Martin John reviews Brightest Day #24!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by GEOFF JOHNS and PETER J. TOMASI;
Art by IVAN REIS, PAT GLEASON, ARDIAN SYAF, SCOTT CLARK and JOE PRADO;
Cover by DAVID FINCH; 1:10 Variant Covers by IVAN REIS
In the extra-sized issue #24, a new age for the DC Universe begins! A long shadow is cast across the world in a finale that will have everyone talking! Twelve heroes and villains were resurrected, but that doesn't mean it will remain that way as the new champion of Earth is chosen!
There are spoilers in this review.
Brightest Day used to be one of the brightest parts of my week, and then I stopped reading comics from the big two so that I could give my money to creators that are writing on the fringe and really need an extra reader. My heart loves superhero comics though (that is why I write one at http://www.foreignmattercomic.com) and I had to return in order to cover the last issue of a title I was unashamedly in love with.
I love the secondary characters of the DC universe and I have no idea why. Historically I have always picked up Aquaman titles every time they relaunch, hoping that this time will be the time it clicks. Hawkman's recent series with Geoff Johns and Rage Morales and later by Jimmy Palmiotti and Dustin Gray was fantastic, Firestorm has always intrigued me and I followed the new series by Stuart Moore, Denny O'Neil and Neil Adams made me love Deadman as a kid, and Martian Manhunter is a character that has so much potential they killed him off in order to include him in this storyline. That's not mentioning Hawk and Dove, Boomerang (John Ostrander wrote him perfectly in Suicide Squad). I have a history with these characters and I love to read about them.
The character of the week is Swamp Thing, newly resurrected as a Black Lantern in order to bring him back into the DCU. Alec Holland is also back from the dead, and I believe this is the first we've heard of him since Alan Moore revealed that he was killed and Swamp Thing was actually an Earth elemental with Alec Holland's memories. This is where I find fault in this issue, and I'm going to get geeky on your asses: Alec Holland is resurrected and then turned immediately into a Swamp Thing by the White Lantern. He comes back talking about how he remembers burning and is immediately covered in vines by the new Parliament of Trees (the forest in Star City that Green Arrow has been protecting) and quickly gets into a fight with the previous Swamp Thing (which has been corrupted), and wins. Damned if Holland doesn't get the champion button of the week for being able to think on his feet, immediately falling into the role and espousing such tidbits as "This is my world. I must protect it." I never knew Holland was a card-carrying member of Greenpeace before he went into experimenting on plants in the Bayou, did you? Totally unbelievable turn of events, Johns and Tomasi.
They also have Holland adapting well to knowing who Deadman is, and giving him a nice flowery burial, as well as dealing with an irate Hawkman digging into his newly formed plant body looking for his seemingly dead wife. I don't know about you, but if I were turned into a giant plant monster I would shit my pants. There is a suspension of disbelief that you have to bring into comics, but if you're mining the history of the DCU I have to ask that you do it with a little more believability. There is a lot happening in this issue, and Johns and Tomasi have a lot to wrap up (that's why we're paying $4.99 for 36 pages of content), but there are three two-page spreads in this issue and five splash pages... there would be room for a little more of an explanation if you wanted to be less elaborate.
As for the other plotlines, Johns and Tomasi wrap everything up while teasing at new things to make you go out and buy the next biggest title. Dove loves a Deadman, Hawk is still tethered to the White Lantern somehow, Aquaman has a mystery to solve, Hawkman is angry about his wife, Martian Manhunter goes back on the shelf, Firestorm is going to blow up, and, oh, John Constantine is back in the DCU to keep an eye on Swamp Thing.
I don't understand why more of these event comics don't pack a couple of creators that have a slightly similar look onto one title, when the art for Brightest Day works. With the help of digital coloring by Peter Steigerweld gluing all of the styles together with a cohesive color scheme, it works. There are no superstars making their names on this book, but it gets the bi-monthly out on time and keeps people happy. Brightest Day has been a high-selling title from the get-go, and hasn't shown signs of slowing, and you still get amazing splashes by Reis and Co. Marvel, keep this in mind the next time one of your event comics goes south.
If it is not obvious, I'm not entirely happy with how things turned out with the ending of this series. But the ride was fun for someone that likes characters that don't usually get a lot of attention. I am grateful for that at least. Johns and Tomasi seem like they're getting ready for the next chapter, and are introducing more high-concepts into the DCU. They're getting all their ducks in a row, ordering the universe so that they can pull it apart again, and are having a fun time while they're doing it. That fun and excitement is the reason to stay around.
Review by: Martin John