(i) Andrew Hennessy
The original Guardians of the Universe offered a well of storytelling for Johns, who steeped the little blue guys in corruption starting with Green Lantern: Rebirth and the revelation that they’d been hiding the fear entity, Parallax, within the Green Lantern central battery. This was just the tip of the iceberg concerning the Guardians’ sins, and that theme was consistent for Johns’ nine years at the helm. Johns was still in the middle of his massive Green Lantern saga when the ‘New 52′ started, so when “Wrath of the First Lantern” ended, along with Johns’ tenure as GL coordinator, it allowed the incoming creative teams to explore a different angle to the mythos of the emotional spectrum and their respective Lantern forces. Relic is a prime example of this shift in focus.
Green Lantern: New Guardians #22 is the true introduction to Relic, a scientist from the universe that came before the one that now exists. It’s a heady concept at first, but one that soon becomes easy to accept when you remember that the Guardians existed as an advanced species at the very beginning of this universe. He comes from within an anomalous bubble at the edge of the universe, and he has technology that seems to be far more advanced than anything else we’ve seen so far in Green Lantern comics. But the best part about Relic is that he’s not evil.
Justin Jordan does a fantastic job conveying the fact that Relic is a scientist, that his intentions are rooted in curiosity and the quest for knowledge. He’s just found out that his universe is gone and that he’s probably the only survivor. That’s a lot to take in, but Relic accepts his situation because the promise of scientific discovery outweighs any feeling of fear or distrust he might have. He understands that nothing will ever be the same for him, but he sees it as an opportunity.
Jordan also gets points for fleshing out the relationship between Kyle Rayner and Carol Ferris. Though never romantic, Kyle and Carol’s relationship began developing past the professional stage when they started hanging out on Earth together some months back. They became friends, which is somewhat uncommon in comic books. As a quick example, Kyle met Guy Gardner and John Stewart because they were Green Lanterns and it was inevitable that they would meet at some point. While Carol and Kyle were both part of the Rainbow Brigade, they grew closer because they’re both more pragmatic and realistic in how they carry out their respective duties. When the Templar Guardians pull Carol across the cosmos to help Kyle escape from Relic’s biopsy, they mention a “connection” between her and Kyle. It’s a one-off mention, but it points to a true bond between these characters that isn’t (necessarily) based in romantic feelings or professional courtesy. I could be wrong in an issue or two, but for now, it’s great.
I’m really enjoying Justin Jordan’s run on GL: New Guardians because he’s finally given the title a direction that makes sense and a voice that feels more organic than the first 20 issues combined. I don’t want to discount Tony Bedard’s work, but his concept of teaming up the various colored Lanterns was a novelty that wore off rather quickly. Jordan, on the other hand, is using the title to explore less specific ideas. Instead, we get to see Kyle back at his prime helping the literal New Guardians understand the universe they’ve inherited.