Sunday, May 1, 2011
Brightest Day #24 - A Saga of Awesome Ends
Well it's finally here. A part of me has been excited and another part of me has been sad, so much so that my brain has split in two on numerous occasions. That is the power of Brightest Day. This amazing series from DC that has been unfolding over the course of a year has done the impossible with the same swagger that Donald Trump wears a hair piece, minus the massive douche-bag factor. I've reviewed every issue. I'm going to be honest. I didn't expect the series to ever come close to Blackest Night. I was drunk off a few shots of battery acid and vodka, assuming that I would follow the series for a while and then move on. I never expected it to hold my interest like a vice on my balls for the entire run, but it did. So here I am at the very end, ready to give my full assessment of the Brightest Day series. Given how many times it's blown my mind, I'm pretty sure I've brained my damage beyond repair.
Now I know I've been praising this series like it was written with the hairs of Natalie Portman's pussy. I've gone overboard many a times describing how the pages of this book couldn't be better if DC laced them with cocaine. Given how long I've followed this series, I understand I may be riding the bandwagon in a NASCAR race and expecting Jeff Gordon to be at the wheel. That doesn't mean I won't try to be objective here. I understand I can't let my love of the previous books completely influence how I review this book. But as with all my reviews, I try to be honest while not sounding more drunk than I already am. I've got some Jack Daniels in me so I should be okay.
Brightest Day #24 is the culmination of all the plots that have been coming together in the past few issues. Boston Brand has gone on a bit of a killing spree. Or more accurately, the White Lantern hijacked him and used him the same way OJ Simpson uses kitchen knives. In some very shocking moments, the lantern seemingly killed Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Martin Manhunter, and Firestorm. It seemed like a real dick move after some of them came back in Blackest Night. Then in the last issue, we found out that the White Lantern really wasn't such a massive dick cheese after all. It brought those slain heroes back, but made them more awesome. They took the form of elemental forces so they could take on this dark, evil creature that was giving Mother Nature some serious PMS. Then the final piece of the puzzle came into place. The new guardian of the White Lantern arose and it was one of DC's latest acquisitions, Swamp Thing.
It was a shocking yet novel move. I admit I don't know much about Swamp Thing other than he's from the swamp and he's a thing. However, I do know that DC recently acquired his rights as DC feasted on the slain entrails of Vertigo. If ever there was a stage for Swamp Thing to become awesome, it's Brightest Day. This issue starts with Swamp Thing taking on it's new Brightest Day uniform and showing what it can do. Even if it has a name that's as generic as vanilla ice cream, it can still kick ass.
For readers too lazy to use Wikipedia, the story of Swamp Thing and Alec Holland is explained by the White Lantern. What makes it a big deal is that at the moment, Swamp Thing doesn't think it's Alec Holland. It thinks it's Nekron. You know? That big evil super-douche who was behind the whole Blackest Night ordeal? And now he has control over a force that allows him to basically turn the planet into his own personal prison bitch. So yeah, it's pretty bad. It's up to Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Firestorm, and Martian Manhunter to slow him down so the White Lantern can carry out it's plan, which for once doesn't make it look like such a dick.
With Boston Brand wearing his White Lantern duds, he's supposed to bring Alec Holland back to life. That's way easier said than done because Swamp Thing/Nekron is having too much fun watching the Earth fuck itself. So Boston, Hawk, and Dove have to protect Alec until he gets over the whole being dead thing. Fucking things up even more is Digger, who was lead to the forest in the previous issue. Whether by poor impulse control or being a massive douche (or the White Lantern telling him), he throws his boomerang at Dove.
Since Boston has grown so close to Dove (and certain parts of her anatomy), he does what any badass guy with a boner for hot girls would do. He jumps in front of the boomerang and saves Dove. The price of saving a hot woman is his life, which he only got back at the end of Blackest Night. He shares a nice moment with Dove, but the White Lantern makes it clear. There's no coming back this time. He learned to appreciate life again and now the only appreciation he'll get will be from worms when they shit out his rotting flesh.
As Deadman dies (again), the white ring leaves his hand and goes for Alec Holland. He goes from being an unsightly corpse to looking as healthy as a man who just took a really good shit. He's obviously confused as hell. Being dead will do that to a man. Then the White Ring does the rest. It helps him become Swamp Thing again, telling him that the elementals of the Earth have been corrupted and the only way to uncorrupt them is to beat the everloving shit out of the Swamp Thing/Nekron hybrid.
What follows next is a fight so massive it covers several pages. This isn't one of those glossed over battles that just has two superpowered monsters slap each other a few times before one of them gives some lame-ass egotistical speech before falling to their knees faster than a hooker at Charlie Sheen's house. This is a battle between two elemental Swamp Things. One is Nekron's remains trying like MC Hammer to make a comeback. The other is Alec Holland, finally on a stage where he can be more awesome than he's been in decades. It's such a beautiful sight that you almost want to roll it up and snort cocaine with it.
I won't mince words. The fight is a metric fuck-ton of awesome. At first they seem evenly matched. You can't expect two giant swamp monsters to have much edge over one another. But Alec Holland has more weapons at his disposal in the form of the elementals formed by the other heroes. So suddenly the White Lantern's plan that "killed" them doesn't seem like a dick move. It seems like giving his side the winning edge. It's not like a receiver in football using stick-em to catch or batters in baseball shooting steroids in their asses. It's more like lining boxing gloves with barb wire and channeling his inner Rocky Balboa. With help from the elementals and a renewed sense of awesome, Alec Holland shows that there's only one Swamp Thing. He takes down Nekron in a way so badass that Stallone will likely try to copy it in his next movie.
Swamp Things victory seems like the final blow that will put a stop to all the bullshit that Nekron keeps trying to inflict despite being dead. However, not everybody is thrilled. Boston Brand is dead again. He doesn't get to enjoy seeing Swamp Thing take a nice dump on Nekron's ashes. He basically goes back to being Deadman again, just like he was before Blackest Night. He's understandably pissed, but there is a difference now. As a spirit, he can be seen by Dove. It allows them to share one last moment together and shows that the White Lantern, while it may be a dick at times can be halfway decent when it wants to.
While he gets used to being dead again, the heroes that made up the elementals get a reward for helping Swamp Thing. That means they get to be alive again. So the White Lantern never killed them. He just borrowed them. It's sort of like how Mexican gangs borrow out-of-work Mexican workers and make them work in slaughterhouses for pennies a day. So the White Lantern is still a dick, but at least they got to save the world. I'm pretty sure if it just asked them from the get go, it would have been a lot less messy. But that just wasn't douchy enough.
But there's a problem. One of them is missing. Hawkman is back amongst the living, but Hawkgirl is not. She's gone. This leaves Hawkman understandably pissed. If you recall, he and Hawkgirl were just about to bump uglies in ways that only porno movies can mimic before the White Lantern killed them. Well he's not going to get his chance with her. Swamp Thing says she's gone, but in a bit nicer way. She's still in the form of air, which means the only lover Hawkman will have is a bottle of lube and a sock. It's a sad moment in an otherwise triumphant victory. It adds more emotion into what has already been a pretty damn emotional story.
While Hawkman is lamenting over losing his girl yet again, Swamp Thing does yet another move of badassery. He uses his new connection with nature to heal the Earth better than an aspirin and a cup of coffee. So all over the planet, the damage done by Nekron is healed. So first Swamp Thing beat back another giant swamp monster. Then he healed the whole fucking planet. What have you done with your life today?
So Swamp Thing is back and more badass than ever. It has the White Lantern. It has some new street cred. It gives a nice hippie speech, saying that the world is going to need protection so guys like Nekron don't keep trying to fuck it with their slimy, pollution-filled dick. The White Lantern, douche or no douche, says it's work is done. The planet it safe. Deadman is still dead and pretty pissed. Hawkman still has to get used to the whole life thing without his girlfriend. But Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Firestorm are back so there's a lot of positives. It's not a fully happy ending, but it's not a downer either. It strikes the perfect balance, which is like trying to juggle hand grenades on a unicycle. For that, Geoff Johns deserves a freakin' metal and a three way with the last three Maxim cover models.
So the White Lantern is gone. The heroes can get back to their lives, whether they're fucked up or not. Aquaman reunites with Mera. It's not as emotional as their first reunion. There's no big kiss and they don't bump uglies like a couple of squids in heat. I'm assuming Mera is used to that shit by now. But they go for a nice walk on the beach while contemplating the future. J'onn meets up the old woman he met up with early in the series and they share a nice moment. He also removes some huge shard from her head, thus saving her life. Because that's how Martians roll. It's another nice moment that really caps off his story on a high note.
It's not so nice for Hawkman. To say he's pissed is like saying Bill Gates isn't broke. He lost the love of his many lives and he's not happy about it. He's going to need a hell of a lot of therapy as a result. So while the world is safe again, it's about as much consolation as a kick in the balls for him. It's a bit more complicated for Ronnie and Jason. They're still Firestorm and they're still not going to get along anytime soon. It takes a while for a guy to get over someone else killing his girlfriend (albeit while he was Nekron's many prison bitches). If that weren't enough, that warning Professor Stein gave them about them causing another big bang is back to haunt them. Their slap-fight with Anti-Monitor a few issues ago sort of fucked up their chemistry. Jason, having not slept through physics class, says they're going to detonate in 90 days. So all that peace they worked so hard for may go up in another big bang. So their story is not over. It's just getting more fucked up.
Last but not least, we get to see Swamp Thing take on his new role as a guardian. He's in the DC Universe and he's here to stay. So armed with his new powers, Alec Holland does what no politician dare contemplate and makes good on his word. He seeks out those who would do harm to the Earth and gives them the Tony Soprano treatment. And who would be worthy of such a wrath? Lex Luthor? Darkseid? Nope! How about a bunch of rich, corrupt businessman who were behind that oil spill that Aquaman cleaned up earlier in the series? That and they were illegally dumping their shit like drunk with diarrhea. So Swamp Thing tells them to cut that shit out in so many words. For anyone who gets pissed when they see politicians blowing big businessman with enough money for lobbyists, it's a beautiful thing. Environmentalists and hippies will be jerking off to this page for years.
However, it doesn't end there. DC isn't content with just finishing off an awesome story. It has to set the stage for new stories with new characters that they recently acquired from Vertigo. It turns out Swamp Thing isn't the only one joining DC's already lengthy list of characters. One other guy who got picked up is a fella named John Constantine. On the final page of one of DC's most memorable series, he makes his DC debut. It's the end of one thing and the beginning of something new. And it isn't tainted by Keanu Reeves's shitty acting. You couldn't ask for a more complete ending if the book had a built-in blow job toy. If this doesn't get you excited about DC comics again, pull the plug because the coma you're in has no hope.
So there you have it! It's over! Brightest Day is officially done! Excuse me while I pull my hair out and scream at the top of my lungs to the comic gods for ending such an amazing series. It certainly helps that the series ended on a truly awesome note. It didn't just tie up the loose ends from the rest of the series. It set the stage for a new round of stories. They may not be as big as Brightest Day or Blackest Night, but they're still pretty damn exciting. After following all these characters through such a twisted and emotional story, you can't help but be compelled to see where it goes. I'm sure it's part of some master marketing scheme by DC to extract more dollars from my wallet, but I don't mind being fucked like that so long as the fucking is awesome.
There's so much to love about this series. I would need several blogs just to digest it all. Making a broad assessment of this series is difficult, but I'll take a stab at it. It started right from the ashes of Blackest Night and it carried some of those ashes into the story. Using characters that don't always make the cover of top books, Geoff Johns weaved a truly amazing story together for 24 issues. It's amazing considering there are writers out there who can't even finish five issues in a fucking year (looking at YOU Jeph Loeb). To be able to deliver so much rich content on a biweekly basis is more than awesome. It's fucking Herculean. DC pulled out all the stops to make this series as compelling as Blackest Night and they damn well succeeded.
It wasn't perfect the whole way through. There were a few hiccups along the way. There were some in this issue, but they were minor. It's a bit of a drag that Deadman is...well, dead again. It seems like he's back to where he started before Blackest Night, but there were some differences this time. Others could see him and his character underwent many strong developments. So that's bearable. We didn't get a very touching reunion with Mera and Aquaman either, but having already had plenty it's not too distressing. Everything else from the writing, the dialog, the art, and the hints for future stories were top notch. Unless you want to be overly picky about every little thing, you can't call this comic flawed.
Brightest Day #24 was meant to bring an end to the Brightest Day series. Well it succeeded and did so on so many awesome levels. It has been an absolute pleasure following this series and offering my twisted reviews along the way. I think I exhausted all my boob and sex jokes describing how great this series was, but it was all worth it! This final issue gets a perfect 5 out of 5. It's the most satisfying comic series you'll read without reading it on the back of a supermodel's ass. DC comics has stepped up their game in a way that should leave Marvel quivering like a vegan in a slaughterhouse. If you're looking to get into DC comics again, this is a great place to start! Thanks Geoff Johns! Thanks DC! You guys kick every kind of ass! Nuff said.