For the record, I was one of those fans outraged by “Emerald Twilight” back in the day. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern mythos meant a LOT to me, it even saved my life as a kid. When Green Lantern #50 hit the stands I was shell-shocked, but at the same time I was willing to give this new direction a chance and hoped that what had been done (and done poorly, in my opinion) would be undone.
Everyone knows the history of the Kyle-Hal wars on the Internet and I found myself right in the middle of it. I really didn’t relate to Kyle Rayner – in my mind I already read Spiderman and Lee and Ditko did a much better job. This was, to me, the final nail in the coffin. I’d grown tired of the sensationalism (“First we killed Superman, then we broke Batman….”) and the sudden notion that comics were financial investments that people would buy in large quantities with the false notion that it would put their kids through college. Months later when it became clear that DC Comics had made their “final” decision about Hal, I made mine and left the hobby that had been one of the few constants in my life.
I had been on the infamous DC Message Boards and found it a hostile pit. I ended up joining HEAT and did my best to keep Hal alive in the minds of fans by being positive and respecting the opinions of others even when the discussions became heated (no pun intended). And, for the record, HEAT did NOT threaten someone at DC Comics. Apparently someone did, but it’s become urban comics legend that HEAT did and it’s not true. While members certainly were entitled to their own opinion, the organization had no stance on Kyle – it merely wanted a return of the Green Lantern mythos and of Hal Jordan. That’s it – honest! In fact we had and still have members who love Kyle, but thought what was done to all that had been created was a huge loss.
So now we have Green Lantern Corps #42 and the death of Kyle Rayner. I scoured the boards today and Kyle fans everywhere appear outraged over what happened. And I understand it, completely. While Kyle was not my Green Lantern and, truth be told, I really could care less whether he’s alive or dead, the very last thing I want to see is someone else lose a character that is as important to them as Hal is to me.
Some of the comments I’ve read range from the “castration” of Kyle as a final blow since Hal’s return to this being a plot against Kyle by Geoff Johns in retaliation for what was done to Hal. Frankly, as much as I can relate to those people, I think going all emo and overreacting to story that isn’t done yet is foolish. We’re only half-way through Blackest Night and if this story is going to carry any weight at all, and be the dramatic event it should be, then there are going to have to be prices paid by the characters or the story will cease being important.
If Kyle was the unimportant character that some fans think DC considers him to be, he’d have already been completely shuffled out of the picture. The death of Kyle in this issue was its crescendo and carries weight because of the value of the character. Blackest Night is at its heart about death and resurrection and, as someone once said, how we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life.
Before this event is over we’re going to see more death, and in the final chapter of this story I’m really sure we’re going to see some resurrection as well. Both Hal and Kyle have been to Nekron’s Land of the Unliving before and I would not be at all surprised to find that Kyle will be there mounting a resistance once he’s aware that Nekron is on the loose and behind what’s been going on. And you can bet that Hal won’t be resting until he makes a journey back to get Kyle out.
Unlike “Emerald Twilight”, Green Lantern: Rebirth restored the Green Lantern mythos without destroying the status quo at the time. I’d like to think that healed any rift between the Kyle fans and Hal fans, and was especially welcomed by the majority of people who like them both. I’d like to also think that it made a brotherhood of sorts for all of us – that no matter what character we liked best there was room for them all. I think DC is mindful of how sensitive this whole thing is and I don’t really believe that they take this franchise lightly considering how well it’s been selling.
So I ask my fellow fans to consider this: today we again got to see why Kyle Rayner deserved the ring. In choosing to sacrifice himself for the greater good we got to see a noble death of a heroic figure – something those of us in 1994 didn’t get. It’s okay to feel the loss, I’d be concerned if it didn’t create some kind of reaction. But realize this isn’t over yet and as dramatic of a moment as Kyle’s death was, so too will be the one when he re-enters the land of the living. So take a deep breath and get ready for the rest of this roller-coaster ride that is the Blackest Night.