Sunday, November 7, 2010
Brightest Day #13 - Winged Awesome
Well it's happened again. A new issue of Brightest Day has come out and yet again I have to patron the local carpet cleaning company to take care of the mess left by having my mind blown. It's happened so much with this series I've gotten a hand-written thank-you note from Mr. Clean. The mess may be a bitch to explain to my landlord, but for a book this good it's worth it! Brightest Day has been DC's most consistent well of awesome and the last few issues have stepped it up several notches. Things are starting to come together. Plots are starting to bear fruit and those fruits and damn tasty!
The past few issues stemmed from Boston Brand (who used to be a hero that was poorly named Deadman) when he tapped the power of the mysterious White Lantern. In doing so he reached out to the many other heroes like Aquaman, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and the Martian Manhunter. They all for a time manifested the power of the White Lanterns, which was used to defeat the Black Lanterns in Blackest Night. It was only brief, but the ramifications of that event have taken the story down a new path and every turn as lined with trees bearing leaves of pure awesome. A key part of the plot centers around a new guardian for the White Lantern. Boston has been working with Dove and Aquaman to find it. Their search has led them to cross paths with the Martin Manhunter and along the way Firestorm manifested a Black Lantern version of himself.
All these plots have been awesome in their own right, but one plot seems to have fallen to the wayside. That is the story surrounding Hawkman and Hawkgirl. They have had next to no panel time since the White Lantern made it's presence felt. They're like the Vanilla Ice of the multiple lines, big for the blink of an eye and quickly shoved aside. But unlike Vanilla Ice, they do have something to contribute. Their struggle led them to Hawkworld where Shayera had a little family reunion with her dear mother, who seems intent on being the Grinch that became a blood-thirsty tyrant. I know it's a little early for the holiday jokes, but I just started seeing Christmas decorations in the mall the other day. If shameless American marketing can exploit it, then so can I.
This issue finally picks up with the Hawkman and Hawkgirl plot on Hawkworld. It's an overall Hawk themed issue. Now it doesn't offer any indication that the struggle with Hawkman and Hawkgirl is somehow related to the White Lanterns or the other plots. To this point those other stories have been linked together in some way. That hasn't happened with the Hawks. This issue picks up from where the Hawks last left off, with Hawkman organizing an army of the human/animal locals to overthrow his girlfriend's mother. He's like Jake Sully in Avatar, only he doesn't need to ask a fucking tree for help. He tears into Momma Hawk's forces in a way that James Cameron only wishes he could get away with.
The battle scene is pretty kick-ass, although it's not Siege of Gondor in the third Lord of the Rings movie. Watching over this carnage from the Death Star like stronghold known as the Nth City, Hath Set and Hawkgirls loving mother have her at their mercy and not for a time out either. They look at this war the same way anime fans look at hentai porn. It excites them in a way that's disturbing while having a not-so-rediculous purpose behind it. Hath Set and Mama Hawk actually want Hawkman to attack. They need him and Hawkgirl present to act as the final two keys to the gate. And remember, this is the same gate made out of the dead bones of their ancestors. It's not just the kind of thing that would require extensive therapy to get over. This is shock treatment to the balls territory they're treading here.
Hawkman, being more Rambo when he needs to be McGuiver, walks right into it. He comes in guns blazing, only to get wacked upside the head by Hath Set. It's one of those times when the righteous hero demonstrates the skill of a retarded chimp stumbling around the jungle looking for a banana while not realizing there's a turkey buzzard hovering over just waiting for him to hit his head enough until he passes out. I'll let the readers figure out who the turkey buzzard is. It's not a pleasant way to be bested. Hawkman goes through all the trouble of organizing an army and he walks right into it. That's not even an it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time moment. It's more a and-then-we-started-drinking-tequila moment.
Like any good super-villain, once Hawkman is subdued Mama Hawk goes onto explain her evil plan to her daughter. It's actually not much different from a normal meeting between mothers, daughters, and the men who are currently bedding them. So it's nice to see Geoff Johns adding a touch of realism. It's your standard power play by a greedy queen who doesn't think people with penises are doing a good job running a kingdom. Back in Ancient Egypt where the Hawks began their little journey to and endless cycle of shitty reincarnations, Mama Hawk was enchanted with Hath Set's visions of the future and used them as an excuse to kill her husband (the Pharaoh) at the time. If that weren't enough, she listed to Hath Set even when he told her to kill her daughter and her husband. In terms of parenting, this woman ranks somewhere between Britney Spears and that woman who drowned her kids because she thought God told her to. There's simply no excuse for being a douche-bag, divinely inspired or otherwise.
But being queen wasn't enough. Mama Hawk wanted Egypt to be so glorious that her enemies would jerk off out of jealousy to the kind of glory that her kingdom radiated. That's what brought her to Hawkworld. She needed more Nth metal, which is the Avatar equivalent of unobtainium. She says she stayed longer than she anticipated, so long that the kingdom she killed her family and loved ones for collapsed and is now part of the glorious clusterfuck that is the Middle East. But like any good tyrant, Mama Hawk makes lemonade out of lemons while mixing some blood in it for added taste. She starts her own kingdom on Hawkworld and that's where her reign of terror has continued.
She seems poised to explain where she and Hawkman fit into it, but Hawkman doesn't really care for bullshit explanations. You kidnap his girl, he fucks you up. That's pretty much a superhero bylaw in section 43, paragraph 28, line 23 of the comic code. It also helps that Hawkman looks pretty badass keeping with standard superhero bureaucracy.
The explanation stops and the ass-kicking resumes. Hawkman tears into Mama Hawk while Hawkgirl kills Hath Set with her legs. Like Tiger Woods's image, a woman's legs took him down and it helps show that Hawkgirl is no Disney style damsel in distress. She actually fares a lot better than Hawkman, who ends up getting humiliated by Mama Hawk and in front of his girl no less. In the list of ways to be emasculated, that would definitely rank in the top ten between finding out a transvestite has a bigger dick than you and having your girlfriend find your hidden Twilight collection in a closet next to your porno stash. Apparently, Mama Hawk has skills in addition to being a certified MILF. She can control Nth metal the same way Hugh Hefner controls the rate of masterbation among boys between the age of 12 and 17. This doesn't make for a fair fight and like the Playboy Mansion Halloween party, Hawkman gets screwed over by a beautiful woman in a crazy costume.
So Hawkman and Hawkgirl, for all their troubles, basically get outsmarted by Mama Hawk. There's a message somewhere here that implies that no matter how tough anyone gets as they get older, their mother can still kick their ass. That's poetic and tragic at the same time. Some who read this may have to curl up in a fetal position for a few minutes before continuing. When they get back they arrive in time to see Hawkman and Hawkgirl open up the gate. Apparently, they did Mama Hawk a favor by killing Hath Set. He was another key as well. That shows just how greedy and sadistic this bitch is and she's perfectly okay with leaving Hawkman and Hawkgirl behind to suffer while she leads her Hawk hoards through the gate and into a charming place called Zamaron. I won't describe it in too much detail. I'll just say it's the kind of place where pants are endangered because visitors keep shitting in them.
At this point the entire story has been centered around the Hawks. There have been no major hints at how this ties into the greater story of Brightest Day. So when the next page goes right back to Boston Brand and Dove, it feels abrupt and disorienting. The past few issues have at least made some attempt at transitions. Usually, that's what Geoff Johns is good at. However, that's not what happens here. It just goes right to Gotham City (not really explaining how they got there from the ocean with Aquaman) and they're still trying to find the new guardian.
Boston's ring hasn't shown much activity since he touched the White Lantern a few issues ago. It's almost easy to forget that this whole series is related to what those little pieces of bling are capable of doing. First it was implied that the guardian would be somehow connected to Aquaman and Black Manta's son. That really hasn't been explained thus far. But then Boston makes an ominous and insanely awesome conclusion. The reason why the ring hasn't flashed for it's new guardian is because it's waiting for that guardian. Now who could it be waiting for? Well they're in Gothan City! If Batman didn't come to mind then the Alzheimers has kicked in early for you.
For those of you not up to speed with DC events, Bruce Wayne has been out of the picture. By out of the picture I mean dead. I say dead in italics because death in comics is like the aristocrats joke of comics. It's so obscene and dirty yet people still laugh. And for the past few months Bruce Wayne has been kicking death in the balls. Grant Morrison has been telling that story in "The Return of Bruce Wayne" and that return may tie in with Brightest Day. Even if you didn't care for the Hawkworld plot, it's hard to deny that such a notion should have triggered no fewer than four orgasms by the time you've finished reading this sentence.
It's the kind of ending that should leave readers salivating like Tiger Woods at the Playboy Mansion. It makes the next issue so enticing you want to knock yourself into a coma so you don't have to wait. I don't recommend that (although if you do running into a wall isn't as effective as a cocktail of cough syrup and codine) although I respect and understand those who try. It makes for a mind-blowing end to an issue that was somewhat of an anomaly to the Brightest Day saga.
Now I enjoyed the Hawkworld story and I was blown away by the brain melting awesome of the final page, but what keeps this issue from being a true testament to DC comics perfection is the flow. The lack of connections to the other ongoing plots really hurts this because it feels as though the Hawk's story could be it's own comic and be plenty awesome in it's own right. It's somewhat out of place here in Brightest Day because there's nothing that seems to connect it with the other plots that the last few issues have done such a great job of fleshing out. Geoff Johns is usually so good at taking care of the little things. It didn't have to be excessive. Just some connection to the other stories would have made this issue a worthy addition to the 5-out-of-5 club that is already so packed with Brightest Day comics. That didn't happen unfortunately and it does effect the score I give this issue.
Even if it wasn't connected, the Hawkworld story was very well done and the hint at the end made it somewhat easier to overlook. So the best score I can give Brightest Day #13 is a 4 out of 5. It does what it does very well, but not within the full context of the series. While I'm foaming at the mouth for the next issue, I'm not high on the same level of awesome from this issue. I'm still buzzed enough where I'll get the shit beat out of me by cops if I try to drive, but it's not the same buzz that kept me stumbling around naked in my bedroom dancing to AC/DC songs. I'll be in withdraw until the next issue comes out. By then, I hope the connections are made. When all is said and done, if it's nothing less than an orgy of awesome the likes of which that Hugh Hefner himself would be shocked by then that will be disappointing. Nuff said!