Green Lantern: New Guardians #37 Review

on December 22, 2014

Green Lantern: New Guardians #37 continues the massive “Godhead” crossover and manages to keep things stimulating. It’s surprising that a crossover as long as this and involving so many different titles is holding my interest as well as “Godhead” is.

New Guardians #37 is a pretty solid comic book. Justin Jordan writes with a clever wit that suits Kyle Rayner, the main character. It propels the “Godhead” plot forward by having the first real battle between the main characters and Highfather, and briskly moves the personal story between Kyle and his love interest, Carol Ferris, ahead.

There are downsides, however. First and foremost is the artwork, which is done by Diogenes Neves, with the aid of fill in artists Rodney Buchemi and Marc Deering. This is one of the rare instances when fill in artists are actually better than the regular one. Diogenes Neves took over for Brad Walker just last issue, and the switch has caused a sizable decline in quality for New Guardians. With the recent news of the upcoming cancellation of New Guardians, which goes hand in hand with the scheduled departure of writer Justin Jordan, I get the impression that Neves is only on the book as a placeholder to finish up the run, not really because of his great artistic ability, and it shows.

It smacks of not really caring on the part of DC. Rather than giving thought at how this may be viewed years later, and striving to put out the best product they can, cancellation or not, it feels like they just want it finished and don’t care too much about the book’s creative virtue.

Kyle Rayner and Carol Ferris have their first real relationship problem. The art this issue isn’t that great. Diogenes Neves’ faces and bodies leave a lot to be desired, and his scenery is very rough.

At best, the art does the job of telling the story. It occasionally gets in the way with wonky faces, but for the most part, it’s just there. There’s nothing especially positive about it to note. The panel layouts are very pedestrian, there is inconsistency in how the characters appear, even by the same artist, and just the very fact that three different people are drawing this single comic book is a problem.

There is one specific thing that bothers me. The artists who are not Bernard Chang are drawing Arisia with that ridiculous plunging cut out in her top that’s clearly only there for gratuitous and shameless male gaze pandering. As a heterosexual male, I don’t even think that thing looks good. It’s just stupid and gaudy. I was happy to see that Bernard Chang gave her a subtle redesign that covers it, but other artists working on this crossover don’t seem to have gotten the memo.

Another issue is the pacing of this story. There is a moment when things happen way too suddenly. Events just happen in a very fast and odd way that is incredibly slipshod. More on that later.

For some mysterious reason, Metron decides to help Kyle and Carol.

I do congratulate the writers for actually making good use of John Stewart in this crossover. It seems to me that the creative teams are making a real effort to add John into the books and give him good roles. This month alone, he’s appeared in every single Green Lantern book that has been released thus far, and he may show up in Red Lanterns and the upcoming Sinestro issues, too. See, this is actually the normal way things should be, but after nine years of Geoff Johns and other writers sidelining John Stewart, it is still somewhat of a pleasant surprise to see.

What really interests me, as a John Stewart fan, is John’s interaction with Carol Ferris. Here are two characters with a very extensive and sordid history with each other, yet nothing since perhaps Green Lantern: Mosaic has touched upon it, to my recollection. Carol Ferris is, in a way, the killer of John Stewart’s past wife, Katma Tui. She was possessed at the time and taken over by her insane Star Sapphire alter-ego, but that still may color John’s perception of her.

We finally see the two characters have a specific interaction, and I don’t know if Justin Jordan meant it this way, but it’s a little awkward and tense, perhaps because it’s seen beside Saint Walker’s tearful, joyous reunion with Kyle Rayner. Here’s hoping that the writer’s continue to build John’s relationships with the various key Green Lantern characters, including Carol, because there’s some very fascinating stuff to explore there that has largely been neglected for years.

Kyle is revealed to be alive to Saint Walker, and John and Carol share a clipped greeting.

The story begins with Kyle Rayner and Carol Ferris being sent down to Old Genesis, which rests below New Genesis. Carol Ferris is upset with Kyle because he used the reality warping power of the Life Equation within him to change Carol into his previous girlfriend, the now deceased Alex DeWitt. Their argument is broken by the arrival of Metron. When questioned about his motives the God claims that he chooses to serve Highfather sometimes, but his ultimate allegiance is to the pursuit of knowledge and the balance of all things. Apparently that balance is threatened, so Metron enigmatically chooses to help the duo by giving them an old mother box. He warns them to think hard on where they want it to take them, because a mother box that old will likely work only once. The tension between Kyle and Carol seems very real and understandable. The tension is actually mostly with Carol, as Kyle tries to apologize and boost her spirits, but to little avail. Jordan brings good levity to the situation with many of Kyle’s actions and comments throughout the book, which are legitimately funny and reminiscent of the Ron Marz Green Lantern run from the ’90s.

The story cuts to the catacombs of New Genesis, where we catch up with John, Saint Walker, and Malhedron after John defeated the New God Uggha in Green Lantern Corps #37. Malhedron is still trying to convince John to leave, but John declines, as there are still things to do on New Genesis. Saint Walker decides to stay with John, too.

Before departing, Malhedron says that the last thing he can do on New Genesis is free Guy Gardner and Simon Baz and tell them how to recover their rings. Right as Malhedron boom tubes away, another boom tube opens revealing Kyle and Carol. Saint Walker is driven to tears when he sees Kyle, and the two embrace. Walker thought Kyle was dead for quite some time, which contributed to his loss of hope.

John and Carol have a much more reserved exchange. Both parties explain their situations to each other – Kyle and Carol enlighten as to why they are currently powerless, and John reveals that not all New Gods support Highfather. The reunion is cut short when the group is attacked by Divine Guardsmen who appear from the shadows. John, being the only one with a ring at the time, has difficulty defending against all of them, but Kyle discovers that the Divine Guardsmen are forbidden to kill him. Taking advantage of this, he engages them in fisticuffs. In the confusion, John Stewart steals the spears the Guardsmen use to fire energy blasts and uses them to blast the New Gods. Kyle eventually gets a hold of one and joins in. Eventually the Guardsmen are defeated and Carol and Saint Walker arm themselves with godly weapons as well.

This issue is a pretty strong showing for John Stewart.

Kyle pointedly mentions that the giant spears are lighter than they look. I’m actually glad this was addressed. In my review for Green Lantern Corps #37, I pointed out that it was preposterous that John Stewart would have been able to lift Uggha’s hammer with one hand and use it effectively. If these weapons are lighter than they appear for whatever reason, then that explains that incongruity away. The quartet decides to find Highfather and get Kyle’s White Lantern ring back.

Meanwhile, the Lanterns currently imprisoned in the Singularity Stockade eagerly await an escape. The Guardians are with them and seem to have a plan. They say that they intentionally allowed themselves to be captured. It was always their goal to reach New Genesis and now that they’ve arrived, they plan to set off to carry out some mission. It turns out that their powers are not counteracted by the technology of the Stockade like the Lanterns’ are, because “their power comes from a different source.” Unless more is explained about that, then that development just seems way too convenient. It seems like Jordan just hand waved the whole thing to get from plot point C to plot point D.

The story then takes us back to the team of John, Kyle, Walker, and Carol battling Highfather. This is when the transition is so sudden that it’s jarring. They just… suddenly encounter Highfather in what looks to be the same catacombs as where they fought the Divine Guardsmen. First, what is Highfather doing down there? When they said they’d have to go find Highfather, I assumed they’d encounter him in a more appropriate place one would think Highfather would be. What it looks like is Highfather went looking for them, and he found them in the catacombs. But that’s not how it’s presented, and if he did, why would he go alone? It is a strange transition that feels extremely rushed and completely breaks the flow of the book.

John Stewart takes Highfather head on.

Highfather has turned his spectrum infused scepter into a sort of gun, which he uses to fire huge blasts of white energy. The others try to harm him, but their attacks don’t seem to affect him much. Kyle does manage to get in a shot with his spear that causes the White ring to be knocked out of the scepter. He quickly puts it back on while John occupies Highfather. To Kyle’s dismay, the ring doesn’t work for him. Highfather begins to command the battle, easily knocking John aside while explaining how the scepter is only a tool for him. The ring is unnecessary. He says that he is now the Life Equation, and then blasts the team with a torrent of energy while telling them they are no longer required. So ends this entry in the “Godhead” crossover. We’re left not knowing exactly what happened to the heroes.

This issue is more or less entertaining, but it does have some big problems, with the biggest offender being the absolutely hideous cover. I don’t know how it ever got approved, but it reinforces the feeling that DC doesn’t really care much about this title anymore. The interior art suffers, and the extremely sloppy transition into the Highfather battle holds this issue back, too. The pluses are seeing Kyle and Carol’s relationship develop, even if that development happens to be their first real fight, and a fairly strong John Stewart appearance that continues to link him to characters like Carol and Saint Walker, thereby making him feel less estranged from everything, as he was during the Geoff Johns era.

If you need a John Stewart fix to hold you over until the next Green Lantern Corps, then check out New Guardians #37. It isn’t likely to disappoint for that purpose.

3.0 out of 5 stars.

Read Green Lantern Corps #37 Review.
Read Sinestro #7 Review. Protection Status