Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Red Lanterns #1

Depending on how you look at it, one of the great things about the DC relaunch is the basic lack of change in the Green Lantern corner of the universe. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the series are the Lanterns of focus. Following the war of Light, Blackest Night, and Brightest Day, the popularity of the different lanterns is clearly what spawned this title. The real question is, what makes the Red Lanterns of Rage more deserving of their own title than any other color? Personally, I would have wagered that the Yellow Lanterns would be more likely candidates, since Sinestro’s current status as their leader is questionable. However, the Red Lanterns have been fairly prominent throughout the GL universe, with Atrocious appearing in Green Lantern and Bleez in Emerald Knights, so it’s not entirely without logic.

The issue opens up in Space Sector 666. This sector is the home of Atrocious, the Red Lantern battery, and in the pre-relaunch universe, one of the few space sectors without a Green Lantern. Whether or not that is still the case remains so far unknown. We’re shown a group of aliens torturing a different, frailer looking alien. They are then attacked by Red Lantern fan favorite Dex-Starr, who if you are unaware, was once a kitty cat, and is now a lava spewing violence incarnate space kitty cat. This isn’t your heroic Green Lantern save, which Dex-Starr illustrates by scalping the first of the sadists he encounters.

The other aliens get the upper hand briefly before the ‘main’ Red Lantern Atrocious shows up with the single best line of the issue.

The two most interesting parts about this sequence (aside from a feral space cat @#)*$ing some guys up) is that Dex-Starr is given at least rudimentary thought via caption bubbles, and we get our first look at Atrocious’ state of mind, which looks to be a driving force in the series. Aside from Atrocious, none of the Red Lanterns have previously had much to say aside from rabid growling and rage filled yells. As an ongoing series, this pretty much has to change to make sure one Red Lantern is distinguishable from another.

What we learn is that Atrocious is losing his rage and is concerned about what this means for his future and the future of his corp. This leads to a somewhat unneeded ‘insubordination’ from Bleez (the bone winged Red Lantern from Emerald Warriors) which is clearly a setup for her leaving to be a part of Green Lantern: New Guardians. I say unneeded because up to this point, the Red Lanterns have basically been just a force of nature that Atrocious points at the universe and says ‘vomit lava and kill.’

Turns out Atrocious is losing his rage because he didn’t get to kill Krona, the Guardian responsible for his sector being wiped out. We then get a flashback of the destruction of Atrocious’ home, the death of his family, and the birth of his rage. This is about where the issue goes off the rails for me. Atrocious invokes a blood vision from the blood of Krona and sees ‘so much suffering, so much brutality’ in the universe that it reignites his rage and shows him his new mission (at which no time will he run into Hal Jordan and attack him for killing Krona). My problem here is that the montage of suffering and brutality that Atrocious sees is all on Earth. Really, that’s the extent of what the imagination of an alien, surrounded by thousands of other aliens will see? Also the other Red Lanterns are maybe mounting mutiny, for some reason? It’s hard to tell with the rage yelling.

On the plus side Ed Benes art really fits within the Lantern universe we’ve come to know the past couple of years. His detail is great and does a great job of integrating the otherworldly nature of the majority of the characters with the few human appearances we see. His layouts and action scenes clearly show the action that is occurring in interesting and exciting shots, while still being clear on what is happening. There’s also a healthy level of violence shown without being overly unsettling (i.e. still okay for most kids).

This works great for the comic, especially in the Lantern universe but it would be nice for the art to take a darker, more Vertigo turn down the line considering the theme here is rage. All in all though, the art team is working great with the story.

The major question that I have for Red Lanterns is whether or not there is enough characterization and premise to sustain an ongoing title. Considering the team involved I’m willing to bet on it, but only time will tell.

By Kephus with No comments


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