Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing the Green Lantern: New Guardians 13, originally released October 17th, 2012. This issue is part of the Rise of the Third Army crossover event. Click here for complete Third Army coverage. Patrick: You ever stop to think about how weird the emotional spectrum is? The green power of Will is easy enough to understand, and furthermore, easy enough to understand as a tool used by a superhero. The implication is that all a Green Lantern really needs to do is try hard enough and he’ll be successful. “Will” is abstract, emotionally. But the other pillars of the emotional spectrum are more literal – you’ve got to be scary to make Yellow work for you; you’ve got to genuinely believe that everything will get better to make Blue work for you; and you’ve got to be pissed off to harness the Red. The funny thing about emotions though: you don’t just turn them on and turn them off. Kyle Rayner may have the ability to tap into all the colors of the rainbow, but at what cost?
Having just tapped into the power of all seven emotions, Kyle realizes he’s going to need some expert advice tapping into those dicier feelings. Who better than the original Red Lantern Atrocitus to teach him hatred? Atrocitus takes Kyle to the gravestone of Alex DeWitt and lays into Kyle about her death being all his fault. Quick refresher for those not familiar with Green Lantern lore: Alex was famously (and infamously) murdered by the super villain Major Force and left in Kyle’s refrigerator. When this fails to raise Kyle’s ire, Atrocitus takes his pupil to a non-specific war-torn middle-eastern country. They witness an execution – pointedly, an execution wherein a father volunteers to take the place of his son. Atrocitus’ taunts about how this boy will grow up impotent and unfeeling — just like Kyle — sparks the Red Lantern inside Mr. Rayner. Kyle beats up the bad guys with his Red power and then heals the children with his Blue power, before hooking back up with Carol Ferris so they can locate Arkillo.
Anger is at the heart of this issue. Comic book fans (and media critics of all kinds) are quick to anger: in the right room you needn’t say anything besides “Wally West” or “Oracle” to get a rise out of people. In 1999, one of those hot-button issues was the death of Alexandra DeWitt. The event prompted Gail Simone to coin the term “Women in Refrigerators,” which became something of a battle cry against the frivillous killing of female comic book characters. The very first thing Atrocitus tries to do to incite Kyle’s rage is bring up the original woman in a fridge. But that doesn’t work: Kyle’s gotten over it. But more importantly, the comic book readership has gotten over it.
But then Atrocitus does something strange – he takes Kyle to an undisclosed country where people are speaking Arabic and forces him to watch an execution. The victims of the execution are referred to as “rebels” and say to each other “Be brave! God will not let this happen to us!” Tony Bedard invokes a specific scene here, but is frustratingly non-specific with the location (a banner in the corner simply reads “Planet Earth” – which stands in stark contrast to the next scene, which takes place in the absurdly specific “Green-Wood Cemetery: Brooklyn, NY”). The scene is exploitation, but it is exploitation by design. And as a reader, I respond viscerally to using real-world atrocities to motivate fictional characters – especially one that spends most of his time zipping around space and fighting Vegan Angels. The spell cast here by Bedard is astounding: the issue doesn’t depict anger, it generates anger.
The fact that Kyle’s so snippy at the end of this issue hints that Bedard is interested in the consequences of emotion, not just the magical powers gained by harnessing them with special rings. It seems like he intends to make the readers feel these emotions one at a time as Kyle masters them. Look back to last month, when Kyle pulled out “hope” to defeat a swarm of Black-Hand-zombies – that issue excited us, and (dare I say it) got us hopeful for the future of this series. Our duo is off is see Arkillo next, which means “fear” – that should be a good one.
Pencillers Andrei Bressan and Amilcar Pinna are too frequently made to draw these characters through clenched teeth, but they manage to eek out more complex emotions nonetheless. But I think my favorite pissed off drawing actually earns that distinction due to Dave Sharpe’s phenomenal coloring. The splatter pattern of red and green coming off Kyle’s ring is so vital, the emotion leaps right off the page.
Incidentally, Rod and Ivan Reis get a lettering credit on this issue. What’s that about? Did they draw the original BABUM and everyone has just beeen copying and pasting it in ever since?
For me, New Guardians is the most essential second-string Green Lantern series. And this latest arc – while it seems to have very little to do with the greater Third Army hoopla, is an example of what Tony Bedard does so well. Mikyzptlk, how are you feeling about these latest developments? Would you like to see more focus on the Guardians’ machinations to destroy the Corps? And hey, isn’t it just nice to see Carol Ferris a little more?
Mikyzptlk: How am I feeling about these latest developments? If I had to answer by choosing a color from the emotional spectrum, I’d be wearing a pink tutu right about now. Umm…on second thought, is it too late to just say I’m absolutely loving the second year of this series? Because I am! I liked the first year of this book well enough mostly due to my dedication to Kyle Rayner more than anything else. However, what we’ve gotten out of this title since the ZERO issue has been infinitely more promising than we’ve gotten previously. Kyle has always been my favorite GL so I might be a bit biassed, but I couldn’t agree more with you, Patrick, when you said that this is the most important GL series next to Green Lantern. To me, what makes this title so important comes from what Atrocitus says in the following panel.
With comments like that, it’s clear to me that Bedard is setting Kyle up to be a major player in the events to come. Patrick, you also asked me if I’d like this book to go deeper into the Guardians’ machinations and to that I’d have to say “No…for the moment.” I feel that Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi are doing a great job of explaining the Guardians’ current motivations in their own books. Not only that, but it looks as if the Guardians currently have a hit list of sorts that they are going through in a particular order and, unfortunately for them, they don’t seem to think too much of Kyle. Since the Guardians’ attention is focused elsewhere, I’m comfortable with Bedard narrowing in on Kyle’s efforts to master the emotional spectrum. That said, I’m sure that he’ll start incorporating more of the Guardians’ Third Army shenanigans soon. By that point though, I’m assuming Kyle is going to have a few more emotions under his belt. With that, I’d like to point out how the Guardians are completely oblivious to the ways they have set themselves up for failure. I mean, take Kyle for example. This guy was their Torchbearer, then nearly a god, then, when the Guardians tried to kick him out of the Corps, he willed his ring to keep working! I know that the Guardians have a plan to take out the “dangerous Green Lanterns” but you’d think that with Kyle’s resume they’d be paying a bit more attention to him. That isn’t a criticism by the way. I absolutely love how the Guardians are being played as these fallen gods too delusional to see the folly of their own ways.
Patrick, you also mentioned how nice it is to see more of Carol “Star Sapphire” Ferris in this issue and I totally agree as she was such a badass here. Take a look at the following scene.
I can’t remember the last Lantern to shut Atrocitus up like that! Bedard is really playing up the strengths of both Carol and the Sapphire’s here and I absolutely love it. The emotional spectrum is vastly interesting and complex. Emotions rarely, if ever, exist apart from one another and I get really excited whenever I see writers play that concept against the different Lantern groups. We’ve seen that the Sapphire’s are capable of turning rage into love and here, Star Sapphire is seen almost threatening one of the most terrifying Lantern’s outside of the Sinestro Corps! THIS is a Carol Ferris I can’t wait to see more of.
Patrick, you also mentioned the artists of the issue, Andrei Bressan and Amilcar Pinna. Overall, I thought they did a decent job but often times I felt their styles didn’t quite match up. It wasn’t too jarring but it was noticeable. However, the slight mismatch didn’t stop me from absolutely LOVING how they illustrated Kyle as a Red Lantern. I know that we’ve seen this get-up before but I really enjoyed it here. I’m not sure which artist was privileged enough to draw this page but they did a bang up job. Kyle is looking fierce in this shot and I wouldn’t want to be the guy facing down his ring.
Finally, I’d just like to say that if you’ve given up this book in the past, now is the time to pick it back up. Kyle Rayner is getting pumped up in a major way here. I’m convinced that he’s going to play a large role in taking out the Guardians and I’m sure that by the end of this he’s going to be a Lantern unlike anything we’ve seen before. Kyle Rayner may not even know about the Third Army yet, but they’re already royally screwed.
I could keep talking about this issue forever but that’s what the comments section is for!
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?