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“The world is screwed up. Huge spoiler, right?”

Red Lanterns #38 sees the writing torch pass from Charles Soule to Landry Walker, who’s job it is to bring the title in for a landing over the course of the final three issues of the series.  Last issue some stride were made with Guy Gardner as he seemed to start coming out of his funk thanks to Simon Baz’s pep talk.  But as this issue progresses it’s clear that Guy is having a more difficult time moving on than we’d hoped as he returns to Earth amidst constant horrible reminders of the fallout from his battle with Atrocitus.

Guy’s somber mission is a road paved with pain, sorrow and anguish
Walker effectively balances his script’s heavy introspective narrative by putting Guy in the middle of a mystery – an epidemic of uncontrollable fits of rage by many humans in the cities where Atrocitus did the most damage.  The mystery of this “rage plague” and the horrific circumstances that it creates for Guy to deal with successfully keeps the pace of the issue constant while Gardner’s inner monologue shows a depth of character that we’re not used to seeing with Guy Gardner.
Knowing that the series is winding up to a conclusion it would be easy to see Guy’s new reality taking a fatal toll on him, but it’s just as likely that despite the weight of the burden on his shoulders this could be the emotional gauntlet that leads to his salvation.  It also doesn’t hurt that we have a Blue Lantern back in the mix which could help purge the blood rage that fuels Guy’s ring.  Based on this issue I think whatever conclusion Walker has for this series will be a rewarding one.  One has to wonder by the teaser that group editor Matt Idelson provides whether we’ll see a return of Atrocitus, Bleez or Rankorr by the time that this journey is over.
Guy’s inner monologue shows the dark path he is on
The heavy tone of the book is perfectly reflected in Jim Calafiore’s artwork.  This issue is filled with haunting imagery that captures the pain and anguish being felt by Guy and the humans impacted by the residual rage left behind by Atrocitus.  Calafiore lets Guy’s burden come through visually as Gardner’s face shows both grim determination and the signs of the emotional toll recent events have taken on him.
Red Lanterns #38 is a dark issue and rightfully so as Guy Gardner embarks on a solemn journey to protect the Earth from an emotional plague he himself brought on humanity.  Equal parts horror movie and psychological exploration, the issue never feels weighed down by the heavy narrative thanks to writer Landry Walker’s effective script and Jim Calafiore’s engaging visuals.  The first chapter in the final storyline for this series is off to a nice start and I’m really looking forward to seeing how Guy frees humanity, and himself, for this heavy emotional burden.  Four out of five lanterns.
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