CREDITS: Written by Hilary J. Bader; directed by Butch Lukic.
REVIEW: This being the last season of Superman, are they actively doing back door pilots to see what will stick? Aquaman appears soon, and this one's about Earth's Green Lantern. And it's... Kyle Raynor? Yep, the DCAU skips directly to Kyle, the present-day GL, with references to past GLs and other member of the Corps, but that's it. It's a bit odd, but it's an interesting way to get Superman involved in the origin. First, Kyle is an artist, which places him at the Daily Planet, illustrating articles even though his dream is to work on comics. Second, fans would be peeved if Hal Jordan were GL and didn't get to see Abin Sur die. Superman takes on that role, which places him in a position to receive all the exposition while the new kid does most of the action and proves himself a competent hero. The Guardians ask Superman to help Kyle against Sinestro, but it's still Kyle's episode.
That would be a weakness, as this is a Superman show, but Kyle's journey is significantly exciting and entertaining that it really doesn't bother this viewer. Kyle is shaky at first, but still shows guts, imagination, and at the end, smarts as well. He tricks his superior opponent rather than defeats him physically, though there's plenty of fighting before we get there. And though both ringslingers have the same power set, their personalities and styles come out fairly well in the shapes they create and the tricks they use. So if this WERE a back door pilot, I'd be pretty interested in seeing what they do with Green Lantern. Not that I'm unhappy John Stewart got the Justice League gig (he's my favorite Lantern), but Kyle uses the ring more interestingly, and the "rookie hero" hasn't really been done in the DCAU yet (the rookie we'll get is someone else entirely).
IN THE COMICS: Kyle Rayner became Green Lantern in Green Lantern vol.3 #48 (Jan. 1994), but here his look is closer to Hal Jordan's (the Silver Age GL), with brown (not black) hair and a more classic suit. In the comics, he was an artist, but never worked at the Daily Planet. It was Hal Jordan who found a dying Abin Sur and who selected to be ring-bearer. In post-Infinite Crisis continuity, Abin Sur was taken down by the future Red Lantern Atrocitus, not Sinestro. Originally, the Guardians of the Universe were all male, and the females of the species were the Zamarons, but there is a female Guardian seen here. References to Lantern lore include a petty thief who looks like Guy Gardner; Kyle crashing into Hal Jordan's plane at a base named after John Broome, his first writer; famous Lantern artist Gil Kane is immortalized on a store sign reading "Gil's"; and Corps cameos for Salakk, Kilowog, Katma Tui, Arisia, Arkkis Chummuck, Tomar Re, Larvox, and Xax. Amusingly, Kyle gets a rejection letter from DC Comics.
SOUNDS LIKE: Michael P. Greco (Bleach) plays Kyle Rayner; it was almost his first gig. Sinestro is voiced by Ted Levine (Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs).
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A good GL story even if it isn't a great Superman one; I love all the little references.