Of all the new titles to be released as part of DC's New 52, I was most hesitant about this title, and by extension the rest of the Green Lantern-family books, because it seemed from solicitation copy that not much will have changed, despite the rest of the DCU being reshaped as part of the relaunch. Having now read this issue, I can't imagine what DC is thinking, because this issue isn't new-reader friendly in the least. If you haven't been reading Green Lantern over the past few years, this issue starts in the middle of the story, and doesn't do a good job of explaining why the characters are where they are. Sinestro is a Green Lantern again, a big change to the status quo, but if you're a brand-new fan, that doesn't mean anything. to you, and removes some of the tension from the issue which makes it interesting if you ARE a pre-existing fan. If your only prior exposure to Green Lantern was the recent film, this issue is extremely difficult to decipher, with talk of Sinestro Corps, Star Sapphire, Krona, etc.
Even as a regular reader of the Green Lantern books over the past few years, this issue didn't quite work for me on many levels. The portrayal of Hal on Earth didn't quite ring true, and in fact I fount it quite awkward. Prior to the relaunch, I would have expected him to talk to John Stewart, Kyle or Guy, or maybe Barry, Ollie or Batman, but as the new status quo is up in the air as to the relationships between these characters, it's avoided instead, and it feels like an awkward exclusion. The ongoing mystery of just what's up with the Guardians continues, but I think it lacks a good hook to keep the reader consistently interested and entertained.
The script by Johns felt a bit too relaxed, as the issue doesn't actually have a lot of real content, just moves slowly and establishes where Hal is right now, and then hammers the point home. Sinestro doesn't quite feel like himself here, almost as if Johns is restraining himself with these characters, and not delving into their rich histories, which just feels awkward as a result.
The artwork by Mahnke didn't quite work for me, as although his characters are well formed, it's his portrayal of faces that really fails to hit the mark. The characters appear gaunt, and have weird looks in their eyes, which definitely is distracting.
This isn't a bad issue, per se, as it moves some of the plotlines along nicely, albeit slowly, but what it IS is a bad issue #1. This is a horrible jumping-on point, as the way in which the story is constructed easily alienates readers trying out this title for the first time. It's strange to see the majority of the other relaunch titles go back to basics, and the beginning, whereas this title attempts to pretend like nothing happened, and that the relaunch hasn't affected the storyline or characters in this book, which doesn't make any sense whatsoever.