One of the hardest things DC’s relaunch has had to deal with is the issue of past continuity. Some books have just thrown you into already-running storylines (Green Lantern) or expected you to pick up twenty or thirty characters you’ve never heard of without much of an introduction at all (Legion Lost), while others (Superboy) have given you whole new origin stories, essentially resetting the entire character. And, at least for me, it’s always been better to err on the side of the reset – pretending we know the character in question is presumptuous enough when you’re relaunching 52 titles, but pretending like your entire audience will know the storyline you’re continuing? Well that just seems like arrogance. Green Lantern: New Guardians, which stars Kyle Rayner, hedges its bets, opening with an extended origin story for Rayner, but don’t be fooled – it’s very much a continuation of the ongoing plot from the last few years of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps comics.
Writer Tony Bedard opens with a 7 page origin for Rayner – an origin that is sure to confuse new readers who saw that the Guardians are alive and well in Green Lantern – before jumping into his stor — oh, wait, sorry, before jumping into a five-page prequel to his story that introduces the main idea: for whatever reason, rings from every lantern corps all over the galaxy have decided that Green Lantern Kyle Rayner should be wearing them, abandoning their current bearers in often fatal situations and rushing to Earth.
It’s a neat concept, and one that artist Tyler Kirkham – who gets to draw some of the truly bizarre alien races common in the DC Universe – seems to have fun with. But it’s also a concept that requires a great deal of explanation beforehand, and I don’t think Bedard does a great job setting it up. New readers have reason to be confused at almost every turn, while experienced readers are sure to be put off by the extended, clumsy reintroduction of Kyle.
While flawed, the book has its memorable moments. The detailed, cartoonish creations of Kyle’s ring – from the caricature of Ganthet to the burly, giant green construction workers who help save some pedestrians on the streets of NYC – are joyously drawn, and Bedard seems to have a good handle on Kyle’s character. With a little time to grow, Bedard and Kirkham could move past their missteps in this opening issue and have a genuinely fun book on their hands. They have a solid hook, an interesting lead and an enjoyable artist: now they need to work on the rest of it.