Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brightest Day #1 Review - Brightest Awesome

For any comic fan, a new #1 is like a new girlfriend. It's always fun and exciting to get a feel for and there's so much potential ahead to see just how well it can work. For many comics, as with some girlfriends, the relationships sours over time. But for some comics, as with some special girlfriends, it is love at first sight. If a story it that good then you're ready to get on one knee and commit yourself in ways that gives female soap opera stars pussy boners. Brightest Day #1 is that kind of comic.

Geoff Johns does it again, picking up exactly where issue #0 left off and continuing the plot points that emerged from the ashes of Blackest Night. It still centers around the White Lantern, which was found in New Mexico and is essentially stuck in place. It's so stuck that Green Lantern, Star Sapphire, and Sinestro can't lift it. Those are some pretty heavy hitters and if they can't utilize this power, then that's a mystery worthy of Scooby and Sherlock Holmes.

This leads to the other main player of Blackest Night, Boston Brand. In the last issue he was trying to put his life back together both literally and figuratively. One of the white rings found him and now he's essentially on his own zen-like quest to discover what it wants from him. Johns takes a page right out of Blackest Night and gives the white ring a personality, something that isn't easy to do. It's not every day someone tries to make the power of light appealing enough to have a beer with, let alone tell a story. But it works here.

Now your traditional superhero fanboy would expect someone with a new power like this to just go out and start busting heads immediately. Some may even complain that there's no clear bad guy yet with Brightest Day. That's not necessarily a bad thing. What's interesting here is that Brand doesn't quite know how to use his power. He is essentially as powerless as a crippled comatose patient when Somoli pirates attack children on the boat he's riding. Aquaman and Mera, looking cooler than any Aquaman montage in the past two decades, come in and take care of the crisis and leave Brand on the sidelines. He is essentially the Steve Young to Aquaman's Joe Monanta.

But in this conflict, another sinister plot emerges. Apparently, the shadows of Blackest Night haven't been completely erased. There's still some element of the Black Lanterns in the people it affected. That means some of these characters may end up being their own worst enemies in ways that go beyond just being self-destructive. Even the powerful characters like J'onn J'ozz are having an identity crisis and when the last martian is showing signs of some mental problems, that's grounds for barricading one's self in deepest hole and praying he doesn't snap Joe Pesci in Goodfellas style.

This all works nicely to set up that bad guy plot that some readers may have been bitching about, as if nobody can be satisfied unless someone is getting their balls busted. It hardly seems fair to one's balls. Never-the-less, Johns finds time to throw in one more plot point and continues the struggle with Hawkman and Hawkgirl trying to recover the bones of their first past selves. It's a veritable trip through the annuls of reincarnation and you would expect their heads to be bulging from having not exploded thus far, but they make it work and kick some ass in the process.

However, just when it seems they have their bones back more incarnations appear across the world, this time in the Amazon. This leads me to one of the few shortcomings of this title. If Johns is trying to work the Hawkman/Hawkgirl plot with Brand and the white lanterns, he's not doing a very good job of it. You read these two plot lines and you end up scratching your head, not sure of what one has to do with the other. I get the idea of continuing the plot set up from issue #0, but why continue it here if it doesn't compliment the other plots? That's like putting a story about 2007 New England Patriots into a documentary about the history of the Boston Red Sox. They have some similarities, but aren't on the same playing field.

This still doesn't take away from the sheer awesome of Brightest Day. The dialogue is as crisp as one would expect from Geoff Johns. It's like getting a pizza from your favorite restaurant and always leaving satisfied. The art is also astonishing and the action, while not earth-shattering, is still as solid as you could want in a story that is still unfolding. It's not clear how any of these plots will come together if at all, but if anyone can make it work it's Geoff Johns. He's earned himself that kind of leeway and few other writers can say that (looking at you Jeph Loeb).

This issue gets another solid 5 out of 5 and an A-plus for sheer awesome! Brightest Day has quickly become the Suma Cum Laude of DC comics and it is a pleasure to read and follow from start to finish.

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