There’s a lot of punctuation in that title, so you may not have realized that this is the story of how Kyle Rayner gets by in the future world that’s coming. But how much has the most idealistic of Lanterns changed? Your Major Spoilers review of Green Lantern: New Guardians: Futures End #1 awaits!
GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS: FUTURES END #1
Writer: Justin Jordan
Penciler: Diogenes NIeves
Inker: Marc Deering
Colorist: Wil Quintana
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Darren Shan
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Green Lantern: New Guardians: Once nothing but a pinch-hitter, Kyle Rayner kept the flame of the Green Lantern Corps alive when the rest of the universe had forgotten, and when the Guardians returned, he was given a place of honor in the reunited Corps. Their greatest wars were ahead of them, and Kyle eventually became the bearer of the power of the White Lantern ring, and seemingly sacrificed himself to save the entire universe from a monster called Relic, during which he traveled beyond the Source Wall into the power source that fuels life itself. That was five years ago…
There’s a saying about absolute power and it’s powers of corruption, one which Kyle Rayner has been trying to fight off for most of his career as a Lantern. This issue opens on an alien planet, where a population of blue guys and gals moves about their happy little insignificant lives, until a bright light appears in the sky. “I’ve learned by trial and error that my arrival must be sudden,” ruminates Rayner as an entire planet of blue people fall under the spell of the White Lantern. Suddenly, their world is a utopia, with no need, no war, no conflict, millions of minds living in harmony under the aegis of the White Lantern…
…save for one young woman. Saysoran is her name, and her struggles to find out what has happened to her people are the highlight of the issue, as she proves herself to be very resourceful, finding the source of the external influence: A Guardian of the Universe. Said Guardian points her to HIS boss, which leads us to our first encounter with future Kyle Rayner as a disembodied skeleton. There’s a LOT of high-minded existential claptrap about his role, transcending death, and the usual White Lantern madness, but Saysoran fearlessly stands in his face, telling Kyle that he’s lost his mind. When he agrees, the story takes an unexpected turn for me, and the ending, while telegraphed, makes perfect sense.
REMINDS ME OF THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR
The biggest problem with it all is the timing. On the one hand, five years of ultimate power seems like an awfully short time to lose your entire being and go El Bonzo Seco, making Kyle seem like he was already on the edge of losing himself. On the other hand, the remoteness of the future combined with the alien planet, makes the whole thing feel like one of the less exciting episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Futures End stories have been very inconsistent in their quality, and this is one of the ones that might have benefitted from more setup than the gimmick of “Five Years Later” gave it to work with. In many ways, this reminds me of the “old-man-in-a-young-man’s-body-making-life-and-death-decisions-on-a-galactic-scale” schtick of Doctor Who over the last three years, but that series has the benefits of its lead character being thousands of years old, giving us a little more context for everything going on. I’d be interested in seeing more stories in this future AFTER the end of the issue, but I’m more interested in seeing the stories that would have led up to this for Kyle and the White Lantern power.
THE BOTTOM LINE: DISTANT AND ALIEN
As much as I enjoyed Saysoran, recasting Kyle as elemental god of life/death didn’t entirely work for me (partly because he’s always been more sane than Hal or Guy and less intense than John Stewart) but the story itself was charming, if a little inconsequential. Green Lantern: New Guardians: Futures End #1 is another big crossover one-shot that could have benefitted from more room, more setup and more followup, but was less bad than it was ill-served, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. The more of these one-shots they put out, the more I’m certain that this universe will get a big reset button at the end of the story…
Never thought of Kyle as particularly sane, myself. Or stable. Or as a lantern at all.
Kyle is actually my favorite GL from Earth, but I do agree with your other statements. Just look at some of the damage he caused unintentionally in the past, particularly when he was the sole GL. Heck, at one point, his subconscious mind and the ring caused a villain he created as a child as well as several other beings that claimed to be GLs of other times and timelines to manifest physically (GL: Circle of Fire mini series). But I think “being at least slightly less than perfectly sane” is actually an unwritten requirement to being a Green Lantern.