By: Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi (writers), Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Joe Prado (artists), Rebecca Buchman, Keith Champagne, Tom Nguyen, Ivan Reis (inkers), Peter Steigerwald (colors)
The Story: Aquaman and Mera talk with Boston Brand and Dove. We’re getting some hints of who’s going to be the next Aqualad. Martian Manhunter blows his hands off (despite appearances, this is not a spoiler, since he’s a shape-changer) as the White Lantern tap dances in his neurons. And Black Manta meets up with the people out to kill Aquaman.
What’s Good: Wall to wall, the art pretty much kicked ass. Aquaman and Mera are attractive, heroic, and vaguely menacing. Boston Brand is his typical fish out of water (or lemming in water, in this case). The Jackson kid, in a scene different in visual tone, touch of texture and colors, is very convincing and the art invites the reader to sit a spell and enjoy the scenery. Martian Manhunter blowing his own hands off is, hands down (hahaha), the single most evocative image I’ve seen in a while. The other shapes he takes in seizure-like moments are brilliantly visualized and detailed the way I like them. There was a style change partway through the Green Arrow-Martian Manhunter fight, that was disconcerting (and the art was just not as good), but the shift was not enough to downgrade the book’s art as a whole.
What’s Not So Good: I finished reading this comic with a vague sense of wondering what I’d just read. It’s not that the book was incoherent or anything, but you know how when you see a movie and somebody asks you how it was, you tell the key events in the story? Although there are a lot of plot threads in Brightest Day, I didn’t feel that any one of them moved forward enough for me to really describe them as an event. Did anything really change because of what happened in this issue? Take a look at how I summarized this story. People talk. Martian Manhunter continues to be a passenger in his own story. Green Arrow had a meaty part, but in a conflict that, from the get-go had no drive, because we know it’s false. It’s not like Martian Manhunter and Green Arrow would seriously slap down, so there was no tension in their brief scuffle. The most engaging moment was actually a throw away (the Black Manta story suffix), which is not a good sign. Basically, no arc either began or ended, nor even had enough screen time to show a curve. That made the issue feel flat.
Conclusion: The slow pacing of the Geoff Johns story is starting to dampen Brightest Day’s momentum. The fact that Blackest Night was compressed into eight issues forced a certain discipline on a writer who loves the epic scale. Now DC has given him a lot more space, and he’s filling it, but I don’t feel the same kick, book for book, dollar for dollar, as I did with Blackest Night.