Monday, November 19, 2012

Superhero 411: Green Lantern Kyle Rayner

Today we're featuring one of the superheroes on the American Superhero Team and delve deeper into their history. In this article, we'll be looking at the superhero with probably the highest number of people using the same code name, Green Lantern. Warning! Some Spoilers Ahead!

Real name: Kyle Rayner
First Appearance: Green Lantern v3 #48 (1994, DC Comics)
Creators: Ron Marz (writer) and Darryl Banks (artist)
Occupation: Graphic Artist
Religion: Catholic (lapsed)
Operates in: All over the Universe
Kyle Rayner was a struggling-but-gifted freelance graphic artist who lived and worked in Los Angeles. After the first human Green Lantern Hal Jordan, grief-stricken over the destruction of his home town of Coast City, went on a mad rampage killing various members of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force, and their overseers, the Guardians of the Universe, Rayner was found by the last surviving Guardian, Ganthet. Ganthet gives Kyle the last working Green Lantern power ring, a device that would allow him to conjure any form of matter or energy through sheer force of will. Kyle only had a passing knowledge of the Green Lanterns before, he soon found the ring allowed him the ultimate expression of his fertile imagination and create just about anything his artist mind could think of, including futuristic weapons, mechas, and even other superheroes, making Kyle an unpredictable and formidable opponent.
Initially Kyle took his new powers lightly, and his girlfriend Alexandra DeWitt encouraged him to be more responsible, helping him create a new uniform and train to be a superhero. However, she was soon brutally murder and stuffed into a refrigerator for Kyle to discover by a supervillain. The guilt of the incident drove Kyle to take his role more seriously and strive to be the best Green Lantern he could. Kyle, feeling he needed a fresh start, moved to New York City. Not long after Kyle was invited to join the Justice League, and while at first clashing with some members who didn't feel he could measure up to his predecessors, he earned their respect with his friendly personality, hard work and willingness to learn. He also begins a relationship with the superhero Jade.
File:Kyle Rayner as Ion.jpgFor a brief period of time Kyle achieved near godhood after absorbing left over energy from a previous event, and could now bend time, space and reality allowing him to do things like be in many places at once. The drawback of this was that Kyle could no longer sleep or separate himself from the overwhelming responsibilities of these new powers. Kyle decided to abandon his omnipotence rather than sacrifice his humanity, and used the power to recharge the Green Lantern Corps' Central Power Battery, helping to create a new group of Guardians and restarting the Green Lantern Corps. Kyle changes his uniform to reflect his new maturity. However, following all this, Kyle has several crisises of self about his place in world and the danger he puts his loved ones in, and repeatedly goes on lengthy self-imposed exiles into space. After one of these exiles his girlfriend Jade broke up with him, and during a later exile he finds the body of Hal Jordan and discovers the true reason for Jordan's rampage: he had been possessed by the alien parasitic entity Parallax, who was the non-corporeal embodiment of fear. Subsequently Kyle was given special status amongst the Guardians as the "Torch-Bearer", the Green Lantern who carried their legacy through the Corps' darkest period. When Jade dies during an intergalactic war she transfer her power to Kyle, catalyzing a re-transformation into Ion. Kyle is subsequently put through a series of tests by outside forces eventually revealed to be the Guardians, done to test whether he could handle his new powers in anticipation of their granting him an honored position as their Torchbearer now that he could revive the Corps again if it is destroyed for a second time, and instead of patrolling a sector like normal Green Lanterns, he would assist other Lanterns in situations they could not handle alone. Kyle also discovers he is now being targeted by outside forces and is being impersonated by a supervillian who has been going on a rampage. After clearing his name Kyle learned his mother was dying of an unknown cause, and after being delayed by an inter-dimensional conflict, he returns to Earth to find his mother has died. Using his powers to reanimate his mother, she declines resurrection and asks to be allowed to die, which the grief-stricken Kyle grants as they have a tearful farewell.
Soon after the supervillain Sinestro abducts Kyle and reveals that he had killed Kyle's mother in a plot to break Kyle's will so he could serve as Parallax's new host, and that Ion is actually a a benevolent energy entry similar to Parallax that thrives on willpower and Kyle is its unknowing host. Kyle's power is then drained and is immediately taken over by Parallax, which turns the hair on top of his head gray. Parallax soon captures the other human Green Lanterns and tortures them with visions of fear as he takes them back to Sinestro. The entire Green Lantern Corps is eventually called to rescue the captured Lanterns and defeat Parallax, but Parallax murders a Lantern and crushes his power ring in the ensuing fight. He is prevented from murdering another by the intervention of other Lanterns and the Ion entity before escaping and proceeds to lead an attack on Earth. It is soon revealed that Kyle has been trapped within his own mind the entire time, locked within his childhood home, helplessly watching as Parallax went on his rampage. Kyle attempts to fight back but is unable to, and Parallax begins taunting him with his greatest fear, failing the people who depend on him, especially the women in his life, many of whom have come to harm because of their association with him and are the causes of Kyle struggles with guilt and responsibility, and that this was what allowed Parallax to possess him. Enraged, Kyle is able to summon a pencil and stab Parallax in the eye, but the creature is unfazed and continues to taunt Kyle before disappearing. In anger he is about to smash a painting before noticing his mother's signature on it, realizing she had painted it years ago. This unexpected and deep connection with his mother gives Kyle hope, and with renewed faith in himself, walks into the painting, finding himself in a field walking towards a bright green star.
Meanwhile Parallax is confronted by Hal Jordan, but is defeated and absorbed, strengthening Parallax, while another Lantern retrieves the actual painting from Kyle's mother's house, remembering how Kyle had spoke of it previously. When Parallax is shown the painting which visibly affects his demeanor, while Kyle and Jordan are able to defeat Parallax within Kyle's mind, freeing the two from his grip. The now-separated Parallax is quickly entrapped by four Lantern Power Batteries, and Kyle is reinstated as a normal Green Lantern. He and Jordan quickly defeat Sinestro, stopping his invasion of Earth.
Afterwards Kyle is assigned to mentor the new host for Ion, Sodam Yat, and begins a romantic relationship with fellow Lantern Soranik Natu. However this relationship is revealed to be in violation of one of the Guardians new rules: No relationships between Green Lanterns. the rising conflict between the Green Lanterns and the Sinestro Corps, Kyle was sent back to Earth after trying to disway the Guardians from executing the Sinestro Corps members, but quickly traveled to the living planet and Green Lantern Oa, encountering a swarm of black rings that were reanimated the deceased Lanterns in Oa's crypts, bringing Kyle face to face with the reanimated Jade. Kyle quickly learns that these Black Lanterns are not truly the deceased person but grotesque mockeries of them. Kyle tries to destroy the false Jade, but she torments him with images of people he has failed until she is destroyed by Natu. The Black Lanterns begin attacking the Central Power Battery on Oa and breach a power lantern. Anticipating its detonation, Kyle professes his love for Natu and sacrifices himself by taking it to a crowd of Black Lanterns as it exploded. The Black rings attempt to reanimate Kyle, but are destroyedby the Corps, Munk of the Indigo Tribe, and Miri Riam of the Star Sapphires, whose power embodies love. Having sensed the love between Kyle and Soranik in jeopardy, Miri uses her power to connect Kyle's heart to Natu's, and restores him to life. They then journey to Earth, where the Black Lanterns have been focusing their attack, where Kyle encounters a Black Lantern Alexandra DeWitt before helping defeat the Black Lantern Corps leader, Nekron, and in the process restoring to life some of the Black Lanterns, including Jade. Kyle later reveals that when Miri restored him to life and showed him his true. love he saw Jade and not Natu. An angry Natu breaks up with him, telling him not to come near her again. Kyle returns to Earth and resumes his normal superheroing before getting involved in the latest galactic crisis.

File:WomaninRefrigerator.jpgBecause of the way in which Kyle's girlfriend Alexandra DeWitt was murdered led Gail Simone to coin the phrase "Women in Refrigerators" and subsequently drew attention to the disproportionately number of female characters who had been injured, killed, or depowered as a plot device within various superhero comic books.

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