Green Lantern: New Guardians #1
Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Tyler Kirkham, Batt, and Nei Ruffino
You know what’s amazing? For all the reintroductions we’ve been given to characters origins lately, and for all the changes due to the Relaunch, or Secret Origins, or for any random reason, this issue features one of nicest. That’s right, this issue opens up with a retelling of Kyle Rayner’s origin, and just in time to as it’s finally here! Kyle Rayner with his own title again! Sure, it’s a team book, but it’s his team! No Guy or John or Hal to push him into second fiddle status, my favorite Lantern finally gets the lead he’s been missing since Hal returned six years ago! And you know what else? Nothing seems to have really changed! A regular guy goes to a bar, steps into an alley to take a leak, and Ganthet shows up and gives him the last Green Lantern ring. Hell, the only changes at all are that Ganthet gives him a brief crash course now instead of leaving him with the ever ominous “Do what you must” and that he’s in New York instead of California. So I guess it’s best to sum it up as…Kyle is the same as he ever was.
Now, as soon as that origin is retold, we’re right into the thick of things. A Sinestro Corps member slaughtering his way through a Khund fleet is left for death as his ring decommissions him and leaves for sector 2814. A Red Lantern is burning hellacious vengeance across a planet when his ring does the same to him, leaving for 2814. A Star Sapphire is saving a family from pirates when…guess what? Same thing happens. Sure, by this point it’s predictable, but in the case of the Star Sapphires we have our first actual fallout, despite being brief. The Sinestro Corps member was left for dead, a Red Lantern will die without their ring, and the Sapphire? Well, she’s fortunate enough that one of the name brand members makes his presence felt, and given her history with Kyle Rayner, any long time reader will get goosebumps knowing that Fatality is in this book. This sets up the eventual gathering, as well as the end of the issue. Each of these rings has sought out a new bearer in Sector 2814, despite none of these Lanterns being in that sector at the time. It’s really only safe to assume that it wasn’t just these three colors.
Kyle is given a little bit of time on Earth, though it’s not an out of costume opportunity as we are reminded of his roots. Kyle Rayner, Green Lantern of New York is back. Seeing the public interact with him is interesting, as a construction worker rolls through the list of Earth ones and seems to know full well which this is, and then a kid approaches Kyle to more or less say “You’re not Hal, you suck.” Kyle’s reaction, his ability to roll off the insults and comparissons, that’s classic Kyle. He doesn’t want to be the greatest GL of all time, he just wants to be a good guy and save lives. He respects his peers, he likes them, he works well with them, and hey, he’s been a regular guy. He knows that everyone has their favorites. He’s not given a lot of room to get his character established here, but Tony Bedard does a great job with what he does. Kyle doesn’t seem to come from any sort of superiority, he hangs out and makes sure that everyone is alright, and he doesn’t make with the superhero banter. Sure, John and Guy might be the GLs with public identities, but Kyle identifies with these people. He’s one of them.
Tyler Kirkham was doing an awesome job on Green Lantern Corps, and I really liked the way he was drawing Kyle, so I was psyched to hear that he was going to be doing this title. He does great character work, and I really really like the way everyone looks in this issue. I especially like the Emerald Twilight scenes that open the issue, as he completely nails the devastation that would have been left in the wake of the destruction of the Green Lantern Corps, which is a nice clear indicator that Emerald Twilight still happened. There’s a lot of detail and life put into every construct you see in this issue, and I give the art team huge props for that. There’s a unique look to the constructs of all of the colors that we see. Kyle in and out of the costume looks fantastic, and that’s an easy plus side since he’s the star of this title. From what little we see of most of the other Corps, there’s some good character work going on there as well. Really, this issue looks incredible.
I know that I’m a Kyle Rayner fan that’s reviewing this, but really, I’m a lot more critical when he’s handled poorly. He’s my favorite character, I want to see him done right, and I feel safe after one issue of saying that Kyle Rayner is handled perfectly here. Tony Bedard gets the character, his personality and quirks, and this sets up our art team to make him look awesome to go with it. We don’t know why these rings are doing what they’re doing after one issue, but we know where they’re going and that there are people less than pleased with the fact. Really, as far as a first issue goes, I don’t think I could come out of it any happier. The table is set for the book going forward, and the issue doesn’t feel like everything is forced in to set up the next one. We have a strong lead character, an interesting set up, a brief and non-obstructive origin retelling, and some amazing art. This is easily the best of the four Lantern titles that DC has launched.
Tags: DC Comics Relaunch, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Green Lantern: New Guardians, New 52 (DC Comics), Reviews, Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham