Let’s review what’s happened recently. Alan Scott altered his costume, realized his power was internalized, was de-aged to be in his mid-twenties and decided on the new name of "SENTINEL." Hal Jordan went mad with grief, renamed himself Parallax, and decided to do nothing less than remake the universe, an interesting attitude when you consider that years before that he had been the one to tell Barry Allen that it would be wrong to use his power ring to bring back Barry’s dead wife, because altering reality was not about justice it was about playing God.
Now the only one who wields a power ring is Kyle Rayner. Like Alan Scott, he has no Corps to help him. Unlike Alan Scott, he is a man faced with the idea that he is not only has Hal’s previous reputation to live up to but that he also is the only inheritor of the legacy of the entire Corps itself. Not an easy thing to do.
So what happened next?
This is continued from PART TWO.
KYLE RAYNER — THE LAST RINGBEARER
After his experience with Parallax, Kyle returned to Earth and then moved from the west coast to New York City. He joined the New Titans and started dating his teammate Donna Troy (formerly the first Wonder Girl, later calling herself Troia, later a member of the Darkstars).
Donna and Kyle
He fought classic villains such as a redesigned Dr. Polaris, Dr. Light in a new costume, the telepath Psimon, and a new man calling himself Sonar. He got his own villains, such as the flame-based villain Effigy, who was an experiment by the Controllers to create a new breed of superhuman, and the man called Purgatory, who had similar energies to the GL ring thanks to both an act of kindness by Kyle and a deal with the demon lord Neron.
The new Dr. Polaris and Effigy
One enemy sought Kyle out because of a crime by John Stewart. Let’s backtrack a bit. A couple of years after the Crisis, DC did a story called COSMIC ODYSSEY. It is an interesting story and should be read by all, particularly as it explains the nature of the “anti-life equation” that Darkseid is always looking for, why there was never a GL on New Genesis or Apokolips (it exists outside of our plane of reality) and is one of the few times you will see the Post-Crisis Batman wielding some form of a gun.
During this story, John Stewart (still a GL at the time) and the Martian Manhunter were both assigned to protect a planet called Xanshi. John was still quite cocky of himself at the time and at one point deliberately sent the Martian away against his will because he figured the guy would only hold him back. John then went to tackle a giant machine designed to destroy the entire planet. But when he found it, he saw to his horror that it was yellow.
And Xanshi died.
The Martian Manhunter was furious, telling John Stewart that his arrogance (his "fearlessness") had led to an entire world dying. Towards the end of the story, John ordered his ring to go far, far away and then contemplated suicide with a yellow gun (had the ring been present, its automatic safety features would’ve done something to prevent such an act). Obviously, John didn’t kill himself, but this horrible tragedy, like the death of Katma Tui later on, would always stay with him. And perhaps it was the emotional trauma of this that allowed him to become unhinged during the MOSAIC series.
But we’re not speaking of John right now. We’re speaking of his crime. There was evidently a survivor of Xanshi. Calling her self Fatality, this woman was determined to hunt down not only John Stewart, but anyone called Green Lantern, blaming the Corps for the death of her home. Her warrior abilities and willingness to die if she took her enemy with her made her quite an opponent for Kyle.
Of course, no one was deadlier than when Hal returned, demanding his ring, believing he could go back to the way things had been. To help Kyle in his fight, Ganthet recruited various heroes: Superman, Green Arrow, the new Flash (Wally West), Hawkman, the Martian Manhunter. During the course of the battle, Wally confronted Hal, asking him if what the others had told him was true (Wally had not been present during the fight with Parallax in ZERO HOUR). Wally was crushed that "Uncle Hal" had lost his way, and angry that he’d been replaced by someone he considered a cocky jokester who spent more time trying to figure out something cool to create with his ring rather than focusing on the battles at hand.
Parallax took back his ring and defeated the heroes, but was shocked to see Kyle still willing to fight him. Touched by Kyle’s courage and remembering how he used to be, Parallax gave Kyle back the ring and then looked at Ganthet, saying he wanted to absorb the Guardian’s energy life-force. Ganthet willing allowed this to happen, but an unexpected side-effect occurred. In his mind, Hal started seeing the man he used to be (perhaps he was seeing himself through Ganthet’s memories or perhaps Ganthet’s energies unclouded his mind just a bit). Rather than immediately trying to re-arrange the universe again, Hal went off into space to ponder who he was and what he’d done.
ALLIES AND TEACHERS
Back on Earth, Kyle met John Stewart. After the loss of the power battery, John Stewart wound up joining the Darkstars and became quite well known for being a formidable warrior among them. Donna Troy introduced him to Kyle and the two had a heart-to-heart over the difficulties of life with the ring. John spoke of Xanshi and Katma Tui and his experiences with the Mosaic community.
Donna and Kyle broke up and Kyle decided he needed help in becoming a hero. He went off and began a "hero quest", asking different folks for advice and questioning their motivations. He met Batman and the third Robin (Tim Drake), he teamed-up with Wonder Woman and had an adventure with Captain Marvel. He also met Alan Scott again and helped him on a personal matter.
Alan’s wife Molly had become very upset with things after her husband had been de-aged by his experiences with the Starheart. She felt that here he was, young again, and here she was, an old, overweight woman. During the story UNDERWORLD UNLEASHED, Molly offered her soul to the demon lord Neron if she could have her youth back. The demon took her soul immediately, leaving behind a woman who physically looked like a young, sexy version of Molly back in her Harlequin days, but whom Alan could plainly see had no soul behind her eyes. This new Harlequin could create horrifying illusions with a wave of her hand and was determined to be the love of Alan Scott’s life, saying she only existed to please him.
The Hell-born Harlequin, sans Molly’s soul
Alan literally journeyed into Hell and back, retrieving Molly’s soul. With Kyle’s help, he then captured the new Harlequin. Bonding the two together would mean destroying the new Harlequin personality and Kyle wondered if this was the same as killing someone. Alan said he didn’t care, that this was not a person but a creature, a soulless shell, and that he would have his wife back no matter what because for true love you go to Hell and back and cross lines you normally wouldn’t. It was an interesting lesson for Kyle, as he stood back and watched Alan restore his wife. Alan thanked Kyle for all his help and the two had a tighter bond afterwards.
Kyle teamed up with Wally West again. The two obviously didn’t like each other. As stated before, Wally saw Kyle as a would-be replacement and nothing more, which is interesting when you consider that many people saw Wally in the same light after he took up his uncle’s mantle. As time went on, their relationship shifted from dislike to a sibling-like rivalry and then finally to two people who genuinely liked and enjoyed each other but still razzed on each other all the time. In the story IDENTITY CRISIS, Oliver Queen said that, ironically, Kyle (who by that time was far more experienced and confident) was much like Barry Allen and that Wally was very much like Hal Jordan.
Oliver Queen, the original Green Arrow, died. Years later, writer Kevin Smith would literally have him resurrected due to Parallax’s manipulations, but before then his son Connor Hawke took on the mantle. Connor was passionate like Ollie, yes, but was not the same kind of "screw the man, raise your arms in protest, let’s get the job done and sort out the details later" man that his father was. Connor had grown up in an ashram and was a very cool, collected individual, a martial artist as much as he was an archer. He and Kyle found a kinship in that they both hadn’t known their predecessors well (or at all) before finding themselves in their roles.
Kyle had made an enemy of Grayven, the illegitimate son of Darkseid. Grayven set his sights on the Darkstars and killed many of them. When he came to conquer the planet Rann, several remaining Darkstars, including John Stewart and Donna Troy, fought him with help from Kyle. John was crippled during the battle and even though Grayven was defeated, the Darkstars wound up disbanding soon afterwards. John returned to Earth, founding the new Shining Light Architecture company, which Kyle designed the logo for. Soon afterwards, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Alan Scott and Kyle Rayner made it a habit for the four of them to get together for food and drinks on a regular basis at Guy’s WARRIORS bar, meeting in the Green Lantern memorial display. The four were part of a strange family now, all having known the power of the Green Lantern in some way or another.
HAL’S LAST STAND
During the story THE FINAL NIGHT, a creature called the Sun-Eater (left over by an experiment of the Controllers) started sucking off energies from our sun. The heroes banded together, but their efforts seemed ineffective. Deciding they needed extra firepower, Kyle went off and found Hal, who had still been wandering through the far reaches of space, pondering where he’d gone wrong.
Kyle explained the situation and Hal returned to Earth. He saw the extent of the threat and realized that defeating such a menace would likely kill him. Hal separated Ganthet from himself, parting company with the Guardians who agreed they may have made bad decisions concerning Hal and who offered him a new ring. Hal declined. Hal then met with Guy Gardner, asking him how he could have never cared what others thought, knowing they saw him as a jerk or a menace. Guy said he had known his own intentions and his own mind and the opinion of others didn’t matter. Hal then visited John and restored his legs. He went to Ollie’s grave and said good-bye (though we would later discover he also used his powers at this moment to recreate Ollie from remaining cell samples, restoring his friend to life). He said good-bye to Pieface and to Carol and then told the heroes he would destroy the Sun-Earter. Superman thanked him for his help and Hal said that was all he ever wanted to do: help.
With one hand, Hal began restoring the sun’s energies.
"In brightest day …"
With the other, he sucked the Sun-Eater into his own body, taking away the darkness, insuring it wouldn’t frustrate his efforts.
"In blackest night …"
Hal’s body began to tremble from the energies swirling around him.
"No evil shall escape my sight! Let those who worship evil’s might, BEWARE MY POWER … in a different light."
The sun was restored. The Sun-Eater was gone. And what’s more, Hal had used his energies to remove all the ice that had formed in the sun’s absence, preventing the danger of a global flood. But he was gone. In saving the Earth one last time, he had died. Superman said that he died as a hero. Batman lamented that he didn’t live as one.
A funeral was held by Earth’s heroes in the place where Coast City once stood, a place that was no longer a crater but now an enormous field of green thanks to Swamp Thing. Kyle built a statue to Hal, using extra will-power and energy to ensure it wouldn’t evaporate when he left. Batman said he would not understand Hal, but perhaps somewhere in his heart he could forgive him, at least a little.
For some fans, this was at least a fitting restoration of Hal’s character, showing he’d found his way back at least partly in the end. For some, this was a nice gesture, but nowhere towards making it right with them that Hal had gone nuts and become a murderer, even if he did die for Earth later. And they still hated Kyle.
So let’s talk about Kyle.
Many people hated Kyle. They said he was a Spider-Man wannabe who didn’t have the confidence of Hal or anything resembling a mind smart enough to handle himself in battle. They hated his unique mask and the fact that his costume wasn’t even a variant of the Corps uniforms. And they believed that people who liked Kyle only did so because Kyle was "new and hip" and that they didn’t understand the spirit of Hal Jordan.
Some people found Kyle quite interesting. They liked seeing a hero who had pressures and doubts Hal didn’t seem to have and who was now very unique as opposed to having 3600 teammates with the exact same abilities as him. They thought Kyle was a character who could be explored for quite some time and that people who were screaming about Hal simply forgot the fact that he’d been "boring for some time", otherwise he wouldn’t have been taken out of the equation in the first place.
And then you had folks like me who didn’t fall fully into either extreme. I liked Hal as a character. I did. I never read his comic with any regularity. My favorite Green Lantern was Alan Scott, maybe because he was on his own, maybe because I enjoy older characters who have seen and done things a younger generation hasn’t (such as being around during World War II), maybe it’s because he reminded me of my grandfather. When Hal turned into Parallax, I understood the reasoning behind it even if I didn’t necessarily enjoy the execution (three issues is a very short time, a year long story-line at the least would have developed it better so I could believe his descent into well-meaning insanity). I thought Kyle had some potential, certainly, but I could also understand why people complained about him. On the flipside, I coudn’t help but notice that some of the die hard Hal fans I met did not read any of his stories until AFTER Emerald Twilight came out, which kind of shows that the marketing ploy worked. Moral? It’s a complex issue.
At times though, it seemed that Kyle was emotionally stunted, as if the folks doing his own title were determined that he would STAY as "the rookie" rather than start developing into a hero comparable to Hal.
Interestingly enough, Kyle developed far more as a character when he joined the newly reformed Justice League of America, written by Grant Morrison. Morrison didn’t view Kyle as just a rookie but rather as an allegory to the DC comic book fans. Kyle was nearly overwhelmed to join the JLA, saying in the first issue that it was like drumming for the Beatles and that he couldn’t imagine someone like him ever being in the same League (figuratively or literally) as Wonder Woman. But despite this, he had an obvious enthusiasm. While Ron Marz showed Kyle’s imagination by having him create things like giant green dinosaurs or land-sharks during battles, Morrison showed his creativity made him very dangerous. When facing a renegade angel, Kyle made a prison that converted the kinetic force of the angel’s efforts into mere sound, preventing any escape. And the more adventures he had with the League, the more confident he got about himself. He was a man who was being shaped by the experience of fighting alongside such people as Batman and Superman.
In his own title, Kyle made some strange friendships. First, Alan Scott’s daughter Jade wound up becoming a roommate. During one adventure, a manifestation of the Starheart attacked Jade and took mental control of Obsidian. Alan and Kyle were forced to fight Obsidian and then the Starheart itself, who wanted to take possession of Jade too. The heroes won in the end, but not without sacrifice. Jade lost her powers (though her skin was still green for some reason, indicating perhaps they were just repressed) and Alan’s body aged about ten years, now making him look like a man in his mid-thirties rather than being nearly the same age as his kids. This was, evidently, DC’s move to make Jade not resemble a GL anymore, staying with the idea that Kyle needed to remain unique. Another obvious change was that Alan dropped the chest symbol, no longer wishing to pay homage to the Starheart.
Jade and Kyle continued to hit it off and eventually became romantically involved. Then came another new friend in Kyle’s life … Hal Jordan?
During a time travel trip, Kyle wound up in the 30th century, teaming up with the Legion of Super-Heroes and his own descendant. On his return trip back home, he overshot the mark by about a decade and wound up arriving in Hal’s early days. Then, when the Guardians sent him back to his home-time, Hal accidentally came with. Caught in what he considered the future, Hal was horrified and shocked to see what his life would become. Kyle stayed with him, offering his friendship and support. Through this experience, Kyle got to know the kind of man Hal had been before he ever became Parallax and now understood the tragedy the other heroes felt. Eventually, Hal returned to his home time in order to preserve the timestream, his memories erased, but he left behind a gift: a duplicate he made of his own ring.
With this ring, a ring which could make duplicates of itself, Kyle made a ring for Jade to temporarily become a new Green Lantern and then went off into space to try and create a new Corps. This was shown in a two-issue mini-series which was, frankly, lacking. One of Kyle’s recruits went nuts, trying to take over his planet and then destroy the universe, and another of Kyle’s recruits sacrificed himself in the fight. At the end, Kyle took back the rings, deciding they were too dangerous to trust with just anyone (which really he should have realized beforehand). A lot of fans were upset, feeling lit was an unnecessary move to emphasize DC’s stance that there would never be a Corps again.
While Kyle was out in space, Jade and Connor Hawke found Alan Scott having troubles of his own. His energies were going nuts, seemingly in reaction to his own doubts concerning his identity (was he Green Lantern? Sentinel? Was he an old man looking young or a young man feeling old?) and possibly because of his guilt over not having been able to save more people during the recent cataclysmic earthquake that had destroyed much of Gotham. As his energies went wild, Connor hit him with an arrow, remembering that before the events of Zero Hour Alan had been vulnerable to wood. The pain from the wound calmed Alan down enough for Jade to use the GL ring she was wearing to siphon off part of Alan’s energy. Alan was cured of his convulsions. He’d regained his vulnerability to wood, curiously. What’s more, he had aged again further. He said he was now his proper age, but clearly that wasn’t the same since he now looked about 50 and the fact was he was born almost a century beforehand. His costume having been ruined in the fight, he donned his original threads, though he still called himself Sentinel.
During an adventure with the JLA, Grant Morrison had Kyle meet the Dream King (known as the "Sandman" of Neil Gaiman’s creation). The Dream King asked Kyle why his every thought focused on Hal when he would surpass the man, surpass him because Kyle understood something he hadn’t. Kyle said that Hal was THE Green Lantern, so what could he possibly know that Hal didn’t? The Dream King said simply, "Fear. You will surpass him."
By the end of Morrison’s run, Kyle had come into his own. When his ring was taken during a battle, Aquaman suggested he find cover and Kyle, not hesitating, barked back "Don’t give me civilian treatment!" This was not someone who was going to be told what he could and couldn’t do anymore. Soon afterwards, a war machine called Mageddon cut Kyle’s mind off from its connection to his ring. Kyle locked himself in a room and spent all his mental efforts focused on re-establishing contact, finally succeeding in doing so despite Mageddon’s power. When he returned to the fight, Wally said he finally looked like a Green Lantern. Kyle agreed he finally felt like one too.
BAD, HOLLYWOOD! BAD!
If only television had the same respect for Green Lantern that Grant Morrison had. In the made-for-TV movie JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, a movie which was never aired in the states thankfully but was sadly let loose in Australia, ABC attempted to jumpstart a live action series starring many super-heroes. The leader of this version of the JLA was Green Lantern. GREAT! But things were weird. This guy acted like a laid-back Hal Jordan, but answered to the name of Guy Gardner. On top of girlfriend problems, he had a strange costume that seemed to evoke both Guy and Kyle’s outfits and his ring looked like a cartoon over-lap. The most impressive thing he did with it in the pilot was to create a helicopter propeller that let him fly at one point. Also, he was not a member of the Corps, the ring had been found by him. And Flash was not his buddy/sometimes partner, Flash was the out-of-work hero who crashed on his couch.
Sad. Just sad.
Fortunately, Cartoon Network thought much more highly of the Corps. In the cartoon DUCK DODGERS, an episode came out called “Green Loontern.” In this episode, Hal Jordan (voiced by Kevin Smith) and Daffy Duck had their laundry switched and Daffy became a GL. He met Kilowog, Ch’p, Katma Tui and Ganthet and together they fought Sinestro. If you looked closely, you could see dozens of GLs from the comics. It was a wonderful episode that was both hilarious and completely respectful of the comics. They even had Daffy join the others in reciting the oath as they recharged their rings, though he made up some of it on the fly.
“In blackest day or brightest night … Watermelon, Cantaloupe, yadda-e-yadda …
Erm … Superstitious and cowardly lot … With liberty and justice for all!”
For those who don’t know, in the issue that revealed Batman’s origin, the Dark Knight said that he would assume the image of a bat to terrify criminals becuase “criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot.”
And while we’re speaking of alternate GLs, let’s talk about what was seen in Mark Waid’s KINGDOM COME. In this story, taking place in a possible future, the only Green Lantern decades from now was not Kyle Rayner but rather Alan Scott and Jade. While Jade operated on Earth, Alan scott built an entire fortress that orbited Earth called New Oa. So that his power battery would never be separate from him, Alan created a green suit of armor and placed the battery on the chest plate. Sitting in New Oa, he defended the Earth from any and all alien menaces that came calling.
Some soldiers never quit
TIME MOVES ON
And what about John? Well, during a fight between Kyle and Fatality, he unleashed some green energy from his hand. Apparently, the spark Parallax had given him to let him walk again also left some energy to use in combat. Eventually though, he used up these energies to beat Fatality and once again was confined to a wheelchair.
In GREEN LANTERN: CIRCLE OF FIRE, a creature called Oblivion threatened the cosmos. Kyle was shocked to see that this creature was identical to comic book character he’d created when he was much younger. Joining him in the fight against it were heroes like Firestorm, Adam Strange and the Atom, along with people who seemed to be Green Lanterns across time and space. One of these Lanterns was Alex Dewitt, who claimed she was from a parallel universe where Kyle had died instead of her. Kyle was shaken to see his old love back from the dead, much less to see her as a GL.
It was revealed that although Hal had died, the energies he wielded as Parallax had not gone anywhere. After all, energy can’t be destroyed. Oblivion was this energy brought to life, molded by Kyle’s imagination. So were the alternate Green Lanterns, including the living Alex Dewitt; all had been created from Kyle’s subconscious thoughts and musings. Kyle defeated Oblivion and the alternates vanished.
Time passed. Alan Scott joined a new incarnation of the Justice Society of America. In their second story-arc, they fought Obsidian, who’d gone insane now. In the story, Alan Scott revealed that for years Obsidian had been on anti-psychotic medication when it was discovered he’d inherited some of his mother’s illness and that he didn’t take it at times. This was DC’s way of explaining Obsidian’s extreme mood swings over the years, how he’d go from a depressed reluctant hero to a barely incontrol psycho who just happened to want to beat on villains rather than innocent people, depending on what writer was using him. Obsidian had now been contacted by the spirit of Ian Karkull, the same villain who was responsible for the JSA’s retarded aging rates. Karkull manipulated Obsidian, who then turned on the villain and killed him. Alan Scott was forced to fight his own son and months later they would battle again. Recently, Obsidian has been welcomed back into the family, seemingly finally free of his darker impulses.
Obsidian wasn’t the only ally turned villain. Kilowog came back, resurrected by GLs who wanted revenge for their suffering after Hal destroyed the Central Battery. Kilowog (or Dark Lantern as he was called) eventually gave up this mission of vengeance due to the intervention of Tom Kalmaku. He then relocated to the recreated Oa, where Ganthet now dwelled, inhabiting an empty city with an empty Central Battery.
The Spectre was a character who’d been with DC for quite some time. He was, put simply, the angel of vengeance who would merge with the ghost of a human being demanding justice or vengeance. The merged entity would call itself the Spectre and patrol for justice until the human’s ghost finally felt it could rest, at which point they separated and the Spectre-Force went in search of a new host, or until it was destroyed.
The Spectre everyone had known for years, Jim Corrigan, had finally moved on from this mortal realm. Without a human host, the Spectre-Force was sought out by the renegade angel Asmodel and the demon lord Neron. During this battle, Hell was literally cracked open and it was decided that only a ghost with incredible will-power could wrest the Spectre-Force away from its current evil hosts. Journeying into Limbo, Earth’s heroes saw many dead heroes who had fallen from grace before their deaths but were not actually bad people. Then, they found Hal Jordan’s spirit. Hal’s ghost left Limbo and joined with the Spectre-Force, trying to do some more good so he could redeem himself. Seeing that Jordan was a murderer, the Spectre-Force decided to bond with him as punishment. Now, Jordan was the new Spectre, forced to act as Heaven’s angel of vengeance (though he wished to be an angel of redemption) until he had made up for his own crimes in life.
As the new Spectre, Hal was periodically visited by the ghost of Abin Sur, who claimed he was damned for choosing Hal as his successor. Hal also had to constantly wrestle with the Spectre-Force, which wished to destroy all evil and didn’t appreciate Hal’s ideas that humans were better off being scared rather than killed, so they could redeem themselves. For the first few adventures, most people who encountered Hal as the Spectre would immediately forget him after he left, but after a while this spell weakened and the heroes of Earth learned that their old teammate was walking the Earth again, albeit as a spirit.
The Qwardians at last returned. They gave a yellow ring to Fatality and later to a man named Alex Nero. Nero was a schizophrenic who was also a great artist, like Kyle, and in his hands the yellow ring became a terrifying weapon. Kyle needed the whole JLA to defeat him and even then they just barely did it.
Around this time, Kyle began noticing that his power was increasing. He didn’t need to recharge as much anymore. He could create fully-colored ring-projected people who even smelled of perfume and had freckles with minimal effort. Eventually, he found the truth. He was tapping into the energies Hal had given up when he died as Parallax, the same energies that had birthed Oblivion. Kyle finally merged with this energy, granting himself power on the level Parallax had possessed. He was no longer just a Green Lantern. He was ION.
As Ion, Kyle became a more aggressive hero. He created duplicates of himself so that he could patrol various parts of the Earth at once. When an invasion fleet was coming, Kyle instantly (and with no visible effort) willed a duplicate of himself to force the entire armada through a space portal. He gave Jade back her powers and told John that he could physically walk again, that he could see the problem and knew that his disability was psychosomatic, not physical. With intense therapy, John came to terms with the fact that he had year of repressed guilt over the memory of being indirectly responsible for his sister’s death when he was a child. Some people found this story touching, others said it felt too much like the last episode of MASH.
Kyle began worrying that as Ion he was too powerful. He spoke to Alan Scott and they had a heart-to-heart about it, during which Alan explained that it had been very hard for him to learn that he had internalized his power because now he had to face the fact he could never STOP being among the metahumans. He couldn’t just take off a ring and leave it in a drawer if he ever desired to do so.
Ion considered his life and considered messing with time a little, for purely altruistic purposes. He was then visited by Hal, now as the Spectre. Hal warned him that he had walked this path and found nothing but tragedy. Kyle agreed, but also knew he couldn’t live with this power inside him. Using the energies, he created a new GL ring that would return to him if ever it was separated and that had a reserve energy supply. Then he expelled the excess energies from his body, using it to re-ignite the Central Battery on Oa and create new child-like version of the Guardians of the Universe. Ganthet was over-joyed and he and Kilowog became the protectors of this new breed, hoping that one day they would grow up to become true Guardians and perhaps form a new Corps in the future. Kyle, now human again, grabbed his ring and made himself a new costume. He wasn’t a rookie anymore. He had come into his own.
In the pages of JSA, Alan’s power began growing again. It became apparent that Alan was turning into a being composed of energy rather than of traditional flesh and blood. His body was just a few steps above another ring-made projection. He looked the age he was because he saw himself as that age in his mind. He bled from wounds because he believed he should bleed when wounded. He was one with the Starheart now.
During a battle with the dark sorcerer Mordru, Alan was removed from the Starheart. His teammates made every effort to save him and in the end the Starheart portion was returned to Alan. But rather than take it physically into himself again, as before, he transformed it into the shape of a ring, a ring that would never need to be recharged because it was its own power source. Once again, Alan Scott was a Green Lantern.
TO EVERYTHING, A SEASON
After his assistant was put in the hospital by gay-bashers, and after having faced some strange experiences in recent times (such as being Ion and all), Kyle figured he needed some time to find himself and to re-examine his role in the universe. He went off into space to explore other worlds and see what other battles might need him. But he wasn’t going to just up and leave completely. He left behind the duplicate ring he’d had from before, giving it to John Stewart and telling him to "mind the store." John donned the ring and joined the JLA as their new Green Lantern.
Part of this move was due to the JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoon. In the DC Cartoon SUPERMAN, we’d met a version of Kyle who looked like Hal Jordan and became a Green Lantern. After SUPERMAN was cancelled, the JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoon began. But rather than use Hal or Kyle and piss off fans of either, the cartoon folk brought in John Stewart, possibly because there was also a feeling that there should be at least one member of the League who wasn’t white. Likewise, they included Hawkgirl rather than Aquaman in the big seven line-up, feeling probably that it would be better to round out the team with more than just one woman. When we saw the cartoon Kyle again, his hair was now black and he looked far closer to the Kyle of the comics. Hal himself did finally appear in his classic uniform as a visitor from a parallel timeline.
In this cartoon universe, John was not an architect. He’d been a marine and he fought as one, constantly approaching everything with a military attitude. His costume was unique to the show and when John Stewart became a GL again back in the comics, the artists imitated this cartoon that the animators had designed. In the cartoon, John became involved with Hawkgirl, until she turned out to be a traitor. Although he still loved her, he didn’t trust a relationship with her again, and wound up dating the hero Vixen instead. Interestingly, during a trip with Batman to the future, he met the son of him and Hawkgirl, a man named Warhawk. What’s more, a later episode showed that he and Hawkgirl were the reincarnation of people who’d been lovers in Egyptian times.
But enough of the cartoon. Back to the comics. As a Leaguer, John showed that he’d grown over the past few years. The death of Katma Tui, the destruction of Xanshi, his injuries during the battle with Grayven, and the knowledge that his old friend Hal had betrayed the Corps were all factors that made him a more serious and determined hero, not so far removed now from his cartoon counterpart.
When Kyle returned to Earth, he found himself feeling unnecessary. John was doing a stellar job as a GL. Jade had not only moved on during Kyle’s absence, she had someone else living with her now. After a while, Kyle felt that he didn’t belong on Earth necessarily. After the events of IDENTITY CRISIS and after a battle in which he decapitated Major Force as revenge for his killing Alex (though Major Force didn’t die, it seems unlikely he’ll be able to re-attach his head anytime soon), Kyle went back into space to find his place in existence.
THE TRUTH ABOUT PARALLAX
Remember that story where Sinestro was killed by the Corps and his spirit entered the Central Battery? And then Hal journeyed into the Battery and fought him? During that same story, Hal said he’d encountered the yellow impurity itself, that it was like a living creature within the Battery. Writer Geoff Johns took that idea and ran with it in his mini-series GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH.
In the story, Coast City was recreated. Not the people but the city streets and light and one building, the same building that Hal Jordan had once lived in. Ferris Aircraft, right outside the city, was restored. Guy Gardner was suffering some serious problems. And then Kyle returned to Earth, followed by a mind-controlled Kilowog.
Finding Oliver Queen, Kyle explained that while in space he had found a group of aliens who spoke to him of the ancient evil called Parallax, a creature of yellow energies, which are the product of tangible fear just as green energies stem from the force of will. This creature, Parallax, terrorized the cosmos, drawing power from the fear it inspired, until the Guardians fought it. Green willpower and yellow fear couldn’t destroy each other, but the Guardians finally imprisoned him in the newly forged Central Battery. It became part of the Battery itself, an impurity that affected the rings, making them vulnerable to the color yellow. The Guardians didn’t want Parallax to infect their GLs by preying on their fears through the rings, so they chose people who were fearless. Why had this never been mentioned before? Ganthet claimed that he and the Guardians had no knowledge of this, that Parallax must have figured out a way to cloud their minds and that his legend had been purposefully forgotten anyway so that none could free him. Ollie theorized Ganthet was lying.
Parallax, the yellow impurity
Trapped in the Battery, Parallax was powerless until he began reaching out to Hal Jordan through his ring, at first just causing doubts to form. Joined with Sinestro when the villain entered the Battery, they combined their efforts. They caused Hal to be capable of fear and doubt on a new level, a side-effect of which was that his hair began whitening. When Coast City was destroyed, they used his new grief to fully attack his mind, influencing him onto the path he went on, making him terrified and desperate. Sinestro’s death at Hal’s hands was just another trick, Sinestro was alive, laughing to himself no doubt as Hal entered the Battery and unwittingly allowed Parallax to merge with him, destroying not only the Corps but his reputation, just as Jordan had destroyed Sinestro’s rep years before. Sinestro was still alive and well and had been enjoying watching Hal become remembered as the rogue Lantern who destroyed the Corps.
Since then, Parallax was a parasite in Jordan’s mind, influencing his actions, enjoying itself as it fed his fear, making him desperately try to remake the universe more than once. But the merging with Ganthet weakened its hold and when Hal sacrificed himself to reignite the sun, that was the true spirit of the man shining through the mind-control.
But Jordan’s spirit was still bonded to Parallax, even after death, and that was the true reason the Spectre had joined with him. The Spectre-Force wished to burn Parallax out of Jordan through their merging, to separate Parallax as time went on and then take vengeance on the creature.
With all these revelations, things started happening everywhere. Guy wound up having his Vuldarian genes burned out of him, transforming into a complete human and then arming himself with a spare ring Hal had given Ollie years before. Now with the ring on his finger, Guy was subject to Parallax’s mind control just as Kilowog and John Stewart were. Only Kyle was still his own man, because of them all he was the only GL who lived with and understood fear. With Ganthet’s help, he fought off the mind-controlled GLs and brought Hal’s body back to Earth. At last, Hal spirit left Parallax and the Spectre and re-merged with his body, which resumed the state he was in at the prime of his life. Alive again, Hal beat off Sinestro (who seemed to escape) and he and Kyle freed their friends before finally defeating Parallax himself, putting him back into the Central Battery which was reignited.
The new Guardians of the Universe, no longer children but now adult, both male and female, saw the reignited battery and agreed it was now the time. The Corps was alive again. Which was good, because they foresaw a cosmic crisis that would soon arrive and threaten all reality.
During the battle, Batman demanded an explanation of Jordan as to what was happening and Hal punched him rather than waste time talking. After the fight was done, Batman asked if he was just expected to believe that Hal had been influenced the whole time. Hal said he didn’t care what Batman believed and Batman left then, saying the universe needed more light in it.
The Corps was back and things were starting with a whole new beginning. It was now decided that each sector would have TWO Green Lanterns, to watch each other’s back and keep each other in check. John Stewart and Hal Jordan were deemed to be the GLS of Earth’s sector, while Guy and Kyle were assigned to bring in and train new recruits along with Kilowog. Since Parallax was in the Battery again, this meant the rings once again had a weakness to yellow, but there was a new twist now. A rookie GL would be vulnerable to yellow, yes, but those veteran GLs such as Hal and John who had seen the face of Parallax and understood its nature could surpass the yellow weakness by simply choosing a moment of fear in their minds and using that as a focus. It took more effort than using the ring on something that wasn’t yellow, but it could still be done.
Hal was a returned hero, ready to begin his new lease on life as he moved back to Coast City and became a pilot again. He also started making more time with his family, such as his brother Jack and his nephew. Kyle found himself one among many, but still unique due to his experiences and due to the fact that the Guardians saw him as a great man, the one who had carried the torch during their long absence and without whom their return would not have been possible.
One thing that Johns has added is that it’s quite difficult to work a power ring. Ollie felt like he ran a marathon just after using the ring to create a single arrow. Batman had difficulty using the ring later and Hal told him that to access his energies he had to first focus on the memory of his greatest fear and force himself to live with it and past it, becoming fearless in that moment. This is quite different from before, when there were stories of Hal occasionally lending someone the ring without any real trouble, or a story Gerard Jones did in which Guy and Hal’s rings were taken by a couple of jerks who used them for kicks. You could say, I suppose, that after Parallax left, the energies became wilder and more difficult to control and that even though he’s been imprisoned again, the Central Battery is now built differently to make sure he doesn’t escape once more and that this also makes the ring harder to use. That would be MY theory, anyway.
Batman and Hal reached an understanding of sorts and Batman finally admitted that, despite his suspicions and manner, he actually is glad that Hal is back (though several GLs look at Hal with suspicion and distrust still). What’s more, Batman has a new respect for Hal’s willpower after having tried to use the ring himself.
BAT LANTERN! Or … um … THE GREEN BATMAN! Oh, nevermind.
During the current storyline of INFINITE CRISIS, some major things have happened. Jade, Alan Scott and Kyle Rayner all joined up with Donna Troy’s team to try and handle the vortex disruption that is occurring at the center of the universe. During these events, Jade was killed and Alan Scott was horrified to lose the daughter he’d only met after she’d grown up. Her energies, the ones that Kyle had given her as Ion, left her body and then transplanted themselves into Kyle, transforming him into a new being. He is no longer a Green Lantern, no longer hampered by a ring. Like Alan Scott before, and like Gerard Jones intended to do years ago with Hal, Kyle now has the same powers as GL but it’s internalized in his own body. Changing his appearance, he declared himself to use the name “Ion” again and charged forward into the battle with Alan Scott at his side.
Kyle’s new Ion look
What lies in the future remains to be seen. Hal will have to deal with members of the Corps who have not forgiven him for his actions as parallax. Alan will still be with the JSA, perhaps a harder man after the death of his daughter. John will be finding his new place in life with the new Corps. Guy will still be Guy. And Kyle will be starring in a new solo series called ION. Guess we’ll just have to wait to see what happens next.
Alan Kistler is a comic book historian who has been interviewed for documentaries by Warner Bros. Pictures and FUSE TV. To see his archives/blog or contact him directly, check out his personal web-site.