The new era of Green Lantern continues to unfold throughout the month of June and this week Green Lantern: New Guardians gets the spotlight as writer Justin Jordan and artist Brad Walker step up to provide the further adventures of Kyle Rayner. With Kyle’s original team scattered across the universe the new creative team continues Rayner’s journey by coupling him with the Templar Guardians who find themselves strangers in a universe that despises them for what they represent. To prevent them from repeating the mistakes of the past they plan to set out across the universe so that they get a better understanding of the intergalactic community at large. Think “Hard Travelling Guardians” and you get a sense for the direction that the new creative team are going.
Kyle’s role in all this is one that comes not by choice but by a preconceived notion that the Templar Guardians need watching. It’s understandably the last thing Rayner wants to do considering what the Templar Guardians symbolize to Kyle, who’s still grieving over the loss of Ganthet and coming to terms with the actions of the former Guardians. But in conversing with Hal Jordan while Kyle takes out his frustration on space sharks Kyle comes to the conclusion that Hal is right about the new Guardians needing some oversight, something which takes a visiting Carol Ferris by surprise when Kyle returns to Earth.
Hal and Kyle put their personal lives on hold to embrace their roles in a changed universe
Jordan does a nice job of handling the larger issues while still making this Kyle’s personal journey. Kyle’s often been a character who’s greatest strength could be found in his earthbound adventures, but if this first issue in any indication Kyle will have some great opportunities in his interactions with the new Guardians as they travel about the cosmos. If this is “Hard Travelling Guardians” then Kyle will be the Ollie Queen of the journey.
I also like how Justin handles the Hal/Carol dynamic even though the two don’t share a panel in the issue. The relationship has always been about the wanting being better than the having and they dialogue between Carol and Kyle is another indication that the new teams have done their homework and have a good understanding of the characters they are taking on. While Geoff Johns has prophesized that somewhere down the road Hal and Carol will break the cycle they’ve been locked in for so many years we have time before that happens.
The ramifications of the Guardians’ recent activities are only beginning to be felt
After spending some time on Earth Kyle finds himself and the Templar Guardians unwelcome visitors deep in space when they arrive to investigate an anomaly that has left them troubled for eons. The reactions of the beings at the site of the cosmic cyst underscores the perception of the Guardians by the universe at large, but before that issue can be addressed Kyle’s White Lantern ring triggers the release of Relic, the new cosmic threat of epic proportions that the new creators are unleashing on the Green Lanterns as a new major foe.
Artistically the issue looks great with Brad Walker’s pencils looking particularly good on the space sequences. The arrival of Relic looks awe inducing and the panel design throughout the issue reflects the idea that this is a fresh new take on the series. Hal and Kyle look perhaps a little less bulky than we’ve seen them in the past in some panels but they never looked uncharacteristically spindly. To Walker’s credit I only found one panel where a power ring was absent from a hand and never did I find it on the wrong hand! He even goes out of the way to show that the ring is still on Kyle’s hand when he’s wearing gloves, so he’s passed the initial phase of my fanboy litmus test!
The impressive arrival of Relic
Putting Kyle in charge of the both guiding the Templar Guardians while keeping an eye on them is a great creative decision that allows Jordan to use Kyle’s strengths while putting him in a position that will continue to challenge his use of the White Lantern ring. The other thing it does is allow for the introduction of even more elements to the Green Lantern universe as the creative team flexes their creative muscles while still being tethered to the established mythology. By positioning each of the four Earth lanterns as stars of their own series DC is creating a dynamic that will allow each of them to shine and not be in the shadow of someone else while continuing to build on the universe that Geoff Johns spent nearly a decade re-defining.
Green Lantern: New Guardians #21 reads very much like a first issue, establishing the focus of the series and the motivations for our protagonists. With the introduction of Relic we’ve got the first big threat in the post-Johns era and he will no doubt wreak havoc at every turn on a Green Lantern Corps that no longer has a vote of confidence from the universal community. Issue twenty one is a fun read that sets the series up for a bright (white) future. Four out of five lanterns.