GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #33 (Justin Jordan, Brad Walker, Diogenes Neves) is exactly the follow-up issue I was hoping for.
As the newly reunited team of White Lantern Kyle Rayner and Star Sapphire Carol Ferris search for the Guardians abducted last issue, the mysterious Psions reveal themselves – and their history with the Guardians. It’s compelling. It’s horrifying. It’s everything I wanted. And though it ends on another cliffhanger, it’s exactly the payoff I needed to tie together the comparatively haphazard setup of NEW GUARDIANS #32.
First of all, I really, really love the concept of the Psions. It’s not often that discovering the backstory of a monster makes them more terrifying, but it’s a trick Justin Jordan really seems to have down. A group of mysterious aliens kidnapping and experimenting on hapless innocents? Moderately interesting. A species brought into sapience by the Guardians determined to finish their work and upgrade the world into being ‘worthy’ of their creators? Yeah, now we’re talking.
It’s not all eldritch experiments beyond all sense, however, and with the reunion of Kyle and Carol, we get some surprisingly compelling interpersonal drama – and, believe it or not, even romance. And I have to say – I like the dynamic of Kyle and Carol a lot better than Carol and Hal. These two really, genuinely care about each other, and Carol’s panic over his disappearance and possible death that fell so flat in the last issue is so much more compelling when she and Kyle get on the page together. They banter, they comfort each other, and yes, they kiss, and the pacing and buildup is beautifully delivered. They’re the spark of humor and lightness in this tableau of medical horror, and it’s wonderful. Beyond that, though, Carol herself just really shines in this issue. While I found her characterization somewhat flat and inconsistent in NEW GUARDIANS #32, she’s really hit her groove here. Beyond the rather enjoyable Kyle interplay mentioned above, her genuine rage and anguish on behalf of the Psions’ victims is heartbreakingly well done. This, my friends, is a Star Sapphire.
Finally, as usual, I’d like to take a moment to gush over the art in this issue. In addition to the always superb pencils, the coloring is excellent. I especially like the detail of Kyle’s ring and aura color changing as he channels different emotions, though for the sake of colorblind readers I do hope that a bit more can be done to make the “shape” of the aura match as well.
Though it’s much better here than in the previous issue, GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS has a real problem with clunky dialogue. The wit behind the words is there, and the narrative doesn’t lag for the less than occasional awkward mouthful, but it’s hard not to be a bit jarred out of immersion by some of the worst offenders. I’ve certainly read far, far worse than lines like, “I’m not going to ask who could do this. The universe is filled with people who would do this just because they were bored on a Sunday. But I need to know who did this, Carol? And why are you here?” get away from themselves rather easily.
I know I have in the past decried the omnipresent and frankly smothering grimdarkness of so many New 52 titles. Given NEW GUARDIANS’ transformation into more or less the designated cosmic horror title of the New 52, it would be really easy for me to hate this book. But you know what? With 52 titles, there’s room for a few darker books, and this one more than earns its place.
As the second installment of a multi-issue arc, GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #33 isn’t the best place to jump in, especially with a much more convenient starting point back at #31. But if you’ve got a taste for sci-fi and interpersonal drama set against the backdrop of alien body horror, this is the book for you. And if you don’t? Give it a shot anyway. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.