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Monday, November 05, 2012 

Alexandra deWitt's fridge scene boomerangs again in GL: New Guardians #13

Some people find it maddening whenever Marvel's staff brings up the Hank Pym as wife-abuser storyline from 1981 in the Avengers, since it all but ruined Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Yellowjacket's image, and Brian Bendis' tasteless reference in Avengers: Disassembled didn't help. At this point, I'm already finding it very irritating whenever DC regurgitates the refridgerator scene from GL #54 vol. 3 inside the DCU proper too, since it's done nothing to clean up the mess it did to their image. Several months ago, in the new Blue Beetle's last series, it was first made clear that Kyle Rayner's girlfriend remained dead in the refridgerator. Now, in the 13th issue of Green Lantern: New Guardians, it's been officially confirmed again that this atrocity is still canon, though with a few alterations:
Tony Bedard uses this issue to give readers a sense of some of things that have changed for Kyle since Flashpoint. Here we learn that his father wasn't in the picture at all, and while Alex DeWitt was still killed and stuffed in a refrigerator the person responsible remains unknown.
So the differences are that his dad no longer has any significant ties to his backstory, and Major Force as the culprit appears to be phased out. Yet the more things change, the more they stay the same: the alterations notwithstanding, Alex deWitt is still a corpse for the sake of giving Kyle "motivation". Even if Hal Jordan hadn't been turned into a lethal psychopath in Emerald Twilight, that would still have been enough to scare me away from the Kyle Rayner run. I don't see how it helps to keep this origin for Kyle in place. It was an early example of shock tactics for the sake of sales and even if jarring acts of violence like that didn't occur again for much of the Kyle run, it still sticks out like a sore thumb, and today it's far less likely to impress upon new readers. They may be trying to make it all seem less grisly here than it was in 1994, but it's no use; it only recalls a time that won't be considered a classic era by any stretch.

And it's not just the repellant shock value depiction of Alex's curtain call that I consider damaging to that run, it's the missed opportunities and what it led to later that does: traces of insular storytelling, a problem that's only gotten worse today. Alex was the only "civilian girlfriend" Kyle ever really had; the 2 regular ladyfriends he got later were also 2 superheroines - Donna Troy and then Jade - and an editorial mandate may have had what to do with that too. By getting rid of Alex and not conceiving a new, original character to serve as Kyle's girl Friday, Ron Marz (and editor Kevin Dooley) trashed a lot of potential for organic storytelling, and robbed Donna and Jade of their own direction. Which IMHO was artificial, to say the least. I think it was implied at least once that Kyle was afraid to start a relationship with an ordinary woman afterwards, which compounds the insular feel of the book, as he "withdrew" into a world with more of a superhero cast than a civilian one. I'd only read a small amount of GL at that time, but if memory serves, in what I did read, there was little or no other supporting cast that could also be called organic (unless we include that gay teenager named Terry Berg, whom Judd Winick put in just for PC agenda mishmash).

But, even if they had come up with an organic cast of characters, it still wouldn't make the Kyle run of GL any more valid than Spider-Man's been after One More Day if they were going to throw Hal Jordan under the bus. The really sad part is how the fridge story's been referenced more than a few times since directly within the DCU, such as in Blackest Night. I've been wondering if it'll be revealed in this new rendition that the Guardians did Alex in just to get Kyle to serve them more seriously, an idea that reminds me of the plotline Gerard Jones wrote that was originally set to run in GL instead of Emerald Twilight, which would reveal that the Guardians killed Hal's father. It may not turn out to be the case with the new take on Kyle's origin, but if I end up predicting correctly, that'll suggest that DC's staff are exploiting some of Jones' ideas that he'd only written to try and avoid the damage that would become Twilight (what he thought of still sounds ill-advised, even if he had a backdoor plan for undoing it) for their own degrading modern intentions.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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