By: Justin Jordan (writer); Brad Walker and Geraldo Borges (Pencilers); Drew Hennessy, Marian Benes, and J.P. Mayer (inkers); Wil Quintana and Hi-Fi (colors)

The Story: War has come to Paradise. Just remember, no hitting…

The Review: I don’t think that it’s controversial to say that I found last month’s issue of Green Lantern: New Guardians to be, by far, the best in the title’s run. Justin Jordan came out of Lights Out with purpose, defining who Kyle was in this brave new universe while crafting an excellent sci-fi adventure. In short, it was pretty impressive. So now that question is: can he live up to it? The answer is ‘kind of’.

If I had to describe this issue in a single word, I think I’d choose uneven. Despite the pathos that Nias-2 brings to the story, his unclear power set and refusal to press important issues limit his effectiveness as an antagonist. Often his dialogue feels fairly generic but his conviction is clear throughout and when Jordan give him a stronger line – “I would kill them a billion times over for one more moment with my wife, my children” comes to mind. Most of the characters suffer from this as well, but Kyle, Carol and Nias-2 being the standouts. Kyle proves a particular problem, as his attempts to empathize with both sides fail to provide any workable ideas of their own. He rarely gets beyond, ‘what happened to you was horrible’, opting instead to repeat it in many different ways when ‘I know right’ is not forthcoming.

The story is also somewhat unclear, with several key moments obscured by confusing narrative storytelling or over complicated artwork.  The poorly defined abilities of “the structure” is the cause of a lot of this, and its ambiguous visuals don’t help. Between a chaotic battle scene, compositions that are often too tight or too wide, and the confusing weapons utilized, Walker and Borges’ artwork can be a bit hard to follow.

But for all these problems the strength of the concept and the talent of the writer behind it shine through. The Guardians really step up this issue and start to gain more distinction among themselves. I also think that Grandfather’s arc, while potentially cheesy, is absolutely fabulous. The issue examines black and white conceptions of guilt and necessity in the abstract, but rarely comments directly enough to feel like its hitting you over the head.

I also applaud the final page of the issue, which raises even more interesting questions and makes me very interested in what is to come.

I’ve already mentioned that Walker and Borges are somewhat unclear, but, though this issue features some surprising storytelling missteps, the quality of the individual panels is uniformly high. Both artists do a fine job of imbuing the story with weight and depth. The Exurans are not a terribly threatening looking people, so it’s to Walker’s credit that Nias-2 looks every bit the villain that he is.

Oddly, the issue seems much stronger in small panels than in splashes, but that follows the trend set by their art and Jordan’s writing to express the most emotion through the subtlest lines.

The Conclusion: Though his success in exploring them fluctuates, Jordan’s concepts are deeply compelling. With Relic no longer dominating the title, Jordan’s voice is starting to come through more clearly. His fascination with the complexity of being a Lantern is dangerously effective and he seems to have plans for all of his ongoing characters.

That said, this issue is uncharacteristically sloppy. For all of this tales’ greatness, it is technically weak in its storytelling. And that’s strange, because we’ve seen each of these creators do exceptional work before – on this title, no less. It’s hard to say what went wrong. Was it the script? Was it the artist’s interpretation? Was there not enough time? Regardless, something went wrong sometime after the conception of this story.

New Guardians #26 is a fine conclusion to an incredible premise, but it’s not as well told as it probably should be.  I recommend it largely based on the strength of its predecessor and hints that there will be a return to such glory for the title, but you’ll need issue #25 to really appreciate it.

Grade: C

Some Thoughts:

  • What happened to the Exuran’s peculiar speech patterns? Nias-1 uses it occasionally but the invaders speak more or less like normal Americans.
  • I also have to wonder what Kyle is referring to when he says that he knows what its like to be in a cage you didn’t know existed? Not that Kyle hasn’t had it rough, but that sounds like a pretty significant experience and I can’t think of one that I feel confident fits the bill.

-Noah Sharma