Monday, October 25, 2010
Brightest Day #12 - Consistent Awesome
Things come and go all the time in comics. There are very few consistencies. Superman will save the day. Spider-Man will make a wise-crack. Deadpool will blow some shit up while breaking the 4th wall. But nobody is surprised at that shit. It's about as startling as Ricky Martin coming out of the closet, as Lindsey Lohan being arrested again, or as Sarah Palin revealing she never paid attention in high school. When something becomes consistent that you don't expect, now that's something to take notice of. That's like discovering the secret pass code to Michael Jackson's hidden stash of pills. Very few comics can ever remain consistently awesome over a long period of time, especially those that come after big events like Blackest Night. But someone at DC must have sold their soul to Satan because Brightest Day has become the exception that shits all over the rule.
The series has been awesome. Every book feels like it was crafted with the same care that Rush Limbaugh employs when he crafts his bullshit. It has been one of those rare series that encompasses so many characters and tells such an intriguing story that there's a little bit of everything. You get action, drama, aliens, dead people, sci fi, and hot naked chicks. You couldn't make it more awesome if you tattooed it onto the legs of a 12 high priced strippers. The last issue was somewhat sub-par, but that's like saying a a Playboy centerfold has a small mark on her left butt-cheek. It doesn't take away from the appeal and enjoyment of the whole package. And since this series is biweekly, it doesn't take long for Brightest Day to get another chance.
The past few issues have been a lot more focused with respect to the many stories that Brightest Day balances. Aquaman and Firestorm took center stage with their stories dominating the pages of the book. Their story like that of so many others is tied to the White Lanterns and so far that has been established as the binding force that draws every one of these characters together. The last issue ended with Firestorm giving rise to Deathstorm, who brought back a team of resurrected Black Lanterns. Aquaman's story has him searching for the guardian of the White Lanturn. This search is leading him back into the story of the Martian Manhunter, who a few issues back went on his own search for the last Green Martian. If you're a little confused, that's okay. That's just your brain telling you that appreciating a certain level of awesome requires the activation of more brain cells than you may be comfortable with.
J'onn J'ozz gets things going in this arc. He returned to Mars the last time he showed up, only a few issues back mind you. There he meets the Green Martian that he's looking for. While I'm not an expert on Martian culture, I'm pretty certain that this one has psycho bitch side to her. She wants to both kill J'onn and fuck him, all while sounding more wacked out of her mind than Charlie Sheen on crystal meth.
J'onn finds out the hard way that this bitch has been a left a bit off-key from being alone for so long. It's sort of like locking Michael Bay in a windowless room and feeding him only shrooms and water laced with DMT. So it's hard to really blame her (aside from her being completely fucking crazy) when she tries to seduce if that's the right word the first Green Martian she's come across in decades. Not only that, she seems to believe that his connection to the White Lantern will bring Mars back to life. It leads to a sort of twisted infatuation that probably doesn't qualify as love except for maybe in Ancient Greece, Ancient India, Soviet Russia, and Texas. But it does have that underlying Adam and Eve theme too it, except in this Eve was made by Satan while strung out on a three-day cocaine bender.
This Martian wants J'onn to bring Mars back to life and maybe get a cheap hate-fuck out of him in the process. They wrestle in ways that may qualify as Martian porn. It's not clear who is winning, but it does seem that J'onn gets the upper hand. Then it gets stranger, as if a battle between two Martians with one of them being more unbalanced than Van Goh without his meds. Out of nowhere the Justice League shows up and attacks J'onn because he's supposedly trying to terraform Mars at the expense of Earth. Now if this were true it would give a reason for J'onn to be subdued just a little, but the Justice League appearing out of nowhere comes off as one of those contrived elements that only seem to appear in lesser comics where writers pull 99 percent of the material out of the recesses of their colon. But this is Brightest Day. It's a book that earns the benefit of the doubt and it's not something that means eyes should start rolling just yet.
There's already a sign that this fight is a result of J'onn eating too many Martian shrooms because Firestorm, who appeared in the sudden assault, is already engrossed in his own battle. In the last issue, the Black Lanterns made a comeback with the Black Lanter Firestorm (now going by the must more badass sounding name, Deathstorm) leading the charge. Ronnie and Jason (the non-badass Firestorm) still haven't stopped arguing despite Professor Stein warning them that it could cause another Big Bang. They're pretty much flying around with two thumbs up their ass trying to figure out what they're going to do. Then the Black Lanterns beat them to it, saying they need to find the White Lantern. It's not clear where this idea comes from, but they make a very fashionable escape and the previously mentioned thumbs are now even deeper in Ronnie and Jason's ass.
We finally get another glimpse of Boston Brand again, who hasn't shown up for a few books. His last appearance had him actually picking up the White Lantern and trying to use it to get some answers. It led him to cross paths with Aquaman. Now he's trying to find everyone who crossed paths with the White Lantern. He also has a hot chick helping him, so that's a plus. Although it also seems that he's sensing what the Black Lanterns are doing so that's probably going to kill the mood faster than an incontinent stripper with a spastic colon.
While the Black and White Lanterns are on the mood, J'onn is still in the middle of his psuedo-battle with the Justice League. They try to basically bury him, but at this point he figures out that the whole thing isn't real. It's not too surprising. It would make a lot less sense if the Justice League actually had shown up to contain J'onn, even if it may have been more awesome. Once again, a psycho bitch proves to be even more disorienting than a shot of tequila laced with paint thinner. At this point J'onn finally pushes back. He fights off the other Green Martian and finally flashes a little White Lantern bling, which he seems to believe will resurrect Mars. It's also a bit disorienting because wasn't this the same shit that psycho chick warned him about? And he's going through with it? It almost feels like that part of Inception when you're not sure if the dream was just a dream or if the dream is just meant to look like a dream. Fuck, now I'm confused too!
Confusing or not, there's no denying that J'onn looks pretty bad ass using his White Lantern power. What's even more disturbing yet uplifting is that he sort of succeeds. The same White Lantern powers that brought him back to life have now brought his planet back to life. So in this case the psycho bitch was right. Somehow that doesn't seem to bother J'onn, but it still makes for a pretty neat montage.
So it seems that J'onn has finally succeeded. He has his home back. Could this be the rare and beautiful thing that comic book fans so rarely see? That strange old thing called a happy ending? Most aren't familiar with that term outside an Asian massage parlor. Yet here, everything seems right. J'onn used the White Lantern power to resurrect Mars. That's a happy ending, isn't it? One without the mess you have to clean up with kleenexes and baby wipes. Well seeing as how this is Brightest Day we're talking about, it's not that easy.
Remember that psycho bitch? Well it turns out she may have won this fight after all because after a tearful reunion with his wife and children, it seems as though J'onn has been basically tricked by the earlier psycho bitch. He basically stops fighting her and starts loving her. It's disturbing and grotesque, but like a donkey show in Tijuana you can't look away. It basically means J'onn is now pussy whipped and mind-fucked, which if he's connected to the White Lantern is going to seriously fuck shit up with Firestorm and Boston Brand. It's a nice setup at the end and one that fully respects the tradition of awesome that Brightest Day has established.
So the story moves forward, now with a psycho bitch in charge. It's yet another element that makes Brightest Day awesome. This issue was a lot easier to follow than the previous issue. While it was a little disorienting at some points with the whole Justice League showing up to fight J'onn, it all made sense at the end and didn't try to be too mind-blowing. Not every story can have a Matrix feel to it and Geoff Johns didn't overshoot. It moved J'onn's story forward while also moving the story of the White Lanterns forward. You really can't ask for much more of a book.
Now some elements were lost in the details. What happened with Aquaman wasn't clear and the whole struggle with Firestorm and Deathstorm was somewhat underdeveloped. There really wasn't much hint of what was guiding these guys and why they were doing what they were doing. It's clear this is J'onn's story, but how it ties into the other stories isn't as well-crafted as it could have been. At least some connections were made. The White Lantern remains at the center of it all so there is that binding force with each story. Even if they aren't fully developed, they still make plenty of sense.
Going back to my points about consistency, Brightest Day continues to show that it can deliver the goods issue after issue. It's like a quality hooker that never charges extra for the same great service. You can't ask for much more in a book like this. It's a compelling story with compelling characters and compelling twists. Plus it has a psycho bitch now! That seals the deal for this book. Brightest Day #12 gets a 5 out of 5, another perfect score to add to it's trophy case. I know it has many, but like Tiger Woods this series is never satisfied. Only in this case, everyone can share in the orgasmic awesome! Nuff said.