One of the biggest surprises of last year was the return of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman to larger DC continuity. It was always kind of in continuity before, but any references to the series or its characters have to be approved by Gaiman and most were oblique at best, or unauthorised at worst, with one miniseries outright cancelled because of a character’s supposed relationship with The Endless.
However, with Dark Nights: Metal, The Sandman isn’t just in continuity, the titular character, Dream, is a major player in the event series. Since the end of The Sandman, Dream has appeared sparingly in the DC Universe, but an off-handed remark made by the character twenty years ago could mean big things for the future of the Green Lantern Corps going forward in 2018.
Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These
To be clear, the Dream that we’re talking about is not Morpheus, the lead character of The Sandman for 90% of its run. The Dream that exists within DC continuity is his successor, Daniel Hall, the grandson of Hawkman and Hawkwoman and son of Silver Scarab and The Fury. Twenty years ago, Daniel appeared in a two-part JLA story, aiding the Justice League to defeat Starro by taking Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern into The Dreaming to rescue a little boy with the power to break free from Starro’s control. It was during this time that a short conversation between Dream and Kyle Rayner would go on to give the rookie Green Lantern the confidence he needed to establish himself in Hal Jordan’s shadow, and could now have major ramifications two decades later.
Dream’s assertions that Kyle will surpass Hal Jordan as the greatest Green Lantern is actually important to how the entire franchise was redefined by Geoff Johns in the mid-2000s. In the decades before Kyle, being Green Lantern was all about being “without fear,” but when Hal Jordan returned, he learned an important lesson. It’s not about being without fear, it’s about overcoming fear. Kyle Rayner was the first Green Lantern to understand this, and it set him on the path to being one of the greatest Green Lanterns in history.
In the aftermath of Hal’s return, Kyle became known as The Torchbearer due to his time as the only Green Lantern in the universe. He shined the emerald light during the Corps’ darkest time, and went on to be the wielder of the white light of life as White Lantern. In recent years, however, he has returned to his place as Green Lantern alongside Hal, Guy Gardner and John Stewart as The Four Corpsmen. But does Dream’s prophecy still stand? Will Kyle Rayner surpass the other Earth GLs?
In many ways, he already has. While Hal Jordan might be the featured player since his return, and his name is in the title of the current Green Lantern Corps title, it doesn’t mean that he’s the best at being Green Lantern. Kyle’s way of doing things changed the Corps in such a fundamental way it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t already surpassed Hal. Sometimes the greatest aren’t recognized in their time, so just because Kyle isn’t the Green Lantern right now, it doesn’t mean he isn’t one of the most important people, if not the most important person, to wield the green light of willpower.