Saturday, July 14, 2007

Green Lantern Fans: Will the War Begin Anew?

With the advent of the Sinestro Corps special, and now Green Lantern #21, it is apparent that DC is planning to turn the men and women that wear the ring topsy turvy enroute to a new definition of “no fear”. While I am sure the ride will be interesting, I have a great deal of trepidation in my gut.

Why?

Because what is happening makes me worry that the bad days of HEAT versus Kyle fans will come back with a vengeance.

Did any of you live through the DC/AOL message board wars? I did. It was through my hubby and through my own experiences and perceptions that a great deal of my feelings about the Green Lantern character were built. Here’s the back story.

When I first started reading comic books in 1974, Hal Jordan was the Green Lantern of note. I would see Alan Scott during the JLA/JSA team ups, but it was mainly Hal that was featured in the books I read. John Stewart’s character was still in the process of evolution, so he didn’t register quite so much either.

My main perception of Hal was that he was a ladies man, and a bit of an egomaniac. I enjoyed his team ups with Green Arrow and Black Canary, but I was more enamored of them then Hal. When I would watch Hal interact with Carol, it irritated me, so as I continued my evolution into DC’s past, present, and future, he was never in the forefront.

Fast forward to the destruction of Coast City and the Emerald Twilight saga and once again Hal was pushed to the starring role. He was completely in shock with grief, and turned into Parallax. Under this guise, he decimated the corps and was declared bad guy number one. In the meantime, Kyle Rayner was given the ring and a new era began.

Interestingly, I had just started picking up the Green Lantern series with issue #45, so I was in the right place at the right time. It was 1994, and I was really heavy into DC books. Having a new Green Lantern in place gave me an opportunity to grow with the character. I was sad for Hal, but quite frankly, he wasn’t my favorite, so I didn’t experience the remorse that other fans did. I figured he would be back sooner or later, so it didn’t enter my mind that there would be a group that would rise from the ashes to be the most vocal fan group I have ever seen.

They were called HEAT, which stood originally for Hal’s Emerald Attack Team and was later changed to Hal’s Emerald Advancement Team, and they were not going to go away quietly.

I first went online in December 1996 and when I got there, I was shocked to see the amount of dissention between Hal and Kyle fans. The AOL DC Message boards were a hot bed of controversy, and sometimes the arguments would get so ugly that there was a definite sense of a gang fight rumbling under the surface. What fascinated me more then anything else was the fact that many of the Kyle fans were a bit like I was- they were either younger so they were not familiar with Hal, or they weren’t big fans back in the day. It wasn’t that the non-Heat guys hated Hal at first; in fact I think they just didn’t have an awareness of the impact of the rich history that the character carried.

The kicker that always bothered me was that the HEAT members did not or could not just leave the Kyle fans to their own devices. At one point, the Kyle fans fled to another message board, only to have the HEAT members show up and point out everything that was wrong with writer Ron Marz, Editor Kevin Dooley, and the character Kyle. It got to be such a mess that I actively began to feel a cold blooded hatred towards the Hal character that I haven’t fully recovered from.

I never had any personal rancor for the HEAT members despite the irritation they made me feel. I just didn’t understand why they couldn’t wait for the natural progression of the Green Lantern characters. As anyone who has read comic books for a long time knows, there is no bigger constant then change. As a big Wonder Woman fan, I had lived through a total reboot of her character, for God’s sake. Surely that was hard to deal with on its own merit! Steve Trevor was lost as her love interest, and DC treated her like she had never before existed, yet I managed to make it through the day! What was different about these fans? It was incredible to see them band together so tightly.

The biggest axe to grind that the HEAT members had was that Hal had been very unceremoniously turned into a villain. They felt that his history wasn’t treated with respect and that the wet-behind-the-ears Kyle Rayner could never begin to fill his boots. One noted HEAT member even called Ron Marz a misogynist. Marz and Dooley both received threats of bodily harm from some Hal Jordan fans, although none have ever been associated with a member of HEAT. It got really over the top to say the least.

The pinnacle of the HEAT attack was the full page ad they took in Wizard asking for Hal’s return. That was a proud day for the members, to be sure. Looking back on it, I have to give the members props. It was an idea ahead of it’s time. What I still don’t like about HEAT are the members who were extreme in their behavior. I would love to know what some of these fellas are up to now. Is all forgiven, or is the battle just over?

At any rate, when Hal returned to glory, it seems that HEAT went dormant. I am glad for them that they got their heart’s desire, as they really worked for it. I am greatly saddened that two members, Rich and Harry, never got to see their work come to fruition, and I hope that they are smiling in heaven now. This I mean sincerely.

What I worry about in the future is what happens now that Kyle has been infected with the Parralax entity. Does this mean that the Hal fans will come back to rub it in, or will they be gracious? Will Kyle fans take up the banner where HEAT left off and form their own organization? Will it be a replay of the hell that was HEAT versus KEWL? Am I going to have to declare a permanent embargo on visiting message boards? I am scared to even go to the DC boards today for fear of reprisals.

Kyle fans out there: where are your heads at? Do you think it is temporary? What would you do if Kyle died? Would you start your own organization?

Hal fans: what is your take on things? Do you feel like life has come full circle? Do you feel vindicated? What is the pulse?

Green Lantern fans in general: What is your take on the Sinestro Corps storyline? Who is your favorite GL and why?

After living through the original flame wars, I am curious if they are going to come back or if things will be different now. I went to the old HEAT website, and could only find the application page. Are members still active? I really am curious.

In interests of not starting a flame war here, let me just state that I am more curious to know “where are you now” and how you feel rather then starting a fight. If a fight starts, I am just going to delete the post, so I want to be upfront about this. I care about both sides and want to know how you feel, so don’t come in guns blazing!

15 comments:

Eaglewing said...

That was an interesting read. I had no idea there was a Green Lantern war, but then I'm not all that knowledgeable on the DCU (Batman being the exception). As such, I don't have much of an opinion on this current version of events, but it's interesting character history.

Reading this, it sounds like they're redoing the storyline but in reverse. Cynical me wonders if they aren't trying to restart the war on purpose. Controversy sells, I guess. Here's hoping you can at least tread into the forums and find a modicum of civility.

Vaklam said...

I thought I was a Green Lantern fan for quite a while. Turns out I'm a Green Lantern Corps fan. I think this is because the GLC stories are the kind of science fiction stories I enjoy while the single Green Lantern tales are not the sort of superhero comics I like.

I also like the sense of community among the GLC. I'm a sucker for that sort of tale and the latest GLC series has this in spades.

All of the above is essentially to say that I have no personal or emotional involvement in the Kyle/Hal war. I like Sinestro Corps so far. They're leaning too heavily on this dark prophecy thing but it's still a great concept.

Oh, and my favorite Green Lantern? It's a tie between Rot Lop Fan and Mogo.

Heidi Meeley said...

Eaglewing, you make a very good point. I have been wondering if this is all some plot to get back to the way things were pre-Emerald Dawn. It is fascinating and disturbing at the same time.

The Kyle/Hal war was a nightmare at times, so I was glad when it ended. I am just hoping it doesn't come back, but I am not holding my breath.

Heidi Meeley said...

Vaklam, nicely put. I am glad to see a Corps fan here. You bring a completely different perspective to it all with your preference for the sci-fi aspect.

I love that you are a Mogo fan! You rule!

Carl said...

Welp, I found the whole revision and vilification of Hal Jordan criminal at best. He was a test pilot, at one point a veteran war ace and clearly a stereotypical 'jet jockey' of the Silver Age. But he was not, I repeat not unstable psychotic fascist in green like the '80s/'90s retelling of his 'new' origin made him out to be. Suddenly, instead of the heroic 'man without fear' (several years before the Silver Age Daredevil) became this unstable pushy and barely-in-control member of the JLA and Green Lanterns that had people whispering behind his back. Hmmmmm, Hal always been this way, a hothead, always charged in without thinking. Wow, really? Then why didn't the League get rid of him then? Or those oh-so wise Guardians recall the ring if he was such a 'loose canon'. All I have to say is that time period until they fixed it explaining that Parallax had possessed him was 100 percent vile bullsh*t. And this is from a guy who's favorite GL is Alan Scott...
And Kyle? If I wanted to read about Peter Parker, I'd get a copy of Spiderman...

James Meeley said...

And Kyle? If I wanted to read about Peter Parker, I'd get a copy of Spiderman...

Carl:

I'm guessing you've never actually read any of Kyle's GL run, or you'd know the tired slam of him being like Spider-Man is an incorrect cheap shot, at best.

The only thing they have in common, is getting their power by chance. That's it. Everything else is different. And this is coming from a Kyle fan, so if anyone ought to know....

But I still like you, anyway. ;)

Mark Engblom said...

"Green Lantern fans in general: What is your take on the Sinestro Corps storyline? Who is your favorite GL and why?"

I don't really have a dog in the "Kyle vs. Hal" fight, though I have to admit being sorely disappointed at how quickly and spectacularly Hal flamed out in the mid-90's. It didn't seem particularly fair to the character or the fans, but such was the "spirt of change" sweeping DC at the time (the "throw out the old, bring in the new" strategy). However, I liked Kyle right away and bought his series for a few years. I have to admit, though, to getting pretty excited whenever Hal would guest star (like during that time-travel team up with Kyle), so you can imagine how happy I was to learn Hal's long "pergatory" as the Spectre was finally coming to an end (wow, that was a bad idea to make him the Spectre).

With Kyle now threatened to be the "Green Lantern Gone Bad", I don't take any pleasure in the discomfort it's causing true-blue (true-green?) Kyle fans, but at the same time I'm wondering if part of them now understands some of the anguish of Hal fans all those years ago.

So...who's my favorite GL? That's a tough one. I would generally say "Hal", but I also adore the original Alan Scott GL (I love the mystical overtones), and the Green Lantern Corps concept in general. I even like Hal's fellow "Earth Lanterns" like John Stewart and...yes...even Guy (depending on who's writing him, that is). The Sinestro Corps storyline is probably the most exciting thing to come down the pike in a long, long time for GL fans. I had no idea it would become as big as it's shaping up to be (with all of those unexpected Uber-Powerful bad guys joining in the fun).

James Meeley said...

With Kyle now threatened to be the "Green Lantern Gone Bad", I don't take any pleasure in the discomfort it's causing true-blue (true-green?) Kyle fans, but at the same time I'm wondering if part of them now understands some of the anguish of Hal fans all those years ago.

Well, as the resident Kyle-booster of these parts, Mark, I feel I should probably say something here.

Now, I by no means speak for ALL Kyle fans when I say this, although I'm sure many will agree with it, but I can say I knew the "anguish" that Hal fans felt. We've all had characters we like taken for turns we didn't enjoy. I don't think many Kyle fans took joy in the distress of Hal fans. All most of them wanted (or, at least, THIS one) was to have the same chance to enjoy the GL they liked, the way the Hal fans did for the 35 years of Hal's run before Emerald Twilight.

Unfortunately, we weren't granted that. I never got the just talk about Kyle's adventures with folks who enjoyed them. I had to constantly defend my choice (sometimes even MYSELF), because of the anugish of Hal fans. And it is due to that, which is why I will not buy a Hal Jordan product today (by that, I mean I won't pick up a series where Hal is the star or a main player).

However, I think it has also played a big role in why I didn't go disgruntled over Kyle no longer having a stable GL-related series of his own, Hal retaking the main GL series and why I'm not upset about Kyle's time as Parallax. I've been down this road with Hal fans and I refuse to become like so many of them did, just because DC isn't doing what I want them to with the character I like.

In conclusion, I always understood how Hal fans felt when Hal went bad, Mark. But it seems a lot of them became something much more monsterous than what Hal himself became under Parallax. It served as a warning and life lesson to me (and other Kyle fans, I would hope) about how I should conduct myself, if something similar befell Kyle. It was an object lesson in why you should always take the higher road, which exactly what I'm doing right now.

I hope this has helped give you some idea on how, at least, ONE Kyle fans understood Hal fans pain, even while completely disagreeing with how so many of them handled dealin with it. :)

Carl said...

Welp, I read a few issues and he (Kyle) was the "Kid Lantern" that suffered an inferiority complex for like nigh on 5 or more years and I found that unappealing in a super hero. His book also featured friends that got 'gay-bashed' like every few issues, another storyline in DC and Marvel that's grown stale. And no one, not even the Lord God, the Holy Host or Satan and all his minions will ever move me to like that character just 'cause he was picked on for taking Hal's spot. I simply don't care about him and never will...

James Meeley said...

And no one, not even the Lord God, the Holy Host or Satan and all his minions will ever move me to like that character just 'cause he was picked on for taking Hal's spot.

Carl, you misunderstand me. I'm not asking you to like the character. I'm just saying your insulting him in a way that makes no sense. It's like people who called his face cover "crab mask." I've seen crabs and his mask doesn't look a thing like one. It was just stupid.

Now, when you wanted to compare Kyle to another character you might have liked better, you should have said something like, "And Kyle? If I wasn't to see the exploits of a bumbling do-gooder, I'll watch 'The Greatest American Hero'..." See, the comparison makes sense now.

You can dislike Kyle all you want. But if you are going to go to the trouble of cheap shoting shomething, at least have it makes sense. that's all I'm saying. ;)

His book also featured friends that got 'gay-bashed' like every few issues

Um, gotta correct you again. He had ONE gay friend, who got gay-bashed ONCE. Hardly a constant theme in the series.

Just wanted that known, for folks who might be interested in the correct version. :)

Carl said...

Oh my mistake, it seemed to be a constant theme for some reason in DC for characters to 'go gay' (mostly under Winick-sp?) and we all had to learn a lesson about intolerance in several books that got old fast. And comparing Kyle to The Greatest American Hero is kind of like comparing white bread to a hot Mexican dish, one is bland, the other fantastic. Yeah, that was a dig, I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist it...

Heidi Meeley said...

You know, since you guys are having such a good conversation, I am going to lay back on this and be an observer! Very insightful stuff!

James Meeley said...

Oh my mistake, it seemed to be a constant theme for some reason in DC for characters to 'go gay' (mostly under Winick-sp?)

Hey, Carl, it's all good. I understand the confusion. I just wanted to clarify for everyone else. Yes, such a story did happen in GL, but it was only once (and hasn't been refered to since).

And comparing Kyle to The Greatest American Hero is kind of like comparing white bread to a hot Mexican dish, one is bland, the other fantastic.

Yeah, but it's not William Katt's fault. he wasn't writing the scripts for that show. ;)

Heh, I can turn almost any dig around on a person. A very wise(ass) fellow taught me that very important life skill. I couldn't resist, either. :)

Carl said...

Hmmmm, I don't recall teaching you that, it wasn't me was it, ho ho!
But one of the funny moments I love to recall when they brought Hal back and my giant friend Gene and I were discussing it. He said, oh, they can bring Hal back and there's no need to kill anyone like Kyle or Jon or Guy..."
And I blurted out, sounding serious as hell: "I DEMAND A BLOOD SACRIFICE!!!"
Gene looked stricken and said, "What, why?!"
I said, "THEY (DC) KILLS CHARACTERS I LOVE AND ONLY TO SELL MORE BOOKS, I DEMAND THAT KYLE DIES!!!"
And Gene tried to reason with me and I kept drowning him out again and again. I hadn't had that much fun in a while.
(cue the JLE laugh): BA-WA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!

Brainfreeze said...

Age-wise, I suppose I should be a Hal fan, but I came late to DC (primarily within the last 2-3 years, apart from an early fondness for the Legion of Superheroes). One of the first things I read was JLA trade paperbacks, and since Kyle was the first GL for that run, that's who I probably have the greatest fondness for (among the Earth-based Lanterns).

I'll put it this way--with Hal starring in the main GL title, its presence on my "get list" is tenuous, and I'll probably drop it when no one else is guesting. Probably the same with John Stewart (actually, no, he's the kids' favorite so we'd get it, just not on my account). I'd probably buy it if it starred Guy, and would definitely buy it if it featured Kyle.

I expect that the Kyle/Parallax thing is temporary--it's been done before, so a long run would be pretty tedious. I'd be disappointed if he died, but would not join an organization. I love my comics, but not that much.