“Put on your stockings baby, cos’ the night’s getting cold,” Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics from “Atlantic City,” a track from his inhumanly dark Nebraska album, haunt me still. But it’s Justin Jordan’s upcoming issue of Green Lantern: New Guardians that puts this lyric into strange and possibly far darker context.
It’s so many worlds apart, you just can’t begin to imagine. “Atlantic City,” like almost every other track on Nebraska is low-slung urban and couldn’t be farther apart from the grand storytelling inherent in the space opera of New Guardians. Listen to the track just right, and there’s just enough of an undertone to suggest the idea that even the speaker in the song doesn’t believe he’ll find a way out of his troubles. That the urban decay and the “debts no honest man can pay” will simply engulf him whole. And of course, none of the big dreams he sings about, will actually be that liberation.
Especially when it comes via the Blue Lanterns who are emblematic of and powered by hope (in the same way the Green Lanterns are emblematic of and powered by will), New Guardians #23 scans as the direct antithesis of this cage of frustration and idle hopefulness. Imagine ring-bearers of a calming blue light who do nothing but meditate and expand them minds and their compassion and radiate goodness in the world. Imagine the liberty that might ensue.
But when the Relic appears, the chief adversary for this arc of the book, he presents not only a physical danger to the Blue Lanterns, but a philosophical threat. It’s not just that the Relic is siphoning the Blue Lanterns’ power, it’s that even had they had their full power, the quality of it wouldn’t have been enough to confront the nature of the threat he poses. And that’s not so very different from the one moment of stark realism and simultaneous compassion that comes from asking your best gal to put on her stockings against a cold night. Even if tomorrow, you won’t be boarding that bus to Atlantic City.
Please enjoy our exclusive preview of New Guardians #23.