Red Lanterns: Peter Milligan, Ed Benes, Diego Bernard, Rob Hunter, Rebecca Buchmann, Nathan Eyring, Carlos M. Mangual
And we’ve now reached the pinnacle of mediocrity. This book has reached the point where it doesn’t feel like it’s trying very hard. We’re six issues in, and - thank goodness - we’re finally getting the development on the Earthling Red Lantern, Rankorr. This issue almost exclusively focuses on him and him trying to understand what’s just happened to him. We last left off with John Moore crying over the body of his recently murdered brother…and obtaining a red ring of Rage. But there is a point where we go back to Ysmault, the Red Lantern homeworld, to find that Atrocitus and Bleez (oh please) are GOING AT IT AGAIN. Waitaminute! That’s what they did in issue #5! In fact, they stopped! At the end of issue #5, when we last see Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns, they’re standing together…ready to face the universe and spread their hateful vengeance! They were united! The Corps MOTTO was said! If that’s EVER an indication of unity, then something happened that we the readers are totally unaware of. Believe it or not, DC, but the Red Lanterns fighting among themselves is NOT what’s attractive about this book. It’s old. It’s tired. It’s cliche. Atrocitus has forever been a figure of immense power and command. He BUILT the Red Lantern Corps - as he mentions in this issue - from nothing! Out of the sorrow and unending grief he felt for the deaths of his family, and his entire homeworld of Ryut, Atrocitus harnessed the power of Rage and used it against the Guardians and their Green Lanterns. The Guardians, who were responsible for the Manhunter robots that wiped the planet surface clean of all inhabitants. Later we discover it was Krona, an outcast Guardian, who introduced the flaw in the Manhunters…and that gave Atrocitus direction and purpose. Now that Krona’s dead (or is he? see last issue), Milligan here is saying that Atrocitus is purposeless…and Bleez is trying to take over the Corps due to Atrocitus’s weakness. The Corps seemed to be stable, though, at the end of issue #5…but now we’re BACK TO THE FIGHTING! Why? What’s happening? Why not tell us what started the fighting again, if that’s what happened? I just don’t understand. There was only one other point in this book where something didn’t make any sense…and, ironically, it’s where Rankorr is saying that everything “makes sense” to him now. The fury, the rage, the ring…and everything that’s just happened to him (something about peanut butter)…all makes sense. But as he attempts to crush someone with the headstone of his recently deceased grandfather, he never actually tells us WHAT makes sense. Or WHY. This, along with the whole stuff happening on Ysmault, made this issue incredibly frustrating. I’m convinced that there’s seriously no planned direction for this title. It’s just going issue to issue with no over-arcing outline already set aside. The one place where this book EXCEEDS all boundaries is with Benes’s art, and the team of artists on this staff. It has the perfect blend of realism and the fantastic…a true comic book style, in my opinion. I look at that splash page with Rankorr…in fact, ALL of the splash pages with Rankorr (and there are a lot), and they’re just fantastic. He looks great. One of the best-looking Red Lanterns of the bunch. I love the blood-fire hair. I will say, though…Atrocitus still looks like ass. It makes me yearn for pre-relaunch Atrocitus’s face (a scary thought, indeed). And there’s a lot of red in this book. Hard to believe, huh? But I mean it. Really look through this issue and notice all the occurrences of the color red. They say red is the one color we get annoyed with the quickest when it’s overused (maybe that explains my grumpiness with this title), but I have to say that I never once notice while reading this “OMG SO MUCH RED!” But I think it helps that there’s such a juxtaposition of colors on Earth, with Rankorr. On Earth, Rankorr is just about the ONLY red we see! Look at all the people he comes into direct contact with, and you’ll find virtually no red. Even in the world around him, nothing is red. Very smart.
Red Lanterns #6, the verdict: So it’s unfortunate that such fantastic art must lie beneath the weight of such a pointless story. I feel like, no matter how far we get into the arc or the stories, we will never be rid of the ridiculous fighting among the Red Lanterns on Ysmault. Even when they’ve seemingly resolved things, they still go right back to fighting. I’m honestly done with it. It’s about made me drop this title. Rankorr took FOREVER to appear, and that was basically one of the only things I was looking forward to (and many other readers, I’m sure). We’re on issue #6 now, SIX, and we still haven’t seen any hint of the end of the first arc. And, lord, I hope there’s an arc planned. Even if it takes 12 issues. Because if there’s no arc (like DC had planned for the relaunch), then these issues so far have felt like a huge waste of time. The story’s lolligagged back and forth between Atrocitus’s pouting and visiting other worlds, Bleez (oh please) and her honestly stupid aspirations to take over the Corps, the other main Red Lanterns’ origins, and John Moore here on Earth. All of those issues could easily be addressed in a little over half the amount of issues we’ve gone through already. And what’s even more frustrating? The one main thing that can get the plot moving for Atrocitus - Krona’s missing body? It gets barely one panel of a mention in this issue. If I had the option, I’d pay half price for this title, because that’s how much effort I feel goes into it. I mean, how lazy is it to list Rob Hunter in the credits on the cover, but not on the title page inside? Is he or is he not working on this book?
(Photo Source: The Critical Failure)