GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #31 (Justin Jordan, Diogenes Neves, Marc Deering) is the best jumping-in point a new reader could ask for.
Though set in the immediate aftermath of GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS ANNUAL #2, the issue opens with a concise summary of the relevant events, providing more than ample context for the rest of the story. The action doesn’t linger long on the recap, however, and we are quickly treated to developments in Kyle’s powers that those familiar with the pre-New 52 White Lanterns should find meaningful, set against the backdrop of a stunning exploration of the dead world upon which Kyle has now found himself. From minor details of atmospheric viability to major developments in the landscape of the DC Universe, this issue excels at pushing concepts to logical conclusions in fascinating ways, aided by the talented art team of Diogenes Neves and Marc Deering.
First and foremost, despite the spacefaring cosmic action and mystery, there is a real sense of personal connection present throughout the story. In the GREEN LANTERN corner of the New 52, there is a definite risk of raising the stakes beyond the point of human connection, leaving the reader feeling disconnected from the action and unable to connect with mass loss of faceless alien life. Writer Justin Jordan avoids this pitfall masterfully, bringing the end of a world painfully home through the use of Kyle’s mysterious ring. As the only known White Lantern, Kyle’s ring combines powers from across the entire Lantern color spectrum, and the oft-underused Indigo ability to instill compassion gets full billing here, making the deaths of an entire sentient race felt not only by the reader, but by Kyle himself.
Further, the subject of Kyle’s ring as a whole is well handled. The question of what, exactly, is happening with Kyle’s ring has long been a question throughout the NEW GUARDIANS plotline, and 31 issues in, Jordan manages to make the mystery feel fresh. In addition to considering the by now familiar multi-spectrum properties of Kyle’s ring in a new – pardon – light, Jordan throws a logical yet surprising development in the mix. Without spoiling the entire hook, let’s just say that readers of the pre-New 52 “Brightest Day” plotline who didn’t see this coming will be kicking themselves.
The real star of the issue, however, is Raga, the as-yet unknown brother of Mogo, a sentient planet and one of the most memorable members of the Green Lantern Corps. Though the DCU is hardly lacking as last survivors of long-dead races go, the story of Mogo’s brothers and their slow deaths at the hands of the life they carefully cultivated is genuinely chilling, as is the “solution” Raga devises to the problem of greedy inhabitants. From the simple premise of Mogo, sentient planet, Jordan builds an apocalypse of multi-planetary proportion that, in these times of climate change and the destruction of the ecosystem, hits home, hard.
Though largely forgiveable for an issue so clearly meant to welcome in new readers, the amount of time spent in Kyle’s head recapping confusing events even he cannot explain makes the first several pages wear somewhat. Over-narration in general is a definite problem, with clunky lines such as “I’m still staggered by it– which is why I’m literally staggering towards that city in the distance. I’m not thinking, just acting” breaking the flow of an otherwise crisp narrative. For all the emphasis placed on how little Kyle is thinking in the beginning, we certainly spend a lot of time in his head.
Additionally, while the story of Raga is, for the most part, very well orchestrated, his final threat – to spread himself across the galaxy and infect other planets with himself – comes somewhat out of the blue, and feels tacked on to force Kyle’s hand in the end. While the concept of a literal intergalactic cancer is a good one, it feels at odds with the story of a host planet that has had enough, something which damages the horror of both premises individually.
GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #31 not only serves as an excellent primer for new readers, but is an enthralling tale in its own right, providing both a self-contained story that fleshes out lesser explored corners of the DC Universe and a laundry list of hooks for the story to come. Bringing together both high-stakes cosmic action and a very personal sense of loss, this series is a real page-turner that will leave you wanting more. If you were thinking of getting into GL: NEW GUARDIANS, or even the GREEN LANTERN books in general, now is the time.