In light of recent “news“, it has somehow just now dawned on me that the planning of the New52 simply can not be described as a plan but a string of ideas laid out without any thought on the aftermath. Let’s see, how can I put this? Kyle Rayner’s past has taken a construct arrow in the knee.
No Wally. No Donna. No Jade. No Justice…League. Though I’m sure Kyle Rayner fans can argue that Kyle’s past has received no justice. I’ll try my best to do so without the fury and rage that most Rayner fans carry inside. First things first, congrats to Geoff Johns for taking advantage of the DC Comics relaunch with the high selling Justice League title. Now, on to more important matters like how the drastic changes shown in that book shatter Kyle’s history and a lot of what we know about him.
Long before Johns, there was Grant Morrison’s JLA book. In the pages of that (also high selling) book were my first experience and the world’s best look at Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. Granted, Rayner creator Ron Marz provided some great situations and stories with Kyle over in the Green Lantern title at the time, but it was Grant Morrison who made the character shine brightest to me. When Kyle first started in JLA, he was written as an extremely annoying, super impulsive, sometimes arrogant and always quite silly kid. That was Kyle Rayner! But as the series grew, so did Kyle. He learned from his mistakes and he matured with the help of his teammates. He created constructs back in 2001 that haven’t been matched since. Fuck beating around the bush here, Kyle Rayner was AWESOME.
Now its all gone. Geoff Johns has his Justice League lineup consist of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash(Barry Allen), Aquaman, Cyborg and Green Lantern…Hal Jordan. Which is cool, but Johns has left no room for the oh so many characters, that have been League members like Kyle, to have ever been apart of this. Maybe Johns will jump another five years forward three months from now just to allow for the possibility of fitting Kyle in, but chances are not so likely. Until then, more than half of Kyle’s adventures as a Green Lantern, simply do not exist.
During his JLA time, Kyle became best friends with the then current fastest man, The Flash Wally West. I’d honestly argue that Wally’s best friend was Dick Grayson, but that doesn’t stop Kyle from losing his best friend in Wally. Wally has been M.I.A. for a while now. He was last seen murdered in a Flashpoint tie-in book, and just before then, I believe he was last seen holding an intervention for his uncle. There are absolutely zero plans for Wally West in the New52. Zero. You’re probably thinking “Oh well, at least Kyle still has Guy Gardner to pal around with!” Maybe. They are in two different books now, and Guy hasn’t even noticed Kyle’s been “kicked out” of the GLC. Some friend.
Still, maybe you’re okay with Kyle not having a JL membership that matured him and maybe you’re okay with Wally West never being the big brother hero that Kyle needed. Maybe you’re thinking Kyle should settle for a friend like Guy Gardner. Are you okay with Kyle losing two out of three relationships that defined him? What about if one of those relationships was a big reason why his last relationship didn’t work which in turn affected a future major plot that has to be completely restructured?
If you didn’t understand all of that, I was referring to Kyle’s past relationships with Donna Troy(who’s just as M.I.A. as Wally), Jade(the daughter of Green Lantern Alan Scott), and Soranik Natu, who hasn’t been seen since their last break up fight. All three women have had great stories told with Kyle. In Soranik’s case, its a bit easier to accept her disappearance because Peter Tomasi, writer of Green Lantern Corps can only write so many of the 7200 lanterns per month. Donna Troy on the other hand, falls into the same black hole of continuity that Wally West is in. The New52 is not kind on the Perez era Titans team and that means Kyle’s friends are shortening quite rapidly. Oh, and that super major plot that I mentioned? From what Green Lantern: New Guardians writer Tony Bedard told me, it would have been a pretty defining moment for not only Soranik & Kyle, but for the New Guardians book itself.
Now that I mention it, Bedard specifically stated in that same interview, that he had no idea how Alan Scott’s Earth 2 presence would affect the characters in his book. The most important character in his book being the star, Kyle Rayner. Where’s the planning? What are the editors doing in those meetings if not trying to avoid problems like this? Well, now we know that Alan Scott is gay and James Robinson has stated outright that longtime Rayner girlfriend and recently reborn hero Jade simply no longer exists. DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio just rehashed the company standard since the launch of the New52, “…There are no plans for Jade or Obsidian at this time.”
Another long and important part of Kyle’s history is zapped away with a few quick strokes on a keyboard. At the start of New Guardians, Bedard rewrote a brief origin scene for Kyle to familiarize potential new readers. A nice nod to Kyle’s past and provided some needed character moments in an action dominated genre. More recently, Bedard popped in one of comics most recognized scenes to not only fit the situation but confirmed that it was still in continuity. I’m of course referring to the death of Alex DeWitt. How this is still in continuity, the world may never know but at least Tony is making attempts to ease the minds of fans like myself.
It’s not just the insanely important superhero girlfriends or the forgotten Flash or a membership with the most respected team of heroes of all time that has been swiped from continuity, its also the bad guys. Effigy, Grayven, Alex DeWitt’s killer Major Force, and Nero are all dead and gone. Being a bad guy was never a long lasting career choice but all of Kyle’s top villains are no longer available to fight. Imagine the Joker, Two-Face, Riddler and Ra’s al Ghul all being off the table. Have fun with those Clayface stories. Don’t get me wrong, this certainly paves the way for Bedard to create new villains. Unfortunately, in a title like New Guardians, new villains will be very hard to establish when fighting 6 lanterns at a time.
So with all that being said, I remain optimistic that DC Comics Editor Eddie Berganza, the self proclaimed Kyle Rayner fan, will keep the torch burning despite all the issues. He seems like a nice enough guy. And hey, at least he’s not making ridiculous decisions, right?