Tuesday, 7 August 2012
ANGER RISING: RED LANTERNS #12
I would say, more than any other book in the Lantern series, Red Lanterns has benefited from the forthcoming Third Army event. It seems that Peter Milligan has been forced to get a move on if he intends to have his story of rage completed before the crossover drops into his universe and changes everything. And whereas it could be argued in books such as Green Lantern: New Guardians that narrative conclusions are being overly rushed, in Red Lanterns #12 I think Milligan finally hits the pace that many readers have suggested has been missing throughout this run.
This book is about the Red Lanterns finally becoming empowered and finding their true voice. And yes, that voice might be a little heavy on the Shakespearean prose but it is a voice that has been lacking previously. The principal characters in the book, Atrocitus, Bleez and Rankorr, had sought to understand their purpose in the world. Up until now we have been the psychiatrist to their turbulent self-analysis on all manner of indecisions surrounding the legitimacy of their mission and their waning humanity. But it is not the place of a Red Lantern to doubt or to introspect. They personify rage in its purist form. Their purpose is to burn with fury and dispense a mighty and bloody vengeance throughout the universe. That is the Red Lanterns book that the readers want to see; nay, deserve to see.
And, at last, that is what the reader gets. Facing defeat at the hands of his flawed creation Atrocitus uses the last of his ring's energy to send up a bright red flare. But not as a cry for help. It is a last defiant display of righteous anger. And when Rankorr comes to his aid he has given up the last vestiges of his former human life as Jack Moore. Raging at the slaughter of his brethren he conjures up a huge construct of their tortured demise. In a suitably gory showdown Atrocitus rips the hidden seed he had implanted in Abysmus years ago and reignites the failing Red Power Battery. Even Dex-Starr is given his dues. While still filling out the role of Milligan's comedic relief, it is a much darker comedy that sees Atrocitus toss the remains of Abysmus to the demonic feline to feast on.
Across space the Red Lanterns receive a charge and rise up to violently crush and destroy would-be assassins. Bleez and her rebel band shake of the influences of the Star Sapphire's and swear allegiance to their vengeful mission. The Lanterns return en masse to Ysmault to pay tribute to their cause in blood - literally the blood of their defeated enemies. A united Red Lantern Corps stand behind their leader once again, brandishing freshly plundered skulls and spinals columns, in Miguel Sepuldeva's in emphatic double page splash. Little do they realise this blood nourishes the newly resurrected bodies of Atrocitus' fellow Inversions who he had mutilated and murdered in a blood sacrifice at the inception of his Corps.
My mind races at the return of the Inversions. They were last seen as undead Black Lanterns in Blackest Night. If they have been returned to life here who is to say that we won't see other characters obliterated in that event brought back into current DC continuity?
In Red Lanterns #12 Milligan and his creative team have produced a solid book that will make a perfect jumping on point for new readers bedding in for the Green Lantern crossover beginning in October. But more importantly it will come as a huge relief to many long-term readers who have stuck with the book for a full year now in the hope that Atrocitus and his Corps would finally snap out of their gloomy fug and begin to serve up magnificent portions of terrible rage to the DC universe.