90’s Characters: Kyle Rayner
When I started really getting into comics in the 90’s I was mostly a Marvel fan, DC was less accessible to me, the characters were older and while I had a lot of fondness for the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, none of them spoke to me with the same intensity as say the X-Men did. But one day, in the local comic shop, I found a jumping on point.
Green Lantern #51 was the in costume debut of Kyle Rayner, he had previously appeared in Green Lantern #48 as well as the last two pages of #50 and after the fall of the Green Lantern Corps, he was the wielder of the only functioning Green Lantern ring in the universe. He was a struggling graphic artist with little responsibility and less of a idea of who he was. This wasn’t a honest and fearless test pilot who coasted through life, this was someone who was in the right place and the right time and struggled with what to do with all this power and no guidance.
This was a guy who didn’t get the “Hal Jordan of Earth, you have the power to overcome great fear…” welcome. Kyle got the “You will have to do.” But because of that, he became something greater, he became relatable. He had trouble with his job, he had doubts and uncertainties and more than a little inferiority regarding other heroes. This was a guy who was far from fearless, but had a gung-ho sense of adventure.
The was a hero learning on the job and since he was new to being a lantern and I was new to a more modern DC, he became ‘my’ Green Lantern. I followed him from his early appearances and the start of the ‘fridging’ phenomena to his joining the New Titans and his graduation to the JLA. This was a hero who was able to change, to grow and that appealed to me.
Gone was the silver age heroes with their perfect judgement and stock personalities, this was a guy in over his head and happy to admit that. He became friends with Flash and Green Arrow and fell in love, lost that love, fell in love again, lost her too, fell in love a 3rd time and that ended as well.
Also, he was an artist, which made the constructs he made with the ring interesting and imaginative. No green boxing gloves here, this was high concept art and manga inspired awesomeness. He carried the torch of the Green Lantern Corps and when he could, he re-lit the flame.
Whilst he survived the 90’s, that was where his legend began and he’s since become one of several Green Lanterns, which is one of several corps. Whilst like many I grew up with Hal Jordan, my fondest memories of Green Lantern, is when it was a struggling artist called Kyle, who was stumbling out drunk at the right time to be put on the path to be one of DC’s greatest heroes and one of my personal favourites.
Comments are welcome, who was ‘your’ Green Lantern?