When Tony Bedard's Green Lantern: New Guardians opens, we see Ganthet crawling out from underneath a huge pile of dead Guardians of the Universe, and the first thought was that this was the conclusion of what we saw in Geoff Johns' Green Lantern, where the jerky Guardians all surrounded Ganthet to try to relieve him of his tendency towards emotion. "Holy crap, Ganthet just kicked the snot out of all the Guardians and they did it off-panel?!" Alas, no, this is a flashback. Something that the New 52 has been really bad about clarifying in their fresh new universe, making it a bit difficult to figure out when exactly some of these books are taking place in relation to one another.
What we're actually seeing is Kyle Rayner's origin story retold, in the aftermath of Oa's destruction and tons of murdered Green Lanterns. We're not shown how this happened or even told about it, which is another issue with some of these New 52 – how many of these are really for brand new readers? Those of us with years logged in know this happened because Hal Jordan went batshit and killed everybody (and then had his face saved by Johns saying he was possessed by a yellow space bug named Parallax so the we can once again thrill to his douchey adventures*), but it doesn't look like the newbies are going to get any context on that at all.
It's not too awful bad though. Rayner fans will be glad that his induction into the GLC seems to be pretty well preserved as it was, and it should be enough to carry fresh eyes through to the present-day adventure, which is actually really interesting in a very simple way. For some reason, one ring from each of the different spectrum color guards – Red Lantern, Sinestro Corps, Star Sapphire, etc. – suddenly abandon their wielders and head straight for Rayner, who's just prevented a construction site catastrophe in the fun way an imaginative artist slinging a magic wish ring can. This makes for some troubling moments for the beings counting on those rings – a Sinestro Corps member finds himself slaughtered by the alien Khund warriors he'd been terrorizing, while a Star Sapphire gets stuck in space and nearly suffocates while fighting space pirates, and a Red Lantern falls down dead in his own pile of blood-spittle. Needless to say, their colleagues are going to be a bit ticked off about that when they track those rogue rings down… which they do. All at once, while a clueless Rayner has mere seconds to brace himself for a massive gang-tackle.
Simple, but effective. I'm certainly down to get the next issue. You gotta be jazzed for a Skittle Lantern Smackdown.
Bedard seems to not only be a fan of Rayner, but possibly John Stewart as well, as the Star Sapphire on Rayner's trail is Stewart's longtime nemesis Fatality, who is actually given pants. That's unheard of for a Star Sapphire, even though she's still showing ample cleavage, as apparently every woman in the entire DCnU does these days. Another clue towards that is the fact that the Sapphire Fatality saves from sudden death looks suspiciously like the blue-skinned pointy-eared people from Bevacqua Seven, where Stewart's ex-fiancee Merayn Dethalis was from. For those of you who are familiar with obscure Darkstars continuity, of course. This is obviously not a paragraph for the newbies. Also, John Stewart has been betrothed to two aliens. No wonder over in Green Lantern Corps he decided he didn't give a damn about living a normal human life on Earth.
Artist Tyler Kirkham does a lot of really nice work here as well, although he's got a little too much Michael Turner style in his female faces, since Fatality looks exactly like the waitress Kyle sketched at the bar right before he first got his ring. At least Kirkham doesn't make their abdomens actually concave like Turner did. Also, you can't really compliment the art in a GL book without making note of the colorist – in this case, Nei Ruffino, who has a lot of bright and shiny tasks to accomplish, which are pulled off beautifully.
I'm not sure what new readers will think of Green Lantern: New Guardians, but I'm sold on part the second. It's Green Lantern without Hal Jordan. What's not to like?
*bias against Hal Jordan freely admitted. He's just the most boring GL of all time. Yes, I'm including Ch'p.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 8/10