Let This Genre Book Live!
I am REALLY bummed that my budget for comic extras got slashed right before this issue came out because I absolutely LOVE the variant cover for this issue so damn much. It's a representation of my complete and utter joy at Larfleeze getting the closest thing to a solo ongoing series that makes sense. An ongoing co-feature. Frankly, that's good enough for me. The fact that the cover is totally awesome is just gravy. The main cover's pretty good too, but it's hard for me to muster up positive feelings about it when I'm wishing it was the variant cover.
So, Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1 was a bit of a disappointment, which is kid of a shame because I'm betting it turned away a few readers who were on the fence about a book that's already on the fringe. Honestly, the New Guardians Annual feels very unnecessary, because this issue establishes the idea of The Hunted in a single page far better than the Annual did. Plus the Annual's nature as a side excursion for the New Guardians in the midst of Rise of the Third Army was INCREDIBLY odd and awkward. It was just forced. And yeah, it explains how Jediah Caul GOT in The Hunted, but here it doesn't feel that important to know how that went down.
Either way, this book begins with an amazing intro, setting the stage for the series in six panels. If there's one kind of writing Kieth Giffen excels at, its FUN. He can balance serious with it, but overall he's best at fun, and that's how this series begins. Actually most of this issue is damn fun. Jediah Caul is recognized quite quickly, but he has an unexpected ally who manages to capture a spark of youthful joy in being chased through an alien city. There's a bigger picture just barely glimpsed among the wild alien species and their crazy slang terms. Giffen really makes it feel like a fully alien world. But his story cuts off rather suddenly to develop more sides to this complex machine. I feel like I'm getting a good intro to all these new or B-List characters, but it's all a bit too much for right now. We get the first spark of Jediah Caul's redeeming qualities before diving into a whole different story under the same Hunted umbrella. I love how big this story feels, but it needs to be given to us a bit better.
The Larfleeze story is just beautiful. Giffen is amazing at comedy, and Larfleeze is one of the best for that. He's one of those rare characters where it's impossible to overdo his defining character trait. It is not possible to overdo Larfleeze's greed, he is greed incarnate, but he's not to bright. It makes for a whole slew of extremely entertaining interactions between him and his captured scribe.
Tom Raney's artwork on The Hunted is really nice, but not as stylistic as I might have expected. Honestly, I think Ig Guara would've been a better choice, since Blue Beetle is cancelled ad leads into this. Ig Guara is pretty much the best for a technology riddled series like this. But honestly, I have no complaints about Raney's artwork here, it serves it's purpose and doesn't really have any flaws. And I have to give props to Andrew Dalhouse's colors, they really pop here, with that sci-fi spark. And Scott Kolins isn't my favorite artist, but he does some damn good work on Larfleeze's story. The over-exaggurated facial expressions perfectly suit the character, and the colors are bright and stunning, especially compared to The Hunted, and it really emphasizes the upbeat and comical tone.
In Conclusion: 4/5
It's an excellent beginning to yet another genre series, like All-Star Western, Men of War, and Sword of Sorcery before it. Hopefully this one will last longer than the other two, because I've seriously loved all of DC's double-story genre books thus far, and this one is no exception. It's fast paced, huge in scale, and immensely entertaining. Also Larfleeze.