Ray – 9/10
Ray: While the line’s bread and butter has been all-ages tales of iconic heroes as teenagers, including Superman, Black Canary, and Wonder Woman, the DC Kids line has recently begun introducing original characters to fill the shoes of those heroes. First we saw a not so ordinary boy discover his link to Swamp Thing, and now it’s time for a very different shade of green.
From the team of Minh Le and Andie Tong, Green Lantern: Legacy is a cosmic adventure that’s equally grounded in a story about Asian-American identity, family legacy, and the ongoing clash between traditional culture and sweeping modernity. In many ways, it works as a modern-day counterpart to the brilliant Superman Smashes the Klan.
The story focuses on thirteen-year-old Tai Pham, a Vietnamese-American boy who loves comic books and drawing, and has a close bond with his elderly but undauntable grandmother. The family store is the center of a thriving Asian-American community, but is beset by both racist punks and powerful real estate interests that want to buy it out.
Although his grandmother seems invincible, she passes away suddenly after Tai has a mysterious encounter with a jade ring – and that’s where the story really kicks off. It’s not a spoiler to say that Grandma was a secret Earth Green Lantern for decades, quietly working as one of the best heroes the Corps has ever seen. As someone who has missed the Justice Society since the New 52, it’s great to see a new original hero who fought evil into old age.
Minh Le fills Tai’s world with a compelling mix of original characters, including his best friends Serena and Tommy and their mentor and idol, the brilliant tech executive Xander Griffin. Tai’s family is a great illustration of a supportive immigrant family – the kind more teen heroes should have.
The writing style here reminds me a lot of one of my favorite DC runs, John Rogers’ Blue Beetle from the post-Infinite Crisis era. I think a lot of books like that were released too early and in the wrong market, but could find a second audience here. The Green Lantern characters introduced to mentor Tai are a good mix – John Stewart doesn’t get to do too much beyond being a gruff officer, but Princess Iolande is an intriguing choice to bring out the best in Tai once he inherits the ring and becomes a trainee Lantern.
The art by Andie Tong is perfect for this story – clean, distinct character designs, excellent backgrounds, and the story effectively shifts from a crowded city setting to cosmic adventures in space. If I have one complaint with this comic, it’s that the eventual villain reveal is fairly obvious and happens very late in the game. This is one of many DC OGNs recently that doesn’t explicitly say it’s one of a series, but if it’s not part one it’ll feel incomplete. This 120-page story moves fast but barely scratches the surface of its potential. It introduces some fascinating new elements of the Green Lantern mythos that feel like they could sustain an extended series. Green Lantern is one of the more sweeping and cosmic franchises in the DCU, but much like Jessica Cruz before him, the addition of Tai Pham to that world could open it up to a whole new audience.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.