Green Lantern Corps #58
Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Tyler Kirkham
With War of the GLs kicking off in this weeks Green Lantern #64, we also were treated to part two…an issue I had griped about just on premise. Kyle Rayner vs John Stewart was something I anticipated as Hal’s buddy vs Guy’s buddy, but the sides are clearly not drawn as simple as that. The issue picks up just after last issue, with GL #64 taking place simultaneously. So this Kyle narrated issue kicks off on Qward before depositing straight into the action.
The book itself opens with a brief retelling of both Kyle and John’s origins, and while Kyle’s is pretty spot on, John’s just goes ahead and reminds us of the mess that making him a marine created. Like how he was a marine in Fallujah, which took place around the same time he got the ring back in the first place if you look at the real world. That’s an issue I have, and it’s not with Tony Bedard or his story, but trying to build up John has just made him a mess, he was an architect, a marine, and a superhero, but the timeframe is just disruptive. On top of all of that, it’s just not “unmentioned” that John and Kyle have a close friendship that dates back to Kyle’s earliest days, and that John is one of his mentors, it’s been completely wiped from continuity. Their relationship now is that both are Lanterns from the same homeworld, and both characters are weaker because of it.
Fear is a driving point of this issue, and Bedard does wonders with Kyle because of that. Kyle is flawed, he’s far from perfect, and Bedard knows the character well enough to know how to focus that. Kyle has doubts, especially pertaining to the way the rest of the Corps views him. Sure, he brought them back from the edge of oblivion, but he was a guy with a ring, he wasn’t in the Corps. Fear also drives the encounter between Kyle and John, as both are struck by their greatest fears, pushed to the edge, and let loose upon each other. Kyle’s fears and doubts focus on the safety of girlfriend Soranik Natu, which, given his history of dead girlfriends and the situation at hand…understandable. John, on the other hand, comes across as a soldier who is more mad that Kyle is being emotional than anything else, and his driving fear doesn’t really come across. No Xanshi, no Katma Tui, not even a mention of his days with no powers in a wheel chair. John is the biggest victim of the Green Lantern franchise since it was brought to prominence, and while I can’t fully blame Bedard for it (Johns instituted the changes to give him more in common with Hal and his cartoon counterpart), I can gripe about it as I read this issue.
The fight between Kyle and John is really well handled for as brief as it is. Sure, neither man is truly acting like themselves, but it gives Tyler Kirkham an excuse to draw construct on construct violence, and he does such a good job at that. As far as the rest of the cast goes, Bedard accounts for everyone. The incident that started the War, as established in GL #64, leaves the majority of the Lantern’s under the control of Krona, and we find out here that the Alpha Lantern’s are completely disabled. This cuts our roster on this title from Kyle, John, Sora, Hannu, Ganthet, and Boodikka to just Kyle, John, and Ganthet. I like Ganthet in this title, especially in an issue like this one where he contrasts so greatly with his fellow Guardians (though we don’t see them in this issue). He’s always been more than just another Guardian, beginning with actually having name value, and as this issue goes on we get to see just how much he cares, and how much he is willing to sacrifice. He’s not cold and calculating, or completely split apart from his own ‘humanity’ (for lack of a better word), he’s an all powerful being who accepts that his responsibility is to protect, not micromanage.
Without giving away too much, the issue sets up Kyle and John on Oa as they have to find a way to save the Corps before it’s too late. Brothers in arms, Lantern partners, and if we’re keeping track, Kyle no longer helped John regain the use of his legs. Just two dudes with attitudes!
Tyler Kirkham does a good job here. In a few panels the faces hurt me to look at, but he makes up for it with his action scenes. Especially when Kyle forms constructs based on his many different looks for a double paged spread. There’s a particular well done, and relatively gross, page of Ganthet that is absolutely brutal. This book will most likely be the more action heavy of the three titles involved, and if so, Kirkham is going to be a big plus. Though I do have to wonder why John Stewart only has eyes in maybe four or five panels the entire issue.
Thankfully this title didn’t try and spend the entire issue with the characters discovering what we learned in the first part of the War, and instead it’s glossed over relatively quickly. It let the issue get to the point quickly, which in turn made it read that much better. It’s not flawless, though many of my issues with it I’ll admit to just being issues with the direction the character of John Stewart is being taken in, as well as that I feel the dynamic between Kyle and John would be far more interesting if writers would reference their history. That’s not a problem of this issue, and to be honest, the only real problem with this issue is that while we understand what drives Kyle through everything, his doubt and fear, John is really vanilla, and unfortunately DC is probably setting up John to keep going and Kyle to either kick the bucket or join the Sinestro Corps, so if we’re going to get stuck with John permanently as a lead, I’d much rather him not be a generic “I was a soldier” character, because honestly? I don’t buy it, and it doesn’t work. John was more interesting as an architect than he is as a marine, and he was far more compelling as Kyle’s flawed mentor than he is as “Model Green Lantern”.
Tags: Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Green Lantern (John Stewart), Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Green Lantern Corps, John Stewart, Reviews, Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham, War of the Green Lanterns