Friday, July 13, 2012
* Justice League #12 will bring big changes to the team. New people will join. Old people will quit. Tony Daniel will take over writing after Issue #12.
# The relationship between Billy Batson and the wizard Shazam will be antagonistic once they finally meet. According to Geoff Johns, "Shazam is weirded out that a kid is visiting him, whereas Billy doesn't like Shazam telling him what to do. Johns says that Billy will be joining the Justice League." An empowered Billy Batson will be part of the new Justice League.
* Again, the Green Lantern on the cover of Green Lantern #0 is an original character, who carries a gun as a back-up weapon in case his ring runs out of power at a bad moment.
* Again, the upcoming "Third Army" the Guardians create will come about because of their conclusion that emotion and fear aren't the cause of the universe's problems - it's free will.
* Johns also made reference to "The Fall Of Guy Gardner" in the coming months.
* By Issue #12, we will learn how and why a ring from each Corps wound up going to Kyle Rayner. More, Kyle will wind up with one of each ring again and apparently have to learn how to use and master each color of the spectrum heading into "The Third Army".
* Tony Bedard also said that upcoming stories will spell out more of Kyle Rayner's past - a neccesity given, as Geoff Johns pointed out, that over half of his girlfriends may not exist in the new continuity. Jade definitely doesn't. The fate of Donna Troy and Soranik is still in question. No word on if Major Force still fridged Alexandra DeWitt.
* There probably won't be any resolution to the dangling plot-thread of Lobo getting a Red Lantern ring.
* The Dex-Starr Valentine's Day special is coming. They just need to bring Krypto back before it can happen.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Three weeks ago, I talked about the comics that got me into this wonderful hobby.
Two weeks ago, I talked about the first autographed comics I brought into my collection as well as the first Marvel Comic I ever bought.
Last week, I talked about Clerks 2 and apparently got a mention at News Askew.
This week, we’re back on topic and ready to take a final look at my favorite things. Four comics that I number as my favorites in no particular order.
It is ironic, given that I came into reading the title on the very last issue of this period, that my favorite moments in Ron Marz’s Green Lantern run came about during the period where he was dating Donna Troy. The relationship worked on all levels with the more mature Donna helping Kyle both with finding his feet as a hero and in helping him love again after the death of his girlfriend Alex.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. And Donna was hastily removed from the comic so that John Byrne could remake her in the pages of Wonder Woman. I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice it to say, for all the heat John Byrne gets about messing around with characters that shouldn’t be messed about with, this instance gets my vote for #1 on the war crimes list.
The short version is that it was revealed that Donna Troy was a magically created clone of Wonder Woman (she needed a playmate since there were no girls on Paradise Island) and she was briefly erased from reality by a villain who, having a grudge against Hippolyta, decided to kidnap her daughter only to steal away the clone by accident.
The basic upshot of all this is that Donna was restored to life by the actions of Hippolyta and The Flash- both of whom still remembered Donna’s existence, having been outside of time when the erasing occurred. Donna was restored, but her personality was based on Wally West’s memories of her from when they were in the Teen Titans together.
This was dealt with badly in the Titans book of the time and Donna was given a whole host of powers based upon the fact that she was sweetness and light incarnate and her touch could burn demons. The fact that she only had a fraction of her memories and that her personality had regressed was, for the most part, ignored. In fact, only one book that I know of dealt with this issue in a manner that truly respected the character Donna Troy had been and didn’t suggest that she was better off as this new Wonder Girl.
That issue was Green Lantern #118.
As the issue opens, Kyle Rayner is newly returned from space and his first attempt to revive the Green Lantern Corps. He’s been dating Jenny-Lynn Scott (a.k.a. the superhero Jade) for a few months of comic time now and he’s just gotten a gallery showing for his art. Things are actually looking up in his life… and then Donna walks in the door and all the old memories and feelings come back in a rush.
Jade gets jealous, as Kyle asks if they can delay their plans for the evening so that he can settle things with Donna (who he hasn’t talked to since her return) and leaves in a huff. The brunt of the rest of the comic details Kyle and Donna walking through the streets of Greenwich Village, talking about how things were and where they stand now.
Not the most exciting and action-filled of stories, granted. But this is easily one of the most emotional and spirit-touching stories I’ve ever read because of one simple fact; this story is a literal representation of every relationship that ended because “You’re not the person I fell in love with.”
Think back to any close friendship or romantic relationship you’ve had. Think of all the private things you never told another person that you shared. Think of all the shared memories from when you were alone. Think of all the little details like which of your jokes was that first to make them laugh.
Now think about all of that being gone. And all the other person is left with is a memory that they love you. And that they were happy. But they don’t remember why they loved you and why they were happy. They can’t remember how you wound up together. They can’t remember all the quiet nights watching a movie… the lazy days snuggling on the couch. All of that is gone.
That’s pretty much where Donna is with Kyle. Because Wally West knew she loved Kyle, she does love Kyle. But because Wally knew nothing about the relationship other than that it existed, Donna can’t remember anything about her time with Kyle and why she loved him.
You don’t get much more tragic than that. And good on Ron Marz for being the only writer at the time who even thought to look at this issue and discuss it in such a skillful way much less making it into a relatable metaphor for real relationships gone wrong.
And speaking of relationships gone wrong, I’d like to talk a moment about the Oliver Queen/Dinah Lance relationship.
I know there’s a vocal bit of fandom that doesn’t want the two of them to get back together ever. Some think that Ollie is a scumbag who isn’t worthy of Dinah, but that is an argument I’ve addressed before. Some feel that Ollie and Dinah quickly becomes OLLIEanddinah whenever the two are paired in a story, which I would put down to a matter of who the writer is. Some also think that Dinah has progressed too far from who she was before Ollie died and who she is now for a relationship between the two to ever work.
This later group, I think, would benefit from a reading of Green Arrow #11.
Unique in that this was the only issue of Kevin Smith’s Green Arrow run that was a true one-shot, with no links to a larger story, this issue has little action with a lot of nice character moments all around the board. But for my money, nothing quite tops the moment where Oliver Queen struggles to pick up the phone to call Dinah Lance.
It has, according to the text, been some two weeks since Oliver came back from the dead. And while he’s been trying to take some time to get his life in order and get to know the son he never knew he had. In his heart, he still loves Dinah but he knows that things have changed and that she has changed in the time he’s been away. And as much as the indecision is killing him, he thinks it would be worse to have to deal with her rejecting him than to sit there wondering and worrying.
Looking at this moment, I can’t help but wonder how anyone who has read this issue can question the commitment that the modern Oliver Queen has towards “his pretty bird”. Sadly, the character’s fates are currently in the hands of those who are either indifferent to the history between the two characters or are in little mood to restore the status quo. Ah well. Maybe we’ll get lucky and Brad Meltzer will restore the other sacred trilogy to the JLA – Hal Jordan, Dinah Lance and Ollie Queen – and can get started on rekindling the romance and saying, in no uncertain terms, that all of Ollie’s affairs during the last four years never happened.
Finally, I can think of nothing better to end with than the best damn superhero story of all time. And I can think of no better place to start describing this story than with a song.
I’m not much on musicals, but I do have a soft spot for Man of LaMacha; the musical story of Don Quixote. For those of you unfamiliar with the musical, the first act concludes with a song called To Dream The Impossible Dream in which Don Quixote sings about why strives to “do good” for people who do not appreciate him or think him mad.
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go.
To right the unrightable wrong
To be better far than you are
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To be willing to give when there’s no more to give
To be willing to die so that honor and justice may live
And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.
To my mind, no song better summarizes the heroic spirit. And I think this song must have been in the mind of somebody at Marvel Comics when part two of this story came out, as well. Because the cover of Amazing Spiderman #230 features a balloon reading “To Fight The Unbeatable Foe”.
Much has already been written about this story. Even Wizard Magazine in one of the few times I personally feel they got it right, declared this to be the best Spider-Man story ever. And I, for once, concur with their assessment.
The plot is basic and knowing it will spoil nothing of the story for you that the cover does not. On a day when The X-Men are out in space, The Avengers are out of town, The Fantastic Four are off exploring N-Space and even Dr. Strange is busy, Juggernaut -he of the massive strength, nigh-invulnerability and big magic helmet – goes on a rampage through downtown Manhattan. And the only hero around to do anything about it is Spider-Man.
Boy, does it suck to be Peter Parker right about now.
Peter knows he’s screwed. Everybody watching the fight knows Peter is screwed. Everybody reading this book knows Peter is screwed. Even Madame Web, who called him in to deal with this crisis, tells him that she has foreseen him getting his butt handed to him.
And yet, Peter keeps trying to do everything he can reasonably think of to stop Juggernaut. Because there is literally nobody else who can or will do anything. Because with great power comes great responsibility, even when your power isn’t great enough.
Check out both issues of Amazing Spider-Man #229-230. You’ll be glad you did. And it’s the only way you’ll find out how Peter wins.
Peter wins? Well, you’ll never know if I’m telling the truth unless you read it now, will you?
Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.
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Sunday, April 17, 2005
Who is Donna Troy?
For some, this is the title of a beloved Teen Titans story. For others, it is the title of a much-anticipated trade paperback. For me, however, it is a question that winds up in my e-mail at least once a month from some confused fan just getting back into comics who is confused by the endless, contradictory and just plain confusing history behind the woman known as Donna Troy. And Wonder Girl. And Troia. And Darkstar. And “russin-frackin-so-and-so” for those of us fond of cartoon swearing.
Still, enough people have asked for me to try… and I emphasize the word TRY, even for a DC Comics history buff of my standing this is a tall order… to answer this question. A question that has become so complicated it had even transcended the labyrinth-like history of the old “Who Has The Most Complicated Story” stand-by Hawkman/Hawkgirl. Who the &*#@ is Donna Troy?
It all began simply enough. Back in the day, there was a Wonder Girl. And lo, it was that she was a young Wonder Woman as Superboy was a young Superman. But then the Teen Titans were formed. And so it was that, in order to put a girl on the team, Wonder Girl did join the team. And it was revealed that this was a different Wonder Girl. A new Wonder Girl. A Wonder Girl named… Donna Troy.
Donna went without a background for a good while. Her first backstory came about not too long after the infamous de-powering of Wonder Woman, when she became a martial-artist instead of being the wonder we know and love (Not one of Denny O’Neil’s better ideas, but I digress). Donna was having “sickly” spells and Robin wondered if this was connected to the events that temporarily depowered the Amazons. Donna says that can’t be it, because she isn’t truly an Amazon.
A later story clarified things further. Donna was put up for adoption by her mother, Donna Hinckley, whom was dying of cancer. Donna was adopted by the Stacey family, but was put back up for adoption shortly after her foster father was killed by Doctor Octopus. Following the death of his blood daughter Gwen…
(Just making sure you were paying attention. That was “Stacy” with no “e”, anyway.)
Actually, Donna was put back up for adoption after her foster father was killed in a car-crash. Her foster mother, Fay, proved unable to care for a daughter by herself, so back Donna went into foster care. Or rather, she should have. She was actually kidnapped and put into a baby-smuggling ring. It was here that Donna was saved by Wonder Woman, who rescuing her from the burning warehouse where she was being kept. So Donna was raised by the Amazons, who were able to use their advanced technologies to give Donna the proportional strength and powers of an Amazon warrior though she was not truly of Amazon blood.
Now, there have been some stories which had Donna being saved from the house-fire that killed her parents by Wonder Woman. No business about a baby-smuggling ring. About the only thing all parties agree on is that Donna was saved from a fire by Wonder Woman, regardless of the circumstances as to what was on fire and who was holding her. All well and good either way. Nice and simple origin, right?
Well, it was. Up until Crisis.
Yes, Crisis on Infinite Earths, while having fixed a lot of continuity problems, did not address all of them and actually created quite a few. Donna Troy’s story was one of them. You see, one change to come out of Crisis was that Wonder Woman did not appear until five years after the first appearance of Superman and Batman. But the Teen Titans, made up of the sidekicks of Batman, Green Arrow, Aquaman and The Flash… was formed sometime before Wonder Woman appeared. And Wonder Girl? She was there too.
It was a Catch-22. Wonder Girl was a popular member of the Teen Titans, which was a very popular book back in the early ‘80s. But you couldn’t have her there without a Wonder Woman. Could you?
And so came the first change. It turns out that Donna was not saved from the fire by Wonder Woman, but by a Titan of Myth named Rhea. Rhea took Donna to New Chronus; the home of the Titans. Donna and several other children taken from around the galaxy were raised and trained for 13 years- the plan being to return them to their home-planets with amazing powers that they would slowly develop, eventually growing to replace the god-like Titans who had raised them.
Upon her return to Earth, Donna adopted the surname of Troy and made a costume for herself based on the American flag. Armed with the weapons that Titans of Myth had given her (bracelets and a lasso suspiciously like those of Wonder Woman), Donna began her career as a crime-fighter and went on to become a founding member of the Teen Titans, having no memory of her amazing past, save the memory of a figure saving her from a fire. This was all detailed in New Titans #50 (1989).
Now this was the status quo for quite a while. Donna was Wonder Girl, even as she grew up and got married to college-professor and single-father Terry Long. And sometime during the next few years, Donna took on the name Troia. Why? Well, it sounds like Troy and it sounds all… aggressive female warrior, I guess.
The name change came after Donna was contacted by one of the Titans of Myth called Phoebe. One of the other children, Sparta by name, had gone mad and threatened to destroy all of New Chronus. Donna and the rest of the Teen Titans came to their aid and Donna learned the truth of her past and the origin of her powers. The Titans of Myth were so thankful that they gave Donna several gifts, which she put into a new costume. (This change began, not too long after Donna’s origin was explained, in New Titans #55)
After that, Donna had her first child; a son named Robert. She had to keep from getting killed by people from the Future called the Team Titans, who thought her son was going to grow into a huge threat. (It turned out they wanted Sarah Conner, not Donna Troy) This battle took a huge toll on Donna, who asked for her powers to be removed by the Titans of Myth so she could be a normal, full-time mommy and live on a farm in New Jersey.
(Still with me kids? We haven’t gotten to the bad part yet…)
Her request was granted, but she began to miss being super-powered REALLY quick after she realized that she still had a lot of super-powered villains after her and having a superhero team living with her didn’t help this much. Knowing the life-expectancy for attractive women without superpowers in the comics world, she asked to have her powers given back and was… naturally, refused.
Thankfully, there seems to always be an opening for superhero jobs if you know where to look and Donna was soon offered a spot in The Darkstars. The Darkstars were an intergalactic police-force founded by The Controllers (an even more fascist off-shoot of The Guardians of the Universe) in order to replace the now-dead Green Lantern Corps. And then Zero Hour came along and things got really bad for Donna.
For one thing, her husband was unable to handle the superhero thing anymore and filed for divorce. All of her team, save two members, was erased by the time-flow or went off into deep space to help rebuild Starfire’s planet (which is another long story). And her farm was destroyed, leaving her to move into Titans Tower again.
But it was not all bad. She found a new love in Kyle Rayner, the last Green Lantern, who was himself recovering from a bad break-up. She found new purpose as a Darkstar AND as one of the elder members of a new Titans team, along with Kyle. Alas, it was not to be. She waffled on her decision to be a superhero and decided to quit the Darkstars, become a normal woman again and devote herself to her work as a photographer and being a mommy.
And then, things went from bad to worse to suck.
In Green Lantern #90, we learned through a phone-call that Terry and Robert had died in a car-crash and Donna Troy tearfully broke up with Kyle Rayner as she rushed to get away. She got away into the Wonder Woman books, where her presence was required for John Byrne’s attempts to redefine the Wonder Woman saga. But why did he want Donna Troy? Donna didn’t have any connection to Wonder Woman now. Right?
(Go get a drink and sit down folks. We’re getting into the rough stuff now.)
It turns out that Donna was not really a random girl rescued by the Titans of Myth, granted fabulous powers and raised to become an intergalactic goddess. No. It turned out she was a magically-created clone of Princess Diana of Themyscria.
Yes, at a time when even Marvel Comics was starting to realize that clones were a bad gimmick, John Byrne turned Donna Troy into a clone.
The story now was that Diana, as a young girl, was bored. There were no other girls for her to play with and the Amazons were too busy with their own work to spend much time worrying about keeping her amused. So Diana went to the Amazon’s head priestess and magic-worker Magala, who created a magical duplicate of Diana to keep her company. Magala kept this a secret, knowing Hippolyta would not approve of such magic. Diana had this secret twin sister for six months before tragedy struck.
There was one more change brought about by Byrne that must be noted here. Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, was forced to assume the role of Wonder Woman after her daughter’s death in modern times (Long Story Short: She got better really quick.) While acting as Wonder Woman, she went back in time to the 1940’s and joined the Justice Society of America, fighting the Nazis before returning to modern times.
This had little direct effect upon Donna except for two things. First, it explained away how she came up with the name “Wonder Girl” as there had now been a Wonder Woman in the distant past to inspire her choice of name. Secondly, Hippolyta made an enemy of a Nazi sorceress who went by the name of Dark Angel.
Dark Angel wanted revenge against Hippolyta and was able to use her powers to penetrate the barriers around Paradise Island. She planned to abduct Diana, and use her powers to send her throughout time, having her be constantly reborn into an infinity of horrible lives. Because of Diana’s bond to her mother, this would allow Hippolyta to feel the pain of each life, eventually going mad.
But there was one problem: Dark Angel abducted Diana’s duplicate instead of the real Princess Diana. And as the spell also made Diana forget about her duplicate once she outgrew the need for a companion, Diana came to believe her memories of a playmate were just the normal dreams of a girl’s imaginary friend. And not really being her daughter, Hippolyta felt nothing of the duplicate’s pain.
But something odd happened… and the duplicate became more and more real, the more and more she was “reborn”. Proof of the old saying that whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. And then in one of her lives, the woman was reborn as a girl who was rescued from baby smugglers by a Titan of Myth…
And you know the rest.
Things came full circle, with Donna Troy disappearing from reality as Dark Angel’s curse kicked in, her life now full of tragedy enough as her husband and son lay dead. And she would have been totally forgotten because of Dark Angel’s spell, had it not been for The Flash and Hippolyta being displaced in time when she was taken. Being in a place where magic couldn’t touch them, they still had memories of Donna Troy and did not understand why nobody else remembered her when they returned.
Through a combination of magic and The Flash’s memories of his childhood friend, Donna Troy was restored to life and Dark Angel was destroyed by Donna’s own hand. Somehow, the constant suffering and rebirth had made Donna purer. So pure, in fact, that her touch could destroy beings of pure evil such as Dark Angel. With her past revealed, Donna was adopted as a true Amazon and was treated by Hippolyta as her own daughter.
Despite all this, Donna’s life was still complicated. Having been brought back to life based on Wally’s memories, there was so much of her life that she had forgotten that he knew nothing about. She tried to reconcile things with Kyle Rayner but the two quickly realized that she was literally not the woman he fell in love with. Even the formation of a new Titans team did little to give Donna a sense of purpose. While she still fought crime with the same vigor, she found herself wondering just how much of herself was real.
In short, she went from having a slightly confused background to having a very confusing background. She went from being a fully rounded personality to a shadow of her former self given flesh, fueled by the memories of a friend who might barely make her “Top Five Closest Friends” list.
This all apparently got fixed by another reboot sometime during the Titans run, but I didn’t read any of that title past the first year. I understand I am very fortunate in this regard and was unable to find any other references to what happened on-line.
All of this became a moot point when, during Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day, when Donna was killed by a rogue Superman robot. We saw an image of her running into battle in some other kind of world. But where this is and what it means are beyond me. Hopefully we will get some kind of answer in this in the upcoming “Return of Donna Troy” mini-series.
I think I’ll let someone else review that tone. If I never read another Donna Troy story at this point, it’ll be too soon.
Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.
Monday, May 1, 2000
Written by Ron Marz
Pencils by Terry Banks
Inks by Don Davis, Cam Smith, Greg Adams and Andy Smith
(WARNING: Spoilers Contained Within)
Back in GL #120, HEAT members everywhere had a field day at the end of the issue. Kyle had been surprised and shot and for months comic boards across the net were treated to endless complaints of "The ring has a fail safe that prevents its users from being wounded." Well, Hal's ring did. It's been shown time and time again that Kyle's ring doesn't have that feature.
It was shown that Kyle's landlord Radu has known for a long time that Kyle is Green Lantern. And various people did say "Oh, Kyle's so stupid for not being able to hide his secret identity better". Actually, I think all that proves is that Radu is a lot smarter than most of the people in Metropolis. Think about it, Jimmy Olsen has worked with both Clark Kent and Superman for ten years now…. and never even thought about all the many times Clark Kent disappeared and Superman showed up. Radu managed to figure out Kyle's identity by accident, going on only two things; the fact that Green Lantern was the guy who showed up each time a supervillian tore up his apartment building and the fact that Kyle's girlfriend looked a lot like that Darkstar woman… and they were both named Donna.
But then the piece de resistance was when Kyle was tended by the best healer he knows…. Donna Troy. Wait? Is that Donna? Her skin looks awfully Green to be Donna… oh good Lord… Can it be possible? Can it truly be possible that that idiot Ron Marz can't even remember which heroine is which anymore!!! Oh, what a horrible horrible writer…. why doesn't DC fire him?? Oh, Kyle is evil… Kyle is bad…
Yes, there were people blaming Ron Marz for what was apparently a coloring mistake…. or was it a mistake? It turns out, the combination of Donna's body with Jade's skin coloring was a rather clever bit of foreshadowing the next few issues….
Part One: New World
When Kyle wakes up, he finds himself in a strange bedroom. He looks out the window and sees other Green Lanterns flying around… and all the buildings have Green Lantern insignias on them. What's more is that Jade (who dropped Kyle like dog doo sometime back when he admitted he was uncertain as to his feelings for Donna Troy some months back) is in his bed, acting very friendly for an ex-girlfriend. In fact, she says they're married. Groggy as he is, Kyle very quickly realizes that something is not right… one way or the other. Jade very quickly tells him that they got married, Alan Scott helped Kyle to find a way to get his ring to copy itself like the old Silver Age ones and that Kyle rebuilt a new Corps on the planet of New Oa. In other words, everything that Kyle has wanted to do with his life in the last thirty issues or so and screwed up has actually come to fruition… so why doesn't Kyle remember any of it? The two agree to keep Kyle's apparent memory loss a secret until they have time to think about it more deeply, the two having just gotten an important summons from Ganthet, the last Guardian.
Ganthet asks them to check on a missing Green Lantern who has not reported to him in some time, suspecting that the Controllers may be responsible for his disappearance. They assemble a team to go with them, made up of Senn Rendle (a Durlan shapeshifter), Shraash (a legged whale-man), Tomar-Bor (a young Xudarian who sees himself as Kyle's "Kid Lantern") and a jellyfish like creature with an name that cannot be said by anyone who is not of his species: so they just call him Lenny.
The six arrive at the planet and begin to search for the lost Lantern. Jade and Kyle find him… impaled on a firey staff in a tomb. They turn around to see Effigy; a young man given the ability to create and shape fire by the Controllers. Effigy stuns Jade with a fire blast, forcing Kyle to chase after him alone. Kyle manages to knock Effigy down for a second, during which time Effigy refers to Kyle as "Amnesia Boy." Kyle begins the chase again, wondering how Effigy knows about his apparent memory loss, only to run into a whole Effigy Corps….
Part Two: Stand In The Fire
The Effigy Corps is a bit of a sightgag for long time Green Lantern readers. Among the various members, empowered by the Controllers with the same fire controlling powers of Effigy are Fatality (the Green Lantern hunter), a Manhunter robot, some of the old Darkstars who had working suits after GL 75 when the Darkstars all but quit… even Sinthia, Grayven's Henchwench from his attempted invasion of Rann in GL 75.
Anyway, a massive firefight ensues (pun very much intended) between the Effigy Corps and Kyle and Jade. Thankfully, the other four GL Corps Members show up and hold off the Effigies long enough for Kyle to snare Effigy and the six to make good their escape,
Back on New Oa, Kyle wants to question Effigy more about his apparent amnesia, but Ganthet refuses, saying he can handle any questioning that needs be done. Later that night, Kyle sneaks into Effigy's cell and talks to him. He asks point blank if what is going on is real. Effigy responds, "No, of course it's not real." He then tells Kyle that he can't tell him what really is going on unless they get away from New Oa, because the place has too big a hold on him there. Kyle reluctantly frees Effigy, and after fighting through the new Corps, they go into deep space. Once there, Effigy reveals himself as a part of Kyle's subconscious. New Oa and everything in it is a whole world created by Kyle's imagination: a dream of everything he wishes his life was. Something has caused Kyle's conscious mind to revert into that world and is trying to get him to live in that world while ignoring the reality. His subconscious was aware of the fact that this world wasn't real, and Effigy was brought forth as a symbol of that message, since Effigy himself is a symbol of what Kyle might have become had he gone down a different path. Effigy creates a fiery door, Kyle steps through and wakes up screaming in bed with a shocked John Stewart looking on.
Part Three: In Control
John begins to explain that Donna had to leave to deal with some Titans business and that he was called in to watch Kyle. Kyle begins to tell John about his dream and then he recalls that right before he fell asleep, he was seeing Donna with green hair and skin: perhaps his subconscious attempting to make him happy by combining the two women he loves and illuminating the problem of having to choose one.
Kyle then begins to fall in and out of a series of flashbacks of alternate worlds, realities and dreamscapes. We see the JLA fighting him as he dresses in a Parallax style costume. He wakes up again, and tells John about the latest dream. John speculates that it's possible the Controllers are manipulating Kyle's mind, having both the power, the opportunity (they blasted Kyle with some unknown ray when he fought Effigy some months back) and the motive, since they would love to see the last of The Guardian's Servants disabled forever. Kyle decides to go find the Controllers and find out what they are up to. After falling into another dreamscape (where we see Jade and Kyle dressed like a warrior and princess from an Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars novel), John tells Kyle where he thinks the Controllers main base was when he was a Darkstar.
On the way to the base, Kyle has another hallucination, this time of Hal Jordan flying alongide him to help in the fight. As he clears his head, he is attacked by Effigy, but Kyle notices that his newest enemy seems different: "The lights are on, but nobody's home." Kyle quickly determines that The Controllers did something to Effigy that gave them more control over his mind. However, the same process that turned the formerly hot-tempered Effigy into an obedient servant also made him more listless and easier for Kyle to quick think his way around. After beating Effigy, Kyle blasts his way into the Controller's main room and says "Let's Talk".
Part Four: Control Freak
After shrugging off a new illusion the Controllers tried to force on him (he was tipped of by the fact that wheelchair-bound John Stewart was walking), Kyle asks why the Controllers did what they did. Quite simply, the being Kyle calls Effigy was the test for the Controllers new brand of footsoldier that they would use to institute total universal order. When they encountered Kyle fighting their prototype and winning, they determined that he might be a threat, so they infected Kyle with a mental corruption that would take his imagination and turn it into a prison, sucking his consciousness into his fantasies. Kyle is then zapped into unconsciousness.
When he wakes up, Kyle's ring has been taken and he is strapped into some part of an assembly line: a machine that changes beings into Effigies. The Controllers decided that since Kyle's willpower was too strong to be easily dominated for long by the "corruption", he'd serve them much better as an Effigy slave. Kyle is naturally not happy about the idea and pulls himself free of the wires hooking him up to the line. One of the Controllers tries to trigger a hallucination in Kyle, but this time it doesn't work. "Give someone a little poison a couple of times… eventually they become immune to it. Whatever that gunk you put in me is, I've learned how to resist it."
The stunned Controller commands the Effigy troops to be released on Kyle. Running like mad, Kyle knows he has no chance of finding his ring before the Effigy clones catch up with him. Trying a long shot, Kyle closes his eyes and tries to will the ring to come to him. The gamble works, and Kyle proceeds to easily destroy the machines the Controllers use to make their slaves. When an angry Controller asks an Effigy why it did nothing to stop Green Lantern from destroying the gestation chambers, the servant replies "We were not instructed to do so."
To even up the numbers problem, Kyle creates energy duplicates of Jade and the other Lanterns from his first dream. With the numbers a bit more even, Kyle's makes quick work of the Effigy Corps, forcing the Controllers to admit the battle lost. But they tell Kyle that next time they will not underestimate him so greatly and that as formidable as he has proven himself, he is just one man. The issue concludes with Kyle flying back to Earth, his thoughts turned toward making the dream a reality… finding a way to copy the ring…. get Jade back… build a new Corps.
I was prepared to really hate this arc. I really was. The hero trapped in a fantasy world of his own making idea has been done to death and done much better (Alan Moore's "For the Man Who Has Everything" and the Batman:TAS episode "Perchance to Dream" come to mind). Also, most of the first part of the story seems to have been contrived to put Kyle back in the position of "the new guy who has no idea what he is doing", something which far too many writers (Marz especially) seem to rely upon. In other books, such as Titans #6, Kyle is shown operating on his own with great efficiency.
In JLA, Kyle has even been shown taking positions of command and leadership in the field! (see my review of JLA: World War III elsewhere in this issue for more on that)
It is rather sad when in a character looks better in other people's books than in his own and it's doubly sad here. I also wasn't too fond of Effigy being made into a mindless "Borg" for the Controllers. He was a pretty good villain with a lot of potential and personality. Hopefully the new management will bring him back, free of the Controllers hive mind influence.
That said, despite the fact that we've kind of seen this whole plot before and that Kyle is still getting cast as the hot-headed rookie after all this time, I really did like this arc. Of course, I like any story that encourages the idea that free will and imagination will beat conformity any day of the week. But on reflection I think that I'm don't like this story for what it is, but for what it sets up: A new beginning with a newly changed, stronger Green Lantern. Because the idea of a Kyle Rayner who is fully aware of his legacy and is going to find some way to rebuild the Corps again somehow…. well, to quote Kyle at the end of the arc…. "I might not know that the future holds… but I can't wait to see where we go from here."
My vote: 7 out of 10