Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Brightest Day vol. 3 (comic)

Writers: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi
Artists: Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Joe Prado, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark
Collects: Brightest Day #17-24

Well, the fourth time is clearly the charm, because DC finally got the weekly* series they were aiming for all this time, just in time for not a god damn lick of it to be followed up on.

Brightest Day, while rough in spots, holds together much, much better as the "spine" of the DCU. A lot of that is because - as is made crystal clear over the course of this volume - it was clearly well thought out in advance. Everything that has happened thus far links up for the finale in a way none of the previous series pulled off**. Even the tie-ins starring the characters the core maxiseries didn't focus on, while not essential, clearly had their own role to play in the endgame.

Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi clearly knew what they were doing all along.

The endgame is done pretty well. This is where the individual plotlines reach critical mass, each reaching some measure of conclusion. The problem each hero faces is cleverly tied to their purpose, meaning the reason they were brought back to life. Each task was clearly meant to ready them for their role in the climax and the puzzle pieces slotting into place is fairly satisfying to read. While a thing or two got the short shrift - the final battle between the Dark Avatar and the Light Avatar could have stood to have more page space devoted to it - everyone got their moment to shine and most of them walked out of the series with an interesting status quo to explore. Which is the problem.

Brightest Day was almost immediately followed with the announcement that DC was relaunching the DC Universe. Some characters, like Batman or Green Lantern, kept the vast majority of their history. Others were rebooted entirely. Sadly, most of the star characters this series intended to breathe new life into - and succeeded, at that - were given a total reboot.

Obviously, this isn't a big problem for a guy like Hawkman, who's a general bore to read anytime he's not beating dinosaurs into submission with a mace. But for a guy like Firestorm, this is a travesty, as their new status quo coming out of Brightest Day was arguably the most interesting of the setups we got. It wasn't followed up on at all. Not even a six issue miniseries just to see the idea through.

Figures, right?

Despite that issue, I'd be willing to call Brightest Day a success. Most of the competition wasn't exactly stiff - everyone is still trying to forget Countdown exists while everyone forgot about Trinity halfway through - but it's still one of DC's best weeklies and may even be somewhere near 52. To be honest, with a few alterations and a couple removed pages, it could have even been made to be sort of a "happy ending" for the old DCU prior to the New 52. Shame they didn't go with that, because while it's not an all time classic, it's not a bad note to go out on.

You could have worse in your collection of DC trades. Hell, you probably do.

My Opinion: Read It

Taken as its own thing - maybe even as the logical ending of the Blackest Night saga - Brightest Day is still a pretty entertaining story. High art it is not - and the whole thing could easily have done without the uber violence Johns has become oddly attached to - but it's a fun, universe-wide romp that would have revitalized some of DC's most storied characters, had the relaunch never happened. The Hawks still suck though, but to be fair, I'm not sure even Grant Morrison himself could make them cool.

* Well, sort of. It was actually bi-weekly. It alternated weeks with JLI: Generation Lost for a year. JLI had ties to Brightest Day but was mostly its own thing, functioning as a sort of "lets get the band back together" for the Justice League International characters to fight a world altering threat.

** 52 is well regarded by fans as an overall story, but it ended up resembling more of an anthology that happened to have each plot end around the same time. Countdown was such a bizzare mess no one can figure out if it had a point, mess less if it all tied together in the end; if Countdown was the spine of the DCU, then the DCU must be a hunchback. Trinity put everyone to sleep in the middle third, so no one really knows if it concluded or if it was all a fever dream.

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