Green Lantern: New Guardians 8

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Green Lantern: New Guardians 8, originally released April 25th, 2012.

Patrick: After seven months of telling a fairly insulted story about a band of emotional misfits zooming across the galaxy, Green Lantern: New Guardians has to remind us that these characters don’t really work for the same team. They serve seven different masters, and most of that leadership is in various states of decay. So there are a thousand different motivating factors at play, and writer Tony Bedard handles what could be an incredibly complicated issue with aplomb.

Having just sweet-talked their way out of being destroyed by Invictus, the New Guardians have to figure out how exactly they’re going to hold up their end of the deal: killing Larfleeze is going to be no mean feat. But the conversation is cut short when everyone’s power ring gets reception again. Munk is summoned back to the Indigo home world (presumably to deal with new arrivals Hal Jordan and Sinestro). Arkillo discovers that the Sinestro Corps has been completely obliterated in his absence, so he speeds off to Korugar. Of the five remaining, three are dangerously low on ring-energy and need to return to their home planets to recharge. The already-charged Bleez agrees to escort Kyle back to Earth and suggests that Fatality and Saint Walker return to Zamaron and Odym (respectively) to recharge.

Meanwhile, Arkillo makes it back to Korugar just in time to stop the execution of a former Sinestro Corpsmen – a Weaponer of Qward. Once they get back to the Weaponer’s hideout, he reveals that he’s forged another yellow power ring – this one free from Sinestro’s influence. The Weaponer offers to give the ring to Arkillo in exchange for the Orrey. Apparently having forget that the rightful owner of the Orrey just mopped the floor with his team, Arkillo agrees.

These characters have always had their separate methods and motivations, but it’s really cool to see them more pronounced in this issue. Each one has his or her own priority, usually corresponding the needs of their own corps. While she’s back on Zamaron, Fatality is instructed to discover how Invictus created his black-hole-portal-thing. And then there’s Glomulus, who is being a really good sport about being charged with killing his own master. When push comes to shove, there’s really no telling how any of these guys are going to react.

This is primarily one of those set-up issues. All the characters need to be slightly re-aligned and shuffled to various corners of the universe so the Next Big Thing can happen. And I think this is where our band of misfits gets folded back into the narrative of other Green Lantern books. As I mentioned (and an editor’s note suggests), Munk disappeared so he could be an active player in Green Lantern 9 and Arkillo is off dealing with the aftermath of events that played out in the pages of Green Lanterns and Green Lantern Corps.

But it doesn’t droop under the weight of that kind of narrative heavy-lifting, largely because this title wields humor so well. And it’s always the little things, like here: Glomulus was just told to keep their plans to murder Larfleeze a secret, so he literally zips his mouth shut.

I have my usual objections about how the ladies are drawn – including a really weird ass-tits-face moment with Bleez, Fatality’s non-stop cleavage, and a panel that goes out of its way to show Bleez’ butt. I do like the recharacterization of the enlightened Bleez – it’s cool to see her focused and goal-oriented. She’s even more together than the rest of the group. It’s a little bit hard to keep both the blatant exploitation of the character and her new bad-ass persona in my head at the same time. AND YET, I MUST.

Also, Drew, I don’t know how familiar you are with the Weaponers of Qward. Though, now that I think about it, I suppose  you don’t need any introduction other than what you’re given within these pages. I really like his re-telling of the events of Sinestro’s betrayal. There’s something really compelling about recontextualizing that heroic act, and making it seem like it was a bad thing. The way he says “it was vintage Sinestero” – that’s awesome.

I worry about this series merging with the other Lantern titles. It might have a strong enough identity that it’ll maintain its own style, without getting mired in Oan drudgery, but it’s a concern I have. As long as we get to keep spending 20 pages a month with Glommy, I guess I’ll be happy.

Drew: I agree that much of this issue is concerned with moving our characters around to set up something, and while you can be sure that there’s a reunion and fight on the horizon, I’m actually most excited about what’s going to happen between now and then. The first few issues of this title explained why Kyle would be free and interested to roam the universe with this motley crew, but everyone else was simply on a mission to retrieve a missing ring from their respective corps. While that mystery isn’t technically settled, they obviously have other lanternly obligations besides palling around with the rainbow brigade. Seeing how and why they decide to come back to the group is going to be interesting, and  necessarily promises to flesh out all of these characters at least a little.

Arkillo, in particular, is in a very strange position. His corps is all but eliminated, as their leader has used a failsafe in their rings to imprison them all in a comatose state. By taking that newly forged ring, he’s not just protecting himself from Sinestro’s influence — he’s rejecting it altogether. He even amends the oath, replacing Sinestro’s name with his own.

And why shouldn’t he? The corps certainly isn’t Sinestro’s anymore, and with all the other yellow Lanterns neutralized, the corps essentially is Arkillo. I particularly like how this assertion of independence is reflected in his constructs — multiple iterations of his own mouth. Arkillo now has a whole planet trying to hunt him down (plus any number of Green Lanterns) because they fear him. Sure, they’ve got him on the run for most of this issue, but as the sole remaining yellow corpsman, he’s become the stuff of legends. It’s neat that what might be Arkillo’s worst fear might also be the thing that gives him the most power over others.

Fatality’s story interests me less. Sure, we learn that someone helped Invictus enter the galaxy, but we get no hint of Fatality’s motivations or personality. Instead, we learn what her marching orders are. That’s something in the way of motivation, but her character is still kind of a personality vacuum. I mean, I feel more attached to Glomulus, and he’s a ring construct (kind of).

I’m a bit more intrigued by Bleez’s motivations here. Sure, giving Kyle some back-up may be a solid strategic move, but why would she put her neck on the line for a Green Lantern? We haven’t spent much time since she got her brain-groove back, but she’s already emerging as a strong leader for the group. You’re right to point out the cognitive dissonance of that new role with her continued objectification by the artists. I’m with you on having lost patience for our usual finger-wagging, but it’s just so gratuitous. You already mentioned it, but I have to draw our attention to this pair of panels in particular.

The same characters are shown in both panels. Because we see Bleez from behind in the first panel, the effect of the second is a camera that is intentionally drifting downwards for a clear ass-shot. This kind of gratuitous attention to T&A has garnered my ire before, but this particular image works to make Bleez’s objectification explicit. Kyle asks, “Since when did you become such a team player,” and the art seems to add “I thought you were just a hot piece of ass.” WHO KNEW an attractive space-woman could also be a team player? (Gags)

(Personal aside to Tyler Kirkham: I like your art, I really do. Your ring constructs are among the best I’ve seen in my (admittedly short) experience as a Green Lantern fan. I’d like to think that you’re an intelligent, enlightened human being who respects your art-form and the characters you draw enough to not pull this kind of shit, but you keep proving me wrong. Not once — not once — have you framed a male character such that you couldn’t see his head. You’ve done it several times with your female characters. That alone is kind of fucked-up, right? I want to care about these characters, but you keep trying to distract me with their body parts. STOP IT. It alienates your audience, and plays into the lowest-common-denominator arguments people always use when trying to diminish the artistic integrity of comic books. For my sake, for your readers’ sake, for the sake of comic books, and for your own self-respect, cut this bullshit out. I’ve been reading this title long enough to know you’re at least 8 months old. It’s time to start acting like it.)

Sorry for that interruption. Patrick, I totally feel your concerns for smashing this title into the larger Lantern mythology at play in the other books. Those plot points don’t interest me nearly as much as seeing these lanterns interact. So far, Bedard has managed to address those mythological moments with a tight focus on the characters. If he can keep that up, I won’t have any problems, no matter how dense the plotting gets.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

11 comments on “Green Lantern: New Guardians 8

  1. There’s an extra-nice detail in Arkillo’s constructs on that last page – not only are they all his mouth, but they all have tongues. His tongue was ripped out by Mongul or some other Big Bad wearing a Yellow Ring, so the fact that he a) says his own name in stead of Sinestro’s and b) asserts his power by constructing his mouth with tongue-in-tact really goes a long way toward establishing his independence (at least, from Sinestro – he does owe his tongue to Walker.)

  2. Also, Drew, I totally beat my chest and add my support to your personal message to Tyler Kirkham – but I want to extend it to the editorial team that is either asking him to draw that way OR let’s him get away with it. There are obviously hundreds of standards they hold they art up to – why can’t “decency toward women” be one of them?

    • It’s true. He’s classic – just screwball enough so the underlying sadness in his history isn’t over-powering. Also I love this idea that because he was killed by Larfleeze, we sorta gets to live on forever. Blessing? Curse? Or just sort of adorable and hilarious?

      • The fact that he’s dead only further validates the Slimer comparisons. I think the idea that Orange Lanterns are all murdered souls makes them the most diverse of all of the corps. Everyone else has some kind of emotional similarity that ties them to their corps, the only thing the Orange Lanterns necessarily have in common is that they were killed by Larfleeze. It’s an interesting idea even behind the existential philosophizing that follows. I would definitely read an Orange Lantern title following Glommy.

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