DCAU #226: No Exit

IN THIS ONE... Wonder Woman must rescue Green Lantern from the Pit of Despair.

CREDITS: Written by Steve Vance; art by John Delaney and Ron Boyd.

REVIEW: The team-up between two Justice Leaguers puts the focus much more on Kyle Rayner and how he doesn't think he's too hot of a superhero, especially compared to someone like Wonder Woman. Though I really like his fannishness when it comes to Diana, it's true his lack of instinct and imagination results in an injury for a distraught man gone "postal", which could have been better handled. When he gets home, he finds he's got no ideas for the album cover he's working on, which further fuels his feelings of inadequacy and somehow draws him into another dimension, one extra guest-star Jason Blood calls the pit of Despair.

It's an interesting idea in and of itself, a creepy version of New York where a cybernetic being feeds on negative emotion and employs a Gestapo-like army to keep its "citizens" down. It's a nightmare from which you can't wake up and Kyle even loses his sense of identity. It's perhaps too extreme a metaphor for what Kyle was feeling, but it makes sense to find the lone gunman there. Notably, when Kyle comes out of the Pit, he uses it as concept art, as if it were all an inspiring dream. Of course, it's also "real". Wonder Woman is magically sent to this realm without her powers - and I've got a lot of affection for any story that evokes Diana Prince Secret Agent - and she and Kyle discover they do have an ability even when depowered: Hope.

And that's where I think all-ages one-offs do best - when they have something to say about the represented hero or the superhero genre in general. In this case, the hope the heroes instill in the denizens of the Pit is enough to make them break out of their cells and fight off the ghoulish Toxxis. It hopefully "awakens" them in the real world, just like it does Kyle and Diana. On a larger scale, as Blood describes it, the heroes are a beacon of hope to people they will never meet, and serve a purpose quite beyond mere law enforcement or the specific details of their cases. It's something many modern superherologists seem to have forgotten or rejected, but I believe the trope should still hold true.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: Diana and Kyle are as per earlier issues of this series, i.e. from the mainstream DCU, but Jason Blood is modeled on the character from Batman's New Adventures series (no Demon though). Toxxis is an original character. In his cells, we find a despairing character who looks a lot like the book's editor, KC Carlson.

REREADABILITY: Medium-High - A cool team-up with a neat new villain and something to say about the genre.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's always something I couldn't buy about the sales pitch on Kyle: he's a perfectly average guy who also proves himself to be the best Green Lantern ever. I think the appeal there is in flattering the reader: it's heavily implied that even we ordinary readers would be AWESOME at superheroing if only given the chance. I know myself well enough to know that's not the case; a single loved one in the refrigerator and I would quit (plus probably develop a drug problem and commit suicide). Kyle's ability to deal with everything thrown at him is better described as "superhuman" or even "inhuman" than "ordinary".

Now, if you figure Kyle was exceptional all along -- that he was never a perfectly average guy -- Kyle makes more sense. Ganthet saw the potential and gave him the ring not by accident but by cunning. Kyle didn't meet the conventional superhero profile but the necessary traits were all there. Even the quiet artistic tendencies didn't look like they would prepare him for the role, it turns out they groomed his mind in ways that being a test pilot would not.

Side note, I sometimes watch "Parks and Recreation" and think "day-um, imagine what Leslie Knope could do with a power ring". Except she wouldn't be able to create well-formed constructs; every time she used her ring it would just be uncontrolled blasts of waffles, miniature horses, and three-ring binders.

Siskoid said...

I think Ganthet knew what he was doing as well.

But imagine Leslie Knope: Mosaic.

Anonymous said...

WOULD LIVE THERE IN A HEARTBEAT.

Andrew said...

Kyle is, on the surface, very Peter Parker. He gets his powers by being in the right place at the right time, he doesn't take it seriously until the death of a loved one, and he's somehow able to afford a place to life in Manhattan on a freelancer's salary.

I don't know if that was deliberate.

Siskoid said...

Could be. He was the most Marvelous of DC's heroes since Firestorm.

Anonymous said...

Kyle is the Green Lantern most likely to be confused with Chandler on "Friends".

LiamKav said...

I guess that makes Geoff Johns a "Cheers" guy.

Anonymous said...

Hal is the Green Lantern most likely to be confused with William Shatner back in the girdle days.

Anonymous said...

... wait, not William Shatner, Zap Brannigan.

 

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