Green Lantern: New Guardians #15 Review

Green Lantern: New Guardians came out a couple of weeks ago and between the holiday season and having a difficult time rationalizing some of the continuity breaking ramifications this issue conjures up I’ve been putting off my review.  But with the new year I’ve got to get back in the saddle again and get this site caught up with the times.  So with that being said, issue fifteen has Kyle can crew travelling to Okaara so that Kyle can come one step closer to mastering the entire emotional spectrum.

The Story – 

The issue opens with several Zamarons observing members of the Third Army taking on and assimilating members of the Spider Guild in Sector 2828, noting that it is only a matter of months before the Guardians’ plan to rid the universe of free will succeeds.  Arriving on Okaara before the Third Army are Kyle Rayner, Carol Ferris and Arkillo on their mission to help Kyle master the remaining parts of the emotional spectrum.  Carol admonishes Kyle for his cocksure attitude while Arkillo continues to scoff at the notion of a human mastering all seven emotions just to save Hal Jordan.
The three are greeted by Sayd resulting in a flashback to two years ago when Kyle first arrived on Oa for training and she and Ganthet first began their exploration of the other emotions.  Their trip down memory lane is cut short by Larfleeze, who informs the group that he has no inclination to help them.  Carol uses the power of her ring to peel back the layers of corruption from the Orange Lantern resulting in her understanding his tragic loss.  With Carol promising to help Larfleeze connect with his family Agent Orange agrees to help Kyle learn to wield the power of avarice.  In moments Kyle is consumed by the Orange Lantern, but the Third Army arrives and Larfleeze launches an attack at them before Kyle can attempt to harness the energy.
Sayd urges Kyle on and in moments he uses the power of avarice to join the fray, earning the wrath of Larfleeze.  Carol uses her power to snap Kyle out of it in hopes that he will be able to use the teleportation abilities of the Indigo Tribe to help them all escape.  Sayd sacrifices herself by staying behind as the others escape, imploring Kyle to be Ganthet’s savior.  Unknown to all of them Ganthet and the rest of the Guardians have been watching everything unfold through the eyes of the Third Army and while Ganthet seems momentarily moved by the loss of his love, the issue ends with him flying off vowing to be Kyle’s undoing.
And like that another color is seemingly mastered.
The Writing – 
While I do not mean to repeat myself I find I have to say this once again in my review of what’s going on in this issue.  There’s simply too much trying to be accomplished here and the story suffers from the lack of room to be the epic story it should be.  This isn’t the writer’s fault and Tony Bedard does a good job trying to cram in everything that needs to be there for the greater narrative of the Rise of the Third Army but in doing so it minimizes what should be Kyle’s defining moment.  One page is spent with Kyle overcoming Larfleeze to get to the battery and when the time comes the only obstacle that gets in his way is becoming overwhelmed by the power itself.  
That said, before I tackle what I find the most troubling thing about the Green Lantern universe in the post-Flashpoint relaunch I want to point out the strengths of this issue.  The panels spent on Carol’s probing of Larfleeze really showcase how three dimensional Agent Orange really is.  On the surface he can come off as a one trick pony, but there’s all that tragedy lying underneath that makes this character one of the best things to come out of the Johns’ era.  I only hope that this subplot is not left dangling out there for too long.
The scene between Carol Ferris and Larfleeze is one of two spectacular moments in this issue.
The issue’s strongest point though are the closing moments when Sayd apparently makes the greatest sacrifice in hopes that it will result in the salvation of the one person she loves most.  It was a powerful scene that completely caught me off guard and perhaps the most captivating part of the whole sequence was how Ganthet responds to what he sees.  There’s a part of me that thinks that this snapped Ganthet out of it and his departure is simply a cover for him to escape and find Kyle to help him in his journey.  It’s the same part of my brain that keeps telling me that Sayd might not really be dead, instead tricking the Guardians knowing somehow that they were watching.  I’m probably wrong on both accounts, but I’ll keep hoping until we see how it all unfolds.  At any rate Sayd’s sacrifice surely caught many readers by surprise and this is just another example of how the creative teams are willing to make bold moves to propel the mythology along.
There is, however, a big issue to be dealt with that has major ramifications for the whole Green Lantern universe.  It had been mentioned several times in the past that both the Batman and Green Lantern post-Rebirth continuity, while compressed, remained mostly intact.  When New Guardians first launched the opening pages were filled with an abbreviated retelling of the loss of the Corps and Ganthet, the self professed last Guardian, choosing Kyle intentionally outside the bar.  This didn’t alter much other than re-define that Kyle’s selection was not a random act and flesh out his pre-Green Lantern existence a bit.  While the events of Emerald Twilight were not specifically mentioned it was quite clear to anyone with a working knowledge of the continuity that this was quite obviously the history we’ve always thought it to be.
However fourteen issues later this issue contradicts not only what we thought we knew, but it runs roughshod over the continuity established in the first issue.  Here we see Kyle now arriving on a perfectly fine looking Oa surrounded by the Corps and the Guardians and reporting to Kilowog for training.  I’m seriously scratching my head over this one for a number of reasons and here’s just a few:
  • If Emerald Twilight happened then how could these events unfold two years ago – the length of time that DC has said Kyle had the ring?  That would mean that he was the “torchbearer” for an incredibly short period of time.  
  • If Emerald Twilight didn’t happen, then neither could Green Lantern: Rebirth.  So then why was Kyle chosen at all?  What happened in the first issue to make Ganthet the last of the Guardians?
  • What about how the Earth lanterns resisted Parallax during War of the Green Lanterns?  If Rebirth is no longer a part of the continuity then they never overcame Parallax and therefore couldn’t have withstood him later on. 

See what I mean?  This is to Green Lantern what suddenly seeing  Thomas and Martha Wayne at Bruce’s high school graduation would be to Batman!  And that’s just the stuff that comes to mind off the top of my head.  I can’t seem to find a way to not only rectify this within the larger fabric of the DC Universe let alone with the series’ first issue.  Until this is explained in some way I’m just planning on pretending that page just contained Ganthet and Sayd’s conversation but in all honesty I’m really shaking my head about this and it undermines what I’d consider a good issue.
Ganthet seems unfazed by Sayd’s death – or is he?
The Art –
Aaron Kuder makes his debut as the ongoing artist for the series and he does a good job for his first issue.  I met Kuder at a show and saw some of the work he was doing on this particular issue and knew we were in for a treat, but that was tempered by his lack of knowledge about who he was drawing!  Kidding aside, Kuder’s work is creative and he has a nice clean style that I think will work well on this title.
I particularly liked his opening pages and seeing the Third Army take on the Spider Guild as well as how he used the sapphire facets when Carol was using her ring to get into Larfleeze’s mind.  Speaking of Larfleeze, Kuder’s work to portray the sadness in Larfleeze’s eye, punctuated by the mandatory tear, was a nice touch.  
While Kuder has altered some of Larfleeze’s features and some times it’s a bit distracting, I particularly liked how visually Larfleeze seemed to transform when he could not control his own avarice.  The use of snake constructs at those moments were a nice link back to the origins of Ophidian as well.  All in all this issue was artistically sound and I’m looking forward to what Aaron is going to bring to the series.  If you haven’t already listened to it, the Podcast of Oa moderated a panel with Aaron used it as the basis for one of our episodes which you can listen to here.
What Do I Think?
New Guardians continues an unfortunate trend of over simplifying what should be a much more powerful story in order to work itself into an editorially mandated timeline.  Despite the fresh new artistic outlook the stunted story telling and a major continuity contradiction lessens what would normally be an above average issue.  Three out of five lanterns.

About the author

Life long Green Lantern fan and co-host of the Podcast of Oa. I'm a Barbecue snob and aficionado of blues music. Hal Jordan is my co-pilot!

Related

JOIN THE DISCUSSION