Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Green Lantern: New Guardians 0, originally released September 19, 2012. Green Lantern: New Guardians 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Drew: Green Lantern subverted our expectations for zero month, delivering an origin story for a brand new Green Lantern, but one that cleverly fits within the overall narrative of the series. As DC’s Chief Creative Officer, Geoff Johns likely played a key role in determining if and when the event took place, so it’s understandable that he would come up with something that was largely an exception to the rule, both in terms of narrative elegance and the concept of a “before issue #1” story. What’s brilliant about Green Lantern 0 is that it really couldn’t have been any other story — Johns killed the hero in the previous issue, eliminating much narrative interest in returning to his past. Green Lantern: New Guardians 0 pulls a very similar trick, but as a team title, it doesn’t need to go through the trouble of “killing” the hero — simply dissolving the team will do just fine.
Stripping down the team also gives writer Tony Bedard room to focus on his characters, which has always been the strength of this series. The issue opens at Ferris Air, with Carol returning to the hangar in hopes that Hal might come by to recharge his ring. Instead, she finds a very different ring.
Artist Aaron Kuder perfectly sells that discovery, giving Carol’s reaction enough room to convey the significance of that moment. Just then, Kyle shows up, also looking for Hal. They catch a news report on Hal and Sinestro’s exploits at the cemetery. Carol grabs her ring and the two rush to the seen, to find SWAT teams battling the zombies. Carol and Kyle step in, but they’re quickly overwhelmed. Kyle discovers that he can still channel other rings, using this newfound ability to obliterate the zombies. When the smoke clears, Kyle asks his ring to find Hal, who the ring helpfully informs him is dead. Carol doesn’t believe him — she can feel in her heart that Hal is still alive — and forces Kyle to feel it, too. Instead, Kyle sees a future where he is a member of each corps. Meanwhile, on Zamaron, the Guardians and the Zamarons agree that this whole lantern thing is over.
It’s a whirlwind story, delivering all of the moments we expect from a Green Lantern title: character moments, huge action scenes, crazy prophecies, and even some universe-changing mythology. It’s paced brilliantly — in spite of hitting all of those moments, it never feels overstuffed. Also, ZOMBIES!
Kuder keeps up with the rapid shifts, delivering action and prophecies cleanly and efficiently. More importantly, he manages to keep the focus on the characters, which grounds the entire issue. Take Carol’s reaction to hearing about Hal’s death:
That look of shock is a dark mirror to her nearly silent reaction to discovering the ring. That Bedard is able to plant the seeds at the start of this issue earns this moment, emphasizing her love for Hal. Having a female character’s defining motivation be love of a man always makes me wary, but Bedard expertly builds on that skeleton, creating a strong and determined character who steals the entire issue. It helps that Kuder treats her so respectfully, keeping the focus on her face — something Tyler Kirkham’s art on this series hasn’t always accomplished.
This title has been so much fun operating off in its own corner of the Green Lantern universe, I was a little wary of it getting bogged down in the Guardian’s machinations. I realize now those fears were largely unfounded — as long as Kirkham can keep the title this tightly focused on the characters, it hardly matters what madness is going on around them. Indeed, in spite of the absence of the team, this largely feels like a return to form, and sets up New Guardians as perhaps the most compelling series of the crossover. Color me excited.
Patrick: I always found the title “New Guardians” confusing. Especially in a world where “Guardian” means something so very specific, why would this group be referred to as “New Guardians?” I don’t believe they’re ever called that within the narrative. “The New Guardians” was the title of story arc from Green Lantern 53-62, which ran alongside Brightest Day. In that arc, Hal teams up with Carol, Sinestro, Indigo-1, Larfleeze, Atrocitus and Saint Walker to locate and subdue the emotional entities. The title sorta makes sense in that context, if for no other reason than that these characters were taking it upon themselves to control the entities as the previous Guardians had. But between the old “New Guardians” and the new “New Guardians,” there’s only a single-character overlap. So what’s the deal?
What if this title refers more to Kyle’s up-coming adventures and less to do with that 12 fantastic issues that preceded this one? No doubt, Kyle will have to unite the clans against the third army, and his ability to channel all the emotions in the spectrum will aid him in this goal. But what happens when the dust settles, and our soldiers are victorious? Without the Guardians or the Zamarons, how do these outer space peace-keeping forces manage themselves? Carol makes a specific point to bring up Kyle’s tenure as the Torch Bearer, and adds “[Hal] said you were special.” And then there’s the vision of the future…
It all sets Kyle up for something transcendent. I’ve only begun to imagine what that could be, but I’m excited by the possibilities.
This was probably the first good Carol Ferris issue of the New 52. While it’s true that the character is presented as little more than her love for Hal, it’s clear that that love means something to her: it’s not a relationship of narrative obligation. I mean, check it out — she springs into action because they think he’s in trouble. Hal may not be rescued in this issue, but I do love the slightly inverted “Sorry Princess, but our Mario is in another castle.”
Also, holy cow, Aaron Kuder’s artwork is versatile. Drew, you picked out three images of deft acting — and those incredibly subtle facial drawings are amazing. But there’s also this show-stopping two-page spread of Carol and Kyle battling the undead.
The staging here is great — keeping the heroes at a middle distance while flooding the front of the panel with re-animated corpses. There’s also an odd amount of space committed to tranquil sky above this brawl. I absolutely love the stars twinkling out from behind the clouds. It’s a quiet little reminder that this conflict is not an simple earthbound issue, and our heroes are going to have to take the fight to the sky. I think it’s the first time I’ve felt the size of this whole Third Army thing.
I’m a little bummed out not to see Saint Walker, but it sure does make all the sense in the world to focus on these two Earthling characters. So much of the Green Lantern stuff takes place in space and with crazy aliens, it’s refreshing to see a story that takes place solely on Earth and more closely resembles a superhero comic than a space opera. Oh, I don’t expect the focus to stay planet-side, but it is a nice detour.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?