying around the house.

I’ve been cleaning out a lot of old stuff that I don’t need anymore over the past few years in general, and I’ve already ditched a large part of my comic book collection. I’ve always entertained the notion that I might even pare down my beloved Green Lantern collection, and it seems that time may be approaching sooner rather than later.

No rushed decisions, of course. I’ve got a lot to think about.

Green Lantern in silhouette

March 13, 2014

It’s way too goddamned early in the morning, but grab your coffee and behold: the slick Green Lantern art of Steve Garcia. Go on, click it to get a closer look. I’ll wait.

Tell me that ain’t some cool shit! Simple, direct, and to the point. Our five human Green Lanterns, depicted as their real selves amidst their larger-than-life hero personas. I especially like the inset of Kyle Rayner drawing at his art table. Who’s your favorite?

There’s a few other Green Lantern pieces in Garcia’s dA gallery; check ’em out! He’s also done cool silhouette art of plenty of other pop culture icons.

Speaking of which…just in case you love other DC Comics characters (who doesn’t), my fellow members of the blogger corps have spotlighted some of Garcia’s other superhero tributes. Here’s the rundown:

* Yes, I know they’re not DC characters. Go look at ’em anyway.

Many of these folks have talked about Garcia’s artwork in the past (as usual, I was late to the party), so here’s some “back issues” for you to check out as well:

Happy 20th anniversary, Kyle Rayner!

November 23, 2013

Twenty years ago, Green Lantern (Vol. 3) #48 hit the stands. The story briefly introduced a character created by writer Ron Marz and penciler Darryl Banks who would go on to become arguably the greatest Green Lantern of all time, propelling the book to new heights of creativity and popularity.

Yep…we’re talking about Kyle Rayner.

art by Chris Batista

Kyle’s appearance in that issue was limited to him sitting on the beach with his girlfriend, but two issues later, he received the last Green Lantern power ring from Ganthet, and the rest is history. Kyle starred as the DC Universe’s primary Green Lantern for over ten years, forging his own unique path while learning about the Corps’ rich history. It’s a journey that is unrivaled even to this day.

Equally important to Kyle’s rise as a Green Lantern was what happened behind the scenes. As we know, the controversial “Emerald Twilight” storyline is what brought about the downfall of the Corps and Hal Jordan’s fall from grace, with the end goal to have a single Green Lantern unfettered by decades of Corps stories to bring in new readers. Someone who’d never read Green Lantern before could pick up an issue and learn about Green Lanterns and their history along with Kyle himself.

This was a tremendous success, but Hal fanboys absolutely lost their shit, and bitched about it for years. Ten goddamned years, to be precise. (Some still bitch about it, even though later retcons and reboots have completely altered “Emerald Twilight” as well as Kyle’s history and origin.) That’s a level of insanity that honestly makes me ashamed to be a comic book fan. Few things were more embarrassing than H.E.A.T., short for “Hal’s Emerald Attack Team.” (The “Attack” was later changed to “Advancement” due to well-deserved negative publicity.) This fan group was dedicated to demanding that DC Comics bring back Hal as the “one true Green Lantern” by any means necessary; the hell with the great stories that were coming out in the meantime.

Kyle’s time in the spotlight reached its end starting with the atrocious Green Lantern: Rebirth, a story specifically designed to wipe out “Emerald Twilight,” albeit in the cheesiest and most destructively inconsistent way possible. It got worse: the powers-that-be inexplicably hated Kyle for some reason, and decided to shit all over him for many years. They made no bones about their distaste for the character until they finally figured out that hey, Kyle fans buy comics too. Anyway, it’s only in recent years that Kyle’s finally gotten back some semblance of respect from the very company that publishes his adventures. Kyle fans were pleasantly surprised when he finally got his own book again in 2011 — Green Lantern: New Guardians, as part of the “New 52″ initiative. Recent issues have even solidified Kyle’s place as the most powerful Lantern that ever wielded a ring, especially during the “Lights Out” storyline.

I was a big Kyle fan from day one, but it’s important to note that I grew up with Hal’s adventures and loved them. I was as shocked as anyone else during “Emerald Twilight,” but rather than froth at the mouth, I was actually excited to see where the Green Lantern saga would go next. You know, the way you’re supposed to feel about comics. I loved Kyle’s trials and tribulations, and I believe that the “Kyle era” of Green Lantern comics is among the series’ best, if not the best. There was nothing else like it, and I’d wager that there never will be again, sadly.

To this day, Kyle remains the most human of the Green Lanterns and the most well-written of them as a character, not just a superhero with a magic ring. Ignore his detractors. Focus on the great stories, and one of the best “everyman” comic book characters ever created.

Here’s to twenty more years of Kyle Rayner tales!

(This post was originally published on November 11, 2013, but after reader Josh Marowitz found the exact release date of the book, it was rescheduled to the 23rd as to better reflect the proper twentieth anniversary. Sorry for any confusion!)

The green soapbox

November 4, 2013

I feel the need to get something off of my chest. I’ve read a lot of bitching and complaining on message boards about the direction that the Green Lantern comics have taken since the new creative teams came in with the various #21 issues. Fair enough; you can’t please everyone all of the time, and as everyone knows, comics fans love to complain.

Where it goes across the line is that I’ve actually heard a large amount of fans declaring that they’re going to quit reading Green Lantern comics due to the events of “Lights Out.” They’re lambasting the latest Green Lantern creative teams and stories as the worst thing to happen to the series in many years, and that the characters and universe just aren’t being written “right.”

That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.

We’ll ignore for a moment that most of these fans are highly unlikely to actually quit. C’mon, we nerds are notorious for our completist tendencies. I myself quit reading Green Lantern for a while, but even that took a massive amount of time and willpower. (No pun intended.)

It’s very possible that much of the whining comes from Geoff Johns fanboys. Case and point: if folks could sit through Johns’ massive retcons of everything that came before his run, but “Lights Out” is somehow their tipping point…then that’s just plain ridiculous, and reeks of obnoxious fanboyism. If (heaven forbid) a majority of fans feel this way, then the Green Lantern mythos deserves to be dead and buried.

The most common complaint is that Hal Jordan isn’t being “written correctly.” He’s depicted as being under a tremendous amount of stress, sometimes lacking confidence, and making mistakes in his new role as leader of the Green Lantern Corps, not to mention being heartbroken and a bit jealous since Carol Ferris broke up with him. Fans are up in arms that their hero is being portrayed this way, as that’s just not how Hal is supposed to be! Well, there’s two huge problems with these gripes.

First off, Hal has been written this way countless times before; some of the best stories had Hal being unsure of himself, making mistakes, taking steps to address them, and emerging as a better hero. That’s how the greatest superhero stories are written! Johns took steps to erase all of that by blaming all of Hal’s mistakes on Parallax, and whitewashing like that should never be the new normal. The fact remains that before that whole mess, Hal was never perfect, and that’s what made him interesting to read about. Secondly, this is “New 52″ Hal. He’s only been a Green Lantern for about five years in the modern DC Universe, so you have to throw all of the old stuff away, regardless. We may not like that, but them’s the breaks.

Apparently, these opinions won’t make me very popular amongst most Green Lantern fans…but I don’t give a shit. Seriously, grow up. Get over the fanboyism and your flawed recollections of how Hal has actually been portrayed both now and in the past. Let’s just give the new stories a chance, and just see where they take us. For the first time in a decade, we’re not getting retcons and contradictions issue after issue; we’re moving forward, not backward. And that’s they way it needs to be, no matter what comic book series you’re reading. Green Lantern has just needed it more than most, that’s all. It’s a damned shame that when we finally get back on track, scores of readers throw a fit. It makes me ashamed to be a Green Lantern fan, to be honest.

Series number six

July 3, 2013

Last week, a Sinestro Corps ongoing series was announced. That brings the total number of Lantern books up to six. Six. Goddamned six.

That’s too fucking many, people.

Many fans would argue that even four or five is too many, and I can’t really disagree. If you’re going to add more ring slingers to the mix, dump lesser-quality titles like Larfleeze and Red Lanterns first, for crying out loud. I love New Guardians, but I’d be happy with just Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps again if all else failed.

I’m really getting tired of this shit. As much as I enjoy the Green Lantern mythos, there is no need for every major character to get his own goddamned book! Not to mention the financial concerns; you’re looking at nearly twenty bucks a month just to get all of the Lantern titles. Some of us like to read other stuff too, you know. And considering that the Lantern titles cross over at least twice a year, buying all six will be absolutely necessary to know what the hell’s going on. Which, of course, is exactly what DC Comics wants; they don’t give a rat’s ass about the story. All that matters is the bottom line. That’s great for business, but awful for storytelling. Buying four books for a crossover is ridiculous enough; but six?

The creative team on the new book has not yet been announced, bu I’ve got a bad feeling that Sinestro Corps will be written by Geoff Johns. I doubt Johns would let anyone else write Sinestro; why do you think the Yellow Lanterns all left at the end of Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #20? Anyway, with Johns at the helm, there would be no doubt that Sinestro Corps will have vast ramifications across the other Lantern series. (It would also mean that Sinestro Corps would be a retcon-heavy mess, but that goes without saying.) If Johns is on board, and his influence extends into the other Lantern books again ultimately turning them into another crapfest like “Wrath of the First Lantern”…I may drop the books all over again.

All of these extra series do nothing but wither the Green Lantern concept into a joke. Screw the crossovers, events, and pointless extra books; just tell some good stories.

Green Lantern (Vol. 3) #275

April 1, 2013

Release Date: March 27, 2013
Cover Date: May 2013

Story: Ron Marz
Pencils: Darryl Banks
Inks: Terry Austin
Cover: Darryl Banks

After being hit by a massive energy blast in Earth orbit, Kyle Rayner finds himself stuck on a deserted space station on the edge of the galaxy. As the computers onboard start activating on their own, seemingly reacting to Kyle’s presence, he soon discovers that this station isn’t quite friendly to Green Lanterns. Worse, it turns out that he’s not truly alone: Parallax is trapped here with him! Kyle believes Hal Jordan may be responsible for this, but he’s mistaken. After a brief battle, the pair are nearly overwhelmed by the station’s internal defenses. As more weapon systems come online, the former and current Green Lanterns have no choice but to join forces against the ominous threat.

“Wait…what?! There’s no such thing as Green Lantern (Vol. 3) #275!”

Okay, eagle-eyed reader, you caught me. April Fools!

No, this issue does not actually exist, and I pulled that synopsis completely out of my ass. But that cover art is most certainly a real thing, although DC Comics had nothing to do with it. Instead, it was all my fault! Here’s the story…

I’d long wanted a sketch of my two favorite Green Lantern characters from the legendary Darryl Banks; it was a natural choice, since he designed the look of both of them. Last fall, I had a bit of extra cash, so I took the plunge and commissioned him for a classic Kyle Rayner and Parallax sketch. (No space bugs here!) As you can plainly see, he hasn’t lost his edge one bit; Kyle and Hal look just as amazing and powerful as they did in the 1990s! Banks was a pleasure to work with, and I highly recommend him for commissions. (For more information, visit his ComicArtFans page.)

I thought it would be cool to see what the piece looked like in full color, so the next step was hiring colorist Tom Chu to finish bringing the piece to life. His work on many Marvel Comics books in particular has been fantastic, and he’s also a friend of mine. He knocked out this Green Lantern job in no time, and look at how stunning the results are!

After seeing the finished piece, that was that…until I had the random idea to turn it into a fake comic book cover. What if Green Lantern (Vol. 3) kept that classic logo, and never got cancelled? What if Kyle kept his unique costume, and Parallax came back from the dead? What if Green Lantern in general didn’t go through the mess of costume changes, retcons, endless events, and other headaches that plague the modern books?

With that pipe dream in mind, the cover layout I could handle myself. The logo I rebuilt from scratch using Illustrator, and I recreated the other cover elements and text in Photoshop. The only stock art I grabbed online was the classic DC bullet.

As for the issue credits, I simply replicated the dream team of Green Lantern creators in the 1990s: Ron Marz’s writing, Banks’ pencils, and Terry Austin’s inks. Marz and Austin had nothing to do with this piece, but given their history on the series, I felt it necessary to include their names on the cover.

That thumbnail image up top hardly does the piece justice, so here’s a closer look:

Here’s what the original art looked like before it was colored, and minus the cover elements:

Eventually, I want to make prints of this. I had Chu color it scaled up to 11″ x 17″, so that’ll look pretty good hanging on my office wall next to the original art, which is 8½” x 11″.

I really can’t thank Banks and Chu enough for their absolutely stellar work. Listen up, DC Comics powers-that-be…don’t you think these guys belong on a monthly Green Lantern book?


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