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Green Lantern: New Guardians has had a wonderful buildup in terms of bringing together characters which should be at each others’ throats and slowly melding them together into a unique team.  While they certainly aren’t friends (yet), the alliance being built between the various Corps of the emotional spectrum is compelling and it’s what motivates me to look forward to this title each and every month.  Tony Bedard’s solid writing and Tyler Kirkham’s great artwork doesn’t hurt, either.  This week’s seventh issue of the series provides some more great character moments and a compelling back story for Invictus – and perhaps a little bit more in terms of DC’s cosmic history.  
The Story –
Saint Walker remains the last New Guardian standing from the assault of Invictus in issue six and the Blue Lantern’s attempt to heal Invictus’ pain is rewarded with getting a glimpse at the distant past when Invictus was one of many beings from the Vegan star system who brought peace and prosperity to the planets in the system such as Okaara, Tamaran and, surprisingly, Maltus.  
As history is told, Larfleeze attacked the “Angels of Vega” in his hunger to have one of his very own, but with each Angel he destroyed their life energy combined itself with the remaining members of Invictus’ race until only Invictus himself remained, fueled by his need for justice and powered by the combined life force of his “Council of Virtue”.  In the end his attempt to banish Larfleeze into another dimension backfires and it is Invictus who finds himself in another universe, alone with his anguish where he built the Orrery, a full size replica of the Vega system complete with genetically altered beings to represent the cultures from that bygone era.

The tragic tale of Invictus and the treachery of Larfleeze

As Kyle and the rest of the New Guardians come to they realize they have been on a fool’s errand by Larfleeze and that Invictus had nothing to do with the theft of the rings as they had been led to believe just as Bleeze arrives in her new state after having been bathed in the Blood Ocean on Ysmault in Red Lanterns #3.  Bleeze interrupts Kyle just as he was perhaps making some headway with Invictus and the battle between them starts anew.  Arkillo steps in to protect Saint Walker in a great moment where he almost admits his friendship for the Blue Lantern and Kyle uses that to demonstrate to Invictus why they shouldn’t be destroyed.  In the end Invictus challenges the New Guardians to prove themselves by turning the tables and asking them to destroy Larfleeze.

The Writing –
Sometimes when we read comics it take so little time on the first read through because there isn’t always a great deal to actually read, but this particular issue of New Guardians is one of those exceptions where the amount of written word is pretty dense and you are happily forced to slow down and take what’s going on.  It may perhaps be overly wordy for some people’s tastes but I found that Tony Bedard’s script had so much meat that I felt this was a feast for any Green Lantern fan.

Invictus plans to turn the tables on Larfleeze

First and foremost I have to say that the origin of Invictus was awesome and imparted some interesting information and points for speculation.  By that I mean the inclusion of Maltus as part of the Vega system, an area of space which was at one timed quarantined by the Guardians.  Maltus was the planet that the Guardians originally hailed from so one has to wonder if Bedard’s inclusion was intentional to tie the Angels of Vega to the White Lantern history.  Considering the White Lantern robes we saw the Guardians wearing in Krona’s flashbacks during the War of the Green Lanterns and this bit of information and it’s not too much of a stretch to consider the possibility that the Maltusans used Larfleeze as a pawn to get the Council of Virtue of the chess board so that they could become the Guardians of the Universe.  I could certainly be completely off base, but boy is it fun to think about how some of these pieces of information that the Green Lantern creative teams have come up with could connect in some very interesting ways.

I am particularly happy to see Larfleeze once again be portrayed for his more sinister qualities rather than continually used for his comedic traits.  Writing the character has to be a delicate balancing act to make sure the scales of his character traits don’t tip too far in one direction for too long and that’s been the case for some of his recent appearances.  With this issue we see the return of his more vile tendencies and the ending of this issue certainly hints as some retribution coming Agent Orange’s way although looking through the solicitations for the coming months it almost appears as though this plot will take a back seat for a while.

Something else I give Bedard a lot of credit for is developing this team very naturally and not forcing the characters into some kind of false sense of camaraderie, something that would be an easy trap to fall into.  Instead we are given moments over this past few issues where some of the wall between the characters aren’t necessarily coming down but they are least being peaked over and the New Guardians are starting to realize that there are things they can respect and honor about each other despite the difference in the color of their rings.  This time around we have a wonderful moment where Arkillo drops down between Invictus and Saint Walker and almost utters the word “friend” to describe the Blue Lantern, probably for the first time in his life.  I think it’s probably the only time I found myself cheering for the big yellow monster since he fought Mongul and lost his tongue back in Green Lantern Corps #34.

Sayd’s agenda has yet to be revealed

The scene between Larfleeze and Sayd continues to add to the notion that there’s more to Sayd’s willingness to be the Guardian for the Orange Lanterns than we might think on the surface.  For the second time in recent memory we see Sayd react as though she is not fully committed to Larfleeze and I that this particular plot thread is going to pay off spectacularly when the time is right.

The Art –
Providing the emotion and awe inspiring images for this issue, Tyler Kirkham really brought this issue to life and his great panel design really added to the storytelling, using the traditional rectangular design for calmer moments, but skewing them during battle giving the illusion that Invictus’ immense power level shakes the very foundation of their existence.  Likewise the visual cues during the flashback sequence lend not only an other worldly quality but the notion that we were being given a glimpse into the misty past at the dawn of the universe.  Graphically bookending that sequence between the profiles of Saint Walker and Invictus added a great dimension to this part of the issue as well and I just felt this great sense of cosmic awesomeness ooze from panels as Bedard’s words were brought to life which echoed in the reaction on Saint Walker’s face once the tragic story of Invictus had completely unfolded before our eyes.

What Do I Think?
Green Lantern: New Guardians number seven peels the layers back on cosmic history and reveals more about Invictus, a character that deserves to have a long lifespan in the Green Lantern universe once this story is over.  Providing a great deal of dialogue in an issue filled with awe inspiring artwork the creative team of Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham has turned this title from the book I was the least excited about into one of the books I look forward to the most each month.  Five out of five lanterns.

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