Our new status quo has Hal Jordan in charge of the Green Lantern Corps and Kyle Rayner off escorting a newly revived set of Guardians around the universe. As whole, the line is decent-to-good and the strategy of calling up indie writers is working for the moment. I’m finding Green Lantern: New Guardians to be the pick of the litter.
Green Lantern – Robert Venditti/Billy Tan. I find the flagship title to be the most pedestrian of the set. This is Green Lantern – space cop. Instead of the reluctant hero, he’s become the reluctant leader of the Corps, dealing with a crop of new recruits that don’t appear suitable and coming under fire just as they’re showing up for training. The dichotomy of new leader/maverick cop is being explored a bit, but this seems to be the touch point for the rest of the series, foreshadowing the next Event and perhaps it’s a bit less personal the rest. Solid enough book, but perhaps missing a little zip.
Green Lantern Corps – Robert Venditti & Van Jensen/Bernard Chang. This is the adventures of John Stewart with his new sidekick/potential star-crossed love interest, Fatality (who’s now a Star Sapphire). John’s working out some personal issues after the Guardian’s betrayal at the end of the Geoff Johns arc (a common theme with these titles). In the meantime, he’s stumbled across an invasion. This is fairly detached from the main book at this point, though the mystery of the power rings shutting off for brief periods figures prominently in the story. A little more personality than the flagship title, a little better art.
Green Lantern: New Guardians – Justin Jordan/Brad Walker. The best of the bunch, this reinvention takes the title literally. Kyle Rayner is keeping an eye on the new Guardians of the Universe, who have decided they need to go out and see what’s been going on in the universe while they were away. Rayner has a deep distrust of these new Guardians and reluctantly agrees to act as their escort largely to keep an eye on them. On the way, they accidentally release/awaken Relic, the new big bad for Lantern franchise. Relic is particularly well handled, giving enough detail to his background to keep some mystery while revealing enough to make him a little spooky and very dangerous. Walker’s art is also the best of the group, to my eye. This is a well executed book that’s leading into the next Event.
Red Lanterns - Charles Soule/Allesandro Vitti. An ambitious book with Guy Gardner taking over the Red Lanterns (at least for now) and trying to impose a semblance of a moral code on them. The angry Red Lantern is being tempered by a river that gives the Red Lantern their normal thought process (or something approaching it) back when dunked in it. There are some interesting characters in this one, but it’s just too soon to know where it’s going and how it will be when it gets there.
Larfleeze – Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatties/ Scott Kollins. Larfleeze is something else entirely. I’ve only read #2, and that issue is really about the plight of Pulsar Stargrave (yes, the Legion of Super-Heroes villain), who’s been captured by Larfleeze and forced to act as his butler. Plenty of imagination in this one and completely, utterly off the wall. It’s not quite the level of excess of an old Lobo comic, but reading Larfleeze next after an issue of Green Lantern is a lot like reading an issue of Lobo after an issue of Batman in the mid-90s. You almost have trouble believing they’re in the same universe. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just a very different type of comic than the rest of the imprint and perhaps it should be approached as it’s own farcical entity, rather than as part of the GL family of titles.
The question is, can you read any one of these titles by itself?
Past that, I’m of two minds. All the other books have nods to the others. There’s just enough of those nods that you might wonder what was going on. New Guardians is key in the next crossover and they’re doing a crossover after only 4 issues (and the Villain Month sideshow), so it’s highly debatable whether this is intended to be anything but a 4-pack plus Orange Lantern. You’re either going all in or taking a month off in October. The answer is maybe, but it’s really being designed and coordinated like an interconnected serial and the coordination has been good, thus far.
Mild-t0-Moderate Recommendation for the set. Nothing groundbreaking, but a decent enough SF/Superhero group of titles. A definite improvement over the “It’s a Wonderful Life re-imagined as a villain” sequence that was the Geoff johns swan song. If you’re going to try just one, go for New Guardians. If you’re looking for something absurd, Larfleeze is worth a look.