As long-time Green Lantern writer Tony Bedard wraps up his run on Green Lantern: New Guardians, Kyle Rayner's quest for mastery of the emotional spectrum has also come to an end.
But there's still a lot more story coming for Bedard and the character, including a very personal attack for Kyle and the rest of the Corps at the hands of the First Lantern.
As we outlined last time we talked to Bedard, Kyle has been on an almost spiritual journey as he's worked through the emotions that lie in his own psyche — and at the heart the Green Lantern universe.
In January's #16, Kyle mastered the last color of the spectrum, but Bedard said that doesn't mean Kyle's story arc is finished. Becoming one of the most powerful weapons in the universe, he's got quite a bit of work to do in the next few issues, dealing with the Guardians, the Third Army and the First Lantern.
The story arc so far in Green Lantern New Guardians has already given Bedard the opportunity to explore why Kyle is such a unique part of the Green Lantern Corps, and we'll see even more explorations of the character's persona in upcoming issues. As Green Lantern: New Guardians #17 comes out this week, we talked to Bedard about how he views Kyle's story so far, why the character's relationship with Ganthet played such an important role, and where the story goes as Bedard finishes up his run in May.
Newsarama: Tony, as you finish up your run on Green Lantern: New Guardians, I'd like to take a look back at the story arc you've created for Kyle Rayner in the New 52. What is the significance to Kyle's story of his mastery of the emotion spectrum, now that he's achieved the status of White Lantern?
Bedard: It's something he's been on the road towards ever since we launched Green Lantern: New Guardians, the ultimate expression of why Kyle was the one to unify all the different ring corps. Kyle's status as a Green Lantern has always been different from anyone else's since he was handpicked for the Corps by Ganthet, rather than being selected by the power ring itself.
At first it seemed kind of random that Ganthet should choose a rather unremarkable cartoonist to carry on the Green Lantern tradition at a time when the rest of the corps had been decimated, but Ganthet saw in Kyle the potential to one day achieve a kind of greatness no one else could match. Kyle's an artist because he is so emotionally open, and because he can see things from all angles and create works that speak directly to one's emotional core. He may never match Hal Jordan's indomitable willpower, and he's certainly not as naturally fearless as the other Green Lanterns, but Kyle is different in that he could've been selected for any of the seven ring corps.
And now that he's learned each shade of the emotional spectrum from the inside out, he's able to combine that full spectrum of powers in a way no one else can. It makes him the nexus of all ring corps. It also makes him our secret weapon against the Guardians of the Universe, the Third Army, and most fearsome of all, the First Lantern.
Nrama: Why did you decide to make Ganthet such a central character in this part of Kyle's journey -- the story dealing with the emotion "love?"
Bedard: From the start, I wanted this series to be about Kyle and Ganthet. I anted to reinforce how central Ganthet is to Kyle's life and how the little guy was a sort of surrogate father to Kyle. It's why New Guardians #1 starts with Ganthet and then retells his first meeting with Kyle. It's why Ganthet's "girlfriend" Sayd chose Kyle to save her beloved from the clutches of the Guardians Gone Bad. And all of it paid off with Kyle's unspoken love for Ganthet becoming the key to unlock the violet power of love.
Nrama: It's been quite a battle, though, and has provided the opportunity for you to really explore the character's personality and past. In issue #16, he dealt with an emotional block he's been carrying around pretty much since childhood. Does his mastery of violet in #16 mean Kyle has gotten beyond his emotional block for good, or is this something that's just part of the character?
Bedard: I think we all ebb and flow emotionally. Some days we let our loved ones know exactly how we feel about them and some days we're too wrapped up in our own personal crap to properly process our feelings. So while I think Kyle had a real breakthrough in accessing the Violet Light, he'll still have his ups and downs to come. Emotions may be a powerful force in our lives, but if we had constant control of them we'd all be robots.
Nrama: It's obvious that Kyle becoming the White Lantern will be a turning point in the battle with the Third Army, but what does the mastery of the emotions mean for Kyle as a character — personally?
Bedard: A lot of the long-term implications remain to be seen. We've seen Kyle play unique roles before, such as when he was the "torch bearer" for the Green Lantern Corps, and when he hosted the power of Ion. Now he has the potential to unite all the Corps into one very powerful force, but he's still human and capable of dropping the ball. Stay tuned to see how he handles this.
Nrama: We talked about the importance of Ganthet to this story. But you also had a major character die recently, which played a huge part in the story. How would you describe the importance of Sayd's death to your run?
Bedard: Sayd put all this New Guardians business into motion when she sent all those rings of many colors to Kyle back in issue #1. And it was her sacrifice that allowed Kyle and company to escape the First Army's clutches.
Nrama: It was difficult to see Kyle believe so strongly in Ganthet. But is that belief in someone at their worst just the nature of love?
Bedard: I've always been fascinated by the relationship between Love and Forgiveness. It's a central theme in Christianity and a very powerful notion: that you turn the other cheek to your enemy, that even the worst person can find redemption. In the original draft, I even had Kyle telling Ganthet "I forgive you, for you know not what you do." It's the hardest and yet the deepest aspect of love. I've had friends who forgave their spouses for infidelity, and on a shallow level one might think it's weak to take someone back after they cheat on you, but I'm in awe of someone who can do that — to see past your own pain and still open your heart. Maybe a comic isn't the best place to fully explore that, but that's what I was going for.
Nrama: I think that's what came across, both in the words and the art. You've been working with Aaron Kuder — what's that collaboration been like?
Bedard: Aaron and I have a real collaboration going. He often has great notes and ideas that I'm only too happy to incorporate. He also changes certain things up from what I put in the script, which I actually like because the end result is really more of a joint effort. Aaron may seem like a new face to some, but he's smart and seasoned and I'm lucky to have him as a creative partner.
Nrama: You recently had the opportunity to highlight some key moments from Kyle's past, and the approach appears to have confused some fans about his New 52 origin, since Sayd was around when Kyle was a new Lantern. "Emerald Twilight" did happen, right? And Kyle still got his ring from Ganthet in the alley, as you said in #16?
Bedard: Part of the fun of New 52 was the opportunity to tweak continuity. I'd say "Emerald Twilight" did happen, and we saw Ganthet give Kyle the ring in the alley in New Guardians #1. But the timeline for all this stuff has been truncated. Kyle's only been a Green Lantern for about two years, so in my mind, the restoration of Oa and the return of the Guardians and the Corps happened quicker than it seemed pre-relaunch.
I just figure that the Guardians were decimated when Hal went rogue back in the day and became Parallax. When the Guardians were restored, Sayd was among them. Does that make it seem any clearer? I wonder if it would be less confusing if Kyle was in his Darryl Banks-era uniform rather than a rookie uniform in that flashback. Maybe some better writer than I will make sense of it some day.
Nrama: Yeah, that makes it clearer, and the rookie uniform might be a little nitpicky, but I guess that's what internet fans are for. But as long as we're confirming things.... can I just bluntly ask if Soranik Natu even exists anymore, or whether that relationship took place in Kyle's past?
Bedard: Soranik does exist. I think it's an open question whether that relationship happened, though. So much of Kyle's love life is in question now that Jade and Donna Troy are off the table, so to speak. I wish I had a more definitive answer for you, but part of the nature of a reboot is leaving yourself some room to maneuver.
I had originally intended to have the Guardians dispatch Soranik to hunt down Kyle, leading to emotional conflict since they had been lovers. Now, I tend to think they were never together. But that's all in the back of my head for now. We'll only know for sure when it's finally dealt with on the printed page.
Nrama: I guess we'll find out eventually for with the next batch of Green Lantern writers. But before you go, Kyle has to deal with the villains in place now. Kyle can obviously decimate the Third Army, so what's the challenge going forward for him and the New Guardians?
Bedard: Just because he handled the Third Army forces on Zamaron doesn't automatically mean he can zap them all with a wave of his hand. And it doesn't mean he can easily take on the combined might of the Guardians, either. But, honestly, the biggest challenge is going to be the First Lantern, a very cool new villain that's just about to make life hell for everyone from the Guardians on down.
Nrama: We've seen in solicitations that the First Lantern sets his sights on Carol Ferris and the other New Guardians. Can you tease for us what the First Lantern's threat means to each of the members of the New Guardians?
Bedard: Geoff has invented a really different villain in the First Lantern and I don't want to reveal too much too soon. Suffice to say he has a way of hitting people where it hurts the most, and Green Lantern fans' heads will explode when they find out just how he's tied in to the very origins of the Guardians and their mission to bring order to the universe. This isn't one of those threats where we have cosmic armies clashing and 200 characters on each page. The First Lantern's attack is much more personal and it strikes at the emotional core of each character.
Writing the issues for "Wrath of the First Lantern" is turning out to be a joy because the First Lantern knows what makes you tick, and he goes straight after that. He's a truly scary adversary and his stories go deep rather than wide. I think anyone with "event fatigue" is in for a pleasant surprise when they realize the nature of this next Green Lantern event. And by the time it's over, the Green Lantern Universe will change in ways that will really shock you.
Nrama: Issue #19's solicitation teases, "Who is the White Lantern?" I don't suppose you can give any clues about that one?
Bedard: Yeah, I don't want to ruin the fun of opening that gatefold cover and finding out for yourself. But isn't it cool enough that we get a Kyle/Sinestro rematch?
Nrama: Is the White Lantern one of the New Guardians?
Bedard: The eightball says, "Ask again later."
Nrama: Well... you mentioned Sinestro, and he has been a White Lantern before.... just sayin'... But since you can't talk about the White Lantern, can you just tell us what it's like writing Sinestro?
Bedard: Yeah, the all-time greatest Green Lantern villain will plague Kyle "Alley Rat" Rayner once again, though both of them may be more concerned with the First Lantern than each other. I adore Sinestro and really look forward to sinking my teeth into that issue.
Nrama: As you wrap up your run on Green Lantern New Guardians, and as the series goes forward into 2013 beyond your run, how would you describe the direction for the series and what's coming for the characters?
Bedard: Can't say too much without tipping the outcome of "Wrath of the First Lantern," but readers can look forward to further explorations of the Lantern-verse and power rings of every color. It's a great big universe out there, and Kyle Rayner will see it all.