Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brightest Day: Green Lantern, Late In The Work, Illustrates A Surprising Depth!

The Good: Interesting story, Great conceptual development, Most of the artwork.
The Bad: Sloppy artwork as the work goes on, Glosses over important character moments for plot/concept resolution.
The Basics: As part of the Brightest Day Saga, Brightest Day: Green Lantern emerges as a story of the leaders of the various Corps trying to save the universe through a hunt on Earth.

As the cinematic Green Lantern (reviewed here!) bafflingly struggles at the box office, I had the opportunity to catch up on the latest Green Lantern graphic novel, Brightest Day: Green Lantern. This made me very happy, as I had enjoyed the Brightest Day books, but since leaving the comic book shop, I've found it harder to find the various volumes of offshoot stories in the Brightest Day Saga. But timed to come out around Green Lantern, Brightest Day: Green Lantern makes for a very satisfying read, even if it has its faults.

It ought to be known right off the bat that I am not an expert in Green Lantern. Before this, I had only read two Green Lantern books, Agent Orange (reviewed here!) and Blackest Night: Green Lantern (reviewed here!). I was attracted to Brightest Day: Green Lantern because of my love of the Blackest Night Saga and I highly recommend reading that before jumping into this volume (Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps - Volume 2 contains my extensive links to the Saga and is available here!). The events of Brightest Day: Green Lantern follow the Blackest Night and make frequent reference to it. However, this volume might have better been subtitled, "The New Guardians."

With ten chapters, collecting Green Lantern issues 53 - 62, Brightest Day: Green Lantern is a solid story, which focuses on the newest interstellar crisis to descend upon Earth. With Sinestro, Carol Ferris, and Hal Jordan at relative peace and baffled at what to do about the White Lantern Battery on Earth, the trio - along with Atrocitus, Saint Walker, Indigo-1, and Larfleeze - is given a new task; to protect the Entities, the embodiments of each emotion. Told over the ten chapters, this is the story of one ex-Guardian's machination to harness the power of all seven major emotions for a purpose unknown!

While Hector Hammond is telepathically contacted by an unknown force and Lex Luthor begins his search for a Black Ring, Sinestro locates Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris. Maintaining the uneasy truce made necessary by the Blackest Night, Sinestro reveals that the life Entity has contacted him and the trio attempts, unsuccessfully, to move the White Lantern. They are, however, given a mission, to find the seven Entities and protect them. What they need to be protected from is almost immediately revealed as a wounded Guardian frees Ion, the willpower Entity, from Sodom Yat and encourages that Green Lantern to let his homeworld of Daxam destroy itself.

With Atrocitus and his Red Lantern cat, Dex-Starr, arriving on Earth, a battle ensues with Lobo hunting the leader of the Red Lanterns, necessitating the other Lanterns coming to his aid. When Hector Hammond is sprung from Belle Reve, he is set upon Larfleeze for the Orange Lantern battery and the Ophidian trapped within it, unwittingly becoming a pawn in the wounded Guardian's plan. As Hector brings havoc to Las Vegas, Carol Ferris thwarts the love Entity, Predator and returns with it to Zamaron where she meets her destiny, shocking Hal Jordan.

With Atrocitus and Sinestro hunting for the Butcher, Saint Walker arrives with Adara and shortly thereafter, the Indigo Tribe comes with Proselyte. But when Krona, the wounded Guardian is revealed, a powerful member of the Justice League is infected with Parallax and Krona takes on all of the Lanterns!

Brightest Day: Green Lantern feels, in some ways, exactly like what it is, which is a middle act of sorts. The Green Lantern story is one of the most heavily serialized and while there are big arcs before Brightest Day, Brightest Day: Green Lantern is essentially a middle act in the Green Lantern saga with Blackest Night being the first act and the War Of The Green Lanterns, which just concluded, being the last. So those looking for a very complete story will be a little let down by Brightest Day: Green Lantern.

I, however, was largely not let down. Brightest Day: Green Lantern is fast-paced and just when it began to get a little lagging - notably when the Blue and Indigo Entities are focused upon - the story became vastly more interesting on the psychological level. Krona's manipulation of Hector Hammond, turning him from fear toward avarice, is a clever one and makes him a compelling (if ridiculous looking) villain. But following that, there is a stretch where Sinestro and Atrocitus search, Hal Jordan loses Carol to her destiny and Larfleeze and Saint Walker pretty much ramble. But then, writer Geoff Johns dabbles in some pretty awesome Lantern psychology. The first is an exploration of the Indigo Lanterns and the power of compassion. Johns makes an intriguing observation that compassion is imposed, rather than innate, using Black Hand as the example for that message. It's a clever idea and well-executed.

Similarly, the showdown between Atrocitus and the Spectre in Chapter Nine is excellent. There, Atrocitus bears some righteous wisdom when he states "Eye-for-an-eye is a fallacy." That moment, which forces the Spectre to take a step back is a thunderclap in the DC Universe. Rage is separated from murderous vengeance and Geoff Johns illustrates a psychological sophistication usually reserved for the more complex super hero narratives, like Wonder Woman.

What doesn't work in Brightest Day: Green Lantern are the offshoot references - Lex Luthor's search beginning spins off into an entirely different book and the reference to the Cyborg Superman is annoying - and the way the universe is cheapened by throwing villains around. When the Flash is infected by Parallax, as even a casual reader, I found myself grimacing. If Parallax was so powerful that he could cause the greatest willpower force in history, Hal Jordan, to kill and destroy, why is it so easy to thwart when it possesses the man who is so fast he can move through objects and dimensions?!

Outside that lame bit, most of Brightest Day: Green Lantern works. The artwork is generally impressive, though some of the panels do resort to more sketch-like art. For the most part, though, Doug Mahnk and Shawn Davis create rich panels with a strong sense of movement and easy character recognition. The coloring is vibrant and expressive, which is essential for the Green Lantern books. The cover section is cool and the bonus story, illustrating how Dex-Starr became a Red Lantern is heartbreaking and impressive.

Ultimately, my overall rating might seem a little low, but I thoroughly enjoyed Brightest Day: Green Lantern and highly recommend it. It is, however, a middle act and with the purpose of Krona's obsession with the Entities still unexplained, it forces one to keep reading, which is annoying, no matter how compelling the story.

For other Brightest Day works, please check out my reviews of:
Brightest Day - Volume 1
Brightest Day - Volume 2
Brightest Day - Volume 3


For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment