Recap for Review Group Week 269! Brightest Day #23 by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi and Ivan Reis as selected by starlord.
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.
DC event books bring out some serious agendas among Review Groupers, buckle up!
Review by Zero
Swamp Thing is possibly my favourite Alan Moore work, and it's certainly one of my two or three favourite comics of all time. It has ties to the DCU but ultimately resides happily apart from it and that suits the character just fine. To see him dragged into the latter end of a comic I have been avoiding and tied to a story I found awful at best is not the best way to get me on board with a comic.
I have no idea why the world is ending, and while BD #23 sells the chaos very well I'm not sure how much was intentional and how much was simply my confusion at events that make no real sense since the driving force behind the plot seems to be a lamp that speaks in riddles and some kind of Black Lantern Swamp Thing. Nothing about the messy story or revamped characters made me want to track down 22 previous issues (as well as the Green Arrow series which seems like it should be crucial) so hopefully the art was good.
Ivan Reis is an artist rooted in the DC house style, a crisp but bland look that tells the story well without any problems understanding what's supposed to be shown. He does this by sacrificing flair and originality and anything resembling individuality. If you'd told me Phil Jimenez had drawn this I wouldn't have doubted you and that is far from a compliment coming from me. The colouring is a little too gaudy most of the time, and never has the depth or nuance a more prominent colourist would bring. A perfect fit for the token effort at art.
Not since Blackest Night #8 have I read a comic with so little to offer me and even that comic had the decency not to sabotage a comic I would much rather have read in the form of China Mieville's aborted Swamp Thing book.
Review by AMS
Starlord you are a fine poster, but why you chose a book which is knee deep in an ongoing story is beyond me.
I've never read a single issue of this book, I don't know who the flame headed guy is, and I have no clue what is going on. Deadman is usually cool, but for some reason he is all white and junk and it makes no sense to me.
So since I have no clue what is going on, I'll just review it based on the art. It was okay. I give it a
Review by John Snow
If you read this without having read the first 22 issues, you're fucked. The series just isn't geared towards new readers at this point and that's understandable.
I don't really even have any comment on the Swamp Thing stuff because I've only read the first two volumes of the Alan Moore Saga hardcovers so I don't have any grasp on where the character fits in a contemporary setting.
The art was nice, Reis's Black Lantern Swamp Thing was badass. I did lol at the double page spread of characters posing, it was basically the same as the double page spread of the resurrected characters in the last issue of Blackest Night. Go back to the well much, Johns and Reis? Not to mention that it takes away what could have been two pages of story that maybe could have explained what the fuck was up with Swamp Thing since he hasn't been in a DCU comic in forever.
Review by guitarsmashley
starlord you owe me like a million blow jobs. That's how awful that comic was. I mean really you need to swallow enough sperm to choke linda lovelace.
Review by Sweet James Jones
If the people that haven't been reading of Brightest Day expect accessibility, then this book really isn't for them as they'll be lost.
Then there's me and I have been (somehow) getting through this book for the past 22 issues. I have no idea what the hell was happening and I regret wasting my time with it if THIS is the payoff we're getting.
For some reason between the ending of #22 and the beginning of #23 the world has gone to hell out of the blue, the Star City forest is shield by something and Johns seems to have remembered that Captain Boomerang was a part of this story too.
And all this foreboding finally revealed what this entire series was leading up to: the triumphant, long awaited return of none other than Swamp-Thing! Wait, what?
I'm either eBay'ing the complete series or offering to sell it on here to some poor masochist that wants to punish himself. I can't even muster the words to express how disappointed I am with this book after the entire thing led to Swamp-Thing of all characters being brought back. Not to say I hate the Swamp-Thing character, but should this character REALLY have a place in a story like this?
On the upside, Reis's art is good.
Review by Mammon, Fool Breaker
I really liked this issue, Aquaman made his return looking like he had just drank some Caprisun. I've got my money on Dove getting killed, I really think it's going to happen, or at least I hope it does.
Review by starlord
THIS is what an epic is all about, and this issue solidifies it. The return of Swamp Thing??? Brilliant!!!! The art is exactly what I want and expect from a comic book. Pretty and clear pictures with bright vivid colors attached to a story that soars under its own greatness with ease.
This is the kind of story Bendis and those Marvel Zombies have tried to put out for the last ten years with horrible results. They really need to learn a lesson from this team because this issue (and this series) is the event to beat since Marvel's original Secret Wars!
Thanks everyone who read it. I appreciate it!
My Score: 10
Review by Amoebas
I loved the issue, as I have the whole run. Only a couple issues left to this mini and all the pieces are converging (except for Max & Osirus) at last.
Despite the Cap Atom & Alan Scott goofs at the opening, the book set things up pretty well (yeah it seems sudden that the Earth is suddenly under attack - but that's exactly what happened). I don't understand why some people expect issue #24 of a 26 issue mini to explain everything (I suppose if they did spend 3 pages explaining it all they'd complain about the wasted recap pages :roll: ).
The appearance of the elementals wasn't as big a shock as it could have been if it hadn't been spoiled. Reis' depiction of them is superior to Frank's cover - which I'm astounded to say as I never thought of Ivan being at Gary's level.
And a big "hell yeah!" to the return of Swamp Thing! I loved him well before Moore and that only got larger with Alan and then Vietch. He was basically unreadable after that - and I for one and damn glad he gets to play in the DCU again (where he belongs!)
Writing - 8
Art - 9
Overall - 8.5
Review by Always Right
So yeah I just read this issue. And then I read it again. Twice I read this, with the intention of posting a fair review.
But I'm still going to look biased because I really didn't like this.
First problem IMO was the fact that the Earth revolting didn't really seem to mean much. I mean we have a few pages of heroes helping people. They seem relatively unharmed and ok with the situation. I mean apparently every major city in Earth is under attack, but there's no sense of urgency. We're told this, and see snippets, but there's nothing to identify with.
Then there's the weird thing with the forest being protected. "Let us in" say the people outside "Let us out" say the people inside. It just seems so mundane and just happening.
It just feels so by the numbers and adequate rather than a good story. I mean what the hell is that giant mud monster about? He's a cypher if you ever saw one. Then some elemental people appear. "Every candle and volcano.. is connected" apparently. So we get a fire/earth/water/air elemental. I mean what is interesting about that?
This issue is incomprehensible, doesn't say anything, and just serves a purpose to get someone else back into the DCU. The whole premise of this book is explaining why 12 people are suddenly back in the DCU. Stop bringing everyone back!
1.5 out of 10
Review by Victorian Squid
I read a few disappointing issues of Blackest Night and other than T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents pretty much checked out of the DCU after that, so I decided to read at least the wiki entry on Brightest Day before reading this so I'd have a rudimentary idea of what was going on. What I found there looks a bit like a list of various alterations that, along with the resurrections themselves, the writers or editors wished to get done in story-form:
Brightest Day #7 revealed that the 12 resurrected must complete an individual assignment given to them by the White Lantern Entity. If they are successful, their life will be fully returned.
Professor Zoom helped release Barry Allen from the Speed Force. (Mentioned in The Flash: Rebirth #4)
Jade balanced the darkness. (Shown in Justice League of America #48)
Osiris freed Isis, the goddess of nature. (Shown in Titans #32)
Maxwell Lord stopped Magog from bringing about the events seen in Kingdom Come. (Shown in Justice League: Generation Lost #13)
Hawkgirl prevented Hath-Set from killing Hawkman. (Shown in Brightest Day #18)
Hawkman closed the dimensional gateway between Hawkworld and Earth. (Shown in Brightest Day #18)
Aquaman already enlisted the new Aqualad to his side before the "others" do. (Shown in Brightest Day #20)
Martian Manhunter burned down the Martian forest, killed D'Kay D'razz and chose to devote himself to the protection of Earth. (Shown in Brightest Day #21)
Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond defeated the Black Lantern corruption in their Firestorm Matrix before it destroyed the universe. (Shown in Brightest Day #22)
Captain Boomerang must "throw the boomerang" at Dove.
Hawk must "catch the boomerang".
Boston Brand must help find the new champion who will bear the white light of life and take the Entity's place.
In fact, the whole time I was reading this issue I couldn't help but imagine the voice of the white lantern entity was Geoff Johns himself, bossing the heroes and villains alike around, teleporting them here and there directly maneuvering them through their various hoops to get the job(s) done. Like a lot of DC events, it feels like it's more about where the DCU and it's characters will be when it's finished than the circumstances of the story itself. But anything that starts with at least a dozen dead characters returned to life is bound to feel at least a bit like that, I suppose. Not having read the entire run I can't say for sure, but as the WLE ordered them to and fro that's how this issue felt.
And of course, there's the whole Swamp Thing return, as a sort of but not really all-powerful black lantern. How he ended up dead and how Alec Holland's body ended up in Star City, I have no idea. I'm not sure how the whole elementals angle will be resolved in the end but presumably Alec Holland will be reintegrated with Swamp Thing and redeemed, possibly a replacement for the bossy WLE. At one time Swamp Thing himself embodied the various elementals of earth, air, wind, and fire himself but was eventually downgraded a bit as he became too powerful--I'm not sure if the Hawks, Aquaman, Firestorm, and MM will remain elementals when Brightest Day is over and done, but there's a lesson in those Swamp Thing comics about the peril of making a character too wide in scope for his own good. Despite a certain hopeful optimism for Swamp Thing's return to the DCU, I have a feeling I'll still go back to those Len Wein or Alan Moore comics for my Swamp Thing fix.
The art was standard DC artists mash-up fare. Serviceable to the story, but not anything anyone will be buying "just for the art".
Review by doombug
I'm incredibly apprehensive over this review. I've grown to like Tomasi and Johns working together, I love the art and I like the characters in the book but I stopped reading the series at like 10. It was a personal choice (I kept with JL GL because it was running laps around this book writing wise)
I really want to care about Deadman but I frakking hate that white costume and turning 2 heavy hitting Justice League members into parts of Captain Planet is just stupid. People kept making that joke about the rainbow corps but nope, Geoff did it here. If they combine Hannah Barbara will sue! :lol:
I love both writers but on this book...it just doesn't work for some reason.
Sorry Brian, I tried man.
Review by Always Right
Ugh today has been such a crappy day.
I had my fucking wallet stolen, with £400.00 in it, and all my debit cards and ID. So now I can't go out tonight.
The train I want is delayed and I am stuck in the train station for 2 hours.
And my best friend is seriously ill.
Overall I give this day a 9.
Review by Daringd
Review by Stephen Day
I enjoyed this issue and there was enough there that I can't say that I was lost at all when it came to the plot. However, the story came across in the same way that a summer block buster movie comes across. By that, I mean to say that the big moments stood out as they should and looked great, but I was still left with the feeling that there was something lacking. The huge corrupted Swamp Thing and the double page spread with the Martian Munhunter, Firestorm, Aquaman and the Hawks reborn as elementals were cool visuals. My feeling of something lacking may be because I was jumping in at part 23, but I can't say for sure. Brightest Day #23 was fun and certainly not horrible, but I've read a lot better.
Let's say 6 out of 10
Review by BlueStreak
I think this issue had pluses and minuses. On the one hand, I loved the art. That raises the score to a Zero 7. On the negative side, I hated the idea of heroes as elementals. That lowers the score to a Punchy 7. However, Aquaman was in the issue, which raises the score to a Doombug 7. Also, Swamp Thing was in it, which bumps the score up to a Frank Snowlah 7.
Overall, I give the issue a Frank Snowlah 7
Review by SilverPhoenix
I'm going to start off by saying that even beginning this review was near impossible for me. Usually I am able to write a paragraph or 2 that connects to the material that's going to be analyzed on a reasonably objective scale. Sure I'll admit to having biases, but I try to approach everything with as open of a mind as possible. However, Brightest Day #23 is getting none of that, and it has nothing to do with my general disgust with DC's current direction and creative practices. No, the reason why we're pretty much jumping into this sucker has to do with the fact that this issue brings up far too many negative thoughts that I rather not dwell on them more than I have to. Where does Brightest Day #23 go wrong exactly? The easier question may be what didn't go wrong this Issue.
When it comes to overall story/writing of Brightest Day #23, the first thing that stood out to me was the overall story structure. This issue has a breakneck pace, and can be read in a matter of 2 minutes if that's all you're focusing on. Now this isn't to say that brief read is a bad thing in and of itself, but it becomes a bad thing when the glue that holds this thing together is extremely weak. In what seems like a breakneck sprint to the big reveals, this issue jumps from place to place in a failed attempt to show the severity of what's going, and unless you've been keeping up with everything (and I mean EVERYTHING), the characters, places and reveals all amount to very little, and it's those very same reveals that lead to an even bigger mess, and that's where the discussion of this issue gets real interesting.
Brightest Day #23 begins with a shot of the Earth being covered in a cloud of absolute darkness and ends with the Life Entity Champion (which everyone knows by now) being revealed for all to see. During the story, characters that are deemed important to the climatic sequence of events are summoned to the "Star City Forest of Extreme Importance", and the source behind the decay of earth is revealed as Swamp Thing (which is the 2nd big reveal of this comic). What is the problem with all of this you might ask? Let's go into it on a point by point basis.
1) At no point in this series (or its' many now useless "tie-ins"), has there been any implication that the world would face such a potential calamity if said Champion was never found. After reading all 23 Issues of this series before this one, I can safely say that there was no build up to the consequences being so damn grave.
2) What is Dove's purpose in all of this? After nearly 18 months since it has been revealed that she had the power to create a similar light to the white light, we still don't have any clue as to why this is? It would've been one thing if we found out why she's so special at the end of Blackest Night, but we're coming close to the end of a second straight storyline involving this aspect of her powers and the lack of an explanation makes her look like a shallow Deus Ex Machina.
3) What was the purpose of all of the "tests" that the White Lantern gave to the 12 lives it re –started at the end of Blackest Night? As I was reading this book, which was the question that inserted itself into my mind as all of this was going on. With all of the hype that went into their resurrections, and their missions, to have those possibly brushed aside for what most readers will not be able to understand is not good storytelling.
4) The Parliament of Trees? Wait What? Where was there any indication that the Star City's Forest would be that important? How is a reader who doesn't have years of comic knowledge (much less a reader who started with Blackest Night) can even begin to make sense why that's so important. Also, what indication did we even have those were the Parliament of Trees. Certainly not from Brightest Day, nor its Green Arrow tie in.
There are other questions that this book raised beyond those 4, but even by themselves, these 4 questions are far too much of a grievance to look past story or writing wise. I stopped short of calling them plot holes due to the fact that one could say that the answers (especially the big reveals) could've been pulled from everything we've seen during this story and DC lore itself. However, it's done in such a way that the whole entire situation needs to be explained in further detail in its own paragraph.
For most people, Ivan Reis may truly be one of the Top 5 Artists in Comic Books, and I would most definitely agree with this. Long After he's retired and never drawing again, his visuals are going to be the stuff of legend, and it'll be legacy that's well deserved. It's just too bad that Brightest Day #23 is not the art package that one expects. Of course, very little to none of this is on Ivan Reis gives us his usual excellently detailed work in many of the panels presented, and there are some drawings that truly come off the page, and give the dramatic effect that he was obviously going for. It's his backup artists that drop the ball in this case. There are far too many pages of bad finishes, inconsistent and jarring art changes, and just bad overall character drawings, and it's especially obvious during the opening pages where the artist tries to jam as many heroes as possible onto the pages. It's the signs of an obvious rush job, and can even be taken as signs that whole plotlines were rushed and changed to make do with the space left before the conclusion.
While there is plenty to be unhappy about when it comes to this book, it's quite easy to pinpoint the ultimate source of my unhappiness, and that due to nearly absolute inaccessibility of this book. After reading this book, and coming away completely confused (even after reading the other 24 Issues in the store), I decided to do some research on what just happened to see if there was something I missed. After digging deeper and deeper to find my answers, there's one thing that came apparent , which I touched on in a previous paragraph, and that's unless you were steeped in decades of DC Universe Lore, there was almost no way for you to connect any of this stuff. Not only does this continue a trend of DC embracing the past in its overall creative structure, but now it has connected the beginning of the payoff to the previous year's storyline to continuity that many newer fans will not know where to begin. It's this kind of stuff that limits the potential of Big 2 Comics, and the writers should've structured this better from day 1.
Overall, Brightest Day 23 was a slipshod effort all around. There is simply no excuse for what happened in this Continuity Porn laden mess, and with a Brightest Day Aftermath already announced, I'm not sure Issue 24 is going to come anywhere near to fix the messes that comic made.
Final Judgment: 2
Review by Punchy
Story - Brightest Day is a series I've found it hard to wrap my head around. I've been picking it up more due to feeling I have to in order to keep up with the never-ending spiral of madness that is the DCU, rather than actual enjoyment. It's been scatter-shot in focus, following a bunch of characters, some of whom I like (Aquaman, Firestorm, Martian Manhunter) and others I really don't (Hawkman and Hawkgirl), with stuff happening for no real reason, except that the White Lantern says so. This has made for a rather unsatisfying story, nothing happens organically, it's all down to whatever a magic lantern says. I kept reading it hoping it would all make sense come the end.
Well, now we've reached the end, and if anything it's gotten even worse. First of all, this particular issue picks up from a position I don't remember the last issue ending on. The world is ending, but we'd previously been given no indication this was happening, or that this would happen. It's almost like that 'the world ending' has become Johns' default mode, and he can't do anything smaller. He's gotten too epic and therefore the end of the world has become mundane, which really, is bad writing, how can the apocalypse be boring? When it happens every bloody month. We get the usual shots of heroes saving people we get in every Johns event comic. It was Blackest Night/Infinite Crisis/Sinestro Corps War all over again.
And then there's the real meat of the story. For some reason a Black Lantern Swamp Thing is the big bad villain, and all the main heroes of the series have to come to that stupid Forest in Green Arrow's city to fight him. Except the White Lantern killed them all. But then he resurrects them as Elementals or something. Why didn't he do this in the first place? What was the point of the previous 22 issues? All the stuff those heroes 'had to do' to fulfil the Lantern's prophecy was just pointless wasn't it? This could have been done in 2 issues.
And then we have the stuff with Captain Boomerang and Dove, I fail to see how any of that has anything to do with fighting Swamp Thing. Someone else has said that this whole book has been like Geoff Johns (and Pete Tomasi) have given up on actually writing, and just inserted themselves as the White Lantern, moving every piece around to get to their planned end, and that's exactly right. I can only hope that they actually are going to reveal the White Lantern is Johns. I liked it previously when Johns used meta-fiction when writing Superboy Prime. It would be just the kind of fun, cool idea that would never happen though. I'm sure the answer is going to be bullshit.
I've not even got onto this issue's use of Swamp Thing and his return to the DCU after decades of being a part of Vertigo. He doesn't really do much in this issue, and so I feel any analysis of the character's new status-quo is better reserved for when he actually does something or has his own book. I'm sure there has been plenty of hand-wringing from Vertigo purists, but it's worth noting that the best Swamp Thing stories were all in the DCU anyway. We shall see.
Overall, this issue actually pissed me off, it made my investment in the previous 22 (plus a zero issue!) chapters of this series seem like a waste of time and money. We've been following these characters stumbling about, going through the motions, all due to the promise that it was all part of a plan, but the plan was bullshit. I'm normally more of a Journey than a Destination guy when it comes to storytelling (For example, I don't feel a disappointing finale to LOST or BSG or Y: The Last Man negates the previous however many hours of enjoyment I've got) but with Brightest Day, the journey was pointless in the extreme. Johns is very hit and miss, and Brightest Day is most definitely a miss.
But there's still one more issue to go, maybe that will turn things around! (It won't).
Art - At least it was nice to look at. Ivan Reis is perhaps the artist who represents the DCU best in the last 5 years or so, he's drawn pretty much every major character, and drawn them well. If there is a DC John Romita Jnr, he could very well be it. He may not be flashy, but he gets the job done. And hey, Swamp Thing looked cool I guess. Reis, has if anything, been let down by the writers here.
Best Line - I always struggle with this when it's a Johns comic, he cannot write a memorable line to save his life. It's probably 'His name is Alec Holland' or something like that.
That gives Brightest Day #23 a group score of 4.38. This will forever be remembered as the week that finally drove Starlord to quit the Review Group. Again.
For what McKegan calls "all the geeky, bitchy arguing about comics you'd expect from a comic message board condensed into absolute awesomeness", check out our Brightest Day thread and post your own review in The News Stand forum.
Written or Contributed by: John Martin