Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1
“Rage of the Red Lanterns, Prologue: Blood Feud”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Shane Davis
Inks: Sandra Hope
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artists: Shane Davis & Sandra Hope
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US/CAN
For regular readers of Green Lantern, this one-shot (connected to Final Crisis in title only, it seems) will be a real treat, as the storyline about several new lantern corps of different colors finally goes from trotting up to the gate to galloping down the track. The Corps-of-Many-Colors concept is a simple one, but it seems to have really caught readers’ attention, tapping into a nostalgic sense of wonder while still maintaining a modern, dark edge in the midst of the traditional super-hero storytelling. I would imagine this one-shot was designed to draw in even more readers to Green Lantern’s corner of the DC Universe, but I don’t think it’ll succeed. Johns’s story isn’t the most accessible I’ve read, but there’s a sense of fun, a sense of foreboding and a sense of myth at play that makes for an entertaining experience for the audience overall.
A new corps has arisen in a dark corner of the universe. Led by the centuries-old Atrocitus, the Red Lanterns are powered by their hate and rage, and the energy of their rings even replaces their own blood, empowering them with a cosmic fire that can’t be extinguished. As the Red Lantern Corps secretly arises as a force to be reckoned with in the cosmos, the Green Lanterns prepare for the public execution of Sinestro on his own homeworld. As the GLs, transport their arch-foe, they have no idea that they’ve been betrayed from within to the Sinestro Corps, the yellow lanterns who plan on freeing their leader and killing as many Green Lanterns as possible.
Shane Davis brings a dynamic, detailed and somewhat intense look to this cosmic action/drama. Green Lantern: Rebirth is the title that brought new life to the GL property, and in part, it was thanks to artist Ethan Van Sciver meticulous linework. Davis’s effort here evokes an easy comparison to Van Sciver’s style. The designs for the various Red Lanterns are sharp; the combination of cute and creepy in the feline Red Lantern is amusing and unsettling at the same time. The extra orifices on Atrocitus’s face and hands bring an even more alien and intimidating look to the villain. And Sinestro’s intense, dark eyes convey the notion of a twisted mastermind at work, even if he is locked up. Colorist Nei Ruffino also merits some acknowledgement. Colors are essential when it comes to any Green Lantern story, and Ruffino is equal to the task. The glowing greens and yellows later in the book convey the impossible ring energy quite successfully, and the Red Lanterns’ eruptions of blood earlier in the book are vivid and appropriately disturbing.
There are problems with the art as well, though. The most difficult sequence from a visual perspective was the three-way Corps showdown at the end of the issue. It’s incredibly busy and hard to follow. There are so many characters crowded into the battle scene, and the distorted, alien figures don’t make it any easier to discern what’s happening. The overall message is clear — the deadly Red Lanterns dominate — but the details are lost.
While the larger plot is fun and straightforward, there are smaller details that will likely go over newer readers’ heads. In order to fully appreciate the building plot, one has to be familiar with the Controllers, the Anti-Monitor and the evolutionary history of the Guardians of the Universe. Johns’s script seems to take for granted that readers will have followed events in recent issues of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. But this comic book is billed as a Final Crisis tie-in, and more in the way of exposition is really called for so those unfamiliar with recent developments or the Lanterns in general will be able to follow along.
Ultimately, the energy of this seemingly obvious and simple new direction for the Green Lantern brand is more than enough to win me over, and I’m sure the same will hold true for new readers. Johns has been teasing us for quite a while with the Rainbow of Lanterns storyline, and with this special, there’s a greater sense of forward movement with the story. The slow build has been successful, though. We’ve got a sense of what drives Atrocitus, what Sinestro’s really up to and the dissent and secret discord among the Guardians. While I do have concerns about the accessibility of this one-shot, in collected form, I suspect this longer arc and those that came before will be clearer and more compelling. 6/10