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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Kyle Rayner
Green Lantern V / Ion


Kyle Rayner, who was for many years the principle Green Lantern of Earth in the DC Comics universe, is a lapsed Catholic. Rayner is sometimes known as "Green Lantern V" by comic book historians, as he is the fifth major Earth-born superhero to be known as "Green Lantern."

From: Matt Morrison, "Looking To The Stars 3.4.03: The Ultimate Guide To Kyle Rayner, Green Lantern Pt. 1", posted 03.04.2003 on "Comix Nexus" website (http://comicsnexus.insidepulse.com/article.php?contentid=7957; viewed 27 December 2005):

This guide is a reference tool for old-school fans of Kyle Rayner who need a quick way to find a certain story amongst their back issues and a guide for new fans, who are having trouble finding back-issues of the first series and having trouble following the back-story...

[Green Lantern] #93
Plot: Deadman guest stars as he (in Kyle's body) tracks a misogynist, lesbian-hunting serial killer, on Halloween night.

Continuity: Kyle never celebrated Halloween as a kid, because of his mother's devout religious beliefs. He and his mother are Irish-Catholic, though Kyle is non-practicing.

From: Andrew A. Smith (Scripps Howard News Service), "Comics superheroes of many faiths", published 3 February 2000 in The Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/religion/446482.html; viewed 30 November 2005):

Other established Catholics in comics include Kyle (Green Lantern) Rayner and Helena (Huntress) Bertinelli in the Justice League...
From: Steven M. Bergson, "Jewish Comics: A Select Bibliography" last updated 28 June 2005 (http://www.geocities.com/safran-can/JWISHC.HTM; viewed 23 December 2005):
Friedman, Michael Jan. "The Vessel" DCU Holiday Bash #1 (5th story) (NY: DC, 1997)
Although Kyle's not Jewish, he asks to tag along with his friends for a Hanukkah servive because "it sounded like fun." Rabbi Beccah (a woman) explains why Hanukkah is celebrated. When Kyle and his friends arrive at the Temple, they find the synagogue vadalized and learn that the vessel for the eternal flame (made of solid gold) was stolen as well. After transforming into his superhero identity (Green Lantern), Kyle tracks down the racists. However, his power ring runs out of energy because he forgot to recharge it. Miraculously, the ring gets its power back for long enough for Green Lantern to defeat the crooks, just as the oil in the ancient Temple burned long enough (8 days) for more oil to be delivered to Jerusalem. Rabbi Beccah delivers a great sermon that ends with the phrase "hope can keep a flame going when its fuel should long ago have run out."
The following review of an issue of Green Lantern which features Kyle Rayner is interesting in this context because of the degree to which the story explicitly relies on religious themes. The reviewer emphasizes that the plot elements in this issue have been used numerous times before in Green Lantern comics. But this review offers no information about Rayner's own religious beliefs and affiliation. From: Jason Cornwell, review of Green Lantern #168, posted 5 September 2003 (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/reviews/106279349837404.htm; viewed 13 June 2006):
Writer: Benjamin Raab

The book [Green Lantern #168, cover dated September 2003] opens with a religious ceremony on the planet Galtea coming under attack by a group of green clad warriors who tear into the gathered crowd with energy beams. We then join Kyle who has arrived at the scene of this massacre as the group responsible has left behind a Green Lantern symbol, to show their religion views Kyle as a godlike figure. As Kyle decides he has to put an end to these atrocities that are being committed in his name, we see he flies off to deal with this situation, and when Kyle is gone we see the religious leader who explained the situation to him is revealed to be the true mastermind behind the attack, and there is no group on this planet that is worshiping Kyle. However, this doesn't stop the true god of worship on this planet from showing up to give Kyle a rough time, as he views Kyle as a rival who is leading his worshippers astray. We then look in on Earth where we see Terry is busy making an appearance on television to promote a message of tolerance... Back on Galtea we see Kyle comes up with a plan where it is made to look like the true god of this world has killed him, thus ending any development of a religion worshipping him. Plus, Kyle also manages to expose the lying religious leader, who is revealed to be an agent of the Black Circle criminal ring.

Comments:
It's a bit difficult to work up much enthusiasm for this issue as it doesn't really do anything that I haven't seen dozens of times during my time as comic book reader. Essentially the plot is about as complex as your standard episode of Scooby Doo, as we have Green Lantern contacted to deal with a cult that has performed a series of massacres in Green Lantern's name, but any tension that might've developed is immediately dissipated when it's revealed that this murderous cult doesn't exist but rather Green Lantern's been brought in to do battle with a Thor wannabe, in the hopes that this battle with leave Kyle dead... Basically we get a rather self congratulatory little sequence where Terry gets to deliver pretty much the exact same message of tolerance he was making before, but this time it's to a national audience, so we can get the secondary feel good speeches about how brave he is to be delivering a public condemnation of hate crime. It's a nice message, but frankly it feels like it's simply repeating the idea that drove that earlier arc... The art also has some fun with Kyle's power, as there's a cute little moment where Kyle shows the angry god what a joke is, and it's always nice to see a battle where Kyle is allowed to make use of a wide range of attacks. The last page shot of Kilowog is also a pretty solid closing visual, as it this version of Hell certainly looks like a place where one wouldn't want to spend an eternity. However, the art doesn't hold up all that well when it comes to delivering some of it's big impact moments, as the page where the god is holding Kyle's body above his head isn't nearly as strong a visual as it needed to be. The same goes for the scene where the true villain is revealed to be an alien invader...

Final Word:
I guess my biggest complaint about this issue is that its an utterly predictable read, that offers up no surprising twists, and almost seems content to follow the safe, well traveled path instead of charting its own course. I mean there's not a single element in this issue that I haven't seen before, and what makes it even more disappointing is that Benjamin Raab seems to feel that this is all that's required of him. Now the main idea of the story is interesting, as we see Kyle is faced with the idea that there is a group of people on this planet that are committing horrible acts in his name, but this solid opening premise is quickly undercut by the revelation that this is all just a big ruse to bring Kyle into direct conflict with the powerful entity that is worshiped as this planet's one true god.


Arthur Teaches the Tick About Hannukkah comic book: superheroes discuss a major Jewish holiday

From: "Jewish Comics Exhibit Notes" webpage, last updated 5 December 2004 (http://www.geocities.com/hadassahfink/comicexhnotes.htm; viewed 4 July 2007):

DCU Holiday Bash #1
Green Lantern recovers the golden "eternal flame" vessel that was stolen from a synagogue, prior to Hanukkah services, by a gang of neo-Nazis.

Discussion

From "He's strong! He's powerful! He's fantastic! And he prays!" forum discussion page started 1 October 2002 on ToonZone.net website (http://forums.toonzone.net/archive/index.php/t-50423.html; viewed 11 January 2006):
LadyM
10-01-2002, 03:29 PM

I don't know that religion is really ignored in comic books. I'd say it turns up at least as much as it would in a regular series of novels or a TV series. Moreso, even.

Other characters whose religions I'm familiar with:

Fire is Catholic
Nuklon is Jewish...
Booster Gold is an atheist
Green Lantern (Kyle) is a lapsed Catholic

From: "What Religion is Your Favorite Superhero?" discussion board started 20 April 2006 on official website of DC Comics (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072337&start=30&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):
relmurmot
Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:30 AM

...What is the religion of the heroes we read about?... Don't get me wrong, not picking on anyone, just wonder what everyone thinks what our heroes believe. ...Other threads touch on the subject in passing, time to discuss it!


kpkcomicfan
Posted: May 5, 2006 11:06 PM

The Oans... Unitarian-Universalists... definitely not Amish!


austynsn
Posted: May 6, 2006 1:01 AM

I know Patrick "eel" O'brien (aka Plastic Man) was once said to be Catholic, and I think the same is true of Kyle Rayner (AKA Green Lantern/Ion)

From: "Kyle's fate" discussion board started 28 October 2004 on official website of DC Comics (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=60989307&messageID=60989852; viewed 12 May 2006):
shany94a
Posted: Oct 28, 2004 5:00 PM

Kyle's fate
He'll be somewhere in space - there's nothing really left for him on Earth.


bignappi
Posted: Oct 28, 2004 5:00 PM

But what is Kyle's Faith?


cyberhobo
Posted: Oct 28, 2004 5:00 PM

I think hes a Unitarian.


av8er
Posted: Oct 28, 2004 5:00 PM

Aren't most Irish and most Mexicans Catholic?


greenl
Posted: Oct 28, 2004 5:00 PM

He's Mormon, not that he shows it... It's fairly stupid to even give him a normal religion... It's fairly stupid to do that with any hero. It would cloud their judgement... Look what it did to Zauriel. He freaked out every few issues and he was a freakin' angel.


kalor
Posted: Oct 28, 2004 5:00 PM

Everyone has a religion that clouds their judgement, even if it's plain vanilla secular humanism.

Excerpts from: "Superman Wedding -- why a Christian ceremony?" newsgroup discussion started 11 October 1996 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4d17a1ff0ee9c715/d141c36005b90ea4; viewed 5 June 2006):
From: Douglas Ethington
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Email: Douglas Ethington

I always thought that Clark was most likely a Christian...

Anyway, this thread got me thinking about the other DC heroes and what their religious beliefs might be, so here are some of my thoughts (most of this MHO [My Humble Opinion]):

...Most of the supervillains probably believe themselves to be the equals of gods, and Superboy, Bart Allen, and Kyle Rayner probably haven't given much serious thought to religious matters. I'm not sure what Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, or a lot of other heroes believe, so I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.


From: aNdrEW MeLbOURne
Date: Wed, Oct 23 1996 12:00 am
Email: melbo...@mail1.sas.upenn.edu

re: "Just out of curiosity, is there any major character in the DC Universe definitely shown as being Jewish?"

Well... The one everybody's missing... Kyle Rayner, Green Lantern...


From: TM
Date: Wed, Oct 30 1996 12:00 am
Email: h...@newstand.syr.edu

Kyle Rayner is Jewish? When was this revealed?


From: Eric Fishbein
Date: Wed, Oct 30 1996 12:00 am
Email: eric.fishb...@zorro9.fidonet.org

If he [Kyle Rayner] is [Jewish] then this changes everything. Maybe he should get rid of the lantern and put a little Chai' in the center of his chest.

At least he could make a knish or blintzes with the ring when he's hungry, then we'd know for sure.... Bwah!


From: Roland X
Date: Thurs, Oct 31 1996 12:00 am
Email: rola...@ix.netcom.com

Well, THAT was tasteless, and I don't mean the blintzes. [grin]

It doesn't matter what religion Kyle is; he doesn't seem to be practicing anything. (Including how to use the damn ring.)

A schlemiel is a schlemiel, no matter where he comes from.


From: aNdrEW MeLbOURne
Date: Sat, Nov 2 1996 12:00 am
Email: melbo...@mail1.sas.upenn.edu

Sheesh. I was the guy who first posted about Kyle being Jewish, but, sadly, turns out I was mistaken. (I can't remember what I'm thinking of now, but there was something about religion and I could have sworn...)

But no. I was reading an interview with Marz in Wizard the other day and Kyle is Irish, and therefore, probably, Catholic or Protestant. While, it's possible that his father was Irish and his mom (who's at the same time alive and dead) was/is Jewish...

Now I'm just grasping at straws though...

From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=25; viewed 8 June 2006):

Stravo
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes

What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?

Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judaeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?


The Dark
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:01 am

...The Rayner Green Lantern is Catholic...

From: "Comic Book Characters Listed by Religion" forum discussion started 7 March 2006 on "Truth and Beauty Bombs" website (http://www.truthandbeautybombs.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=5569; viewed 10 May 2007):

Professor Stevie Freezie
Posted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 11:28 am

http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html


[http://www.truthandbeautybombs.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=5569&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=60]

justinpie
Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 11:46 am

I wonder if the guy who invented Kyle Rayner was Catholic. Kyle Rayner was "the superhero who was a comic book creator" which kind of stuck me as the most egotistical/unimaginative occupation for a comic book creator to give a comic book character.

For the philistines among us, Kyle Rayner was one of the Green Lanterns.

From: "Increasing comic circulation through different perspectives" forum discussion, started 30 November 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-15542.html; viewed 20 July 2007):

Matt Olsen
November 30th, 2005, 12:25 PM

I read Green Lantern: The Power of Ion last night. It was pretty good, especially for all of the character bits. The thing that struck me, though, was how thoroughly conservative its message was. And that was coming from Winick of all people.

I guess I'd better warn of spoilers for the Power of Ion storyline since some people are picking it up for the first time with the announcement of the new Ion book. Basically, Kyle gets these godlike powers that allow him to be everywhere at once solving problems. That's exactly what he does. Towards the end, Superman takes him aside and explains that you have to solve some problems, sure, but you also have to let people live their lives and deal with things themselves. Kyle agreed and relinquished the powers. If that's not a core conservative message, I don't know what is. And Kyle wasn't even asking for more taxes to do the work he was doing. :)

So, while I agree that the industry in general is left-leaning but those messages are out there if you watch for them.

Apparently an issue of Comic Book Marketplace inadvertently indicated that the Hulk had been revealed as Jewish when in fact the writer was trying to note that Ben Grimm ("The Thing") had been revealed as Jewish. This misprint prompted the following discussion. From: "What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?" forum discussion, started 12 November 2004 on IMWAN website (http://www.imwan.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=999; viewed 31 July 2007):

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:01 am
Kurt Anderson

It's rare for superheroes to appear in church, unless their religion plays heavily into their characterization (Wonder Woman, Daredevil). I don't see Batman or the Atom or Green Lantern going to church, but I don't assume they're athiest or agnostic. I work with dozens of people on a daily basis, have no idea if they attend mass unless they work it into a conversation (and very few do that).

From: "Need Help With A Research Project" forum discussion, started 9 December 2005 on the "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-16070.html; viewed 6 August 2007):

Steve Hollis
December 13th, 2005, 09:09 PM

re: "Additionally, we could also use some opinions on what characters/storylines best illustrate the following moral concepts:"

A. Redemption -- Green Lantern: Rebirth, characters--Spectre, Batman, Spider-Man
B. Faith -- Nightcrawler: Icons, character--Nightcrawler
C. Humility -- Green Lantern: The Road Back (even though it's not a favorite story), character--Kyle Rayner, Tim Drake
D. Hospitality -- the Excalibur storyline where Kurt mentored the crazy gang (I can pull my old issues if needed); character--Aunt May
E. Mercy -- characters--Dove

Thanks a lot! I might edit later if I think of more.


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