Monday, April 26, 2004

Looking To The Stars: A Rant On Green Lanterns

Green Lantern has always held a special place in my heart. When I was a kid and watched Superfriends, he quickly became my favorite hero. In the first place he had brown curly hair, just like me. Silly, I know. But for a five-year-old boy that was an identifying factor and a stand-out feature in a world where most of the superheroes were black haired and blue eyed.

In the second place, his powers appealed to me; to be able to do anything I could think of. Who wouldn’t want that? Even if I couldn’t effect yellow.

That was a third point. Green was a color I liked. I hated yellow.

And then there was the fact that whenever Superman got in trouble, it was usually Green Lantern who saved him. Now being the guy who saves Superman…. that’s just super ultra cool!

I didn’t read many comics as a kid, but at some point I learned there was more than one Green Lantern. In fact, there were a whole LOT of Green Lanterns; all of them aliens from other planets. And that was even cooler to me. Because that meant that any one…. any thing, could be a superhero!

I didn’t actually get into comics until my first year of college. I had a job in a bookstore and was unpacking magazines one day. There were comics mixed in with the magazines and one of them was an issue of Green Lantern. I was amazed by the cover, as it showed a strange man in a strange costume with black hair. This was not the Green Lantern… what was his name again, Hal something… that I grew up with!

Intrigued I opened the book up and learned of Kyle Rayner; the latest man of Earth to bare a Green Lantern ring. But I found no explanation in that issue of what had happened to Hal Jordan. One trip to the local comic shop later and I was hooked, picking up Green Lantern every month since then.

At first, I was a bit apprehensive when I learned of what had happened to my favorite boyhood hero. Still, I came to appreciate the merits of Kyle Rayner. Later, I began to enjoy them. See, at the time I was in much the same place as Kyle. I was just starting college, a new job and was slowly and clumsily trying to find my place in what was a whole new world. Like Kyle, I’m artistic and creative, though my art is words and drawing or painting. Kyle also had a sense of humor which similarly matched my own: self-depreciating and sarcastic.

In short, it was Hal Jordan who got me into superheroes. But it was Kyle Rayner who got me into comics. As such, it was with a great deal of disturbance that I read this week’s most recent news.

The basic upshot of the news is that Green Lantern is being canceled. Ron Marz (the creator of Kyle Rayner) is writing one final six-part story arc to close the book out and has said that this story is his final word on Kyle Rayner. Geoff Johns (writer of JSA, Hawkman, Teen Titans and The Flash) has announced that after that, he is doing a five-issue mini-series which will end with Hal Jordan coming back from the dead with a Power Ring.

This news has been hailed by members of HEAT (Hal’s Emerald Attack Team- an organization dedicated to getting Hal Jordan back into the comics as Green Lantern) and by die-hard fans of artist Alex Ross (a notorious Kyle Rayner hater, who swore he would only paint Hal Jordan) as a sign of great news. Conversely, it has also been hailed by devout fans of Kyle Rayner as a big mistake, a step backward and the final straw that will make them drop the book.

Of course this is all assuming a great deal. Just because Hal is coming back that means that Kyle is going to lose his ring or be killed off. Small chance, because if that happens then, by this twisted logic that Kyle must die in order to redeem Hal as “The One True Green Lantern”, then they are going to have to kill off John Stewart, Kilowog and everyone else on Oa who rejoined the Corps under Kyle.

This is all, in my professional opinion as a Green Lantern fan, pretty damn silly.

Ignoring the fact that it is just a comic book and that there are much more constructive things to argue about in this world, there is plenty of room for more than one Green Lantern in DC Comics. They got along fine for many years with a few thousand of them: I don’t think we need to pick and choose which one we have to keep.

Besides, what about the new generation of fans who, thanks to Justice League, think John Stewart is the one true Green Lantern? What about the vocal but sizable minority of fans who want to see Guy Gardner come back into the role of ring barer? What about us lonely few who consider Kilowog the definitive Green Lantern? And what about all the people clamoring for the return of G’nort?!?!

Thanks to the efforts of Judd Winick, Joe Kelly and Ben Raab we now have the planet Oa and the Guardians back. The ability to create new rings and raise a new GL Corps is there. Why then, is it totally unreasonable to think that we can all have our cake and eat it too? The Hal fans can have Hal back un-Specrteized. The Kyle fans can have their Kyle. Heck, we can even get G’nort back if we want. Anything is possible now. And deep down, wasn’t that the whole idea behind Green Lantern in the first place?

So color me optimistic. I’m looking forward to this next year immensely, as a fan of Ron Marz and Geoff Johns. As a fan of Kyle Rayner and of Hal Jordan. As a guy who realizes that Green Lantern isn’t just One. Indeed, it is a symbol of every One.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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