Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Why Green Lantern: New Guardians #21 Works

By Dan Horn
July 1, 2013 - 13:38

Green Lantern: New Guardians has been, at its very best, a puzzling book. It has struggled to find its footing in DC's New 52, serving mostly as an auxiliary book for Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps crossovers. It catches ancillary plot threads that fall through the cracks of those more prominent books, and often it hasn't even served that purpose very effectively. I would hazard a guess that the only reason this book is still around is because it bears the "Green Lantern" headline.

And then comes a welcome creative change. Justin Jordan, writer of Image's Luthor Strode books, and Brad Walker, who recently turned in some wonderful artwork wrapping up Grant Morrison's Action Comics run, have taken the reigns of this puzzling little book, and what they've done with it, just with their first issue, is fantastic.

Not only does issue 21 finally give the moniker of "New Guardians" some type of meaning, a meaning that was incongruously MIA for nearly two years of the title's run, it also does so many things right concerning character development and storytelling. Here are just a few of the things I loved about this book:

1. It's weird

For far too long, the GL books have been about people floating around in empty space and shooting different colored beams out of their rings. Maybe I'm the only one who remembers the zany, cool strangeness of Green Lantern Corps Quarterly, but the Green Lantern franchise needs to have some idiosyncratic oddity. It's about space police with power rings, for god's sake.

Justin Jordan and Brad Walker seem to be of that opinion as well, as we see the White Lantern, Kyle Rayner, blow off steam by taking on space sharks (yep, space sharks) and as he is tasked by the Templar Guardians, those eponymous New Guardians, to solve the mystery of a dangerous pocket dimension.

2. Gasp! There's character depth

I was never a fan of Geoff Johns' characterization of Kyle Rayner. He seemed so bland, so average. To be fair, Johns did take Rayner through some interesting ordeals, but the writer's focus always seemed to be solely on those trials and tribulations, letting the plot speak for the character instead of letting the character truly shine. And Robert Venditti's recent takeover of the flagship Green Lantern series took a similarly white-bread approach to Hal and Carol's relationship. Everything seems so melodramatic and dry these days in the GL microcosm, it's hard to take any of it seriously.

So, I was surprised to see that Kyle was back to being the somewhat impetuous young-gun that I loved from the Marz era of Green Lantern, even if he is sporting a new look and new powers, and I was dually surprised to find the bits about Hal and Carol very engaging and well-written. Here, Carol doesn't sound like a soap opera actress reading bad lines. She sounds like a woman going through relationship problems and having a legitimate reaction to those problems, which is strange: the burden of good characterization should be on the creative team that deals the most with the characters. But here we see Jordan picking up the slack, and doing it quite successfully.

3. The artwork is great and imaginative

Maybe one of my other qualms about the GL franchise has been with how blockbuster-y the books' artwork is. Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke are superb artists, but its like I said before: their work really displays no intrinsic esoterism. Maybe that has quite a bit to do with the scripting they were adapting from as well, but both artists, while turning out breathtaking work, rarely scraped the edge of the universe's wonder.

Brad Walker's art, on the other hand, is as crisp as Reis's or Mahnke's, but it also exudes imagination. Walker fills his panels with bizarre spectacles and dynamic action, and his finishing team, inker Andrew Hennessy and colorist Wil Quintana, do some amazing work with contrast, palette, and detail.

Don't let the Rafael Albuquerque cover fool you: you won't find any rubber-limbed goofiness going on in New Guardians #21. Expect some really brilliant interior artwork.

So there you have it. If you're looking for something different to add to your pull-list, you should definitely check out Green Lantern: New Guardians #21.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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