Kyle Rayner and Carol Ferris found themselves facing down not only a religious war, but a genuine prophet of the seemingly-genuine goddess X’Hal on the planet Kalosa. Of course, last issue opened with a faction calling themselves the Godkillers so… you know, who can even GUESS what they’re all about? Justin Jordan has, as I’ve mentioned before, turned Kyle into a kind of human Enterprise: using him for exploration of the truly alien worlds of the DCU, and this storyline definitely seems like something that Star Trek would tackle. It’s got religious war on alien soil, a seemingly-divine being and an army opposed to that being, it’s all so deliciously 70s sci-fi! As always, Jordan goes out of his way to give Ferris and Rayner a great back-and-forth, but in this particular issue, the Guardians shine particularly bright, confronted by a being that points out their seeming divinity, something they wish to avoid comparison to. I’m an especial fan of Carol’s jab at Kyle going off with X’Hal’s acolyte. It could have read much more catty or petty than it did, but with the pair’s established banter, it comes off as joking, but tinged with justified resentment. We definitely get a payoff on the Godkillers and we even get to learn more about X’Hal and her connection with the other races of the universe. Jordan gives more than you might expect across this entire issue, bringing together disparate threads and making sure all of the characters, even the Guardians, have their voices heard, thus keeping investment high.
Brad Walker’s pencils do an amazing job of communicating emotion throughout the issue, showing very subtle changes in the facial expressions of main characters, but very direct ones in background characters. There’s also a very simple beauty to the character designs, particularly of X’Hal and the Godkillers (great band name) and I’m an especially big fan of the latter, whose armor seems to appear based on need. The credits make it a little difficult to read who did what, but as far as I can tell Andrew Hennessy was the main inker, with Walker on the first four pages, and Wil Quintana handled most of the colors, with Hi-Fi on six of the pages. Regardless, the inks and colors are an absolute feast for the eyes across the issue and maintain a consistent quality of tone and detail, bringing out the incredible, bright beauty of this world and its interlopers. There’s a definite, but subdued, awe to the proceedings that permeate every panel and I absolutely loved reading it.
The cover is total, teasing nonsense. There’s little-to-no romantic tension between Kala and Kyle and very little stress from the Guardians or Carol. Comic covers and their nature, but the days of Superman killing Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane for fun on the cover with that having NO bearing on the interiors are long past and covers tend to be much more honest and forthright about interior content.
This is a story arc worthy of greater focus than the others have had, and it seems like we’re going to see a great deal more of this planet and the factions that inhabit it. This is a good thing as I was enjoying the planet hopping couple of issues, but am definitely not against a more complex, nuanced story that needs a little room to breathe. I don’t know what will happen in the issues to come, nor how long this storyline will last, but I know that I’m definitely invested in its cast of characters.