(a) Scott Kolins and Andrei Bressan
Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1 is fractured -- it's got nothing to do with Kyle Rayner's quest to master the emotional spectrum, nor does it fully realize itself as a lead-in to DC's new sci-fi series, Threshold. There's too much going on in this issue, and with each subsequent page, readers are asked to process more and more characters, lingo, locations, and relationships. Coupled with the hyper-busy artwork by Scott Kolins and Andrei Bressan and GL:NG Annual #1 becomes fairly difficult to read and understand.
I'm not even going to talk about Kyle because Keith Giffen basically shoves the Torch Bearer off-panel within a few pages to focus on Carol Ferris Star Sapphire, Arkillo, and a returned Saint Walker as they attempt to contact the Lady Styx and convince her to join in the fight against the Guardians of the Universe and their Third Army of mindless drones. But really, this isn't what GL:NG Annual #1 is about. Giffen has used this issue -- and it's extra-long 'Annual' format -- as a platform with which to introduce Jediah Caul, a deep cover Green Lantern, as well as 'The Hunted', a sadistic practice involving the hunting down of perceived threats to the Tenebrian Dominion by way of civilian participation.
Before I get into Caul as a character, I have to mention that the Tenebrian Hunt seems really interesting. Unlike Avengers Arena, which pretty much lifted the premise of The Hunger Games without regard, Giffen tweaks his idea enough to feel original and more believable. In the Tenebrian Dominion, criminals are given a day head start before the entire population of the system is allowed to hunt them down for big winnings. The game -- and it's merchandising, etc. -- provides financial support for the entire Dominion, which means they stay autonomous from the rest of the universe. Overall, the idea is fun, but Giffen "shows" instead of "tells" readers what's happening just a little too much. The use of 'space slang' is simply weird. It took me nearly the entire book to realize that "das'tall" was some sort of curse word and not a person's name.
Who is Jediah Caul? He's one of the few new characters to emerge out of DC's 'New 52' so far. Besides Scott Snyder's Court of Owls, the 'New 52' has been limited to reintroducing old characters in new forms. Unfortunately, Caul is just plan boring. He's supposedly a 'deep cover' Green Lantern in the Tenebrian Dominion, but his mission is never explained. Why is he in deep cover? What ends are he looking to achieve? Lo, we get none of this information. By issue's end, what we know about Jediah Caul can be summed up in one word: blowhard. It's hard to get invested in a character like Caul because he doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities.
Green Lanterns: New Guardians has a second-stringer title since it began due to a lack of direction and overall cohesiveness. I understand that this Annual was intended to be a lead-in to Threshold, but why? Why can't that series stand on it's own? Why make an already struggling title break focus and lose it's momentum in the process? Last month's issue was a great step forward, but Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1 is like taking two steps back.