Regular readers know that I first got into comics during the days when Kyle Rayner was “The Last Green Lantern” and Ron Marz writing of the character had a hand in turning me from a casual reader into the graphic novel guru I am today. While I like all of the Green Lanterns as characters, I’d probably choose Kyle as my favorite for sentimental reasons, having been a artsy, smart-aleck twenty-something with too much imagination when I first was introduced to the character. You can imagine then how much I was anticipating New Guardians #1, which promised to update Kyle for the new DC Universe.
Thankfully, Tony Bedard does not disappoint in this first issue. The flashback detailing how Kyle became Green Lantern is true to the original story and Kyle is quickly established as a creative, good-hearted young man. In fact, I think Bedard improved on this origin by having Ganthet (usually portrayed as the most kind-hearted of the Guardians who created the Green Lantern Corps) stick around long enough to give Kyle some basic instruction in using his ring rather than abandoning him to his own devices as per the original Emerald Twilight.
The rest of the issue establishes Kyle in his current position as the Green Lantern’s agent on Earth, while introducing new readers to the concept of the seven Color Corps – groups like the Green Lanterns, who draw their power from other emotion forces than willpower, such as hope, compassion or greed. While Bedard doesn’t profile all of The Corps in this first issue, he gives enough of a taste for new readers to get a feel for the Rage-empowered Red Lanterns, the fear-empowered Sinestro Corps and the love-empowered Star Sapphires. Old-time readers will be glad to see the Violet Lanterns being represented by The Villainess Formerly Known As Fatality, who was perhaps the most interesting new villain to come out of the original Ron Marz run on Green Lantern. Her inclusion here promises some interesting drama in the issues to come.
Tyler Kirkham is probably better known for his work on Witchblade, but he’s no stranger to drawing Green Lantern adventures, having been a regular penciler on Green Lantern Corps for much of the past year. Kirkham is a master at drawing weird-looking aliens that look like real, living beings as well as imaginative constructs – a must for any artist drawing a Kyle Rayner story. The inks by Batt are unusually thin but this only serves to emphasize the bright, vibrant coloring Nei Ruffino. This is a gorgeous book in every department.
I can’t say this is the best book of the new Green Lantern line as Green Lantern Corps was just a little bit more accommodating of new readers. That’s not to say that this book is bad – far from it! Bedard’s script does a wonderful job of introducing new readers to Kyle Rayner but falters a little on explaining all of the other Lantern Corps. Still, the artwork is gorgeous and I believe future issues (and the inevitable trade paperback collection) may help alleviate any confusion this first issue causes.