DC’s New 52 is known for trying to start over with a number of different titles/runs. Some good (e.g. Batman), some bad (e.g. Lobo), and some in between (e.g. Red Hood and the Outlaws). Whether you loved or hated New 52 as a whole comes down to personal taste, and I can certainly agree that not all the runs I’ve read in it were great. I also think that, Batman and it’s tie ins (Detective Comics, Batman and Robin, etc.) did pretty well during this time.
That said, I did generally enjoy most of what I read. Batman did great during this run and introduced one of my favorite villain organizations, the Court of Owls. Nightwing was a solid read and Grayson a fun read. Red Hood and the Outlaws and later Red Hood/Arsenal was probably my favorite. Much like Batman, I feel that Green Lantern did really well. It had a lot of series that focused on, not only the human Lanterns, but Sinestro and the Red Lanterns as well. How some may view the amount of events/crossovers varies. That was an area that I didn’t have much issue with so much as a few story elements (Carol getting with Kyle being the one to come to mind).
My favorite runs were Green Lantern and New Guardians, which focused on Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner respectively. Green Lantern had a great story, good art, and great moments with Sinestro and Hal. New Guardians introduced an interesting concept, which I will get into, a pretty enjoyable story. That said, the other titles were good to. If you want a good John Stewart run, I’d say check out Green Lantern Corps. That and Red Lantern was good for Guy, and as a whole, Red Lantern was a solid series. And of course, there’s Sinestro, for those of you who are looking for a good read for one of Green Lantern’s greatest antagonists.
Going back to New Guardians, if there was one thing that I really enjoyed, it was Kyle’s journey to become a White Lantern. Kyle was always going to be an oddity among the Green Lanterns. He was the last when Hal was possessed by Parallax. He was an artist rather than having some form of military background like John and Hal. He, for a time, harbored Ion (the Green Lantern entity) and managed to create an entity out of his negative emotions. He’s also a Lantern who’s typically in the middle popularity wise, at least in my experience, unlike say John and Hal who are the more popular Lanterns while Guy (and maybe to a lesser extent Simon) is notorious for being the least popular (not that Guy doesn’t have fans).
With that in mind, him becoming a White Lantern was something unique. He was the only one to become one and have it stick for a good portion of New Guardians and the first few issues of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corp. I thought this was a really cool choice. How he had to become one was interesting too. At first, it almost sounds like Avatar, since Kyle had to learn to access all of the Lanterns Corps except for Black Lantern, until you realize that white light has the “presence of all colors”. Where as black is considered the “absence of light”.
In my opinion, keeping Kyle as a White Lantern would have been really cool to see. I say that for a few reasons, standing out, with time comes mastery, and fitting from an artist perspective.
That’s not to say that Kyle, or any of the other Green Lanterns, don’t stand out in their own way (personality, constructs, backstory, etc.). If they didn’t people wouldn’t have favorites. When I say standing out, I mean as a Lantern. There’s a lot of Green Lanterns out there, and I suppose that’s the point given they are usually the focus for DC, but we rarely get to see many members of the other Lantern Corps. We’ve got Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Simon Baz, and Jessica Cruz for the humans (along with a few known heroes and Tai in Green Lantern Legacy). There’s the guardians, Ch’p, Kilowag, Arisia, Mogo, Sora Natu, and Sinestro before he defected. Even the late Abin Sur. These only touch the surface, as I know I haven’t touched all the known (named) Green Lanterns.
The point is there are a lot of Green Lanterns. Some more prominent than others, but still a good number. But what about the other Lantern Corps? There aren’t as many known. We get to see Sinestro since he is a main villain and the leader of the Sinestro Corp (Yellow Lanterns) along with Arkillo and Sora. For Red Lanterns, there are several named, but the big ones people will remember are Atrocitus (the head Red Lantern), Dex-Starr, Bleez or Guy once or twice. Saint Walker and Brother Warth are probably the two members people may think of for Blue Lanterns. Carol Ferris and Fatality are the more well known Star Sapphires and Munk and/or Iroque (Indigo-1). There’s only one Orange Lantern in Larfleeze and Black Hand for Black Lanterns (though people may also think of Neckron, who may or may not be the Black Lantern Entity).
With the White Lanterns, there were some characters who briefly were members during the Blackest Night events, there really weren’t any main stays to the White Lanterns. That is until Kyle Rayner. He was the longest lasting White Lantern, lasting as one for roughly one half to two thirds of New Guardians and roughly twelve issues in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.
Since there aren’t really that many White Lanterns, keeping Kyle as one could have been the perfect character to continue on as one.
One thing they mention throughout Kyle’s White Lantern was his limitations. While he was progressively learning the works, which included being able to access the other Corps, there were still areas he needed work in. One of the bigger ones being his in ability to preserve life. It was probably the reason that he could not help Sinestro’s people (around the time of Rebirth from what I recall).Part of this could be contributed to Kyle being a young White Lantern.
As a budding White Lantern, he would still have a lot to learn. Sure he still has familiarity with the other Lantern Corps under his belt, but that’s the thing, those are the other Corps. If he had a question about Blue Lantern concepts and techniques, he could ask Saint Walker. Guy would be a preferable source of Red Lantern knowledge than Atrocitus (a.k.a. an ally vs a not so friendly Red Lantern). However, as stated in the previous point, he is the only White Lantern. So not only is he a young White Lantern, he is the only White Lantern. So mastering the abilities of this particular Corps is going to be difficult.
While he did have a good portion of New Guardians to get an introduction to being a White Lantern, he didn’t have as much experience as he did with being a Green Lantern (be it before or during the New 52). Had they kept him as a White Lantern, he could have had more time to hone his skills.
As the resident artist, this could work from a personal perspective, being able to access the other Lantern Corps as a White Lantern works. I previously mentioned how white light is the culmination of all colors (e.g. shining a light through a glass on paper/a white surface, you see a rainbow). And as White Lantern, he can utilize all of the other Corps (except Black). Color is something that is regularly used in art, be it in paint, pencil, etc. And while there are instances of black and white being used, in this context, I don’t see that working for Kyle.
As a graphic artist, Kyle is familiar with color, so from a symbolic perspective, it works. Because while white is also considered a shade, how he got to be a White Lantern feels like the concept of white light having color. It may not be the most in depth reason, but one that would certainly fit the character.
All in all, I believe that Kyle should have stayed a White Lantern. It would have helped him stand out more from the other Lanterns, he could have grown into the role with more training, and, in a way, fits with his career as an artist. Kyle could have gotten quite a bit of development if he had.