Monday, March 26, 2012

Brightest Day vol. 2 (comics)

Writers: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi
Artists: Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf and several others
Collects: Brightest Day #8-16

Time for the second volume of Brightest Day; one half of DC's most recent weekly experiment. Is it as enjoyable as the first volume? Or does the book see a drop in quality?

First thing to note - since I complained about it at length last time - is the slight drop in unnecessary ultra-violence. This is not to say it isn't there - Martian Manhunters plot is sadly the go to when Geoff wants to show beheadings - but we're thankfully spared the slaughter of entire families and people being skinned. Not quite as much improvement as I'd like, but after last volume I'll take what I can get.

All five of our major plotlines continue along without a noticeable drop in quality. The best are still great, the decent are still pretty good and the Hawks still suck. All of it continues to be fairly accessible, even as the Firestorm plot has started to veer off into territory tying back to Blackest Night. It's easy enough to figure out though; Black Lanterns are back and want to extinguish life because they're dicks like that. Simple.

They're making a bit of a shift in structure though. A given plot will now be take up almost a full issue, with the character taking center stage next issue given a page or two at the end. While this occasionally means dealing with close to a full issue of Hawk related nonsense, it has the benefit of giving focus to the various plots; previously there were times when it felt like the stories moved at a snails pace.

Of the five plots, I'm a fan of four of them; pretty good ratio, if you ask me. I already liked the Martian Manhunter, but thus far this series has managed to make me care about Aquaman, Firestorm and even Deadman. That's pretty damn good considering I didn't give a crap about any of them prior to this. If the intent here was to make people invested in these characters, thus far it's been a success.

Except with Hawkman. On the surface, it sounds like their plot has the right ingredients, but the Hawks suck the life out of just about anything they come into contact with. They're plot vampires. Hell, they even look kind of dumb. At some point you'd think DC would have to just accept that the Hawks don't work and stop bothering. Of course, then you realize they tried reviving the Doom Patrol about five million times when that concept hasn't worked since Grant Morrison had it. For some reason, DC refuses to give up on anything.

The art is varied, of course. Each plotline has its own artist. Ivan Reis and Patrick Gleason are the standouts. Whoever does the Firestorm plot isn't. Still, no one puts in work I'd classify as outright bad. Overall, I'm pretty happy that Ivan Reis is going to be on board the New 52 Aquaman book with Geoff; the Aquaman plotline of Brightest Day has quickly become one of my favorites and the art is at least part of why.

The Score: 8 out of 10

Thus far, Brightest Day has been a strong read. I'm interested in seeing where everything goes, so I'll definitely be back for the third volume. So far this has been worth the pickup even if you didn't bother with Blackest Night. Time - and volume three - will tell if it's a resounding success. Even stories with the best buildup can end on a sour note.

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