Kyle Rayner is a character known for being put through the ringer and Justin Jordan looks to continue that proud, noble tradition. Having mastered the entire Ring spectrum and helping put down not only the Third Army but the First Lantern, Kyle’s first assignment was to show the new Guardians of the Universe around and reacclimate them, so naturally the first place they went, something cosmic and horrible was unleashed. After overcoming Exeter, a strange and hostile guard to what could only be described as a cyst in the galaxy, a being from the previous universe was revealed and now, it begins to explore this strange new cosmos. Unfortunately, this involves trapping Kyle, draining his power and subjecting him to a hallucinated world in which he paints pictures about the current state of the cosmos for an unseen benefactor. The whole thing is very surreal, if not a little familiar, which I’ll get to in a moment, but I really like how Justin writes Kyle, Carol and the Guardians. That’s right, our favorite Star SapphireCarol Ferris reappears and, again, something is simmering just beneath the surface and I absolutely LOVE the tension it creates.
Brad Walker and Andrew Hennesey pencil and ink with Wil Quintana coloring and, as usual, they all do a stand-up job. Stories in space can skate by with just a black background with white specks in many cases, but that’s rarely resorted to here with massive ships and bizarre aliens filling the gaps between the main characters and a giant, terrifying two-page spread that’s one of the most genuinely bizarre things the book has put forth yet. There’s not a lot of action, but when there is, it’s well-paced and impactful, somewhat staccato but not to its detriment.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a giant humanoid who survived the destruction of the previous universe returns, constructs his own ship and begins to storm across the universe. Comics borrow ideas from each other, and especially across publications, all the time, but this is a little on-the-nose, though not enough to be something like The Authority or Squadron Supreme. Likewise it feels a little soon to be locking Kyle in a prison of his own mind with a contented fantasy to keep him docile so soon after the First Lantern did literally the exact same thing.
Despite a lot of repeated ideas, this series still drips with a lot of originality and great new ideas, and I’m especially intrigued in seeing where Relic is going and what he wants. There’s a lack of the actual New Guardians, but they’ve been replaced by a DIFFERENT set of New Guardians, so the book’s title is still technically accurate, but I do hope to see the return of the rest of the team soon. In the meantime, Kyle Rayner’s hands are kept full in an entertaining, engaging way that practically demands to be read. The character dynamics mixed with the action and new, strange beings are reason enough to ignore the very minor shortcomings and see where this is all going and what it’s all building to.