I've been a little critical of Green Lantern: New Guardians lately and most of that criticism lies in seeing more potential from Kyle's journey than what we've seen coupled with some contradictions in continuity as we believe it to be. By and large I've really enjoyed this series so far and with the last installment in the Rise of the Third Army story I'm glad to see that the series is back on an upward swing.
The Story -
On Zamaron Kyle Rayner is deep in his training to master the power of the Star Sapphires as he revisits emotional turning points in his life up til now. But with Ganthet on way to have a showdown with his protege Kyle's training is stopped before the Sapphires can help him move past an emotional barrier which would allow him to achieve his goal. Kyle discovers that Carol Ferris, Arkillo and Saint Walker are still on their way back from their exploits on Tolerance while enroute to what he believes is a meeting with the Queen, however on arrival he discovers that it is Ganthet who lies in wait.
|Aaron Kuder unleashes his creativity as Ganthet unloads on Kyle|
Ganthet launches an assault on Kyle, who tries his best to hold his own despite being outmatched and without mastery of the power of love it's only a matter of time before he is defeated. While the Star Sapphires come to Kyle's aid and revealing their true intentions to Ganthet, they cannot kill the Guardian despite their best efforts. The Third Army arrives on the scene to complicate matters and the Star Sapphires begin to fall when Carol, Arkillo and Saint Walker arrive to stem the tide.
The Star Sapphires turn their attention fully to taking out Ganthet, but a Blue Lantern supercharged Kyle comes between them, desperately trying to save the being who was a father to him. Ganthet rewards him by blasting him full force from behind and as Kyle lie there near death he discovers that the emotional block that prevented him from gaining access to the power of love - forgiveness. In embracing that notion Kyle rises as a White Lantern and takes out the Third Army soldiers. With that Ganthet quickly departs, leaving Kyle and the gang ready to take the battle to Oa.
|Kyle completes his mastery of the entire emotional spectrum|
The Writing -
This is the kind of journey I was thinking of for Kyle as he worked his way through all of the emotions in the spectrum, allowing us to see those facets of the character in a way that allowed us to explore him as well as the emotions themselves. We see parts of Kyle's past that shape him into the person he is and not only do we learn more about the character, but we're given food for thought as well. Unfortunately the moment where Kyle becomes the White Lantern, while still dramatic, doesn't have the sense of real accomplishment that it should because so much of it was glossed over.
I had hoped that through this issue we'd discover that Ganthet really hadn't turned and that there was some hope for redemption for him, but unless we find out that Ganthet was really gambling that this encounter would push Kyle to where he needed to go I see no chance of him or the Guardians ever being looked at the same way again.
|Bedard reinforces the relationship between Ganthet and Kyle, suspect artwork aside|
The Art -
Aaron Kuder is a breath of fresh air on New Guardians, and except for some dodgy art during Ganthet's birthday party and some proportion issues with Arkillo (either the head is too small or the body too big) the books looks good. Kudos for him getting G'Nort in there, too! I'm glad to see Kuder embracing his creativity with the creation of some of the Star Sapphires. I also really liked how the confrontation between Kyle and Ganthet played out visually. The panels featuring a closeup of Ganthet's face and Kyle's transformation are absolutely gorgeous. I really hope to see Kuder and colorist Wil Quintana stick together for some time as they seem to work so well together. And the cover is one of the best this series has ever seen.
What Do I Think?
Despite what I'd consider a lackluster buildup Kyle's journey to master the entire emotional spectrum reaches an appropriately epic conclusion. Green Lantern: New Guardians #16 is the best single issue of the series in several months and deserves four out of five lanterns.