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Rest in Peace, Torch Bearer

I still remember it as if it was yesterday. My first Green Lantern comic book, I got in the summer of 1994. It was issue 50. I bought from the hotel lobby while on vacation in Cebu City, Philippines with my mom and dad. I remembered being surprised that it was there.

That issue was a landmark issue that turned the hero, Green Lantern Hal Jordan into a villain. With Darth Vader like vengeance, Jordan killed the members of the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians of the universe.

Then there was only one.

With Jordan's discarded ring, the last of the guardians of the universe, Ganthet, forged the last Green Lantern ring and gave it to Kyle Rayner.

For the past fifteen years, I grew up not with Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, but it was Kyle Rayner. I grew up with Rayner learning the ropes of a noob Green Lantern, as he became part of the Justice League and held on his own. Later on, he became Ion, the embodiment of Willpower; restarted the Corps, and was instrumental in bringing Hal Jordan back to life and redemption.

Kyle Rayner gave up the power of Ion, the power of godhood, time and time again. He was a noble character and worthy role model for young kids. In the Corps, he is known as the Torch Bearer because he kept the light of the Green Lantern Corps going for many years and for his role in bringing it back.

In Geoff Johns' issue 3, Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, as Sodom Yat was "burying" Rond Vidar, last of the Green Lanterns in the 31st Century, he spoke of the Torch Bearer:
"He reminded me of someone from long ago. One we called, 'The Torch Bearer'. A title that Lantern gave to me when he died."
I thought it would be a long time before Rayner would fall; perhaps of old age.  Now, I look back at it as foreshadowing.

Green Lanterns are soldiers and peacekeepers.  They die all the time.  Perhaps the shock of this death is that for many years, we think of our heroes as powerful that they can't die.

When the Batman fell in his battle with Darkseid, we took months to get used to the idea.  He was going to die, so his "death," was as heroic, but it was not as tragic as this.

Ranyer's death was penned by Peter Tomasi and this issue of Green Lantern Corps 42.  It is one of the best he's written and Tomasi has been knocking comic book writing out of the park for years now.

Yes, I was surprised that Kyle was killed in battle, and the tragedy is one that would hit the Corps as strongly as it does me, in my humble opinion.

There are characters we grew up with that are sometimes like larger than life. They have personalities that we relate to. This just feels like an end of an era for those of us who grew up with Kyle Rayner. That summer when I first read a Green Lantern book was also the last summer of childhood before grief and adult responsibility had to take over. Looking back now, it seem, I related to the character of Rayner a lot more than I realized.

Kyle Rayner of sector 2814, Honor Guard and third in command of the Green Lantern Corps, died a hero, in defense of the Oan Central Power Battery. What more words are needed than these: "Ring status report. Green Lantern 2814 deceased. Priority directive located. Moratorium on sentient Ring replacement. Proceed to space sector 2261."

Thank you, and Rest in Peace, Torch Bearer.

*images are from comic books owned by DC Comics.  I invoke fair use.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.

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