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Wednesday, May 30, 2012 

Almost 2 decades, and Kyle Rayner's girlfriend is still kept in the fridge

In the 9th issue of the new Blue Beetle series (via Scans Daily), 90s Green Lantern Kyle Rayner turns up, and wouldn't you know it, the horrific execution of his girlfriend Alexandra deWitt at the hands of Major Force is still canon. So too, in fact, is the crab-mask he was saddled with when he first began. Why, he even looks like what the cat dragged in, if the traces of stubble on his cheeks tell anything.

It's just like them to keep something that abominable intact after Flashpoint, and makes clear they have no intention of righting any wrongs.

Back in the 90s, Kyle Rayner was the poster child for everything that went wrong during that decade, including a girlfriend who's wiped out within a short amount of time, a whiny do-gooder "personality" that leads him to chicken out and not kill Major Force to avenge Alexandra's death at the villain's hands (instead, it was Guy Gardner who had to do it), a ridiculous costume design, a solo series with an editorial mandate that far exceeded any other, no serious character development (if he began as a whiner, there was little to no change in that setup), and at the end of his starring role in the GL series, he even gave his ring - however briefly - to the resurrected Major Force, just because he hadn't actually slain Kyle's mother, before the badly written hero wrenched it back. Today, 18 years after his debut, Kyle's still a poster child for the same problems, and it's clear that the committee that created him has it in for him, making Kyle one of various poster children for characters hated by the companies that own them. The execution of Alexandra was something that should have been retconned away, but with people like DiDio in charge, it's no wonder it wasn't.

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Hi, I'm Tony Bedard and I wrote the Blue Beetle issue referenced above. While there is certainly a fair amount of editorial mandate at DC and Marvel, no one told me to include that scene. I chose to because I think it was a powerful character death and a defining moment for Kyle that has been mis-characterized to represent some misogynist crusade. I was reading the original issues as they came out. Alex was clearly the more mature character and a very positive influence on slacker Kyle. I liked her better than I liked him, so her death came as a real, legitimate shock -- a punch in the guts that got Kyle to quit fooling around and grow up a little. It wasn't for a moment of gratuitous shock value, it had lasting impact on his character. I don't expect you to agree, but that's how I saw her death then and now. It wasn't a symbolic trashing of women. It was a horrific wake-up call for a guy who didn't take his responsibilities seriously enough. And when Blue Beetle expressed his concerns for his loved ones because he had been strapped with a powerful alien weapon, who else would understand that as deeply as Kyle? So...that's what happened there. My choice, not Didio's or anyone else's.

Hello and thanks for coming by. If that's what you think about the 1994 setup, so be it, but here's something else to consider: what girlfriends did Kyle take up with afterwards? There's only two I know of from that time, Donna Troy and Jade. The girlfriends he got afterwards weren't "civilians", and that's hardly what I'd call organic storytelling. In fact, it hints at a serious problem: if the stories only show Kyle willing to run a relationship with a superpowered lady, and not with one who isn't, it makes it look as though it's too dangerous in every way to run one with a civilian lady. Honestly, how does that make for good storytelling if you can't create a new girlfriend who makes a more down-to-earth partner for the hero than a metahuman does? Geoff Johns later had Kyle run a relation with an alien named Soranik Natu, the daughter of Sinestro, yet that too is going the easy route. Recently, I noticed Kyle began an affair with Carol Ferris, which is almost an improvement, but still using an already established woman, one who had access to superpowers in the Star Sapphire guise.

So again, if you think the 1994 premise was okay, so be it, but if the only girlfriends the writing staff can give Kyle Rayner are metahumans and aliens with superpowers, they're not doing anything to convince they're making an effort to be organic, and as a result, it only reinforces the perception that shock tactics are what the older stories were built on.

Eh, superhumans come back, regular humans don't.

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