By: Justin Jordan (writer), Brad Walker & Geraldo Borges (pencilers), Drew Hennessy & Cam Smith (inkers), Wil Quintana (colors)
The Story: For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For the want of a shoe, the knight was lost. For the want of a knight, the battle was lost. For the want of a battle, the kingdom was lost.
So…how badly do you want a nail?
The Review: The modern ‘space cop’ Green Lantern started as another Earth-bound hero, but within a matter of issues the tug-of-war between Lantern 2814’s homeworld and the rest of his sector began. Through its history, Green Lantern has waffled back and forth between superhero and cosmic comic, but even that changed when the Sinestro Corps War erupted. Ever since, Green Lantern has dealt primarily with in-house threats, whether they be the prophesies in the Book of Oa, other Lantern Corps, or even their own Guardians. Perhaps that’s why this issue feels so fresh.
Justin Jordan’s Kyle has always been charming, but now that he isn’t dealing with universal domination, he’s able to show it. His friendly demeanor, realistic self-doubt, and subdued sense of humor make it easy to feel at ease with this version of the Torchbearer, even if he doesn’t exactly break the mold of a comic book lead.
It’s also lovely to see Carol Ferris continue to come into her own in this series. I don’t know that we ever got an explanation for her rapid change from woman who sees rings as her ruin to enthusiastic member of the Star Sapphire Corps, but if she continues to bring so much to the title, I’m not sure I care.
Though it may grate on some ears or feel like poor-man’s Yoda-speak, the aliens’ speech remains limited enough to be endearing and displays just enough consideration to make it feel solid.
But more than any one character, Exuras is Jordan’s greatest accomplishment in this issue. The central conceit channels a number of sci-fi thought experiments of days gone by, but it possesses enough crucial differences to make it feel original. Better still, the self-awareness that the story displays never goes so far as to become trite but finds the sweet spot where it just complicates the morality of the aliens, avoiding the standard ‘two opposite extremes’ approach that often hamstrings these kinds of stories.
Brad Walker comes into this issue with a slew of advantages over his normal work. Firstly, there’s the subject matter, which is interesting and unusual. Secondly, he has help from Geraldo Borges, who gives him a seven-page reprieve. Third, he’s got a talented art team supporting his pencils. And fourthly, Kyle’s finally taken off his mask!
Some people might miss the link to Kyle’s classic costume, but Walker simply could not get the thing to look right. Not only was it a distraction, but it frequently kept Walker from showing Kyle’s expressions, which return to great effect this issue. There’s a cartoony lightness to Walker’s work here that probably wouldn’t work in every situation but generally picks its battles well.. Carol and Kyle’s close-up on the title page is probably one of the best examples I can think of.
Walker’s work flows fluidly into Borges’. Though the two have slightly different styles, they compliment each other well. I didn’t even notice that there were two artists on my first read.
Borges proves equally, if slightly differently, adept. Both artists really draw the most out the character’s faces, with Borges’ more angular designs providing some impressively dramatic shots of Kyle and the Guardians. Unfortunately the number of characters and the demands of the script often call on Borges to draw long shots. These, understandably, lose a bit of their luster, as the details are lost to the distance.
The layouts are generally simple. They’re fairly effective, but it’s a shame to see the title lacking some of the visual cleverness of the last issue. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s an exception that proves the rule. One of Walker’s final pages features some ambiguous storytelling. It’s only one page but that just makes it more noticeable.
The Conclusion: After an extended tussle with Relic, Kyle can finally begin his exploration of the universe for real, and thanks to recent events, he does so with purpose. Free to chart its own course, New Guardians immediately jumps in quality and the result may just be the best Kyle Rayner story since at least Blackest Night. Though it’s really only a set up for the story to come, one whose success or failure will undoubtedly color this issue, there’s very little wrong with Green Lantern: New Guardians #25.
A clever premise, a solid handle on Kyle’s voice, and lovely art make this a great place to jump onto the adventures of my favorite Lantern.