Green Lantern (vol.3) #137 (June, 2001)
“The Bonds of Friends and Lovers”
Writer – Judd Winick
Pencils – Darryl Banks
Inks – Rick Faber
Colors – Moose Baumann
Letters – Chris Eliopoulos
Associate Editor – Michael Wright
Editor – Bob Schreck
Cover Price: $2.25
Uh-oh, it looks like somebody wants to end the romantic entanglement between Kyle and Jade. I wonder what sort of monster that could be tearing up that photo?!
Ready to find out…
We pick up where we left off last issue… which we haven’t covered here, but stands to reason it would’ve been the cliffhanger… where Kyle has just proposed marriage to Jade! She is taken aback, then hugs him… kisses him… and turns him down! She calls him a stupid, stupid man, and tells him he’s probably jumping the gun a little bit. Ya see, they finally got this whole relationship “thing” right, and she figures the worst thing they can possibly do is “push” it. Annnnd, she’s probably right.
She clarifies that this isn’t an outright rejection of marrying Kyle… it’s more of a “not yet”, which I suppose softens the blow… at least a little bit. She still wants the (Power) Ring though! Ya see, he was proposing with a Green Lantern Ring that had been in Batman’s possession for a little while now.
He sheepishly hands it over, and the first thing she does is whip up a construct wedding dress. Real jerk move there, Jen.
We jump ahead to later that day, Kyle’s at work when his assistant Terry Berg pops in with some coffees. T-Berg sees that Kyle’s a bit out of sorts and asks him what’s up… Kyle tells him about his proposal attempt to the green gal, and Terry doesn’t really react all that well to the idea. He actually throws a little tantrum.
He even goes so far as to refer to Jennie as a “green-skinned freak”. I’m not sure if that racist or speciest (is “speciest” a thing?). I mean, she’s human, right? Just that her skin is full’a chlorophyll… which, I guess wouldn’t make her a different race, necessarily. Uh, I’m not sure I’m supposed to be talking about this. Anyhoo, we’ll just let T-Berg say it.
Terry apologizes, and clarifies that he’s not mad at her… he just doesn’t want Kyle to be with her… because, well… you know.
Shortly after Terry storms out, Kyle is joined by his Art Director, Andre Whatshisface. Kyle (who is depicted as wearing his Green Lantern ring like all the time) tells Andre what just happened between he and Terry. He believes that the kid might’ve just “come out” to him. Now, here’s where it gets a bit funny. Kyle asks Andre how he handled “coming out”.
To which, Andre comes out to him… as a straight man! It’s actually funnier than I’m making it sound… one of the rare times Winick managed to get a chuckle out of me. Andre then flips the script, asking Kyle what he thinks people picture when they imagine an unmarried artist living in Greenwich Village.
Back at the homestead, Jennie razzes Kyle about being an offensive dipwad. Another cute scene, that gets a smile. I tell ya what, when Winick’s on, he’s really on. Banks’ facials here are spot-on as well.
But then, out comes the soap-box. Kyle wonders aloud how he should handle the Terry situation. His mind immediately goes to “the kid should speak to a therapist”. C’mon, Kyle… you don’t make a good strawman.
Jennie lights into Kyle, and tells him that what Terry needs isn’t a therapist, but a friend. She insists Kyle talk this out with him… and so, next thing we know, Kyle is at the Berg residence in Maplewood, New Jersey. Upon entering Terry’s room… it’s, uh… stereotypical. There’s a “Hunks” poster, as well as a Bette Midler one. There’s an rock poster behind him obscured by a word balloon which, we’ll eventually… thankfully learn reads “Ferrets”.
Kyle sits down and asks Terry if earlier that day he was trying to tell him that he’s gay. Terry says he isn’t sure what he is. All we know so far is he’s just an ordinary teen-age Bette Midler fan.
Kyle then starts talking as though he were the “mentor” figure in a Public Service Announcement. He ensures Terry that there’s nothing wrong with him, and empathizes with how confusing this all must be. He also tells him that he’ll always be around to talk if he needs him. Oh yeah, and that he’s flattered…
… but that he’s with someone. Terry cuts through the B.S. and reminds Kyle that, not only is he attached… he’s also, ya know, not gay. Kyle volleys back with the fact that Terry’s only 16… and the last thing Kyle needs is to be invited to “take a seat”. Note that he’s not leading with the whole “not gay” thing. More on my thoughts on that down below.
Kyle then rubs salt in the wound by asking if he can have a hug. Seems like one of those “least I can do” motions that a rejector offers to a rejectee… not that *cough* I’d know anything about that… ahem.
We wrap up with Kyle and Terry sitting down and wrapping up their conversation. Kyle tells Terry how brave he is by coming out.
This was a lot of fun. I feel like I’m saying that a lot. “This was a lot of fun”… say it so much, it almost feels meaningless. Well, I hope it doesn’t sound meaningless, because I’m bein’ sinceeyuh ova heeyuh.
Let’s jump right to the crux of this issue, Terry Berg coming out to Kyle. I give Winick a lot of guff for some of his less-than-subtle writing… but, I really feel like this was handled about as well as I’d have liked. Let’s go to the initial argument. Terry’s a sixteen year old boy, who is dealing with his sexuality, and who happens to sorta-kinda but definitely be crushing on his boss. A boss who can’t seem to shut up about his knockout girlfriend.
Stands to reason that Terry might lose his cool and lash out. It also stands to reason that Terry might not be as forthcoming with his emotions… disguising jealousy with anger, and disappointment with rage. We can see that in his lashing out, he appears to regret the things he says just as soon as they leave his lips. The “green-skinned freak” comment especially. The kid’s confused and angry… and isn’t sure how to properly express it. He isn’t sure if he’s even allowed to express it. I really feel like this might have been the perfect scene for depict this situation.
From there… Winick pulls back the tension, and gives us a legit “laugh/chuckle out loud” moment between Kyle and Andre. I hate using such a trite statement as “roller coaster of emotions”, but the juxtaposition here is just so well done. Kyle’s basically an emotionally punch-drunk rope-a-dope here… and he’s unwittingly insulting everyone around him. I think many of us have been in that situation a time or two before… recreational beverages optional.
The soap-box does come out… but in a far more subtle way than it would had this issue come out during “current year”. Kyle doesn’t make the best strawman here. He really doesn’t. Since Winick himself alluded to the stereotype of the “unmarried artist living in the village”, I feel like it’s okay for us to use it too. Now, being as though Kyle is an “unmarried artist living in the village”, it stands to reason that he’s (using Winick’s own stereotype via Andre) been around plenty of gay men and women of varying ages. You’d assume he’d be comfortable with that, and not call for a visit to the therapist straight out the gate… right? This bit seemed to have been written just to facilitate Jade’s speech… and doesn’t do Kyle any favors.
I get that Kyle’s being written as the good-looking guy who’s oblivious to the fact that he’s good-looking… but, that’s a trait that can only be “charming” for so long. I mean, within months of making his debut, he had Donna Troy and Jade fighting over him. Dude should know by now that he’s “in demand”. His obliviousness only comes off as his being aloof at this point. Aloof… or extremely stupid.
Kyle’s chat with Terry to close out the issue was well done, though perhaps a bit too “after school special-y”. I did take note of Kyle’s glossing over the fact that he’s not gay… which, back in 2001 sounds like he’s just doing his best to let Terry down gently. Discussing the other reasons why they can’t be together, to make the orientation of the situation the least of those factors. To my mind, he’s doing what he can for Terry not to feel different. I feel like in 2019, this scene would be all over social media as Kyle officially “coming out” as bisexual… because, we just don’t do subtlety anymore.
Overall… this was a really fun issue, that tackled a serious issue about as well as I’ve ever seen it handled. It wasn’t done for shock, it wasn’t done to bait USA Today into slumming it in the comics ghetto for a hot-minute… then again, last I looked, this isn’t a Marvel book. I feel this was done with an earnestness… this is clearly a very important subject to the writer, and I gotta say, he handled it with grace, class and most importantly, the respect it deserves. I highly recommend checking it out… it is available digitally.