Green Lantern: New Guardians #29 continues the compelling story of X’Hal and the Godkillers and writer Justin Jordan’s work on this story gets better with each passing issue. As the issue unfolds we learn more of X’Hal’s history through the eyes of Kaland’R and the First of the Free, each with very different perspectives of the tortured woman who now calls herself a God. The story challenges how we ourselves look at the notion of God and religion if we choose to take the narrative that far, but Jordan never forces that level of introspection and avoids affronting anyone’s beliefs. Like good Star Trek the science fiction narrative is a wrapper that insulates the touchy subject matter for those that don’t want that, but it’s clearly not so far beneath the surface that it’s hard to see.
X’Hal challenges how we define a God
Godkillers – heroes, villains or anti-heroes
Clearly X’Hal is a far more complex character than simply a benign deity as we learn of her painful past, a past which seems to fit nicely with her pre-New 52 origins that I discussed in my review of issue twenty eight. While X’Hal doesn’t seem to know the connection between her past and the Guardians of the Universe, she clearly knows who they are and is quick to compare their abilities, and the abilities of the ring wielders, to Gods like herself. It begs the question of what defines a God and leaves me with my own internal musings about how those with power far greater than our own can be deified.
Jordan’s script takes the Godkillers and X’Hal and paints them in such a different light this issue that the reader is left in the same position as the main characters, questioning which side is really the more “right” if indeed either of them are. Just as Kyle has doubted whether or not X’Hal should be worshiped or not X’Hal’s followers are now left with their religious dogma run over by X’Hal’s Karma.
Kyle Rayner is portrayed particularly well in this issue as he is not as quick to jump on the X’Hal bandwagon as the her followers are. The arrival of the Godkillers supports his suspicious nature and at issues close Kaland’R and X’Hal’s followers are confronted with the untold history of their deity which paves the way for a confrontation that I’m having a hard time waiting a month to read.
The art team really ups their game with this issue, not only for the great artwork and emotional expression, but the page layouts are fantastic. With the issue’s opening we are presented with Kaland’R’s version of X’Hal, complete with clean panel designs and a benign white background. The story told by the First of the Free is the antithesis of that with chaotic overlapping images and a black background which visually challenges the previous story just as much as the narrative does. It’s a fantastic design choice that I have to give Brad Walker major kudos for.
I rarely give out a five lantern review and usually reserve them for the issues which have a huge scale and impact on the mythology alongside being exemplars of the best the medium has to offer. But I find that other than a totally misleading cover this issue is just so well done that it deserves my highest rating despite not being some major event. Five out of five lanterns.