Green Lantern New Guardians #13 is all about Kyle, who we already know has the power of will (green) but has also recently been able to harness the power of hope (blue). Here, he is attempting to learn how to control 2 other colors of the spectrum: rage (red), through the power of Atrocitus, and love (violet), embodied within Star Sapphire Carol Ferris (the on-again-off-again love interest of long-time Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. These colors are at opposite ends of the spectrum (anyone remember ROYGBIV – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet – as the spectrum from school?), whereas his green power of will is the balance of them all. And with the flashbacks going on in this story these are the 2 colors that seem to hold the most weight with Kyle.
Before becoming a Lantern, Kyle was involved with a woman named Alexandra “Alex” DeWitt. She was the embodiment of love for Kyle, but shortly after he became a Green Lantern she was murdered. Kyle discovered her body stuffed into the fridge in his apartment, and this tore him apart. Alex was the one who convinced him he could be more, and she was left at the mercy of someone who wanted the power ring for themselves. (At least, that’s how the original story went… more on that in a bit.)
Kyle’s emotions around Alex’s death are more sadness than anything, and he is unable to harness the rage power that Atrocitus needs him to take. Instead of anger in remembering Alex and what happened to her, he begins to fall apart. Atrocitus instead takes Kyle across the planet, where he proceeds to demonstrate that there is ultimate levels of evil in the universe, even on Earth. He imparts on Kyle his own backstory, where he watched the Guardians’ first fighting force – the Manhunters – destroy his world. This is one of the first times we get such insight into Atrocitus, and I get the feeling more will be revealed within the pages of Red Lanterns in the months to come.
In seeing humans kill other humans for no reason whatsoever, Kyle gets angry… and begins to channel the Red. With each manifestation of power, there is a physical change in his outfit, and this is no different. Red energy spews forth from his mouth, and his helmet he creates looks like a cross between Firestorm and a Roman Legionnaire. Kyle gives in to the rage and takes out his frustrations on the invading force, only to be put in his place by Atrocitus, during which he receives a reminder of just how bad Atrocitus can be.
So with all of this going on, what does this have to do with the Third Army? Not much . There are scenes that are more setting the stage for an upcoming battle. We see the new recruits of said Army approach the inhabitants of a planet within Sector 2819. The planet sends up a defense force to approach the invaders and determine their intentions, only to be taken over by the Army through their assimilation-style touch. It’s only a few panels but it really is setting the tone for what is to come.
Tony Bedard did a great job in writing this issue. In fact, this is becoming one of my favorite titles to come out of the New 52. (It also doesn’t hurt that I love Kyle Rayner as a character.) Although there are some characters I would like to see make an appearance in this title (such as the individuals from the short-lived mini-series Green Lantern: The New Corps which also starred Kyle), I am glad that Bedard took the opportunity to focus on Kyle’s origin. With the launch of the New 52, there was absolutely no confirmation as to how Kyle got his ring, and this issue begins to solve the problem. (Sure, we still don’t know how DC will retcon the fact that Kyle dated both Donna Troy and Jade, neither of whom have shown themselves in the New 52 – and I don’t anticipate seeing Jade anytime, either, as her father was the original Lantern, Alan Scott, who now resides as a much younger Lantern within the pages of Earth-2 – but they are starting to address his past.)
The art by Andrei Bressan and Amilcar Pinna is wonderful. I am not familiar with the work of these individuals outside of here, but they are definitely individuals to watch for. They make every person look different (which, for some artists, is rare – sometimes only the costume can help you identify who it is you are looking at) but they have depth in the facial layouts and expressions of everyone.
Although not a strong inclusion into the Rise of the Third Army crossover, I have a feeling it will tie-in much more strongly soon. This is a strong encapsulated story as well, and although you don’t have to have a background in this title or with Kyle Rayner’s past, you will enjoy the issue that much more if you do.