ROBOT OVERLORD: The bi-weekly event that is Brightest Day continues, which means Matthew and Stephen are back with their thoughts on the latest issue.
Brightest Day #3
Writer: Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark, Joe Pardo
Inkers: Vicente Cifuentes, David Beaty, Mark Irwin
Colors: Aspen MLT’s Peter Steigerwald with John Starr and Beth Sotelo
Cover: David Finch, Scott Williams, and Steigerwald
Variant Cover: Ivan Reis with Chuck Pires
Letterer: Rob Clark Jr.
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Previously in Brightest Day: After the giant evil Death-God from the anti-matter universe was dispelled, 12 dead folks, hero and villain, have returned to the land of the living with no idea what to do. Hawkman and Hawkgirl have been confronted with a man who has made a hobby of killing them, while Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond have been trapped in the Firestorm Matrix. Aquaman’s powers are on the fritz, the Martian Manhunter has discovered unknown secrets, and most of ther others aren’t in this book. Strangest of all is the path of Boston Brand, the artist formerly known as Deadman, whose White Ring has been teleporting him at random, and last issue left him face to armored-putty-face with… THE ANTI-MONITOR! (Uncle Monitor was unavailable for comment…)
STEPHEN: This issue is titled Revelations, yet any big reveal still feels missing for me. For Boston Brand, his revelation when fighting the Anti-Monitor is that he needs to be more careful, while Arthur and Mera realize the are two mer-people without a place to call their home. Ronnie Raymond may pretend like he doesn’t remember what happened when he and Jason were merged during Blackest Night, but it’s clear that he remembers everything, and has some regrets as well. Something terrible is ripping off the skins of normal people, and that troubles J’onn J’onzz. And the Hawks discover their past selves – all their past selves in bone form as Hath-Set activates some magical portal to somewhere (Hawkworld, if you believe the tag at the end of the issue).
I suppose at this point, if any of this is going to make sense, readers are going to have to go along with the fact that there is some mystery that needs to be solved, yet we aren’t going to be given any answers for some time, or even subtle clues that we can use to be speculating on. At least 52 dropped hints that the multiverse was back before the reveal was made. I don’t feel any of that here.
MATTHEW: Well, to be fair, the first few issues of 52 were, as I recall, a pretty confusing affair as well. My biggest concern is that this series is supposed to be the center of the Brightest Day stuff, but most of the actual plot advancements have come via Green Lantern’s book, Flash’s book, and Generation Lost. Four issues into this one, I still feel like everything is a trailer, and they’re cramming all our dramatis personae into every issue to remind us where they are. By the time the reminder is over, though, we’re on to the next undead Justice Leaguer. At least 52 (and even the far inferior Countdown) didn’t try to advance ALL the plots a little bit every week.
STEPHEN: It feels like pieces are coming together, and there is certainly a lot happening, but I don’t know if it coalesces into anything more than a sequence of people standing around having conversations we’ve stepped into the middle of.
MATTHEW: Took the words right outta my mouth there, Double-S. I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re being told things that could much more easily be SHOWN. Moreover, there’s no real feeling that the dozen revenants have any common purpose or goal. Jade is off crossing over the JSA & JLA, Hawk is the only character in Birds of Prey whose spine wouldn’t snap under the weight of his jugs were he real, and laird only knows where Reverse-Flash and Captain Boomerang are. As for Deadman, I am irritated that there’s a big ol’ Green Lantern plot about “Who Might Wield The Lantern?” that seems to have an easy answer in Boston Brand here. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but it’s also something that this line-wide event might could use a tiny bit more of.
STEPHEN: Of all the characters story arcs, the Martian Manhunter is the one I feel holds the greatest potential to reveal answers to what is going on. I half expect his investigation, as creepy as the answer will be for him, to be a major revelation to solving the bigger mystery. The Deadman elements are nice, but he seems to be flailing wildly while trying to figure out his place in the universe. I’m sure he is going to be the key to all of this, since he is the only one to wield the white ring. What about you?
MATTHEW: J’onn’s story is more personal, and is probably most successful for me, but if Boston just shows up and picks up the white battery, it will be pretty anti-climactic for those of us who have watched him swan around as “Lifeman” in these issues. On the other hand, there’s no other dramatically sound person to take up the mantle of White Lantern, so either choice is problematic.
STEPHEN: This is the fourth or fifth major DC event that has occurred since Major Spoilers started four years ago, and while I can appreciate what DC is doing by trying to create a serialized mega-epic, it seems like they are trying to relive the glory days of 52 – hoping that lighting strikes again. At the same time, I think the company and creators involved have learned from past mistakes and have tried to adapt, but it still seems like they are trying to find the missing equation that made their first weekly series such a success.
And, I think that missing bit is a villain. 52 had Lex Luthor, Lady Styx, The Cult of Conner, Intergang, Dr. Sivana, Apokolips, Egg Fu, and many more. Readers were able to root for the good guys and boo the bad guys. Three issues into Brightest Day, and we have no idea who are the antagonists. Should we fear Aquaman? Is his ability to call forth the dead fish of the world a sign that he’s tainted with evil? Is unDeadman the hero that will save everyone of us? Or are the writers stalling while trying to come up with an answer?
MATTHEW: You’re looking for anwers, but I gotta tell you, I’m still unclear about the questions. Not only is this the fifth major crossover, it’s yet another shakeup in the status quo for a universe that hasn’t really had one for a while. As comic book series go, this one isn’t as bad as many, but some of the cracks in the united front of the DCU are starting to show. Hal and Barry might as well be having their adventures in 1969 for all the difference it makes, and the Trinity are all in flux right now preparing for more big giant revelationary moments. Seems like half our heroes are facing forward, and half are stuck in the 70’s.
STEPHEN: I think my concerns over multiple artists in this book is slowly starting to fall to the wayside. My big concern whenever I see a book done by multiple artists is that someone can’t meet deadline, or the book is being rushed faster than it needs to be. Here, each artists works on a specific character’s arc, and that does work, providing that the artists a) stick with the same character/story line through the entire series, and b) if all the characters stories finally converge, a new artist is brought on to work those bits of the story.
MATTHEW: What’s telling for me is that the varying art teams don’t bother me so much, as they don’t really vary all that much. I can’t tell if that’s due to excellence of production and an overarching vision, or because all of the artists draw alike. I’m going with the benefit of the doubt here, and call it a successful group vision.
STEPHEN: All this discussion aside, I didn’t hate this issue. But, I didn’t love it either. I really want to like Brightest Day. I’ll repeat that for those in the back that aren’t paying attention – I really WANT to like Brightest Day, but it still seems so scattered that if something doesn’t begin to coalesce in the next couple of issues (let’s give it three more), I have a feeling readers are going to jump off the Brightest Day series like rats from a sinking ship. Brightest Day is a nice attempt at an anthology book, but it doesn’t feel like an event book where the story weaves between the characters and events we’re seeing. Overall a 2 Star rating from me.
MATTHEW: There’s a lot of interesting things trying to happen here, but all in all, I suspect that there may be too many good intentions and potentially interesting ideas floating in a stew of stuff. I’m pretty much disinterested in the Hawks, and I can’t wait until Jason and Ronnie stop acting like jerks. Speaking of which, didn’t Jason’s father lose an arm in some sort of accident, causing him to be on disability? Or did someone grow him a new one while I wasn’t looking? Either way, I can see why this book is an anthology, since not all the stories have the same heft or level of interest. I want to know what’s up with Aquaman, I’m mildly interested in the Martian Manhunter, but I’m really tired of the Anti-Monitor. Like you, I have enough positive feelings to keep reading, but I’m moving towards wanting some more meat to this story. For my money, Brightest Day #3 is a 2.5 out of 5 star affair, not bad, not wonderful, and not yet wearing out it’s welcome… Still, things could start moving any time they like and make me happier.