Thursday, 29 September 2011

Project 52, Week Five: Comparing Notes on... Green Lantern New Guardians

It's the final week of DC's New 52 wave of #1 issues, and the final week of Project 52. So in celebration/memorium, let's play with the format a bit. Starting with Tim and Bret having the kind of verbal intercourse I can only have in my head.
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Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 – A Discussion, between Mssrs Timothy Maytom and Brettania Canny

(Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Tyler Kirkham)

Tim: What did you feel about this one?

Bret: I…liked it. As I’ve said, I’m still new to the DC universe, but Green Lantern’s always been someone whose interested me. I like the idea of the power, but at the same time, I didn’t realise you could have more than one at the same time until I started reading these. Having now read Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps and been introduced to three of the four Lanterns, now there’s this new guy. And from the single issues that I’ve read, this guy’s actually my favourite.

T: Kyle Rayner, from when I’ve read pre-reboot stuff, was always my favourite. The way that he replaced Hal Jordan, and then Hal came back, always reminded me of a story from the '60s, when Stan Lee was writing Spider-Man. No matter what they did when writing Gwen Stacy, they couldn’t make her as interesting as Mary Jane, even though Gwen was meant to be Spidey’s true love. So in the end, they just gave up, and made Mary Jane the love of his life, and it feels like the opposite of that with Green Lanterns. Kyle Rayner is always the more interesting one, and yet they make Hal Jordan the main hero.

B: He was there first, and it goes with DC’s love of their history and origin stories, which ties into the whole reboot thing. The beginnings are seen as more important than the journey the characters have been through.

But having read New Guardians, I’m confused. In Justice League, we see Hal Jordan five years ago as an established hero. In Green Lantern Corps, we see John Stewart and Guy Gardner, look at me with the knowledge, head off to the Green Lantern planet and it’s all hunky dory. But in this issue, we go there, and everyone’s dead, and we have to assume it’s at the same time.

T: There’s a bit later in the book that says “Present Day” but does that mean anything before it was in the past, or what?

B: Yeah, page one, and everyone on Green Lantern Planet is dead, and the blue guy is saying “I’ll use the remains of my power to make this last ring” and unless you’ve killed off three Green Lanterns off-panel, it’s not really the last ring. And does Kyle Rayner live under a rock? Because when he gets his powers, the blue guy says, “Welcome to the Green Lantern Corps” and Kyle says, “Welcome to the what?” like he’s never heard of them.

T: We establish in the issue that people know who they are; you have people saying, “I like the one with the brown hair” and stuff.

B: They do seem to be tying it into other titles, like this Red Lantern with the bat wings appears in Red Lanterns, but she seemed like she was being set up as a major character there, and if she’s now being ported over to here, it makes me wonder if they’ve mucked [-keepin' it clean ed] up their timeline already.

T: Having not read any of the other Green Lantern titles, I quite liked this issue. I thought it did a good job of establishing Kyle Rayner; it introduced some of these other Lanterns, as this is the multi-Lantern title. It didn’t really explain why they were being brought together, but there’s the sense of a mystery beneath it all, what with the whole “everyone on GL Planet is dead”.

B: This scratches that itch I have for collection, what with the “one of every colour” concept, and if I were going to read a Green Lantern title, it would probably be this one.

T: Is that on the merits of this issue, or more to do with the concept behind it?

B: Well, there are three factors. One: I liked Kyle Rayner. Two: I like the “there’s a different ring for each emotion” idea, and if I was going to write something in this universe, that’s the kind of book I’d write, that threw these characters together. And Three: I always appreciate a book that’s willing to say “I have a story to tell, rest of the universe be damned”, much like X-Factor does for Marvel, and I feel like this could have a similar attitude.

T: It’s very much a set-up issue; not a lot happens. There’s a really nice splash of him saving a crane from falling down, which shows off why I like Kyle Rayner, as he really puts the whole “your ring can do anything” to use. In Justice League, we had Hal Jordan making jets, ‘cos he’s a pilot, and here you have giant '40s workmen saving stuff, which I find cool. I’m not so sure it’s going to be one of these books where the writer has a story to tell and is just using the toys from the universe, but I get that it could be that. We have all these different characters forced together…

B: And it’s not just that they’re different, they’re representing a lot of directly opposing concepts, which I think is cool. As a story on it’s own, it’s okay. The art is fine.

T: Yeah, there were a couple of nice pages like that splash, but it’s mostly passable without being special.

B: I’ve sort of accepted that most of DC’s first issues aren’t telling a complete story, which is a shame, because you could have done that here with some tweaking, but I also can’t think of many other actual origin stories, with a character gaining their powers in the reboot. Most of them assume you know that character, and throw you right in.

T: It does it quickly, without a lot of fuss. You don’t feel like anything’s been skimmed over, but you also don’t feel like it’s being dwelled on too long. It’s a case of, “you have a magic ring, it does whatever you think, and now go!”

B: And you avoid that thing of having the character announce how their powers work, because you have someone explaining it to them.

T: “With my magic ring, I can create whatever I imagine!”

B: Final verdict?

T: There were a lot of introductions, often for concepts, rather than characters, but I like the central idea, and Kyle Rayner is an interesting, appealing hero, so I think it’s definitely got potential.

B: Considering the lack of content, because it is mostly introductions, and setting up who you need to know, which leaves the story a bit empty, I can’t give it an A. It’s a bit “here’s everyone you’ll need to know, and then, the end”. But I did really like what I read.

Bret’s Rating: B+
Tim’s Rating: B
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