Green Lantern: New Guardians #1
“Green Lantern: New Guardians, Part One”
Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Tyler Kirkham
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover artists: Kirkham & Batt
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US
As I’ve noted in many reviews before, I’m a big fan of the Lantern Corps of Many Colors concept writer Geoff Johns brought to the Green Lantern titles in recent years, and of the four Green Lantern-related titles launched as a part of DC’s New 52, this is the one that capitalizes on the notion more than the others. That being said, it’s also weighed down by recent GL continuity more than those other titles as well (or just as much as Red Lanterns). That makes writer Tony Bedard’s choices in the opening flashback all the more puzzling. Ultimately, he’s trying to set the stage with this first issue, but as a result, one really doesn’t get a sense of what the story’s meant to be about. Obviously, the title and the cover image suggest the book will be about a team of Lanterns from each facet of the spectrum, but there’s no explanation of why they’ll remain a team or be dubbed the “New Guardians.” The art is capable and clear, but it’s a bit too extreme at times. Furthermore, it shows where DC is at in terms of creative influences and what it wants its super-hero books to look like overall.
Across the universe, members of the various Lantern Corps — red, yellow, violet and the like — mete out justice in their own particular ways, but several lanterns, one of each color, find their rings taken from them, generally at the worst possible moments. Those rings make their way to Earth, offering themselves up to a single wearer. Unfortunately for that individual, representatives from the Sinestro Corps, the Star Sapphires, the Indigo Tribe and the Red Lanterns all arrive to discover what’s happened to the rings and who’s responsible for the deaths of their comrades. Meanwhile, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner saves a number of lives, but that doesn’t stop bystanders from lamenting they didn’t get to see one of the “real” Green Lanterns in action.
Bedard opens the issue by retelling the origin of Kyle Rayner, demonstrating how he was granted the last of the Green Lantern in the wake of the destruction of the Green Lantern Corps and the defeat of the Guardians of the Universe. Of course, his script doesn’t explain who was responsible for the devastation on Oa (Hal Jordan), and lacking from the opening of the scene is a caption to indicate it’s a flashback. As far as I can tell, there’s no clear reason to include Kyle’s origin. It seems to me it would be enough to establish he’s one of four men from Earth to wield GL rings at the moment. I realize the plot will require Bedard to explain what makes Kyle so special, but there’s really nothing in the origin flashback to indicate what sets him apart from other Green Lanterns.
The cover does a decent job of conveying the conflict in this issue and the colorful array of characters that make up the title team. Now while I’m pleased the lineup includes two female characters, it’s disappointing to see how they’re posed in this action-packed cover image. Bleez’s boobs seem to be her focus rather than her monstrous nature, and Fatality’s in an impossible position that somehow accentuates her breasts and her butt at the same time. I do like the white background, as it allows the art to stand out, but the “New Guardians” logo is kind of boring, looking like typical super-hero fare.
During the opening flashback scene, I was struck by Tyler Kirkham’s artwork, in that it didn’t look like it usually does. There’s a distinctly Jim lee look to the style in that scene, something that’s popped up in a number of other of the New 52 titles in September. Kirkham’s usual style comes to the forefront later in the issue, and his exaggerated style works well with the action-oriented plot. The scene spotlighting a member of the Sinestro Corps early in the comic struck me as being far too graphic in tone. The character’s demise could’ve been easily conveyed without all of the gore, and it just felt out of place in this otherwise colorful, energetic comic book. I’m a bit torn when it comes to the Fatality design. While we’ve seen far Star Sapphire costume designs that objectified the female characters far more obviously and egregiously, there’s really no explanation for the “unzipped” look to her chest. Then again, the rest of the outfit is more appropriate in design.
While I’m intrigued by the catalyst for this opening story arc, Bedard’s script and plot are ultimately disappointing. It’s a shame he didn’t spend the opening flashback scene explaining the multiple Lantern Corps concept, detailing the different emotions they represent and powers they possess. Furthermore, I didn’t get a sense of where this story is headed at all, why these characters will be considered “new Guardians.” Here, we see them in conflict with one another, and I get why they’d fight one another, but I’d rather learn about what’s going to bring and keep them together. 5/10
Follow Eye on Comics on Twitter.