Kyle Rayner was a graphic artist. Yup, he drew comic books.
Automatically, that means he is pretty cool. The fact that he then got given a Green Lantern ring makes him even cooler.
Hal Jordan, the first member of the Green Lantern Corps to come from Earth, got possessed by Parallax, the fear entity. His city, Coast City, had just been completely destroyed, so he was, shall we say, susceptible to its influence, but then he went crazy, see totally insane, killed a good few Lanterns, see basically all of them, destroyed the main power battery, yadda yadda. The Green Lantern Corps was gone. So Ganthet, the last remaining Guardian, gave the last remaining Lantern ring to Kyle Rayner.
He wasn’t exactly ready for it at the beginning, but he managed to defeat Mongul, which is pretty damn good, right? Except, his ex-girlfriend, who he had confided in and just got back together with, got killed by Major Force and stuffed in a fridge. Yup, that’s where the phrase “Women In Refrigerators” comes from, Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend that died purely to make Kyle take his role as a Lantern seriously. It was a pretty embarrassing move on DC’s part, and one that Gail Simone will never let them forget.
For a time then, Kyle was the only Green Lantern. To us now, and to readers at the time, this was a new thing, there had been an entire Corps for a long time, and even just on Earth there were frequently three separate Lanterns. But Kyle carried the name solo. He briefly joined the Titans, and joined the Justice League, taking the roles that all previous Lanterns before him had. He also set out to restart the Green Lantern Corps, and even took host to Ion, the parasitic entity of willpower, though he gave up the near-omnipotence of the powers to remain human.
Then his mother is killed. Yet another tragedy has befallen Kyle, and seemingly it is once more at the hands of Major Force. So, knowing that Major Force is immortal, Kyle rips his head off and throws it into space. As you do. This was during the events of Green Lantern: Rebirth, and Kyle then brings Hal Jordan’s body back to Earth, where it is quickly given back Hal’s spirit, and the original Lantern is resurrected. You’d think that at this point Kyle would lose some of the spotlight, I mean, Hal is back, Guy Gardner is a Lantern again, most of the Corps is back, so Kyle will disappear, right? Well, a little, but he is handed the highest honour by the Guardians. They give him the title of “Torchbearer”, as he was the only Lantern to still represent during their darkest time, and brought them back when they were needed most.
Once more, Kyle became Ion, taking the parasitic entity back, which Sinestro forcefully separates from Kyle at the beginning of the Sinestro Corps War, so that Kyle can play host to Parallax, like Hal Jordan did before him. Hal frees him from the influence, and together they defeat Sinestro. Shortly after, the long prophesised Blackest Night comes to pass, and Kyle is killed in action, whilst blowing up a power battery to stop hordes of dead Green Lanterns, reanimated as Black Lanterns on Oa. His love for fellow Lantern Soranik Natu led to him being resurrected quickly by a Star Sapphire, and he was able to rally with the multitude of other Lanterns and heroes on Earth to beat back Nekron’s Black Lanterns. Kyle also participates in the War of the Green Lanterns, taking a Blue Lantern ring in an effort to stop the rogue Guardian Krona.
And then the New 52 happened. Rings of every colour seek out Kyle, along with an angry member of their Corps, and Kyle becomes the first person to simultaneously wield all seven primary Lantern rings. Admittedly, the rings disintegrate after a couple of minutes, but the team that he then heads up, containing a representative of each Corps, is then instrumental in stopping the Archangel Invictus from destroying the Vega system and the sole Orange Lantern Larfleeze. The team disbands, but Kyle begins to learn how to channel every colour of light, eventually becoming a White Lantern with the help of a new team, featuring big names like Carol Ferris of the Star Sapphires, Atrocitus of the Red Lanterns, and Larfleeze, using his powers to stop the Third Army on Zamaron, and aid in stopping the First Lantern Volthoom on Oa.
Most recently, Kyle has appeared in The Omega Men, aiding a rebel group in the Vega system against their tyrannical leader, but I don’t want to spoil a series that has finished so recently for you.
So, that’s his history, but what sets Kyle Rayner apart from any other Lantern, green or otherwise? For me, it’s twofold. First off, his creativity lets him do things with his ring that no other lantern can, such as create giant anime characters to do battle with his enemies, with the only limit to his powers being his imagination. Second, it’s his personality. Rayner will always, absolutely always stand up for what is right, and if an action seems wrong then he will question. Even if it is one of his friends doing it. And yet, he always believes in the goodness in people. When Hal Jordan was evil, Kyle knew that he could be relied on to give his life to save Earth. Kyle has a truly indomitable spirit, and, if you’ll excuse the cliché, his light shines brighter than basically any other in the universe.
James, The Wonder Witch