Annuals – GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS ANNUAL #1

GREEN-LANTERN-NEW-GUARDIANS-ANNUAL-1-Cover

Is it time for these again? Fair enough. But who’s this random Green Lantern? And why should I care? And shouldn’t the New Guardians be busy fighting that Third Army? What’s going on here?

So previously in Green Lantern: New Guardians, Kyle Rayner bopped around the galaxy to master the entire emotional spectrum with the help of Carol Farris. Carol, a Star Sapphire, aids Kyle in the hopes he might help her save Hal Jordan. Plus Arkillo and Saint Walker, Yellow and Blue lanterns respectively, tag along for the ride.

Not that any of this has much to do with the plot of GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS ANNUAL #1, because we get sidetracked.

With only the violet power of Love remaining on the checklist, the group stops by Zamora, home of the Star Sapphires. You’d think a corps all about love would be pleasant, right? Nope! The group interact with two corpswomen, both of which are assholes. Granted, the Zamorans secretly made a deal with the Guardians of the Universe, but still. While Kyle gets to train with a nameless Star Sapphire off-panel (presumably something we’ll see in the next proper issue), Carol gets a mission for her corps…

Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure Carol does almost nothing for the organization that granted her a power ring, so it’s probably about time.

So what is this obviously important mission that’s worth the time of Carol and the readers? Go the filthy slumworld that is the Tenebrian Dominion and get its leader, The Lady Styx, to break her non-aggression treaty with the Guardians. Or at least that’s what I think the Star Sapphires want Carol to do, considering the exposition about what the mission is comes out terse and unhelpful. And in the grand scheme of things, the mission is meaningless because it’s all an excuse to get the group onto that horrid planet.

It’s here we meet Jediah Caul, deep undercover Green Lantern agent sent to the Tenebrian Dominion by the Guardians and promptly cut loose for reasons never explained. Why are we meeting him? I’ll explain a little later, but suffice to say the stated reason is the group need to be smuggled onto the planet that hates all ring-slingers. It’s here we also meet a group of unpleasant and suspiciously humanoid space smugglers. Why are we meeting these people?

Look, I really wish I could stop asking this, but it’ll make more sense later. Point is, the smugglers get them onto the planet, before promptly selling them off against their will. Like I said, unpleasant are these guys. Keep this in mind.

It’s here we’re introduced to the planet’s main gimmick: in addition to the many charming things this overcrowded and morally bankrupt world offers – like euthanasia services and a baby market that parents willingly engage in – is The Hunted. The Hunted is an entertainment program where captured souls are set loose, allowed to be killed by anyone who chooses to hunt them for any reason. It’s apparently an industry that dominates the planet’s culture and dwarfs all other industries in terms of wealth generation.

Obviously, one of our group gets the non-honor of participating. They get off of course, leaving Caul in their place.

So why did I just spoil the entire story? Why, in fact, have I spent nearly an entire page of text explaining the entire plot? Why have I played coy so much, and what’s the point? Simple: because this isn’t a Green Lantern adventure as such.

It’s a backdoor pilot for THRESHOLD #1.

One of four new books appearing at the time of this writing in DC’s New 52 Fourth Wave – we’re up to four waves now – THRESHOLD #1 just came out, and it’s all about SPACE! Specifically, it’s a compilation of stories involving various space characters running around the DC universe, including Jediah Caul as an unwilling participant in The Hunted, and some stuff with those unpleasant smugglers I mentioned. There’s even going to be a Larfleeze backup story of some kind, among other characters.

And I could not care less.

Want to know what kills my interest in a story faster than a shot glass of cyanide? An entire cast of characters I can’t relate to. And guess what? I don’t like any of the characters introduced in this annual. Jediah Caul is a self-serving bum, and the smugglers, as I’ve said repeatedly, are unpleasant. In fact, barring Saint Walker and Carol and to an extent Arkillo (in his own way), everyone in this book comes off as unnecessarily antagonistic to everyone else. Is it so much to ask for someone to act in a non-hostile manner?

You know what this reminds me of? The nineties. GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS ANNUAL #1 reads in many parts like it was lifted wholesale from the Dark Age of Comics. This is not a good thing.

The main saving grace in this mess is that if you’ve wanted to see more of Arkillo and Saint Walker, this is your comic. It’s fun to see former enemies act not just like grudging allies, but legit miss-matched friends. Arkillo is telling (albeit blunt-force) jokes! The two dress up in costume to go undercover, and Saint Walker wears a peace sign necklace! Even Carol gets in on the action, acting as the medium between the diametrically opposed characters, and it’s funny! The best this comic gets is when it acts in opposition to the nineties tone it revived like a shuffling corpse.

Seriously, what is with DC these days and trying to go Necromancer on the Nineties?

So on the grounds that this presents great character moments for some of the secondary Green Lantern characters, I recommend GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS ANNUAL #1. But on the grounds that it’s a backdoor pilot for a new series that fails to make me want to read the new series (and comes out of nowhere in terms of the overall plot), I cannot recommend it. Unless you’re part of the former group, or just really miss the early nineties, angst and dickery and all, steer clear.

When Arkillo, a veritable sociopath monster, can leave a guy for dead and I fully endorse that course of action, we have problems! I should not be rooting for horrible things to happen to a potential protagonist!

What do you think? Will you be picking up any of the new number ones? Can a comic too nineties still be halfway enjoyable? Does a protagonist need to be likable to be worth reading about? Leave your comments below. Feedback is always appreciated.

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