Friday, September 13, 2013

Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer Might Lack Character Development, But It Entertains!

The Good: Artwork, Plot progression
The Bad: Utter lack of character development of the protagonist.
The Basics: The New 52 focus on Kyle Rayner begins with Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer, which continues many of the concepts begun in the Brightest Day Saga.

With The New 52 reboot of the DC Comics Universe, there were very few books that remained essentially unaffected. The corner of the DC Universe that is the jurisdiction of the Green Lantern Corps (virtually everything but Earth) is the subject of at least four books in the New 52 (whatwith there being so many different ring colors and accompanying Corps’s, it makes sense that the Lantern-based books would outnumber the Batman books). One of the two new books is Green Lantern New Guardians and the first anthology of those comics is Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer.

Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer focuses on Kyle Rayner. It picks up the spirit of Brightest Day: Green Lantern (reviewed here!) which had some cooperation between some of the various Lantern Corps’s. With Hal Jordan deposed, Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer focuses on the fourth Green Lantern from Earth (Sector 2814), Kyle Rayner, and has him deeply embroiled in a mission that pits the various Corps’s alternately against one another and forces them to work together. It also redefines one of the lesser characters in the DC Universe as one of the suddenly cruelest and most dangerous villains in the galaxy. Given how silly Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern, was in Agent Orange (reviewed here!), that Larfleeze might well be one of the most dangerous adversaries Kyle Rayner and prominent members of the other Lantern Corps’s face makes for an interesting twist.

After reminding readers how Kyle Rayner was personally tapped by Ganthet, the emotional Guardian of the Universe, to become a Green Lantern when the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps were virtually decimated, the post-Brightest Day universe finds various members of the other Lantern Corps plagued by their members suddenly having rings removed. A member of the Sinestro Corps, Red Lanterns, Star Sapphires, Indigo Tribe, Blue Lanterns, and (apparently) the Orange Lanterns each lose a ring, sometimes to the lethal detriment of their bearer, and their rings all converge upon Kyle Rayner. For a few moments, Kyle Rayner becomes the bearer of all seven rings and an incredibly powerful warrior. But with the collapse of that power and under the attacks from Bleez, Arkillo, the Star Sapphire Fatality, Munk (from the Indigo Tribe), and receiving concerned looks from Saint Walker, Kyle Rayner tries to get answers from the Guardians Of The Universe. Distressed that Ganthet has had all of his emotions removed, Kyle and the other Lanterns, plus Glomulus the Orange Lantern construct, are attacked on Oa by Larfleeze.

The group teleports to the galactic core where they discover a solar system-sized Orrery. Splitting into teams, the lanterns begin to investigate the “planets” of the Orrery. There, they discover that Glomulus is the harbinger of the Beast the residents of the Orrery fear. The presence of Glomulus and Kyle Rayner brings forth the Archangel, Invictus, who kicks the asses of the curious Lanterns. Invictus wipes the floor with the Lanterns and in the process, sets the adversaries turned reluctant allies to a horrible new task.

Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer features almost no genuine character development. The closest to character development the book has comes in the form of Arkillo and Saint Walker. Arkillo’s tongue, which was previously torn out, is restored by Saint Walker and in the process, Arkillo comes to reluctantly consider Saint Walker, the head of the Blue Lanterns, a friend. In this way, Fear and Hope forge an uneasy alliance. Arkillo grows more than Rayner (who is mostly just shocked that Ganthet is essentially lobotomized) and the only other character development comes in Munk and Fatality verbally sparring in order to reveal who they are better than they have been. Revealing a bit more of their backstory does not actually cause them to grow.

The plotline of Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer is good and it develops well over the course of the seven chapters of the book. The history of the DC Universe is revised and fleshed out by detailing more the destruction that occurred in the Vega System, which was alluded to in earlier volumes (like Agent Orange). The Vega System, we learn here, was virtually wiped out and while Larfleeze lives on Okaara in the Vega System the rest of the planets have been destroyed. Tony Bedard makes a compelling story that creates a powerful sense of menace that makes for a fast and engaging read.

The coloring and artwork in Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer looks great. The book does not rely excessively on battles, so there does not need to be exceptional movement within the panels, but between panels, there is quite a bit of movement. The characters are all easily recognizable and the coloring is vivid, bright and bold. Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer is a book that looks great, which reaffirms the idea that the Green Lantern books are integral to The New 52.

While it might be somewhat simplistic, Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer is an engaging adventure story that makes Kyle Rayner interesting and engaging once again, making for a decent, though not timeless or absolutely essential graphic novel.

For other books featuring Kyle Rayner, please check out my reviews of:
Emerald Twilight/A New Dawn
War Of The Green Lanterns


For other book reviews, please visit my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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