One of the big motivations for me reading Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Volume 1 last weekend was because I found Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Volume 2 at my local bookstore late last week and wanted to see how the story progressed.
“Kyle Rayner is the last Green Lantern. After Hal Jordan’s reign of terror on the Green Lantern Corps, Ganthet, the lone surviving Guardian, bequeathed Kyle the final power ring. The ring and legacy of the Corps now live on with Kyle Rayner. Defending the Earth on countless occasions and saving the universe from Hal Jordan, Kyle has earned his place among the greatest Green Lanterns. However, Hal Jordan has returned. Refusing to accept responsibility for his actions, Hal looks to reclaim his mantle as the Green Lantern. With his sights set on Kyle Rayner’s power ring, Hal will take it back by any means necessary.”
The chronological portion of this compilation covers from January 1995 through September 1995. Unlike the previous compilation Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Volume 1, this volume didn’t have any comics or storylines I recognized, either from my youth or from my own readings in the last several years. As this was an all new series of stories for me, I think I probably had very different reactions than I tend to have for stories familiar to me. This entire storyline takes place after the Death of Superman and the Return of Superman, which I have every original comic book from both series so it’s also interesting to see some of the familiar characters from those events, such as Steel.
The moral stories included in this compilation had a lot of weight to them. When Guy Gardner/Warrior and Kyle face off against the Quorum and Major Force, the mercenary who murdered Alexandra DeWitt in Green Lantern volume 3 #54, Kyle is given the opportunity to kill Major Force and he doesn’t take it. Instead, Guy Gardner/Warrior snaps Major Force’s neck. Kyle tries to express why this was wrong and how it’s not right for them as heroes to use their powers to be judge, jury, and executioner, no matter how many painful and horrible things someone may have done. After reading everything Kyle’s been through so far, I feel as though fans of the series would have understood if Kyle had killed Major Force but I think that it’s out of character for him to have done so, which is exactly the action Kyle took in this situation.
I really like Kyle and Donna’s interaction in this compilation. I like how in Green Lantern 62, Donna is trying to help Kyle understand that he needs to be more than just his ring; that he needs to be able to function without it. So she takes him running and then she fends off potential muggers just through her hand-to-hand capability while Kyle is fully dependent upon his Green Lantern ring. This compilation also explores a lot of the budding relationship between Kyle and Donna and I think their relationship is a healthy one, for all that both Donna and Kyle are at rather inconvenient times in their relationship lives. If the comic book timeline is the same as the release dates, then Kyle only lost Alex less than nine months or so previous to dating Donna, which isn’t bad and I’m not sure how far into the dating scene Kyle and Donna are at this point. I remember Donna and Kyle starting to be interested in each other near the end of Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Volume 01, but this is clearly the part of the relationship where both Kyle and Donna have been hurt in the past and aren’t as willing to extend their hearts again. Kyle still loves and misses Alex and that’s a feeling that will be with him for the rest of his life and Donna is working through a messy custody battle involving her son. Even through this, I think Kyle and Donna are good partners and augment each other well.
The first storyline focused a lot on Kyle’s work to incorporate himself as a Titan, Kyle’s relationship with Ganthet, and the continuous battle to either defeat Hal Jordan or convince Hal Jordan to be a little less like a major villain and a little more like a minor hero. I’m not sure how I feel about Ganthet bringing in many of Hal’s friends from the past, including Green Arrow, Flash, Hawkman, Aquaman, Martian, and eventually Superman. I feel like there was just too much melodrama for Kyle to just take a serious beating and then talk Hal down. Did the Justice League really need to show up and fight for at least one entire comic just for Kyle to talk him down and then Ganthet to trap Hal in his own mind of happy memories? This just seems like something that’s going to go badly in the long run and will only make Hal more difficult to deal with when he finally breaks free from his mental prison, which will eventually happen.
The Seige of the Zi Charram brought up a really interesting series of moral issues and it’s things like this that make me annoyed at “comic book fans” who are annoyed with how “political” comics have become in our modern times and how they don’t like “that social justice warrior crap” in their entertainment venues. These comic books came out in 1995 and had significant life-changing knowledge in the pages of entertainment. The Titans find themselves transported into the middle of a war between the Progenitors and every other alien species residing in that particular part of the universe. The Zi Charram devised a way to sterilize the entire Progenitor species, which would essentially be genocide to the entire population. The Zi Charram believe in only two courses of action: either they themselves are overrun by the Progenitors or they commit genocide via sterilization in order to stop the Progenitor invasion, occupation, and destruction of the Zi Charram. The Titans refuse to be part of this plan and instead find a way to save the Zi Charram and convince the Progenitors to leave peaceably instead of making things worse. This really struck a chord with me because of how often people are led to believe that there are only two sides to a conflict and therefore only two resolutions, which is not the case. The world is full of various shades of gray area and other times where you can do everything right and still have things fall apart.
Life’s funny that way.
The more I read of Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern, the more I enjoy both this character and the stories portrayed in this series. While there was a few times when I’m clearly missing parts of the story because I don’t have the comic books referenced in this compilation, I was still able to follow the jist of things rather well. Overall, I would rate this as a solid four on my rating scale; I’m happy that I read it, I’m happy that I own it, and I will definitely continue to buy any more of these which come out in the future.
Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Vol. 2 collects (in chronological order) for the first time ever Green Lantern 58-65, Guy Gardner: Warrior 27-28, the New Titans 124-125, the Darkstars 34 and Damage 16 from Ron Marz, Darryl Banks and Romeo Tanghal, comics creators who reinvented Green Lantern for a new generation! Writers: Ron Marz, Beau Smith, Marv Wolfman, Michael Jan Friedman, Tom Joyner; Pencillers: Darryl Banks, Mitch Byrd, William Rosado, Jason Armstrong, Mike Collins, Ron Lim, Bill Marimon, Andy Smith, Mark Bright, Cully Hamner, Fred Haynes, Joe St. Pierre; Inkers: Romeo Tanghal, Dan Davis, Keith Champagne, Ken Branch, Terry Austin, Mike DeCarlo, Jordi Ensign, Jason Martin, Phyllis Novin; Colorists: Steve Mattsson, Stu Chaifetz, Chris Matthys, Rob Schwager, Joshua Myers, Buzz Setzer; Letterers: Albert Deguzman, Bob Pinaha; Collection cover art by Darryl Banks, Romeo Tanghal and Wes Hartman; Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; Supergirl based on the characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family; the New Teen Titans created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez; Major Force created by Cary Bates, Greg Weisman and Pat Broderick; Kalibak created by Jack Kirby; Sldge created by Mitch Byrd and Stephen Smith; Damage created by Tom Joyner and Bill Marimon.