Green Lantern Volume 3 #59 by Ron Marz, Darryl Banks, Romeo Tanghal, Steve Mattsson & Albert De Guzman is my second most important Comfort Food Comic. I couldnt even hazard a guess how many times I’ve read this one. To me its the best issue of the entire Marz Kyle Rayner run. It blends everything I could want in a comic: Christmas, superheroics, slice of life, other character cameos, romance, inspiration – it has it all!
Kyle Rayner is my favorite DC Comics character. He’s almost like a real life friend to me. But before I get into all of that let me flashback to 2006. After a long hiatus Ive come back into being a comics fan. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 and JMS’ Spider-Man comics as well as Ultimate Spider-Man were the siren call that brought me back in as a fan circa 2004. Brian Bendis’ monthly New Avengers really stoked the flames and thats when comics became my life permanently. Up until then, I’d been a Marvel only guy. I didnt care much for DC and I found it all super confusing and hard to get into. My oldest brother, who Ive never really been super close with, started chatting me up about comics one day and started describing Sandman and the further Vertigo stuff he loved. I visited him and he let me borrow all of the Sandman collections and sort of described the DC stuff he was into here. I fell in love. Sure, most of this content was Vertigo stuff, but it was all blooming from this huge mythic DC Universe. I decided to read all comics, not just Marvel. I started picking up all the big DC Comic essential collections: Swamp Thing, JLA, all the main Batman stories, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Kingdom Come and so on and so on as I started college. I was a real DC Comics rookie. Life was good. I was in a relationship with a girl I fell head over heels with in high school. I was growing up, starting college and really becoming comfortable with who I was and my identity. But graduation hit and lot of change happened very fast. I dont deal well with change. I decided to dorm to start college – I moved back home after 2 weeks I hated it so much. This new real love of mine moved and went to college an hour and a half away. College was rocky. I went for English as I was completely clueless as to what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was always somewhat of a writer so I figured that was as good a start as any. I could only take one English course for my degree while I also had to struggle through stats, astrology, art history & Polish. College started to become something I loathed. My only reprieve was reading more and more comics. I found myself skipping a lot and taking trips to Borders Bookstore to check out the comic books there. One such book I find while skipping school and spending my morning at Borders is Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight/New Dawn.
I WAS HOOKED! I sat in that Borders for an hour or two reading the entire book and immediately buying it. Now this is probably better suited to a future CFC article on Emerald Twilight/New Dawn but this was it. I had found my way into DC Comics through this new everyman Kyle Rayner. No longer was I just a guy who was reading all the main collections DC put out. I was invested in its universe. I was determined to jump into it and read everything I possibly could.
Flash forward to Summer 2007. Ive finished my first year of college, barely. My girlfriend, love of my life, breaks up with me. The distance, the immaturity, the lack of real life relationship experience, doomed it. I find myself utterly heartbroken. I find the path I’ve taken in life to be entirely unsatisfying. I spend most of this summer drunk every night, trying to hide from reality. My one healthy escape is comics. In August I read the Sinestro Corps Special and seeing that last page, become a converted monthly release buyer of DC Comics. Green Lantern becomes just about my favorite thing DC publishes. We move to September and school starting up again. I could barely muster enough energy to get out of bed in the morning, let alone go back to school. Im told I need to take a mandatory religion class or I wont graduate. My spirit is just about broken. Before I know it, I end up skipping about 3 straight weeks of school. I lie to everyone around me and end up at various bookstores, reading comics or scoping out any DC Direct figures I can find. Im still drinking heavily. I am suffering from full depression and I start to hate my life. My school had caught on and I either had to do some insane turnaround or I was getting kicked out. I at this point had pretty much realized college wasnt for me. It hadnt done a single thing to help me. It didnt put me on any type of path or give me any skills or help to find the career I wanted. It made me take mandatory bullshit classes and depressed me daily. I made the terrifying decision to drop out. I had to. My mental health was at an alltime low. Even comics couldnt cheer me up. I felt like I had nothing left to live for. My life was a blur and I didnt even feel like I was in it anymore. Soon after I hit rock bottom. I remember it was a Sunday afternoon. My friends had been busy, everyone had stuff going on. I tried to read some X-Force and I ended up throwing the book across the room. I tried to play some Metal Gear Solid 3 and I just couldnt even do anything. I left the house and went to Media Play where I ended up buying some Resident Evil action figures. I felt nothing. I was joyless. At this point, I had put a mini fridge in my bedroom. I came back home, slumped into bed and drank as many Budweiser beers as I could. The next thing I remember is my Mom waking me up late the next morning. I had vomited all over the place in my sleep. My bed, my sheets, my floor – just about my whole room was covered in puke. I had either blacked out or done it while I slept. My Mom was concerned, I was shocked. I had hit rock bottom. My life was lost to depression. I needed to fight back. I needed to turn my life around.
Cut to mid October. I reach out to my friends and family. I tell them I need to make changes. I resolve to live life on my terms. I resolve to be happy. I resolve to never let life rule over me. I will only be living by my choice and my joy from now on. I start to work full time at my family’s Construction Company. I turn back to comics for that joy and it helps. Sinestro Corps War is in full swing and its here that I find that love again. I hop on the internet and order every Kyle Rayner comic I can find. Continuing from the New Dawn tpb I start devouring Kyle’s adventures. Its here my life changed for the better. Sure, the absence of the college burden and the support of friends helped but Kyle Rayner SAVED me. I dont say that lightly. Being able to hop into this run of comics featuring a guy just like me at his own crossroads of life, resolving not to be depressed and soldier on as a hero really resonated with me. It was exactly the piece of media I needed that hit at the exact time it needed to. I know its corny but this run of comics is that important to me. It sparked joy in my life again. It helped me move on. It helped me finally reclaim my life back and be ME again.
I cant think of an issue that better sums up my whole experience working in synch with Kyle Rayner than issue 59. Kyle recently has had the responsibility of being Green Lantern thrust upon him. He’s lost the love of his life, his place in the world and had to deal with innumerable changes to what he considered normal. Instead of letting any of that keep him down, he fights on, dealing with the insanity of Zero Hour and ending up embroiled in a Titans Crossover. Its there he joins the team and starts reaching out to others again. He tries to move on and moves into a new apartment and starts to foster a relationship with Donna Troy. Its here our issue starts on Christmas Eve night as Kyle makes his way to Titans HQ for Monitor Duty. All the various Titans interact with him, letting him know he doesnt have to be alone. They give him a friend group, a family if he wishes it. ( We get some great Impulse moments in here!!)
Kyle meets up with Donna Troy who is also there. Besides Peter/MJ & like Supes/Lois; Kyle Rayner & Donna Troy may be my favorite comic book relationship ever. I absolutely adore the little touches put into them getting to know each other here. It’s all done so organically and relatably. The start of something special. What makes it even better is how its all framed by Christmas, the best Holiday ever. I absolutely go crazy for Christmas. Everything about it makes me overjoyed. Having it be a part of this issue really makes it something special.
This page here is an all time great. Showing Kyle doodling fun little jokes, band logos and anime Donna. Seeing a bored Green Lantern making a paddleball toy or a card partner with his ring is a delight. This slice of life fun is what I read comics for.
Its next we see how bad it can be when someone is alone and sad. Kyle unfortunately has his own dark subconscious thoughts manifest themselves through the ring in a heartbreaking version of his deceased girlfriend, Alex. Its so godamn sad. Again, parallel to my own journey in life; even a superhero isnt safe from these things. Its stuff like this that makes this run so special. You can really identify with Kyle’s struggles. Its an utterly human take on superhero comic books.
After helping a volunteer Santa from some thugs, Kyle sets out to patrol to help and clear his mind. Its here we get the best message. This is the powerful stuff that sticks with me. Life may be chaos. Kyle and me may have been in such a chaotic place, guessing at it day by day. But instead of thinking we are idiots, instead of sitting and wallowing in it, we both need to go do something. This was what I needed to hear at that point in my life. This was what endeared me so much to Kyle. His personal journey mirrored my own. I could live and grow side by side with him as I read. This stuff was an inspiration
Its here Kyle helps put a stop to Dr. Polaris and starts to realize life isnt all bad.
We then end the issue with Kyle going back to Titans HQ where Donna has come back to see him and give him a Christmas gift. The gift ends up being mistletoe and they kiss under it as the issue ends. OH MY GOD!! It just makes my heart swell up like the Grinch. It fills me with such joy.
So why is this comic special, why does it matter? Its an inspiration. It quite literally, saved my life and along with the rest of this run put me on a better, happier path. I owe a great deal to the power of this story. This comic shows how each comic can hit and affect people differently. It goes to show the power of stories. How they matter and help people. This comic is special in so many different ways. There would be no Dave Shevlin as I am now without this comic. There would be no Comfort Food Comics. My mental health would be a mess without this. And hey before I end this, Kyle Rayner is right. You cant wallow in depression. You NEED to live life for you. You need to find people, love and happiness. Things will always get better but you have to work at it and move past the challenges. Im living proof of it. I lived through this dark time in my life. I still work at the same company, deeply ingrained with a comfortable living wage. I reconnected with that past love and after a decade of being together, she is my wife. I own a house and an amazing dog with that girl. I have never once let depression get ahold of me since. I kept that vow and live life for my happiness. For anyone reading this, please dont ever let life beat you down too much. I know its sometimes almost impossible but please Live, and live happy.