Friday, January 13, 2017

Burning Desire (DC)
Green Lantern #127 When: August 2000
Why: Jay Faerber How: Ron Lim

The Story So Far...
Ever since she recreated the accident of science that turned her late friend into a super-villain -- Dr. Louise Lincoln has been known to the world as the second coming of Killer Frost!

Captured by the Department of Extranormal Operations, Killer Frost was put on ice for transport, but when the truck overturns on a dirt road, she's free to suck the warmth from the guards' bodies!

Aided in her rescue by passing hothead Effigy, Killer Frost finds the perfect source of heat to fuel her newest cold front of crime! So perfect is the dastardly duo, they strike up an instant romantic chemistry. Bad news for Green Lantern - who also happens to be passing by, and wants to bring them both in!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Killer Frost 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Killer Frost 5 (Professor)
Speed: Killer Frost 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Green Lantern 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Green Lantern 7 (Cosmic)

It's a greenlight on a new year and the free for all is taking us wherever whim blows! What better way to shake off the Holiday frost than with a warm light?

When the Green Lantern Corps was slaughtered by a Parallax possessed Hal Jordan -- surviving Guardian, Ganthet, sought Kyle Rayner to be the bearer of a power ring as the last Green Lantern!

The young hero was thrust into a universe of Earthbound super-heroics and intergalactic responsibility! The learning curve of this cosmic legacy was a steep one. Rayner was quickly confronted by powerful forces from far-off galaxies -- even thrust into confrontations with the Marvel Universe in his early adventures!

We saw Green Lantern rescued by Thanos in a staged battle with Terrax during the Green Lantern/Silver Surfer crossover. GL later suffered defeat at the hands of Silver Surfer when friends were forced to fight for the survival of their respective universes in Marvel versus DC #3!

Surviving these encounters, and many more, Rayner would go on to gain valuable experience fighting alongside Golden Age mentor Alan Scott, Wonder Woman, Superman and the new Justice Leage of America, as well as his friend and studied generational peer Wally West - third generation hero: The Flash!

Of course, heroes aren't the only ones to inherit a legacy from predecessors...

In the case of Killer Frost: Dr. Louise Lincoln was confronted with the chilling transformation of her friend and colleague Crystal Frost. Held hostage; Lincoln was recruited to aid in curing the ailing super-villain, who was dying as a result of her unique physiology. In a spectacular final showdown with Firestorm, the original Killer Frost perished!

Lincoln recreated the experiment that altered her colleague, becoming the new Killer Frost in the process! She gained the same ability to project freezing cold and ice, whilst suffering the same insatiable desire to consume heat.

The only record of Killer Frost we have so far comes from Justice League of America #15, when she battled the new Firestorm as a part of the Injustice League. With help from Doctor Light, Frost had her nemesis pinned down, but the arrival of the JLA led to her being knocked out cold by Wonder Woman!

Similar circumstances to the Society team-up that introduced Effigy to the fighting ranks via Final Crisis: Requiem! In that battle, Effigy's fire powers were utilized by Libra to eliminate the Martian Manhunter!

Effigy is Martyn Van Wyck: A troubled youth whose miserable existence was turned upside down when he experienced an alien abduction. Taken by The Controllers, he was the subject of wanton experimentation that ultimately granted him the ability to project and control fire! Lashing out with his powers, Effigy would have frequent run-ins with Kyle Rayner and The Controllers.

Rayner hasn't had a whole lot of experience fighting Killer Frost, which puts him at more than a numbers disadvantage. Effigy's flame can power up Killer Frost in a snap -- bad news for Green Lantern! Worse - if the hard light constructs of his ring also give off enough heat for Killer Frost to suck them in!

We know Kyle's a tough customer. When he and Hal Jordan ran out of charge during the Sinestro Corps War, they resorted to fighting Sinestro in a down and dirty fist fight [Green Lantern #25]! So if things go south fighting Killer Frost, at least we know he isn't gonna quit!

One of the distinguishing traits of Kyle Rayner's use of the Green Lantern ring is his imagination. He's an artist by trade and can get pretty inventive with his use of, what was called at the time, the most powerful weapon in the universe!

Even if the ring itself can't be used offensively, Rayner should be able to protect himself from the extremes of cold and heat, and find some way to work with what he has to put the bad guys down! Let's see how he did...

The Tape:
Green Lantern Ranking: Green Lantern (#108)

What Went Down...

Green light bathes would-be lovebirds Effigy and Killer Frost, signaling the unwanted arrival of the Green Lantern!

He projects a spotlight construct from his cosmic ring, descending to address the nearby devastation of an overturned DEO truck, and burning forest. Effigy tries to talk his nemesis into leaving him alone, but Killer Frost isn't interested in words!

A sudden blast of ice encases the young Green Lantern, sending him plunging like a stone into the roaring waters of the Niagara! Frost keeps up the cold, turning the entire river into a giant frozen grave!

Effigy celebrates the swift actions of his new squeeze, and the pair take flight. Meanwhile, the frozen river they left behind begins to crack -- breached by a glowing green buzzsaw!

A tender, airborne moment between villains is rudely interrupted when a chain and anchor materializes around Effigy's ankle!

The sudden stop sends Killer Frost flinging from Effigy's arms -- but she's able to slow her fall to a stop, forming a massive ice column in the night air beneath her! At the same time, Effigy burns the anchor from his leg.

Looking to even the numbers, Lantern Rayner creates a gigantic hairdryer to melt his icy new foe -- surprised to find the beam of heat to Killer Frost's liking.

GL has no time to act on his observation -- spontaneously ensnared in a vice made of fire!

Rayner summons his willpower to prise himself loose and leaves a green streak across the night sky as he flies away from the fight!

Effigy collects Killer Frost and marvels at the hero's apparent cowardice. Having dealt with more than her fair share of superheroes, Killer knows Green Lantern won't be gone for long. Admonished -- Effigy flaunts his earlier rescue of the villainess. Their bickering distracts them from the looming shadow overhead!

Green Lantern returns with a massive deposit of ice collected from the thawing, frozen Niagara! His snow plow construct dumps the mass of snowy ice on top of the two villains -- but Effigy is able to melt his way through!

He charges the hero with a burning rage, but flies straight into a grand slam from a green baseball bat!

The blow sends Effigy hurtling back to the river bank! The trajectory gives him time to take Killer Frost's words into account. Knowing Green Lantern won't stop pursuing him, he abandons concern for his love interest and devises a new plot!

Reaching out to the nearby highway -- Effigy sends a focused inferno toward an unlucky motorist. The blaze threatens to reduce the car to slag, forcing Green Lantern to abandon chase and focus on rescuing the driver!

The distraction gives Effigy the opportunity he needs to escape!

The Hammer...
As ever we come to a conclusion in need of definition. Effigy may've made his escape, but he did so in defeat. Killer Frost never emerges from beneath the snow and ice. Green Lantern is victorious!

It seems I find myself spontaneously enjoying some unexpected corner of comics every Holiday/New Year. Last year, I was jiving on X-Men during X-Mas. This year it seems to be Green Lantern that's stoking the flickering flame of my love for American superheroes.

When I say Green Lantern -- I specifically mean the Kyle Rayner years. A time in GL history I mostly observed from a distance -- mildly interested, but not actively reading. My mid-nineties tended toward Marvel standards (Spider-man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Iron Man), a helping of The Phantom, and more Steel than you could ever reasonably expect.

I'd grown up a fan of Hal Jordan, but wasn't compelled to start any forest fires over the prospect of his replacement. The now largely forgotten phenomenon of H.E.A.T. -- "Hal's Emerald Attack Team" -- seemed more than a little weird. Even if I understood where the petitioning fan club was coming from.

I certainly didn't particularly like or admire the idea of Hal Jordan going bad. I was just nonplussed. By this point, Superman had already died and returned, Batman had been broken, and it was all getting pretty passé.

The nineties weren't short of preoccupations. We weren't that far removed from the proliferation of Guy Gardner, not to mention the sprawling concurrent tales of The Corps. A lot of Green Lanterns had pulled focus over the decades since Hal and his peers replaced golden ager Alan Scott. The times seemed ripe for somebody new. Even if Jordan's continued appearances as Parallax made it seem the door was always open for an eventual return. (Even after he died).

Ironically, this actually was the one that stuck for a while. Sure, Green Lantern: Rebirth reset the status quo in 2005, but that was a good eleven years after Jordan went homicidal! Many of those in the non-stop nineties - no less!

Jordan had his flirtations with moral redemption, and a handful of years as The Spectre, but that only impacted the era of Kyle Rayner if you wanted it to. For all the sound and fury surrounding the handover - the new GL was a success.

As I revisit back issues now, I see first-hand how Ron Marz and his collaborators reinvigorated the whole concept. Pretty early on there were comparisons to Spider-man, but that shorthand only speaks to aspects of a broad template.

Yes, the new Green Lantern was a young hero living in a big city. He was dealing with rent, relationships, and the innate responsibilities of his newfound power. That responsibility, in and of itself, was a product of a continuum that wasn't abandoned in the way some felt, at that time.

The wholesale slaughter of The Green Lantern Corps was a shortsighted move, but stripping the mythos down to the important parts made some sense.

Viewed through the eyes of today's constant reboots and origin stories, it's actually a pretty straight forward, back to basics soft reboot. Rayner refurbished the character with a contemporary outlook & aesthetic, created an entry point for new readers, and made the journey of reinvention a part of the story.

Making one Green Lantern special again helped focus a series that spent the post-Crisis early nineties ballooning exponentially, instead of pruning. There was nothing wrong with The Corps, but being able to identify the Green Lantern as a single iconic hero had its upside. It'd been a while, and it paid off when Grant Morrison spearheaded an all-star, back-to-basics relaunch of the JLA.

Kyle Rayner standing on his own in early stories helped establish the character in a similar mold to Wally West as The Flash, but when JLA put him next to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the gang, in '96 -- it took the next step to sewing the new Green Lantern into the fabric of an iconic DC Universe.

I don't regret DC's shift in the 2000s toward reinstating and refining their most iconic versions of characters. The way things ended with Hal Jordan never sat well, and there's a status to classic characters that can never be recreated.

I do wonder what it would've been like had the third generation continued uninterrupted, though. Flash and Green Lantern showed it was still possible for corporate superheroes to advance successfully into a new age. An age that didn't require hard reboots like Crisis on Infinite Earths, or The New 52.

The choice to turn away from that advancement wasn't necessarily the wrong one, but it arguably demands that they focus all efforts on sustaining the icons. A deadlock that can never truly allow them to commit to advancing beyond a certain point. Which tends to result in awkward reboots and rejectable jumping off points like The New 52, and even the current second Rebirth era.

Of course, grousing about the current state of comics isn't what brought us to this entry. I'm pleased to be adding new data into our Comic Book Fight Club record for Rayner rogue Effigy, and Killer Frost. Don't ask me why, (I don't know the answer), but I've been on a little bit of a Killer Frost kick, as well!

Looking for more from any of the characters or series featured today? Follow links throughout this post, or dive in to the Secret Issue Index of past fights to search via publisher, series and issue number! If you like what you see, be sure to hit the G+1 button, or share the link via social media!

Winner: Green Lantern
#62 (+46) Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)
#318 (-40) Effigy
#826 (-79) Killer Frost

No comments: