Zamaron — A Green Lantern Femme-Site











{July 24, 2006}   Agency and Empowerment: A Look at Evil’s Might

A story of Freedom…

Evil’s Might is an Elseworld story set in old New York. It’s about Kyle Rayner, a gangmember by day, political cartoonist by night who ends up discovering something special about a dusty old Lantern and becoming a hero.

However, as much as Kyle might be the titular hero, Evil’s might isn’t really his story. The true story centers around another.

Her name is Carol Ferris.

We first meet Carol, this Carol, outside City Hall, with table and pamphlets and signs drawn up. “Give Women The Right to Vote”.

Automatically, she’s set up as an interesting counter to Kyle’s first scene.

Kyle’s being led by his friend/mentor Alan Scott, who happens to be a gang leader. He himself appears to hold a fair bit of power in the gang as well and is in fact able to interfere with Alan’s shakedown of a shopkeeper. The shop keeper then gifts him with an old lantern in gratitude.

Kyle’s in a fascinating position here. He’s portrayed as passive, rather than active, reacting rather than acting. His power is given to him, bestowed on him because of his youth, his ethnicity and his sex.

Carol’s in the opposite position. She’s active however, she has no power. We see a few supporters, but we also see her trying unsuccessfully to get attention from others. The police arrive to call her away, though the tension is lifted by the presence of one. Her fiance, Inspector Hal Jordan, who manages to defuse the situation with charm, but in the process he’s taken her power away from her. When the confrontation began, Carol was willful, independent and intelligent, more than ready to defend herself, however, thanks to Hal’s interference, we’ll never see that scene end.

Carol is powerless. She has money, but that serves to actually weaken her, as one of the cops belittles her as a “bored rich girl”. She is however active, aggressive in pursuit of her goals.

Now Carol’s aforementioned scene creates another parallel to her first meeting with Kyle Rayner. They collide outside a public library. The collision was deliberate on Carol’s part, so she can ask him to sign.

Thus far in the scene, the elements of agency and power remain the same as in the very beginning. Carol is active to Kyle’s passive. She engages the collision and the conversation. However, he holds the power of whether or not to sign. Which he does, on the agreement that she see him later that night.

What’s interesting about this though is the comparison with the original scene with Hal and Carol. Outside city hall, Hal defuses her complaints with a grand kiss, leaving her breathless. The final caption accompanying the scene change is her friend remarking on a woman’s need for reputation.

This scene however is different. Kyle’s own overture is still that of the man with leverage but the end of the scene plays out differently. Carol gets the ending line this time, when scolded that she’s engaged. “I’m engaged, Elinor, not dead. And frankly my dear, you sound just like my father.”

It’s a subtle difference but prominent. The chance meeting, the decision to go along with the poor Irishman’s challenge, has given Carol a faint bit of leverage. A tiny bit of power with which to exert her independence and intiative.

From this point, the story truly gets moving. Kyle Rayner discovers the truth behind his gifted Lantern and seizes it and the chance to be more than Alan. He is becoming active for the first time.

Carol’s own achievement of power is slower. On a more personal level. She takes her first steps toward true independence through her interest and fascination with the very unseemly costumed fellow at the ball despite the rules of propriety.

(The costume ball perhaps also has an interesting bit of symbolism in that Hal is dressed as George Washington to her Statue of Liberty. She’s dressed as an object and a symbol rather than a true human being)

However Carol’s true declaration of independence might have been inspired in part by Kyle, it was not because of him. When she finally has enough and throws Hal Jordan’s ring into his face, it has nothing to do with Kyle. It has to do with Hal’s arrogance and presumption.

After that point, there’s a change in the dynamic between Carol and Kyle as well. Kyle has the magical power but Carol is the one with knowledge. Through her research, she discovers more about the nature of the ring/lantern. They, therefore, become equal.

The third and last issue of Evil’s Might takes both characters to the culmination of the story. Alan Scott has found the Lantern. Now both super-powered characters duel it out. Alan is defeated but in the process Kyle is mortally wounded. He gives the ring to Carol when he dies.

There’s an interesting detail to the fight though that might be worth noting in terms of any sort of symbolic reading. When Alan begins to lay waste to New York, it is during Kyle and Carol’s wedding. She is the one to urge him to fight. She is the agent once more.

Which makes the culmination of the story particularly interesting. Kyle’s passivity and inability to properly deal with Alan beforehand is essentially the root of the final battle. His carelessness allowed Alan access to his great weapon. Even at the final fight, he’s passive, she has to convince him to defy propriety and leave him at the altar.

The ending thus seems inevitable. Kyle lives out the final end of the passive reactionary. He gives a pretty speech and dies a martyr. When Carol receives the ring, it is only right. The story stops there merely because once agency and power are united, victory is assured.

In the end, the story is hers more than his. He doesn’t change or grow. He’s a good guy doing good things, but no more than that. Carol is the one to grow and change. She’s the one that casts off her bonds and becomes powerful. And she is the one flying high and strong in the end.

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Never thought about Kyle being a passive character in this story but… wow.

Good analysis. This is one of my favorite Green Lantern stories of all time…



kalinara says:

Thanks! Glad you liked it!



Tinderblast says:

This is a really interesting, detailed analysis that makes me want to read the story involved. Time to add another book to my ever-growing “check it out” list, and thanks for writing this up!



SallyP says:

Sheesh…is it me or does Kyle come off as kind of a…wuss? I haven’t
run across this particular story, but it certainly sounds interesting,
so I’ll keep an eye out for it. Nice interpretation, as usual.



kalinara says:

Tinderblast: Aww, thanks. I’m glad you liked it.

SallyP: Well…I don’t think he’s written particularly out of character here, it’s just that he’s in a situation that doesn’t really allow the opportunity to show off his strengths. 🙂



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