By: Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi (writers), Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Norm Rapmund, Oclair Albert (artists) Peter Steigerwald (colors)
The Story: Rise and Fall: The Earth is under seige by all sorts of odd manifestations of darkness and chaos. Heroes from all over are leaping into action to try to stem the tide. At the eye of the storm, Firestorm, Deadman and Dove (the girl whose time is running out) with the White Lantern, struggle with trust.
What’s Good: The art team sold me from page one. The opening splash page of the Earth and moon against the starry backdrop was powerful. Same thing with the double-splash of the elementals and the double-splash of the Dark Avatar. Evocative. Subtly textured and colored. Awesome eye candy. And the action and moods throughout the book kept the story moving. Brightest Day has always had me hooked with the emotiveness of Boston Brand’s tortured expressions, and this issue is no exception. The dialogue and action (except for some serious flaws I note below), worked.
What’s Not So Good: Structurally, it’s a screenwriting truism that you have to build the menace of your villain up to the climax, so that in the final battle, the audience has a true contest of champions, where anything can happen. We haven’t really had any consistent villains yet. Each resurrected hero has been facing his appropriate nemesis, but nothing has been presented yet as the all-encompassing villain to really make the reader soil his trousers. Now, in the second-last issue of a 24-issue series, we are introduced to the bad guy, and honestly, I know nothing about him and his abilities, so it’s hard for me to get worried (it’s not enough that the White Lantern is racing against time). Moreover, the revelation of the parliament of trees and the eco-mood going on drastically brought me down from the cosmic stakes I was expecting. Looking back, I can see how the greening of Mars, the forest on Earth, etc fits with the one hero at the end who will save everything, but I’m having a hard time reconciling an Earth-scale danger with something like the oath that Green Lanterns swear (In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night), which is, in itself, related to the cosmic-scale color spectrum Johns so cleverly created. Are Johns and Tomasi going to shift the stakes upward in the next issue? Likely. But this issue dashed my expectations in a bad way, instead of a good way.
On another plot point, it’s always a bad thing when an argument is happening and the reader can reasonably ask “Wouldn’t they stop arguing if the White Lantern would just explain to Firestorm what’s going on?” I know misunderstandings among the good guys are a central trope of comic books since 1961, but if it’s clearly to prolong a false conflict, it begins to smack of poor characterization or lazy writing. Maybe Ronald needed to see Stein die to more fully resume the mantle of Firestorm, but once that was done, there was no reason for the Lantern not to be honest with Firestorm. Same with Boston Brand and the White Ring. Since all of Boston’s protestations amount to nothing anyway (the ring has forced him to re-kill several friends), telling him what’s going on would have saved this series about 2 issues worth of artificial, unconvincing conflict.
On the execution of the writing itself, I was pretty pleased overall, but the voice of the White Lantern skips disconcertingly between formally and informality. In one place, we’ll have something like “…it is a place where only the chosen shall enter.” Then, on the next page, you’ll get “I was talking to somebody else.” Stylistically, it’s a bit distracting.
Conclusion: If you’ve got the other 22 issues, you really should get this one, but there was a bit of story turbulence. Artwise, this is definitely a keeper.
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