Release Date: February 19, 2014
Cover Date: April 2014
Story: Justin Jordan
Pencils: Brad Walker
Inks: Andrew Hennessy and Ryan Winn
Cover: Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy
Variant Cover: Klaus Janson
On a faraway planet, an alien race’s god appears to immolate children as part of a ritual sacrifice…until an armored warrior comes along, kills the god, and tells the people they are now free to choose their own paths. Elsewhere, the Templar Guardian Quaros is doing some exploring on his own in Sector 1, while Kyle Rayner, Carol Ferris, and the rest of the Templar Guardians visit the world of Kalosa. This world, like many others, has had a religion known as the Light and the Fire take hold; but unlike many other religions, it didn’t so by conquering. In fact, every planet where the Light and the Fire has flourished has ended up becoming very peaceful and prosperous. The only problem on Kalosa is that the elites in charge aren’t too happy, and are trying to fight back against the pacifist acolytes. Kyle tries to get them to see reason by exposing the attackers to the indigo light of compassion, but he refuses to do so with the whole planet. It doesn’t seem to matter, though, as the Goddess of the Light and the Fire herself, X’Hal, has arrived to fix things. Meanwhile, the Freemen who are going around killing gods and freeing worlds have heard of X’Hal’s return, and plan to stop her with deadly force.
This issue reminded me of a classic Star Trek episode. Captain Kirk was all about taking down godlike entities, and that’s exactly what was going on here in various forms. The Freemen (sadly, not Fremen) take out seemingly divine beings that, by their own reckoning, take too much from the populations that worship them. (Which is clear in the scene where a god burns a kid alive!) However, much like the captain of the Enterprise, the Freemen leave the former worshippers to their own devices so that they can learn and grow on their own, rather than supplanting the very gods they killed.
X’Hal returns, and I don’t think we’ve seen her since the Teen Titans days. (Correct me if I’m wrong; I haven’t read a lot of the Titans books, to be honest.) Of course, this is “New 52″ X’Hal, so she may have a new origin, and for all we know, she’s connected to Larfleeze and the orange light of avarice, being from Okaara and all. (I sincerely hope not.) Anyway, on the surface, it seems that the Light and the Fire truly is peaceful, and contrasting that against rich and powerful elites makes for a classic tale of might versus right. Watching Kaland’r chastise Kyle and Carol for partaking in the violence, even though they didn’t hurt anyone (they merely ran defense), also makes their religious order more interesting. I just hope it doesn’t devolve into the tired cliché of a hidden agenda on X’Hal’s part or some such nonsense.
Kyle’s refusal to bend an entire world to his whim was great, and it ties into the overall motif of the story; even though Kyle has to the power to do so, he does not want to become a god. Which is good, because unbeknownst to our Lanterns, there’s godkillers on the loose! Kyle’s stance reflects well on his personal character, too; he’s not like the Green Lantern Corps that seek to impose order, or the other Corps that have their own not-always-noble agendas.
I liked the banter between Kyle, Carol, and the Templar Guardians quite a bit, especially the scenes discussing the various betting pools. The very different personalities of the Templar Guardians are refreshing, and a much-needed change from the old guard, where only Ganthet (and later Sayd) had more personality than a waffle. Having at least one of them go off to do his own research is clearly sowing the seeds for future stories — I’m sure you noticed that Quaros clearly found a Mother Box. That’s all well and good, but I like that Green Lantern: New Guardians has been forging more of a unique path with shorter stories compared to the other Lanternverse books. I hope it doesn’t get mired in long arcs again; that’s many comics’ biggest failing nowadays.
New Guardians #28 featured more fine art from Brad Walker. While, Kyle’s mask looked a bit misshapen in a few panels, Walker produced some great alien designs in this issue, and the Freemen had a great 1970s sword-and-planet look to them. The Sector 1 page’s captions mention that the universe is “filled with wonder, and with horror,” and Walker’s art on that very page expertly denotes both at the same time.
New Guardians continues to be the best of the Lanternverse books by a long shot, telling great science fiction stories while avoiding crossovers and events. It’ll be fun to see what happens next.