SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers concerning "Green Lantern Corps" #42 and 43 .
Don't say we didn't warn you. Last week in "Green Lantern Corps" #42 - a title currently crossing over with DC's blockbuster mega-event "Blackest Night" - Green Lantern Kyle Rayner apparently sacrificed himself in an effort to protect the Central Power Battery on Oa from a Black Lantern attack.
The death fills Guy Gardner with such rage that he bolts from the Green Lanterns to team up with the Red Lanterns in issue #43, while the impact the loss will have on Soranik, Kyle's current love interest, has yet to be revealed.
Created by writer Ron Marz and artist Darryl Banks, Kyle Rayner was first introduced to DCU continuity as the Modern Age Green Lantern in "Green Lantern" (Vol. 3) #48. As part of the "Emerald Twilight" storyline, Silver Age Green Lantern Hal Jordan became the supervillain Parallax and Kyle Rayner assumed the mantle as the sole Green Lantern.
"Green Lantern Corps" writer Peter Tomasi is no stranger to deaths in the DCU, having penned "Final Crisis: Requiem," a one-shot tie-in to "Final Crisis," which told the events of Martian Manhunter's ultimate demise at the hands of Libra. CBR News spoke with Tomasi about the death of Kyle Rayner, the repercussions of the loss throughout the DCU, and how the event triggers Guy Gardner's leap to the Red Lantern Corps.
CBR News: Well Peter, you've done it again - first J'onn J'onzz and now Kyle Rayner. How do you keep landing these assignments, and was it your idea to kill off Kyle?
Peter Tomasi: As J. Robert Oppenheimer once said: "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."
Seriously, let me start by saying that since this interview comes out before "Green Lantern Corps" #43, and only a week after "Green Lantern Corps" #42 hit stores, there's a lot I could say but won't, since I don't want to spoil what's coming incredibly soon.
Now, I know it may be hard to believe sometimes because of all the "deaths" that occur in comics, especially right now in the DCU, but there's not always a mandate where we sit around and say, "Who we gonna kill this time out?"
Kyle's death came to be simply by the organic flow of the story. I was doing my outline for the issue and suddenly I had written Kyle sacrificing himself and Guy becoming a Red Lantern because of it. It felt right and I called Adam [Schlagman], Eddie [Berganza] and Geoff [Johns] and they were all on board with it, so we did it. There wasn't a "bump in sales" mind-set or a "can we get more press" attitude. Character and story drove it. That's the big secret.
Since Hal Jordan's return, Kyle has taken a back seat to him in terms of the Green Lantern mantle. Did this make him expendable, or, as you said when J'onn J'onzz died, was Kyle "a big-gun death that would make a difference and have future repercussions."
Actually, I don't see Kyle as having taken a back seat to Hal at all. Through "Rebirth," and even some key moments in the 'Sinestro Corps War,' coupled with Kyle's current starring role in "Green Lantern Corps," Kyle is simply a main part of the Green Lantern mythology. Just because a monthly book and every page in it isn't solely devoted to him doesn't mean he takes a back seat. He doesn't suddenly become expendable or inconsequential just because Hal Jordan is back. All the main Lanterns are important parts of the Green Lantern tapestry, and all serve the Corps. They all have stories to tell, some bigger than others at different junctures.
Make no mistake, Kyle isn't killed to make room for Hal or because he is one of the "big guns" and most recognizable Lanterns. His death at that precise moment serves the story, and my job is to make sure that it's heartfelt and has an impact when it occurs.
No one took Martian Manhunter's death worse than Hal Jordan, except for maybe you. What kind of impact will Kyle's death have on Hal?
That's true, I did take J'onn's death hard, that's why I'm so glad I was able to write the "Requiem" issue and give J'onn a proper send off. In regards to the impact on Hal, we're in the middle of a war, so the only effect it's having is on the immediate people around Kyle when it happens.
OK. What about Guy Gardner? Is it safe to say, Kyle's death is the "horrible loss for the Green Lantern Corps that results in Guy Gardner becoming so enraged that he becomes a Red Lantern" that has been teased in the solicitation for "Green Lantern Corps" #43?
Without a doubt. Kyle's death pushes him over the edge. He sees red and becomes red. That kind of rage is easy to understand when someone you're close to is killed and killed not far from you. It's an immediate gut reaction which transforms itself into murderous mayhem thanks to a red ring being in the vicinity. Let's just say that heads will roll.
And in regards to the solicitation "tease," there were discussions about having some secret mysterious cover that wouldn't reveal who the Red Lantern would be, but in the end I said screw the spoiler; let's just show Guy as a Red Lantern so readers can start to form an immediate equation, an equation that says something terrible must happen to someone for Guy to suddenly become a Red Lantern. Who or what equals a Red Lantern Guy Gardner?
Soranik is, of course, another Lantern who will be greatly affected by this loss. How will she respond?
Kyle and Soranik are in love. This loss will hit her hard. That's all I can say this early on since the issue just came out last week.
In terms of his importance within the GLC, where do you rank Kyle's status, and how big of an impact will his death have on the wider DCU?
As I said earlier, in my opinion, Kyle's just as important as Hal or Guy. For a generation of fans, he was their Green Lantern, just as for an earlier generation Hal Jordan was theirs. Now, to me, they are all equally important and have all been redefined for future generations to come, and that's a damn exciting thing to be a part of.
Because I have to ask, will we ever see Kyle Rayner alive and well in DCU again or is this really it for the Modern Age Green Lantern?
Time will tell.
If we can circle back to Guy Gardner for a second, the fact that he will transition from a Green Lantern to a Red Lantern makes perfect sense, as he may be the hottest-headed superhero in the history of DCU. Is writing Guy Gardner in full on rage a different experience than writing him as he was before the switch, or is this just the Guy Gardner we love to hate ramped up to 11?
You hit it right on the head. It is Guy turned up to 11. Imagine Guy Gardner with no moral or ethical filter, and that's the Guy Gardner you will be seeing as a Red Lantern. Fun to write, to say the least.
How do his fellow Corps members respond to Red Lantern Guy Gardner?
Well, the first thing they have to worry about is how to make sure they don't get in his way, and the second thing is how in hell they can get the red ring off his hand without killing him.
We're only about halfway through "Blackest Night." Have you enjoyed the process working with Geoff on this massive event, and what more can we expect in the months ahead? There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel, doesn't there?
Yeah, it's crazy how fast this has all gone, I can't believe we're basically in December and coming on 2010. Working with Geoff is great. It was great when I was an editor, and it's been great working together as writers. It's too damn easy and way too much fun. And there's major stuff heading everyone's way, with reverberations that will be felt within the DCU in a big way.
"Green Lantern Corps" #43, featuring art by Pat Gleason and Rebecca Buchman, ships December 16.