Thursday, July 7, 2011

Brightest Day vol. 1 (comics)

Writers: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi
Artists: Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason
Collects: Brightest Day #0-7

You know, I'm a Geoff Johns fan. I'm not afraid to admit that, despite how much he's derided by certain sects of the comic fandom these days. Even when he screws up, his pre-One Year Later Teen Titans run - of which I'm an unabashed fan, despite generally not caring for the Young Justice four save Bart - earned enough goodwill for me to give him some leeway. But at some point, enough is enough with some of the crap he pulls in his comics.

The hyper-violence is a large part of what annoyed the piss out of me this time. I generally cut him more slack for Infinite Crisis than most of the internet, because it wasn't something he did a lot at the time. But by this point, it's beyond moronic. Is there any damn reason to show senseless slaughter in this comic?

No, there isn't. But we get at least three separate scenes of gratuitous violence, all three pretty much crossing the line of good taste. There is no reason whatsoever for Black Manta to just suddenly slaughter everyone around him because Aquamans back. The plot is not served one bit by a family being butchered to reveal the new villain. There is absolutely nothing gained by a couple being beheaded and their skin ripped off. What the hell is this Geoff?

Then there's the namedrop midway through the prologue issue. To quote WWE superstar The Miz, really? Really?

Then there are the times where I'm reminded just why I like his work so much, points where he and Tomasi seem to touch magic. The Martian Manhunter has a scene in a middle issue that is just touching and quickly reminds me just why he's a great character. Ronnie Raymond - despite being hit with a bit of character regression - has a short bout of believable self destruction over Black Lantern Firestorms actions. Aquaman is, for the first time I've ever seen, an interesting character to watch, especially in conjunction with his now equally interesting wife, Mera.

I never in my life thought I'd want to see more Aquaman aside from badass Aquaman with the hook, but there you go.

Most of this book takes place in the immediate aftermath of Blackest Night. All the main characters were resurrected at the end of that event. Naturally, there's some acclimating to be done, especially for someone like Deadman, who's been away a long, long time. Some characters are farmed out to have their stories post resurrection told in the ongoings, but about six stick around here to be renovated by these two writers.

You may as well call this DC Third Stringers: Rebirth, because that's what they accomplish here. Most folks have a couple plotlines they like from this series, some they're alright with and some they hate. Other than the Hawks - who, lets face it, will probably never be interesting short of Grant Morrison writing their ongoing - I actually liked just about every running story in this book. If there's any problem here, it's that things don't seem to really kick into gear until the end, where we start getting hints of where the overall story will go.

Better still, I've yet to actually read Blackest Night and I don't feel penalized for it.

Both Ivan Reis and Pat Gleason are great artists in their own right and both make this a good looking book. I honestly don't expect that from weeklies - or even, in this case, bi weeklies - so it's a pleasant surprise that not only did they keep up the pace thus far, but they put out some pretty respectable work. Both are going on books in the DCnU I'm interested in, so I look forward to more of their work in the future.

Oh, one last thing; the colors in this are great. Wish the vast majority of books looked like this. Just vibrant work; there's a panel late in the book of a clean, restored beach that just looks gorgeous with the coloring.

The Score: 8 out of 10

This is by no means perfect - and Geoffs trend towards heavy amounts of violence is starting to piss me off - but I'm actually invested in characters I never gave two craps about before and I'm looking forward to reading volume 2. I think it says something when only one plotline out of about six really lost me. Hopefully this holds at this level; if it does, it may actually manage to match 52, which actually had an iffier ratio of interesting plots to dull ones.

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