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The Wrath of the First Lantern has been less about wrath so far ad more about psychological warfare much to the dismay of many fans, and while I’d agree that the title is more than a little misleading I have to admit that “The Mindgames of the First Lantern” doesn’t pack as much of a punch.  Throughout the final opus of the Johns era we’ve been waiting for something to justify the title, and while Green Lantern: New Guardians #19 doesn’t have Volthoom anywhere in the book it does manage to help set the stage for the final gambit.
The Story –
Kyle Rayner and Carol Ferris find themselves in a debris field where Korugar should be with the White Latnern having a difficult time managing the overwhelming loss of life that resulted from Volthoom’s destruction of the planet in Green Lantern #19.  A brief flashback fills in the gap between this issue and the last before returning to Kyle who continues to struggle while wondering how all this will affect Sinestro.

Carol and Kyle are no match for a driven Sinestro

Speaking of the devil, Sinestro arrives on the scene and accuses Rayner of joining forces with the First Lantern and rebuking Carol Ferris for asking about Hal Jordan.  As Sinestro moves Carol out of the way and makes a play for Kyle’s new ring, B’Dg and Simon Baz arrive.  Baz recognizes Carol from the vision of her that Sinestro used to distract Hal and he shares with her the devastating news that Hal didn’t make it back from the Dead Zone.

Sinestro’s impatience grows thin and he demands that Kyle use his power to restore Korugar and her people, but despite Kyle’s valiant attempt he finds himself unable to accomplish the task.  Sinestro takes the ring from an exhausted Kyle’s finger, but the ring finds him unsuitable and leaps to Baz’s hand.  He, too, is unable to resurrect Sinestro’s brethren and the ring makes a short trip back to Kyle.  It’s then that Sinestro realizes that he has no recourse now, grabbing the yellow power battery and taking off for Oa in search of revenge on Volthoom, leaving a grieving Carol Ferris in his wake.
Kyle’s new powers are severely tested on a scale he’s never encountered before
The Writing –
Tony Bedard has the task of helping position some of the cast for the final chapter of the Wrath of the First Lantern and in trying to set everything up his success is a bit of hit and miss for the issue as a whole.  While Kyle’s wrestling with the overwhelming death that surrounds him is the beginnings of an exploration of the nature of the White Lantern there’s the unnecessary distraction of Baz and B’Dg that undermines the potential of the story despite the fact that it acts as a good story device for Carol to be similarly challenged upon finding out the supposed fate of Hal Jordan.
Sinestro continues to come across to me as someone who is becoming increasingly desperate, abandoning his true nature out of fear.  And perhaps that’s a side effect of his return as a Green Lantern, that he has for so long embraced and used fear as a weapon that he can’t truly overcome his own anymore until he’s now reached a point where it’s ruling him more than he’s controlling it.  There’s a part of me that agrees with a lot of the fan speculation that the finale of this arc will be a turning point for the character and he will either re-embrace his role as a leader of the Sinestro Corps or he’ll redeem himself at the right moment and perhaps pay the ultimate price in doing so.
Which fate will Sinestro choose?
The Art –
Andres Guinaldo steps in for this issue and does a really good job overall.  In particular I liked his work on Carol and Sinestro this issue.  Nothing spectacular over all, but more appealing that a lot of fill-in artists I’ve seen in the past.
What Do I Think?
If anything I feel a little like issue nineteen was a bit of a filler and did little more than move the characters around in order for them to be where they need to be for the finale.  It’s unfortunate because there was some interesting potential here for diving a bit deeper into the nature of both the Star Sapphires and White Lanterns let alone their earthly ring bearers.  Three out of five lanterns.
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