“My name is Kyle Rayner. When I was a kid I never could decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now I know. I’m a Green Lantern. I’m a hero.”
- Kyle Rayner, New Earth
Green Lantern comics in 1990 were sadly becoming outdated. Though I would never blame the writers, they just had a difficult time coming up with “revolutionary” stories with the character. There could only be so many different space missions to so many different planets before people grew tired of those stories. When sales tremendously dropped, management ordered the GL creative team to spice things up, to reinvent aspects of the characters and the adventures they had. The plan was to create a big enough change to bump the sales. Not only did this plan work, it led into the Emerald Twilight saga.
After the destruction of Hal Jordan’s home town Coast City occurred, at the hands of Mongul and Cyborg-Superman, Jordan became stricken with grief, frustration and ultimately fear. But revenge was the prominent emotion in his heart, revenge that inspired him to gain more power, enough to destroy those who destroyed everything he loved. Hal Jordan, once considered the greatest Green Lantern of all became the most feared and the most dangerous. This newfound power, stolen from Lanterns he had killed and other sources like the central power battery of the planet Oa, led him to become the tyrant called Parallax. Parallax challenged the most powerful heroes in the universe with his awesome might, including the Justice League, which occurred in the story arc titled Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, in 1994.
In the conclusion of the DC-wide event Zero Hour, Hal Jordan sacrificed himself to restore the Earth’s sun, which had been extinguished in the story arc. The last surviving Guardian of the Universe creates one final ring, which chooses a young art student named Kyle Rayner, giving him the title as the “last” Green Lantern.
Written by Ron Marz and Judd Winick, Kyle Rayner became the face of the franchise in the late 1990’s, working to harness his new power while maintaining his ordinary life as a student. Rayner’s responsibility was not focused on protecting one sector of the universe, like his predecessors, but to protecting virtually all sectors. For 10 years Rayner owned the franchise, with supporting Green Lanterns like Kilowag, John Stewart and Guy Gardner, bringing the title back from the grave and regaining the support of the character’s long lost fans. Rayner became very popular, not only in the GL titles, but in Grant Morrison’s JLA fighting alongside Earth’s greatest heroes. What started as a single hero grew to thousands and became a Corps that protected the entire universe. Now the basis of the character was returned to its original concept and people were missing the dominance of the Corps. DC planned to return things to the way they were meant to be.
It wasn’t until 2004 when an aspiring writer looked to reestablish the Green Lantern franchise, to restore the Corps and resurrect the greatest Green Lantern of them all. The book released in 2004 was called Green Lantern: Rebirth and that writer’s name was Geoff Johns.
Don’t miss Green Lantern’s Light Part Four in few days.