Following the cataclysmic events of the previous issue, Kyle Rayner returns to Earth not as the universe’s sole remaining Green Lantern, but as the supercharged Ion. His new powers make him near omnipotent, giving control over all matter and energy conversions. He can speed up chemical reactions, just as easily as he can suspend gravity, or cause a mind to not pick up a rock to throw. What’s more, using the Ion, Kyle can duplicate his presence multiple locations. Within the first few pages of the comicbook, Kyle has feed starving masses in Africa, restructured soil there to allow for crops to grow, prevented a drive-by in Oakland, slowed a careening truck in Mexico, DF and foiled a bank heist in London. His power is at once incredible, and fearsome.
Instead of focusing on the exhilaration of Kyle’s newfound powers, writer Judd Winick chooses to present “Day One” as a character study of Kyle himself. Readers easily dismiss the early fears of supporting characters, particularly the fears of Jen, Kyle’s girlfriend and daughter of Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott. Surely it is simply a case of other characters being unable to comprehend the full scope of Kyle’s powers. Surely the Kyle Rayner readers have come to know over the past 100 issues remains unchanged?
As the pages turn, readers find increasing validation for Jen’s fears. If Kyle could easily, and perhaps innocently, “suggest” to his roommate’s subconscious the desire to buy coffee, what else is Kyle doing to manipulate human minds? Is Ion suddenly becoming a beloved superhero a natural response, or is Kyle himself nudging public opinion? As these question’s around Kyle’s influence and values mount, his dark side is glimpsed at when he brokers a peace on the distant planet Tendax by simply preventing any act of violence. To what lengths would Kyle go to ensure peace? And at what cost to personal freedom would such an enduring peace come? Is this the beginning of Kyle’s transformation into a tyrant with universe-wide reach?
In the closing stages of the book, wholly unaware of the events on Tendax, Jen stages an intervention. Can Kyle prove his humanity to her by foregoing his power for just one night. Ultimately Jen concedes the point of his simple vanity in giving himself a haircut is the most human of things to do. The book ends on a melancholy note as Kyle and Jen enjoy a movie together, with Ion nowhere in sight. It is not until the final page that Kyle himself confirms Jen’s and readers’ worst fears. He has not only lied about using his power, but is now completely addicted.