SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #21, on sale now.
As the Green Lanterns and their Sinestro Corps allies wage a war against the future on two fronts, secrets held within time traveler Rip Hunter’s modified ring hold tragic revelations for Kyle Rayner. The villain Sarko, who has brought the Green Lantern Corps to its knees in order to restore Sinestro’s legacy to the wielders of the yellow light, is in fact Kyle’s son with Soranik Natu, the Yellow leader — a familial tie Kyle learns just in time to watch Sarko die of injuries sustained in battle.
Sarko’s lineage was suggested from the beginning of the “Prism of Time” arc. Hailing from some point in the future, it’s clear he’s Korugarian from the purplish-pink hue of his skin, and his intense investment in protecting Sinestro’s legacy of terror would point to him being a direct descendant of the master of fear. As Soranik is Sinestro’s daughter, a connection seemed likely. Further, Kyle’s attempt last issue to rekindle his relationship with Sora placed him squarely as a contender for Sarko’s ancestor.
This issue, even as the Green and Yellow Corps fight for their lives, sans rings, against energy constructs conjured by Krona’s gauntlet at Sarko’s bidding, Kyle and Soranik seem on the road to reconciliation, sharing a kiss before their last stand.
When it’s clear the fight isn’t going their way, though, Kyle grabs Rip Hunter’s ring — a modified GL ring that can only be used for communication and data storage — from its chain around John Stewart’s neck and asks it how Sarko can be defeated. Its answer is telling, and also somewhat revealing about the Time Master’s usual methods: to defeat Sarko, “terminate” Kyle or Sora.
Screaming in agony, Kyle slips on his own ring and dashes off to Sector 563, where Hal Jordan and Rip Hunter have taken the battle directly to Sarko. As Hal battles and ultimately destroys the construct animating Krona’s gauntlet, which had once lent Hal its power during his rogue phase and which siphoned his will to become sentient, Sarko is fatally wounded when the energy being explodes.
Kyle arrives just to witness his son’s last words.
Kyle and Sora = OTP?
From his first appearance, the love interests of Kyle Rayner have been fraught. The girlfriend who helps him learn to wield the ring, Alex DeWitt, was murdered in short order by villain Major Force and stuffed in a refrigerator, an event which gave us the term “fridging” for the killing or harming of women to motivate a male character. Kyle next dated Donna Troy of the Titans, who left him in order to deal with the personal tragedy of the deaths of her children and ex-husband; her continuity was then shaken up so that she no longer remembered having feelings for Kyle at all. Then, Kyle enjoyed an enduring relationship with Jenny Lynn Hayden, aka Jade, the daughter of Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott. Though Kyle at one point proposed marriage, their relationship soured when he spent an extended tour of duty in space. Jade later died, and later still was resurrected during Brightest Day, but it’s unclear whether she exists in post-Rebirth continuity given that her father’s status is somewhat ambiguous at present.
Soranik Natu, who debuted in Green Lantern Corps: Recharge by Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons, fell in with Kyle while they were both Green Lanterns. Her love for Kyle was enough to save his life, with the help of the Star Sapphires’ energy, during Blackest Night, but Kyle later revealed that in that moment the energy of true love showed him Jade instead. Dealbreaker.
Unlike many of DC’s iconic heroes, there’s never been a sense of “the one” for Kyle. No matter the challenges they face, there’s a sense that Clark Kent will always find his way back to Lois Lane, that Barry Allen and Iris West will somehow live happily ever after. The Kyle/Jade pairing was a great romantic arc, but it’s never seemed imperative that they need to get back together; indeed, in the early days of the New 52 he was dating Carol Ferris, Hal Jordan’s on-again/off again girlfriend. Soranik, too, has not seemed in any hurry to restart her life with Kyle, preoccupied as she is with running and rebranding a cadre of fear-wielding warriors. Which is not to say she’s not interested; Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #21 shows that she clearly is.
But the question is, what happens now?
Rip Hunter’s ring revealed the truth to Kyle and Kyle alone; Soranik’s only clue that she holds any connection to Sarko is that the energy beings refused to attack her. Given what he knows, should he tell her?
Well, yes. But will he?
There’s also the matter of what this new information means for the fresh start to their relationship. Can Kyle go through with it, pursue Sora even though he knows their son will try to destroy everything their Corps have built? Will he try to fight the future, raising their child to never become Sarko? This rarely goes well in time travel epics; inevitably, a Sinestro cult or something will kidnap the baby and indoctrinate him in fear, or somesuch. How much he tells Sora, when and under what circumstances, has suddenly become the central conflict of Kyle’s life.
Kyle is a romantic, that has always been part of his charm and something that often makes him more relatable than steely hero Hal Jordan or perfect tactician John Stewart. But here’s the thing: Kyle’s also kind of bad at being a romantic. It’s easy to imagine him taking one of several paths he sees as noble and self-sacrificing but will ultimately lead him and the people he loves down a terrible spiral.
His next choice is vital.