By: Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi (writers), Ivan Reis, Scott Clark, Patrick Gleason and Joe Prado (artists), David Beaty, Oclair Albert, Keith Champagne, Tom Nguyen (inkers)

The Story: Father’s Day: Aquaman and Black Manta slap down, with all their fatherhood issues in tow. Ronnie and Jason (as Firestorm) do the same with Black Lantern Firestorm (Deathstorm). Martian Manhunter heads for Mars.

What’s Good: Is there anything that doesn’t look cool when Ivan Reis draws it? I thought not. Let the matter hereby be settled that Ivan Reis will always fall in the “What’s Good” category. The texture of characters and backgrounds, the dramaticism of the movements and the shiny brilliance of the light and metal all made the Aquaman storyline just beautiful to read. Both Aquaman and Black Manta look badass, which should be hard for a couple of guys who spend most of their time swimming. The Firestorm story art wasn’t Ivan Reis, but certainly held its own in a book that invited comparison. The smoky shadows clinging to Deathstorm were moody and were an interesting counterpoint to Firestorm’s flames. The double splash at the end cemented the conclusion. And, for readers who have been feeling that Brightest Day has been dragging by the series mid-point, the momentum of last issue certainly carried through this one. If they don’t switch storylines next issue, this will set up a sustained pattern of quicker action and danger.

What’s Not So Good: My complaints this issue hinge on the writing. The artists successfully put the story action onto the page, but the words just didn’t seem to be holding up their end of the job. While the momentum and action was there, it felt jerky at times because there were some narrative explanations that really would have helped me out. I’m not a DC novice, but I can’t say I’d win a trivial pursuit game where the categories were the Histories of Firestorm and Aquaman. I felt almost a little excluded, like I wasn’t part of the club. This is a very useful thing for a writer to do to please his expert audience, but to grow sales, you need new readers introduced to the mythos and you have to give them a bit more of an entry point. I’m trying to keep up, but I felt that the writers could have met me a little closer to halfway.

And on Deathstorm’s dialogue, blech! I mean, if this is the key villain in your book (Black Manta is not threatening the entire universe), you’ve got to make him believable. Deathstorm is a Republican serial villain. What’s the point in the villain cackling (I paraphrase) “I’m going to get you both so mad at each other that you destroy the universe”. Wouldn’t that motivate most heroes to overcome their differences, even if only temporarily? It’s up there with “No one catch reach that switch over there that just happens to shut off my death ray!” Good grief. Deathstorm’s dialogue throughout, including such gems as “Radical!” didn’t elevate him in my view, although maybe that’s a clue. But if it is, couldn’t the writers have delivered a less cringe-worthy clue?

Conclusion: Good momentum. Good art. Interesting story. Some clunky writing.

Grade: C+

-DS Arsenault