Monday, January 10, 2011
Brightest Day #17 - Sentimental Awesome
I know! I know! It's been too long since we last bathed in the awesome of Brightest Day. I'm sure some of those who follow this blog can set their watch to the number of times I rant about how reading Brightest Day is akin to having a three-way with a Playboy playmate, a Victoria's Secret underwear model, and a drunk Megan Fox. I would spend more posts praising this series, but God was too cheap to make the days any longer so there is a quota to how much I can shake the pom-poms for this series. I may be a little melodramatic and reference illegal drugs one too many times, but it really is rare to find a series that not only constantly delivers quality with DC characters that often get overshadowed by guys with S's and bats on their chests but doesn't require waiting months in between issues. Sure this one took an extra week. I'm guessing the guys are DC were just hung over from the holidays. That's totally understandable! There are still some bar tabs I've yet to pay from my New Years party.
As great as Brightest Day has been, it's had a few hiccups as it passes the halfway point in the series. A few issues have been sub-par, which for Brightest Day is like being a slightly dusty ingot of gold with a naked Megan Fox etched on it. Some of these hiccups stem from the series taking a shift from the earlier books. When Brightest Day began it balanced multiple plots with multiple characters. Now usually when a comic does that it turns out disastrous because it requires writers to juggle so many stories they might as well be juggling hungry piranhas dipped in baby oil. Geoff Johns must have sacrificed several goats and a 13-year-old virgin to the gods because he managed to make it work. Then he shifted gears, focusing on only one or two plots between issues. That worked for a while, but after the Batman issue it started faltering like Lindsey Lohan's last sobriety attempt. The last issue started getting back to the style of the earlier books, throwing more plots in the blender and dicing it up a bit. It wasn't perfect, but it was a step back in the right direction.
Now Brightest Day #17 has come along to continue that direction and hopefully without crashing and burning like the Buffalo Bills in the Superbowl. It picks up right where the last issue left of and that's kind of unavoidable because the last issue ended with Firestorm seemingly destroying the universe. That's not a cute metaphor. That's what actually happened. Jason and Ronnie were getting into a bar fight again and that destabilized the Firestorm matrix. It destabilized it so much so that it seemed to cause another Big Bang, just as Professor Stern warned them. It was a cosmic level overkill. However, anybody who expected the destruction of the DC Universe to stick is either stupid or they're on some awesome shit I would love to inject into my veins at some point. As it turns out, Firestorm didn't destroy the universe. He was simply transported to the anti-matter universe where Boston Brand had visited earlier to pay a non-conjugal visit with the anti-monitor. It's about as appealing as it sounds.
Firestorm has to fight off Anti-Monitor's shadow army instead, which is sort of like doing a sound test for Ashley Simpson's backup singers. It's also here where his story is tied to the White Lantern, you know that thing that the whole Brightest Day series spun out of? It may seem jarring since that's easy to forget with so much going on, but it's a good reminder that's not as extreme as a brick to the side of the head. It also mentions Boston Brand and how he's still trying to find the guardian. He's dragging his feet, but Firestorm is picking up the slack. He's essentially playing to role of an underpaid Mexican maid, which means the ACLU should already be in the process of suing DC comics.
The whole universe ending scheme passes and we got to something simpler, yet just as awesome. The last time Boston Brand was on panel, he was swapping spit with Dove who is just as doable as Kendra Wilkenson minus the shame of a sex tape. They wake up after having bumped uglies the night before (implied of course, leaving readers to use their imagination for kinky fanfiction that may or may not include bondage) and sharing in the kind of afterglow reserved for HBO shows. It's a nice moment and one that's quite a shift from all the struggling going on. Comics can't always be a testosterone laden A-bomb a little heart and romance goes a long way to your girlfriend thinking you're less of a pig. It also shows that Boston is getting better at the whole being alive thing again.
During their post-sex smooching, he mentions his family. Again, Boston is still learning to be alive again and he's only begun to take it seriously after the past few issues. Now he mentions his 94 year old grandfather, who is still alive and probably within spitting distance of the grim reaper's shoes. It's not the same as battling the ghosts of some alien overlord looking to treat Earth like a blow-up doll, but it still adds some vital depth to the story.
Another love story that involves less smooching in the kitchen and more inter-dimensional ass-kicking is going on with Hawkman and Hawkgirl. They're story has been pretty much stalled for the past few issues, largely because other stories have hogged the spotlight. Last time they had some screen time Hawkgirl's dear mother strapped her and Hawkman to a portal and opened it up Zamaron, home of the Star Sapphires. It's not very romantic, but it beats the hell out of dinner at the Olive Garden.
When they arrive Hawkmama's army attacks the forces of Zamaron, which are now being guarded by Carol Ferris of the Star Sapphires. The job is new to her, but she's getting an early taste of action and manages to aid Hawkman and Hawkgirl. It's not out of charity though. She needs answers because when someone appears out of nowhere and starts attacking your new turf, you damn well better have an explanation or your new gig will become your old gig pretty damn fast.
As this epic struggle begins, a much smaller struggle unfolds with Boston and his grandfather. It turns out grandpappy Brand is in a nursing home in a wheelchair counting down the minutes he has left until his body kicks his ass into the morgue. He looks about as upbeat as you could expect a man that old to be (translation, he's not upbeat at all). However, when he sees Boston the old man's eyes light up like a 21-year-old the first time he steps foot in a strip club. It's a beautiful moment that would be right at home on the Lifetime channel so guys can show this to their girlfriends and maybe they won't be as inclined to call comics mindless entertainment. I would joke about how this could help a guy rope his girlfriend into a quick romp, but the moment between Boston and his grandfather is so touching I have to take a moment to wipe the tears from my eyes and pretend I got glass in them again.
It goes from sentimental to epic again, shifting back to Zamaron to make sure that the readers don't get too soft like pre-teen girls at the end of the first Twilight movie. Star Sapphire now has Hawkman and Hawkgirl leading the charge. Remember, this is Hawkgirl's mother they're up against. There's some added motivation to bring her down several pegs. Anybody who has had any mama drama in their live can appreciate a scene with two pissed off Hawkpeople standing against an army of flying monsters to stop an asshole parent.
The battle unfolds pretty quickly. Hawkman is left to slam his mace (not a masterbation joke) against the Manhawk army that Hawkmama brought with her while Hawkgirl goes for the less sentimental mother/daughter moment. There's nothing sweet about it. Hawkgirl gets a few good shots, more so than any pissed off teenage girl would ever get for a mother that wouldn't allow her to get that tattoo of the cross with six skulls on her sixteenth birthday. However, the fight doesn't last too long.
Before Hawkgirl could finish her heart-to-heart, the creature Starfire has been riding steps in and grabs Hawkmama away from the fight. Apparently, it senses that there's a lot of love for Hawkmama, but it ain't for her own flesh and blood. She loves power and she loves it the way Kanye West loves attention. It's not the respectable kind of love, but it's still a strong love and that's what the creature taps into. So rather than let the Hawks and Star Sapphire take on Hawkmam, she's granted the power of a lantern. It's basically akin to letting Lex Luthor cover his dick in Kryptonite.
So the Hawks are a new kind of screwed. All the while, a 94-year-old man is having more fun than a sponge bath by several Playboy playmates dressed only in thongs. Boston is giving his grandfather what could be his last thrill before checking out at the pearly gates. He takes him on a motorcycle ride and he shows more life than a five year old autistic at a water park. It's another powerful moment that's of a very personal nature. It may cause some to roll their eyes, but if you can't appreciate the depth and personal journey of some characters then you need to go to the doctors and have them test you for insufferable douche-bag syndrome, or IDS.
However, this Lifetime style family moment does more than just make an old man giddy as a Japanese school girl in a Hello Kitty convention. It does something to Boston's White Lantern powers. It actually starts charging it up. Now this is a little strange because this thing has flashed some power before. Granted, it's not exactly the most predictable power. Lady Gaga's wardrobe has been more predictable than the White Ring at times. Yet by reconnecting with his grandfather, Boston has somehow started charging the White Lantern. It's a strange new development that once again hints that the White Lantern is starting to show some teeth. The comic ends here, but it ends with plenty of possibilities. If anyone has an overactive imagination or reads too much fanfiction, they should be having seizures from so many ideas so take a moment before continuing.
In many ways Brightest Day #17 got back to what Brightest Day was all about. It floods the brains of the readers with as much DC caliber awesome from as many different angles as possible. Most everybody's defenses against such an attack would crumble like the Iraqi army, thus allowing the awesome to fill the brain. This comic didn't put all it's eggs in one basket. It gave time to Firestorm, Deadman, and the Hawks. Moreover, it tied them together by using the White Lantern as a linking force. It's part of what Brightest Day is all about and every part of it works. It's like all those eggs were golden and they were put into a basket weaved from the golden hairs of Pamela Anderson's pubic hair. It fit together in a way that the book hasn't fit together in a while now yet it's still just as satisfying.
There really isn't much to bitch about this time around. The last few issues have given me some minor yet noteworthy shortcomings that kept the books from being perfect. Much of those issues stemmed from some major components not fitting well. In this issue everything came together nicely. The only real problem some may have with it are the scene transfers can be a little abrupt and shortened. Each moment with each plot only lasts a few pages, but Geoff Johns makes each page count. So if anyone bitches about it, they're another potential victim of IDS. Good health is important! Check with your doctor today if you or a loved one shows symptoms!
There's really not much else to say. Brightest Day #17 deserves a 5 out of 5 through and through. It's the kind of comic that has become almost routine with this series. The only sad part is the end is in sight. Brightest Day was never meant to last ten years. It's a mini so it will have an end. When it does it will be the comic book fan equivalent of the Michael Jackson's funeral. It's sad to consider, but it's going to happen so we might as well enjoy it! Such high quality awesome doesn't come around regularly. So get in while you can! You never know when DC will get their shit together like this again! Nuff said!