Saturday, August 7, 2010

Brightest Day #7 - Connecting the Awesome

The Brightest Day series has been like a cliff notes kind of awesome for DC comics. Every time an issue comes out, it offers a compelling story that covers a wide spectrum of DC characters that's not only written in a way that makes angels cry golden tears but also ties together the plots stemming from Blackest Night. For anyone who hasn't kept up with the DC universe all that much, it's like the perfect window that gives you a clean view of the hot neighbor's room while she undresses and poses in front of a mirror. Every issue has been of substantial quality, although some demonstrate far more awesome than others. The only problem if you can call it that is most of these stories don't really tie together. The plots basically cover a few characters and that's it. Well that all changes with Brightest Day #7 and in the span of 20 some odd pages this book goes from cliff notes to gospel.

You never would guess that this comic would be so awesome from the first few pages. In it Boston Brand, who has been sort of like the whipping boy bearing the brunt end of Brightest Day plots, is eating a cheeseburger. That's right. A full fledged DC superhero isn't fighting crime or stopping aliens. He's eating a fucking cheeseburger. Add to the fact that Boston Brand has been dead for a while and probably hasn't remembered how to eat like he used to and you've got a strange yet awesome set of circumstances.

While he's getting his grub on, Hawk and Dove are tapping their feet and waiting impatiently like an overpaid porn star waiting for the viagra to kick in on their scene partner. In the previous issue they tried a little experiment with Boston's power. They tried to bring back Hawk's brother and Dove's sister. To say it didn't work out would be like saying Vietnam was a minor setback. It was the White Lantern, which Boston has been struggling with since the first issue, that kept screwing them over. This little gizmo is as fickle as Tiger Woods's taste in women and it's been essentially stringing Boston along like a kid whose mother takes him shoe shopping without letting him visit the toy store. Hawk and Dove are now along for the ride and waiting for the next round of bizarre proclivities, but not before dropping in a Dixie Chicks joke. Before they can even get a desert, the White Lantern does it again. You can only assume they left money for the check, otherwise DC is faces the wrath of the censors yet again.

When the light fades they arrive at the very place where Blackest Night ended and Brightest Day continued. The strange white lantern that appeared in the middle of the road is still there. And it's not because Geoff Johns completely forget about it either. It's because nobody can move the damn thing. The Green Lanterns couldn't do it. Hell, none of the Lanterns could do it. The damn thing was like Homer Simpson on the couch, utterly stuck with no inclination to move. When when Boston picks it up, he does so without breaking a sweat.

Aside form finally clearing an oversized pothole that had to have made for some lousy traffic, the lantern reacts strongly to Boston's presence. It reacts in a way that makes an army of teenage girls from the OC strung out on PMS look meek. The White Lantern's message is simple but cryptic. "You need to embrace life." For whatever reason, that involves being enveloped in a blinding white light and suddenly having to wear a skin-tight white uniform that can't be good for a man's sperm count. I don't get the lantern's reasoning either, but damn it if it doesn't look awesome!

With this act by Boston Brand, the White Lantern starts reaching out to everybody in the Brightest Day story. Suddenly all these dangling plots that have been unfolding independently start linking up and it makes for a montage of awesome that is akin to multiple orgasms of the eyes and the mind (excuse me while I get a cigarette).

The first one it touches is J'onn J'ozz, who in the previous issue had the misfortune of solving a string of bizarre murder mysteries that led him to Miss Martian, M'gann J'ozz. Now it's not exactly clear what it does. At first it seems to give J'onn J'ozz nightmares the same way activist judges give the Christian Right nightmares. Then by whatever mojo the White Lantern is packing, it heals M'gann and she and J'onn are as clean as my mother's kitchen floor. Is it a good thing? A bad thing? Who knows? That's part of the mystery and the fun is watching it unfold!

After J'onn, it's Firestorm's turn. For much of this series Ronald Raymond and Jason Rusch, who happen to make up the two portions of the Firestorm Matrix, have been at each others' throats. It's made for a fairly intriguing if not overplayed college drama. But that all changes when the White Lantern touches them both and they get a sudden makeover. All this happens just as they were about to learn a secret to the Firestorm matrix that they didn't see on the instruction manual when they first got this thing. It's not clear if the White Lantern has anything to do with this secret, but again it's still an awesome sight to behold.

The White Lantern doesn't restrict itself to college campuses either. Keggers and ultimate frisbee just aren't enough for this thing. It has to go beyond Earth and into the cozy little realm full of animal humanoids that Hawkman and Hawkgirl find themselves stuck in. Hawkman had been getting the brunt end of animal kingdom justice while trying to find a way to rescue his lady pal. The creatures of this planet think about as highly of him as rednecks do of Barack Obama, but then he flashes his White Lantern look and suddenly the man has some street cred.

Not to be outdone, Hawkgirl does a little flashing of her own and not the kind that happens once a month. Since the last issue, she's been resided to a cage courtesy of Hath Set. If you'll recall, that's the same asshole who gathered up all the bones of their dead ancestors and used it to open a gateway. On the douche-bag scale that ranks about a 9.0 behind Hummer drivers who double park. Oddly enough, the White Lantern tells Hawkgirl that she has to be the one to rescue her better half and not the other way around. It's an intriguing twist, but one that has to go through Hath Set first. After seeing that White Lantern display he looks at her the same way a pedophile looks at Justin Bieber.Whatever the mystery here, it's going to end with someone getting screwed over and not in a good way.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl aren't the only lovers out on a date gone horribly wrong though. Mera and Aquaman were also having their share of complications and by complications I mean Mera blowing the secret that she was sent by her people to kill him. Now she claims she truly fell in love with him. Seriously, how many times has a guy fallen for that? Even with a rack like hers that should make anyone's bullshit detector explode, but Aurthur Curry is remarkably forgiving.

This is a bit of a head-scratcher. It doesn't quite kill the fanboy boner, but it is a whimper of a turn. Aquaman seems to have no major reaction to this revelation. He doesn't seem terribly upset. He doesn't get all that angry either. He just bows his head and says it's alright. Now I'm all for forgiving a loved one, but you would think a guy who just came back from the dead would be a bit more cautious about someone who was sent to kill him. You would need more than some therapy to get over that. Before they can call Dr. Phil though, the White Lantern shows up again and gets the buzz going again like a fresh hit of weed. Not only that, it cleans up the oil spill that Mera and Aquaman were fighting earlier. Anyone working for BP who read this would most likely break down in tears.

The White Lantern continues stealing the show with this issue. It's like the hot co-star with big tits coming in and giving everybody something pretty to look at, but it isn't just for show. This thing continues to affect everybody, including characters that haven't even shown up in Brightest Day. On top of that, it doesn't just affect the heroes either. Even the bad guys who got a second chance at life in Blackest Night get their share of the White Lantern's power. So while the whole white light angle seems so good and pure, this force as it were seems to be indifferent to the whole good guy/bad guy conflict. It really helps set the stage for a new set of clashes that should have any self-respecting DC fan giddy like a rabbit on crack.

It all comes back to the guy who unwittingly started it all by having the audacity to not pay for his burger, Boston Brand. He's the crazy clue binding all this shit together in a way that's far more serious than any prank involving glue, bowling balls, and assorted fireworks. He's the one taking the marching orders from the lantern. The lantern is the drill instructor and Boston Brand is Private Piles. Now that he has the lantern, the next step is to find a new protector. Rather than do pull ups and clean his bunk, Boston Brand is tasked with finding that protector. It sets the stage for another round of awesome among many that readers shoulld come to expect from Brightest Day.

So there you have it! Everybody who has been complaining how all the plots in Brightest Day are too jumbled and disorganized can shut your mouth and respectfully kiss Geoff John's shoes and wash his care with an extra coat of wax. Each of these seemingly unrelated plots that emerged from the earlier books have all gained a binding link and that's the White Lantern. That's what links Brightest Day to the greater DC universe. It took a while to come together, but during that time it made each one of these stories even more compelling.  It's part of Geoff Johns's style. He emphasizes the little things so that when the bigger shit goes down, it's all the more awesome.

Aside from the disappointment with the Aquaman/Mera plot, every aspect of this comic was awesome. If this book does not satisfy DC fans then their either not taking their meds or they're taking too many. Some of the mystery has been revealed in this comic, but others have emerged. There are still so many stories involving the Hawks, the Atlantis plot, and Firestorm to be told. With the White Lantern now binding them together, those plots will have an extra kick. It's like the hot sauce on an already awesome burrito complete with a side of nachos. If you have an appetite for awesome, this book delivers! I cannot give it anything less than a perfect 5 out of 5. Brightest Day has delivered consistently since it began and with issues like this, I can sleep easy at night knowing that DC comics will continue finding ways to deliver such high caliber awesome in such a neat biweekly package. Nuff said!

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