By: Geoff Johns (writer), Doug Mahnke (penciller), Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Tom Nguyen (inkers), Randy Mayor (colorist)

The Story: Little blue midgets have never seemed so frightening.  No, not the Smurfs.

The Review: The Guardians of the Universe have had a large role in the Green Lantern mythos since the Silver Age, and plenty of the great stories of the series involved them in some way or another.  And yet, despite all the past history about them that has come to light in recent years, they remain rather enigmatic, their motivations unclear.  Perhaps it’s their disavowal of emotion (other than utter condescension, that is), but their goals always seem a bit obscure or suspect.

If nothing else, War of the Green Lanterns, by having Krona as a lead character, has cleared up some of the whys and wherefores of the Guardians became hobbit-sized, emotionless men and women.  Certainly, the unbalanced behavior of the possessed Guardians in this issue give weight to the idea that maybe it’s not such a good idea to have our universe’s watchers be too emotional (they definitely don’t know how to flirt: “Come closer.  Let me care for you.”).

But in a way, their inscrutable natures are precisely what make Krona a compelling villain for this storyline.  Once you look past his seemingly ruthless actions, his intentions have even a kind of pureness to them.  You don’t usually expect the typical villain to tell someone, “You will is strong…your heart is not.”  Actually, his philosophy of melding emotion with willpower makes him much more relatable than the Guardians he overthrows, and you can’t call him a dictator out for power when he’s so willing to share universal power with our very own heroes.

You also get some interesting revelations from Sinestro’s sojourn in the Book of the Black, where in his attempts to escape he encounters a crazed, semi-hysterical Indigo.  But then, Indigo isn’t really her name, and considering the major alteration in her previously evenhanded attitude, this seems to indicate she may have had a shadier past before being forced into the Indigo Tribe the way she did to William Hand, just as Hal suspected before.  It’s also notable that all the other trapped Lanterns are accounted for except Carol, implying she has a part left to play in this arc.

But mostly this issue gives you a brawl-fest pitting Yellow Lantern Hal and Red Lantern Guy versus the emotional entity-driven Guardians, which is pretty fun.  One thing Johns always does well, no matter what you may say about his overall storytelling, is deliver gripping action.  He never allows a moment for the characters to take a breather; they no sooner escape one scrape before another overtakes them.

And probably no one can deliver this intense action experience better than Mahnke, whose fondness for close-ups in the thick of battle really ups the sequence’s energy levels.  His art also has a very organic quality that makes the character designs (especially the deformed bodies of the possessed Guardians) look convincingly threatening where they would otherwise seem ridiculous.  Despite the slew of inkers who thin out or thicken up Mahnke’s lines in various degrees, the variations usually suit the tone of the scene and don’t distract you too much.

Conclusion: This is a superhero comic at its most traditional: lively and action-packed, though lacking much in the way of complex drama or character development.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – You’re looking for suitable candidates to be Guardians of the Universe, and you choose Guy Gardner?  God preserve us all, because we’re pretty much screwed.