Poor Kyle Rayner. He never asked to be a Green Lantern. To his credit, though, once he was stuck with the job, he rose to the challenge and turned out to be a darned good Green Lantern -- all despite the fact that within a few short days of becoming Green Lantern, Kyle's girlfriend, Alex, was murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator, and then Kyle was roped into a cosmic-scale battle with his insane and much more powerful predecessor, Hal (Parallax) Jordan. Yep, Kyle took everything in stride and took on the responsibility of a Green Lantern -- and the responsibility of being Hal Jordan's cosmic janitor. Hal certainly didn't make things easy for Kyle, and was never more of a trial for Kyle than in the story "Shared Lives," in Green Lantern Annual #4 (written by Ron Marz and Kevin Ferrera, drawn by Tom Grindberg and Joe Phillips).
The story opens in the home of the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, where Hal Jordan (possessed by Parallax) has suddenly appeared. Alan, alas, does not show up in time to stop Hal from stealing his Green Lantern power battery and disappearing with it.
Hal then appears at Warriors, interrupting Guy Gardner, who is in a really foul mood and lamenting the death of Kilowog. Guy's mood doesn't improve when Hal shows up and demands Guy's old Green Lantern power battery: "You don't NEED it any more ..."
Of course, Guy doesn't give up anything without a fight, but Hal brushes him aside like he was nothing, takes the battery, and vanishes.
Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner is planning a date with Donna Troy and getting ready to wrap up an art job before hitting the hay for the evening. Kyle has no idea that something really weird is about to happen ...!
The scene shifts to the abandoned Ferris Aircraft. Hal has brought the stolen power batteries to an old hanger and set them up so he can reach Alan's with his left hand and Guy's with his right. Hal then sticks his fists into the power batteries, in an apparent attempt to charge up with both of them.
At the same time, Kyle changes to Green Lantern to get some air by taking a flight around the city. He goes to charge his power ring, and ZAP!
Suddenly, Kyle is outdoors in broad daylight, hovering over open sea, and dressed in Hal Jordan's old, original Green Lantern uniform. He's also engaged in a classic Cold War-era Hal Jordan-type activity:
To Kyle's relief, he seems to be handling the explosion okay. Things really start getting weird for him, though, when he's suddenly confronted by a VERY old enemy of Hal's:
It's the Invisible Destroyer!
Kyle is still very confused, but he doesn't have any trouble at all in removing the threat of the nuclear explosion, and catching and confining the Invisible Destroyer. The job done, he flies off to figure out what the heck has happened to him.
"All right," says Kyle, "I'm in Hal's old costume, in Hal's old city, wearing his old ring, fighting an old enemy of his too, I imagine. I don't like where this is leading. Could I actually be stuck in Hal's life? And if I am ... what's happening to mine?"
What's happening to your life, Kyle? Well, as it happens, Hal Jordan, in Kyle's uniform, has suddenly appeared at a moment in Kyle's history when girlfriend Alex is still alive. VERY much alive:
Hal may be in the company of a gorgeous babe, but he's VERY confused. Things have NOT gone the way he planned. Charging up with Alan's and Guy's power batteries was supposed to give him more power, and he can't imagine what went wrong. At any rate, he's too distracted by what's happened to really appreciate Alex trying to cheer him up:
Alex leaves the room, giving Hal a chance to mull over the situation. "This isn't my costume, obviously. This isn't even my ring," Hal mutters to himself. "They both belong to that kid who replaced me. Kyle. And that woman. She's Kyle's girlfriend. Her name is ... Alex, I think. But he told me she was killed."
Alex comes back into the room, AND:
Wow. Now, you KNOW Hal isn't in his right mind when he rebuffs the advances of a scantily-clad babe (a babe that isn't a Star Sapphire, that is)! But he really does duck out of the apartment with a hasty apology to Alex, and he takes off to sort out his situation:
Meanwhile, Kyle is trying to figure out what's happened to him, and how he can get out of this mess and back to his own life. He reckons that since this all happened when he was charging his ring, he needs to find another power battery in order to put things back the way they were. He spots the very busy and definitely not abandoned Ferris Aircraft and heads toward it -- and it quickly becomes apparent that he's NOT used to being around an airfield:
"That thing almost killed me!" he sputters as he lands and switches to civilian garb. "This place is dangerous."
Kyle goes wandering into a hanger, where he runs into Hal's old buddy and mechanic, Tom Kalmaku:
Kyle then runs into the gorgeous and formidable head of Ferris Aircraft (and Hal Jordan's former boss and girlfriend), Carol Ferris. In true Carol Ferris form, she immediately starts giving him hell:
"Test pilot? Me?" says Kyle. "Oh no, don't think so. Too dangerous for me, thanks."
Carol threatens him one more time and then storms off. Kyle goes in search of a logical place for a power battery -- and the most logical place, of course, is the pilot locker room, where Kyle finds a locker with his name on it. He opens the locker and -- yay -- there's a power battery! (AND there's a calender pinup of a hot babe. But what else would you expect to see in Hal Jordan's locker?)
Meanwhile, Hal is coming to a decision about the predicament he's in. Sure, it isn't what he planned, and he feels he doesn't belong there, but "just the same, it FEELs right. Alex. The apartment. This ring. Being a HERO again ... I just have to figure out what to do about Alex."
Hal flies back to the apartment ...
... and ...
OMG, it's the villain Major Force! He's about to murder Alex and stuff her into the refrigerator!
Poor bastard doesn't stand a chance:
The villain thus dispatched, the hero rushes to the fair damsel's side:
A battery! Hal now has the entire Green Lantern ensemble. Goody, goody!
Speaking of batteries, Kyle changes back into uniform and looks over the battery that he's found in the pilot locker ("Not exactly the latest model."). Suddenly, a hologram of one of the perpetually powerful and perpetually clueless Guardians of the Universe appears.
"Kyle Rayner, Green Lantern of Sector 2814--" the Guardian bellows, "--there now exists a situation of grave and universal import toward which you must turn your immediate attention. As you know, the Dulong Bio-Physics Company has an experimental station in Coast City."
"I know that?" Kyle mutters.
"Early this morning," the Guardian continues, "their scientists bombarded a selection of rare compounds with cosmic rays. One compound contained a micro-organism. The cosmic rays caused the organism to evolve at an astronomical rate--" Blah, blah, blah ...
(NOTE: What the Guardian is actually describing here is The Creature That Couldn't Die, one of Gil Kane's most memorable monster designs from way back in Showcase #24, 1960.)
Finally, the Guardian caps off his speech with the directive, "GO!" Kyle appears more than a little amused by the whole thing.
Essentially, Kyle blows off the Guardian and flies out of the hanger -- and gives Carol Ferris an opportunity to admire his backside:
"I've got more important things to do right now," says Kyle, "like getting the heck out of Hal's life ... and back into my own."
At the same time, Hal and Alex are back in the apartment examining their predicament and trying to determine what to do about it (with Major Force still trussed up like a turkey in the background). Hal is still undecided about what he should do about being stuck in Kyle's life, and Alex is completely confused by Hal's confusion. At one point, she even asks Hal if he wants to see other women ...! ("No. NO! That's not what I'm saying!")
Then Alex gives Hal a big ol' kiss ...
... and asks if he'll stay with her. A very guilty-looking Hal thinks it over for a moment and then says, "Yes."
Just at that moment, Kyle begins charging his ring. And right when Hal decides that, hell yeah, he really likes Alex and wants to remain Green Lantern in Kyle's reality after all, he charges HIS ring:
When next we see our two boys, everything is back the way it was, and both of them are standing at Alex's grave. Kyle, who apparently has been filled in on everything that happened, is VERY angry, and very much in denial about the experience that Hal had with Alex. And Hal apparently can't resist rubbing salt in the wounds.
Then the two essentially grind their teeth at each other and fly away, in separate directions, leaving a green, ring-generated rose on Alex's grave. Ah, but exactly which one of them left the rose? Hmmmmm ...
You know, it really is amazing that Kyle and Hal now get along as well as they do.
I assume Kyle also found and returned Alan's and Guy's power batteries.
Next tale: Kyle cleans up after Hal Jordan AND Alan Scott!