Saturday 10 November 2012


When Sergio Leone described the personalities of his three protagonists in Il buono, il brutto e il cattivo he could not have known how apt it would become in summing the single figure of Atrocitus in DC Comic’s Red Lanterns.  Atrocitus and his Corps dispense a lethal, rage fuelled justice across the Green Lantern universe on behalf of the victimised and abused. Herein, of course, lies both the good and the bad.  And the resulting devastation, much like their leader himself, sure as heck ain’t pretty.  
In honour of this undeniable comparison I have elected to keep my overview of the story brief and instead review RL #13 by looking at elements of the book in relation to Leone’s famous movie title.
The issue is part of the GL crossover event ‘Rise of the Third Army’ and the plot is simple enough.  On some distant planet two sisters are enslaved by marauding misogynists for the purposes of serving their every physical need.  The older sister is slain trying to protect her sibling. The younger sister escapes into the care of a local lady only for her husband to betray both of them to the hoard in hope of earning financial reward.  The women are sliced down by Cord, the barbarian king, moments before Red Lanterns arrive and take bloody retribution on all and sundry. The Guardian’s Third Army join the scene to forcibly recruit the Red Lanterns (and anybody else in the immediate vicinity) into their Army.  Atrocitus notices that their eyes have not changed during their horrific transformation and deduces this to be their Achilles heel.  He plunges his thumbs into the eye sockets of their newest inductee, who until moments ago had been the Red Lantern Skorch.  In the final heart wrenching panel the surviving sister is also subsumed into the Third Army’s ranks.

 The Good:
** After a year of trudging through the angst of the Atrocitus seeking affirmation of his goals we have finally jumped into some good old fashioned story telling.  In addition we get something that you don’t come across very often in an on-going comic book series - namely a beginning, a middle and an ending.
** The narrative placed the young sister, Taya, as the central character for most of the issue and it was with relief that I discovered Peter Milligan hadn’t the adopted obvious formulaic approach of having her wind up becoming another Red Lantern.
** As the fourth chapter in the ‘Rise of the Third Army’, Red Lanterns #13 works very well.  We have witnessed the parasitic spread of the Army take place gradually over theprevious three episodes.  Now we’re invited to explore their disturbing mission in greater detail.  The tension has been built up sufficiently and now it is ready to pop.
The Bad:
** The dialogue in this book continues to irk me a little.  For the most part the characters talk as if they have just walked off the set of an English period drama.  Even the neanderthalic villains of the piece annunciate with all the clarity of a trained butler.
** The Thirdites (I made that word up.  Feel free to use it!) weakness is in their eyes.  The seemingly invincible, ring-energy-proof servants of the Guardians can be taken down in one with a swift chopstick to the eyeball.  They have gone from ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre‘ scary to pretty lame.  It’s reminiscent of the Keepers in the first arc of the current Green Lantern Corps book who were impervious to the all-powerful GL rings but not to basic weaponry like lead bullets.
** There are too many narrative voices taking centre stage.  Three different characters, Taya, Atrocitus and Red Lantern Rankorr each take a turn as storyteller in the text boxes littering this issue.  It’s a bit distracting for a book that only runs to 20 pages.
The Ugly:
** Miguel Sepulveda appears not to have received the editorial memo explaining what the Thirdites looked like (see what I did there?).  Or rather he received and chose to ignore it in favour of his own brand of over the top grotesque that suits the tone of Red Lanterns so well.  The creatures are positively skeletal here in comparison to their depictions in the other GL titles brought out earlier this month.  Hip bones and rib cages are on full shocking display. 
** Carrying on in the same vein the transformation of a regular person is handled very differently in this book.  Whereas victims elsewhere are touched by a Third Army recruit and shown to have their mouths seal over in the first stage of their mutation, in this case a web fluid extends from their captor’s fingers and wraps itself around their mouth and face.  I actually like the effect quite a lot but it is inconsistent with the rest of the titles included in the ‘Rise’ event.
** Atrocitus rips King Cord’s head clean off his torso in a bloody display fitting for the commander of a rage powered lantern corps.  For gore fans like me it is a juicy delight of a panel.

So there you have it. Red Lanterns #13 shares a few great touches and woeful errors in common with the most famous of spaghetti westerns. However, while the book is certainly worth a read, it is never going to be a timeless classic.


  1. Great breakdown bro. Now what I am about to say may be totally sacrilegious to hard core GL fans but its time to do away with the multi colored emotional spectrum corps. The Red Lanterns book itself is a real endurance race for me as I dont believe I have truly enjoyed a single issue since it began. LOving the other GL titles especially New Guardians.

    I just think its time to simplify again. I remember when |I was a GL fan in the 80s and loving the absolute scope of the corp. Since it evolved in to a multicolored dress up party I think it has diminished the theme of a central unified Corp.

    I hope the Third Army storyline re-establishes the status quo and ends up with a new central set of Authority figures to replace the Guardians as well.

    Just me going on with crap again. Great in depth post again man. Really liking these.

    1. Thank you sir.

      I'm ok with the emotional spectrum playing out for a while longer if Geoff Johns and the GL creative teams have longer story left to tell. But I do agree that the current format needs a shake-up.

      The various corps are well represented in New Guardians which seems to be working well. It has been reinvented once already through Kyle's latest quest so the format hasn't had a chance to grow stale. I've said all year that a better books than Red Lanterns would be anthology title along the lines of Tales of The Corps where each of the color corps are explored individually in 3 or 4 issue arcs.

      The biggest excitement in the GL universe for me at the moment is speculating what can come after the Guardians if they have finally burned their bridges. And if they haven't what sort of story twist is needed to put them back on to the right path?

      Although RL doesn't have the concsistency of it's sister titles it is adding something worthwhile to the current crossover event. All in all it's a great time to be a lantern fan.

  2. Agreed. The Lantern Universe is burning red hot. Red Lantern book needs to become something else..maybe we will see a little clearer after the current arc. Would be interesting to see someone OTHER than the Guardians in charge of the Lanterns...hmmmm.