Sunday, March 6, 2011
Brightest Day #21 - The Plot Thickens (With Awesome)
The light at the end of the tunnel is within sight and for once it's not because I smoked too much crack! That light is the end of Brightest Day. It's been building for over a year now and it's been an awesome ride. I liken it to being in a stretch limo with naked Playboy playmates while driving down the Las Vegas strip with Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan serve cocaine laced Krystal from bottles made out of diamond encrusted gold. I make no bones about it. Brightest Day is the best series DC has on the racks and ending it would make every subsequent day as tragic as the Kennedy assassination. However, this story was never set up to run ten years with multiple writers coming and going like hookers at Tiger Woods's hotel room. It's a series with a beginning, middle, and end. Geoff Johns has given us the beginning and middle, throwing in a few nerdgasms that will leave your dick lifeless and limp for a good three days. Now he's setting up the end and the nerdgasms just can't stop coming (metaphorically speaking).
The end has been marked by the White Lantern showing that it's kind of a douche. It has been the binding force of all these sub-plots involving Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Firestorm, Deadman, and the Martian Manhunter. Everyone has had their own pile of shit to deal with. Yet when they finally clean it up and spray a gallon of Febrise on the rug, the White Lantern shows up and says their mission is complete. Then it kills them. It doesn't apologize or show any regrets. It just turns them to dust. Even for a lantern, it's a dick thing to do. For Boston Brand, aka Deadman, it probably makes him wish he was dead again.
The last issue brought the Aquaman plot to a head. For anybody who thinks Aquaman is a sissy, they are hereby sentenced to be flogged with Courtney Love's pubic hairs in a public forum after reading Brightest Day #20. Aquaman didn't just beat back Black Manta and an invasion on the surface world. He turned Manta's bastard son against him, reunited with Mera, and lost his hand in the process. When all seemed over and Aquaman was looking to get freaky with Mera, the White Lantern showed up. Despite Deadman's urgings, it wasn't enough. The White Lantern offed Aquaman just as it did Hawkman and Hawkgirl. So yeah, it is a dick move and it now shows that everyone who came back in Blackest Night is in danger of being worm food again.
Brightest Day #21 continues from the ashes of the last two issues...literally. The Atom is investigating the death of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, presumably while trying hard not to puke micrograms of bile. The rest of DC's finest heroes are on the beaches of Miami, cleaning up the mess made by Black Manta's invasion (and presumably hitting a few clubs in between). They also meet up with Mera, who looks like she just watched a donkey show in Tijuana go horribly wrong. Batman suspects the White Lantern is trying to rationalize these acts in the same way Charlie Sheen rationalizes his ego. Before they can even look into this mystery, a shit ton of distress calls come in. It seems the White Lantern isn't content with just being a dick to the heroes it brought back and their loved ones. It has to be a massive shlong to the whole fucking world.
The next target appears to be J'onn J'ozz. A while back before the White Lantern was acting up, J'onn was on his own little mission. He searched for another surviving Martian and found D'kay, who happened to be the Lorena Bobbet of Martians. She went after J'onn like a fat woman on her period goes after chocolate. She invaded his mind and made him believe that he resurrected every lost soul on Mars. Then in the same breath, she had him relive the experience. Now I know the White Lantern is a dick and all, but that's just plain fucking cruel. J'onn has a very low tolerance for bullshit that is dumped on the memory of his people so he makes sure D'kay feels his pain.
D'kay tries to mind-fuck J'onn even more, which is like trying to date rape a woman at a convention for domestic abuse victims. Suddenly the White Lantern isn't quite as big a dick anymore. She taunts him by saying that while he was living in fantasy land, they got freaky Martian style and she's pregnant with his kid. This would be a great propaganda piece for the enemies of Planned Parenthood, but J'onn is no dumbass. He sees right through her bullshit like a guy who just caught his wife going down on the pool cleaning guy.
Now some may argue that the beat-down J'onn is giving this bitch boarders on excessive. Keep in mind this same bitch mind fucked him and pissed all over the graves of his people. So in this rare instance a good bitch-slapping is justified. The Martian version of bitch slapping involves using telepathy to make D'kay feel all the pain that others are feeling. Since Mars is dead, J'onn taps into the minds of the people of Earth. This is like hooking every brain cell up to 7 billion car batteries while active spark plugs are strapped to your nipples. This does more than just put D'kay in a world of hurt. It alerts J'onn to the trouble on Earth, which means for him that he has to speed up his bitch-slapping.
Rather than stay on Mars and subject D'kay to the kind of treatment that would get him blacklisted by Concerned Women for America and Amnesty International, he finishes the job in the most logical way a man in his position would. He throws her into the son. No, that's not a metaphor. That's actually what J'onn does. He flies D'kay to the sun and throws her in like a chicken leg in a deep fryer.
That's one way of dealing with a psycho-bitch that every man in the world can appreciate. It works for women who deal with douche-bag guys to so it's not completely misogynistic. Once he watches D'kay's Martian flesh burn away like Colin Powell's credibility, the White Lantern shows up. So while J'onn's treatment of D'kay may be a dick move to some, it's still minor leagues compared to the lantern. This time it doesn't immediately turn him to dust the moment his mission is complete. It tells him to choose between his worlds, Earth or Mars. Seeing as how one is a dead hunk of rock and the other is only dead in terms of chronic plagues of stupidity, the choice is pretty obvious.
J'onn returns to Earth in time to see what's causing all those distress calls that the Justice League was getting earlier. Apparently Mother Earth is having a bad case of PMS and taking it out on everything around her. She's spewing volcano, unleashing Earthquakes, and spreading storms that are ravaging entire cities. It's not the worst case of PMS ever documented, but it's still up there. Maybe if it threw in a few irrational screams about what a bitch her mother is and how the world doesn't understand her, then maybe it would crack the top ten. And that's a big maybe.
J'onn does what heroes do and starts saving lives. This from a guy who just relived the death of his planet and had to mingle with a alien psycho-bitch for way too long. It shows without a doubt that J'onn has a heart as big as his Martian balls and comic fans everywhere should kneel before them in the same way they kneel before Zod. The only one who doesn't find this sort of brazen heroism commendable is the White Lantern. Just as he's saving crying girls from a river of lava, it shows up along with Deadman. Just like Aquaman and the Hawks, Deadman pleads with J'onn to get away. But this time, something different happens.
In the last two stories, the White Lantern's victims were caught off guard in the same way a dog is caught off guard when he finds out he's been neutered. For J'onn, he's about as surprised as everyone was when they heard the news that Ricky Martin was gay. He senses what Deadman has been through and doesn't even try to avoid it. It may be mind-numbingly stupid, but it may also be another act that further proves the adamantium caliber toughness of J'onn's balls.
So with Deadman still as helpless as ever, J'onn accepts the White Lantern's plan whatever it may be. It doesn't turn him into dust. Instead when it strikes him, he's essentially absorbed into the Earth. And not in the way hippies pretend when they're doped up on LSD. J'onn is literally taken into the Earth and he looks very content doing so. It leads readers to wonder more about the White Lantern's plan. Is it really as simple as being a massive dick and killing the characters that came back in Blackest Night? Or is there more to it? There was a chance that this tactic could have lost it's punch after what happened to Aquaman and the Hawks. Now it's taken a slightly different twist. It's not so radical that it makes your head spin off your neck, but it's enough to make you wonder and start foaming at the mouth for the next issue.
It's another powerful issue, but powerful in a way that's different from the last two issues of Brightest Day. What happened with Aquaman and the Hawks really took a bat to the hearts of the readers because after all the struggles they went through, the White Lantern just dropped in and ended them. It's like putting down a dog right after he got his nuts back. This issue appealed to the whole mystery aspect of the White Lantern. It's clear this thing isn't on a murder spree akin to Jason Vorehees, randomly decapitating characters who decide to get naked at the wrong time. There's something deeper to this plan. Deadman sure doesn't know what it is, but J'onn seems to know and was okay with being part of it. That has all sorts of implications that require several hits of LSD to properly contemplate.
It's a minor shift. One could argue it's too minor to make this issue different enough from the previous issues. Whoever argues that is very close to being nit-picking on the level that a lousy boss fires his assistant for not filling his candy dish completely with red M&Ms. Then again, you have to nit-pick if you want to find something wrong with this issue. There really isn't much to criticize. Like the last two issues, the story is top notch and so is the art and dialog. This issue may not hit people as hard emotionally as the last two issues, but Brightest Day #21 definitely leaves an impact. It thickens the plot while completing yet another storyline that has been developing for many issues. It's hard to knock the book for doing what you expect it to do and doing it pretty damn well.
I'm not going to beat around the bush this time. Brightest Day #21 is a 5 out of 5. There's no question about it. This issue is the third in a row where the story has taken a dramatic turn and ended with an emotionally gripping finish. With so few plots left and only a few issues left, there are only so many pages left for Geoff Johns to work with. This series has been going on for over a year and in that time it's told an elaborate story. Now that story is coming to an end and the steps leading up to it are leaving the series with some of it's best moments. Blackest Night was a historic achievement for DC comics. It's difficult to contemplate how any series can compliment that kind of awesome. Well Brightest Day has done that and succeeded more than anyone could have expected. That more than anything makes this series extra awesome as the end draws near. Nuff said!