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Green Lantern: New Guardians gets its first annual with a story written by Keith Giffen, who will be the writer of the new Threshold series that features not only Larfleeze, but a new Green Lantern by the name of Jediah Caul.  It’s the latter of these characters who features heavily in this annual as Carol Ferris, Saint Walker and Arkillo are drawn into a mission for the Zamarons.

The Story –
As the issue opens we are introduced to the world of Tolerance where we witness a planet where hunting is not only sport, but mainstream entertainment.  Tolerance is also the base of operations for Jediah Caul, the roguish Green Lantern who will be starring in Keith Giffen’s new series, Threshold.  Elsewhere Arkillo and Saint Walker encounter what is left of Yaru Prime after a Third Army attack before leaving for Zamaron.

On Zamaron we witness Carol Ferris’ arrival with Kyle Rayner, who is not exactly given a warm reception.  While Kyle undergoes his “training” in the use of the last remaining emotion in the spectrum, Carol is given a mission to travel to Tolerance to convince Lady Styx to break her non-interference treaty with the Guardians to engage against the Third Army.  Arkillo and Saint Walker arrive just in time to depart with Carol as she travels to the Eucharian Sea and ask Jediah Caul for his help in getting to Tolerance safely.  We learn that Caul is a deep undercover agent for the Guardians, presumably to keep an eye on Styx’s activities. 

Kyle meets up with the Star Sapphires’ version of Kilowog
With the Guardians seemingly ignoring his existence Caul is on his own and left to his own devices has established himself with the natives and is leading a nondescript existence on the planet.  Caul has a band of smugglers who will help the threesome reach Tolerance without incident, however after Carol is separated from her male counterparts and makes her landing she is double-crossed by one of the smugglers and finds herself the newest star of “The Hunted”.

Carol finds herself unable to use her ring and is now the target of every being on the planet with a monetary reward for the one who kills her first.  Elsewhere on Tolerance Saint Walker and Kilowog use the Fear Lantern’s negotiation skills on Caul and his friends to get them to help get Carol out of her situation.   As Carol carefully navigates the city she is greeted by the hooded Lady Styx who tells Carol she has no intention of getting involved in the affairs of the rest of the universe.

Carol is reunited with Saint Walker and Arkillo who, along with Caul plan their escape aboard a ship that Jediah has arranged for.  Saint Walker uses his ring, which immediately draws the attention of the authorities.  The three New Guardians jump aboard the arriving ship but Caul is knocked out by Arkillo and left behind as the ship creates a portal similar to a boom tube to transport them to space near to Zamaron.  As the issue comes to a close Caul awakens to find himself the next target and star of “The Hunted”.

Carol Ferris finds herself one of “The Hunted”

The Writing –

When I put down this issue I was left feeling like I often do when television networks use a popular show to introduce characters from an upcoming spin off show to try to lure the viewership to follow the characters to the new series.  Sometimes it’s executed okay but most of the time your left with something substandard that seems forced, and that’s what I felt about this annual.  It’s not really a Green Lantern: New Guardians annual so much as it is a contrived story used to showcase Jediah Caul and it fails to fit in cohesively with the regular series.
There are two threads that seem to carry over from what’s been going on with this title and neither of them particularly work well here.  For one we have Kyle’s continued journey to master the emotional spectrum which is shoehorned into the story and quickly forgotten about.  It’s treated as a subplot when it should be the spotlight.  While the Third Army doesn’t appear in the annual, their presence is felt by Arkillo and Saint Walker’s assessment of the devastation they cause and the mission that he Zamarons send Carol Ferris on.  The big problem with this premise is that it makes no sense in the greater narrative of this story line.  The Zamarons are seemingly on the same page as the Guardians so the last thing they’d want to do is try to recruit Lady Styx.
While were on this subject I have to wonder why Carol would be chosen for this at all – she’s denied the ring for the most part and doesn’t serve as an active member of the Star Sapphires.  She’s certainly not as well traveled as any of the rest of their ranks and has no real history with Lady Styx.  Why she’d chose to have them train Kyle rather than do it herself is beyond me entirely.  Of course the real reason is it’s the only way that Keith Giffen could think of to give Carol a reason to interact with Jediah Caul.

I’m not sure quite how to caption this image to be quite honest……

Speaking of Caul, I can’t understand how Carol would know the guy even exists let anyone think of calling on him to smuggle her discretely to Tolerance.  While I was initially very interested in Threshold I find myself less enthused after this initial introduction to the character.  I’m not sure I buy into him being chosen because there’s certainly nothing shown here to indicate he’d be a candidate for the most powerful weapon in the universe – although Giffen de-powers all the Corps in the emotional spectrum to take power rings off the table in a way that seems so contrived and silly that all it serves to do is undermine the credibility of anyone with a ring.
“The Hunted” game might have been an intriguing notion twenty years ago, but it’s really been played out between “The Running Man”, “The Hunger Games” and every post-apocalyptic game show in between.  According to interviews with Giffen this story continues into Threshold and I’m really hoping that he’s found a way to make it fresher than it reads here.  
Accompanying Carol to Tolerance is Saint Walker and Arkillo, both who seems sadly out of character here. The notion of either of them dressing up in those preposterous looking undercover outfits is repelling at best. Saint Walker is presented as somewhat of a dimwit who can’t follow the “no rings” rule while Arkillo is reduced to an intergalactic bouncer who struggles with his sense of humor – doe Arkillo strike anyone as someone who’d be trying to crack jokes?  
When we look at this annual as a continuation of the events of issue fifteen you really are left scratching your head.  Larfleeze has up and disappeared and apparently no one is concerned about Sayd to be bothered to try to find out if she survived.  While we’re at it – since the New Guardians have just now encountered the Third Army for the first time doesn’t Kyle, Saint Walker, and Carol Ferris think to contact other members of their Corps for some intel?  Again – this is a story thrown together for no other purpose than to find a way to use the New Guardians as a means to introduce us to Jediah Caul.
This book isn’t all bad, at least it manages to make me wonder how Lady Styx has changed in the post-Flashpoint universe.  Styx is another Giffen creation designed as an alternative to, in Giffen’s opinion, a highly overused Darkseid.  This is I believe her first appearance since being a foil for the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle in the first issues of his series.  While I’m not sure I consider her comparable to Darkseid I do find the character and her history of interest.  I know Keith Giffen can do science fiction and I really hope with all the hope my blue ring can muster that Threshold is better that how this annual reads.
The Art –
Scott Kolins and Andrei Bressan tackle the art chores for this book and for the most part they do a good job, but the coloring is so atrocious that the book just looks awful.  The opening introduction to Tolerance is so overly colorful that it is a major distraction.  To look at Arkillo as he changes color throughout the book is perhaps the most painful thing artistically in the annual although I think I might cringe just a little bit more at the imagery of Saint Walker and Arkillo in those incredibly stupid outfits.

What Do I Think?
I’m not one of those jaded fans who just criticizes anything, but at the same time I cannot have any sense of credibility if I gloss over books that are just plain horrible and this annual is perhaps the second worst book I’ve ever reviewed on this site with this issue only being ever so slightly more redeeming than Green Lantern / Plastic Man: Weapons of Mass Deception.  If you haven’t picked this one up do yourself a favor and pass on it because it is not worth the money.  Zero lanterns.

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