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.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

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12 Comments

  1. Einsteinic-Rocket
    June 7, 2010 at 12:10 am — Reply

    This book just seems to be treading water for me. I unintentionally (and I suppose somewhat stupidly)missed issue #2 after thinking that issue #0 was issue #1 and so on…but it doesn’t seem like I missed much. I’m going to pick up issue #2 and maybe one or two more issues of this, but if the story doesn’t start to pick up and come together I’m out.

    And a question…what’s up with Captain Boomerang being a skinny guy now that he’s come back? Didn’t he die as a fat man back in Identity Crisis? Not sure if this question was answered in The Flash or not since that isn’t a title I’m picking up.

  2. June 7, 2010 at 2:26 am — Reply

    I took this series off my pull list this last Saturday – so I suppose it has a few more issues to impress me enough to reverse the decision. The book provides some interesting sections, but when I’m only really interested in perhaps a few pages in every issue then, to me, it’s not worth buying.

  3. Brian G.
    June 7, 2010 at 7:01 am — Reply

    I think that this is so much more like 52 than past books have been. For the first 3 months of 52, none of the plots really made all that much sense other than “stuff happened”. I’m sure we won’t start getting the stories to over lap until at least half way or 3/4 of the way to the end. I personally enjoy the Aquaman and Firestorm stories. Martian Manhunter seems to be the most boring to me though.

  4. Brian G.
    June 7, 2010 at 7:56 am — Reply

    Also … have I ever mentioned how much of a Mera fan I am lately? That cover image is hot!

  5. brainypirate
    June 7, 2010 at 9:49 am — Reply

    > “Hawk is the only character in Birds of Prey whose spine wouldn’t snap under the weight of his jugs were he real…”

    HA! This had me laugh out loud in my office!

    > “I can see why this book is an anthology…”

    Earlier in the review, I wondered if maybe the book would make more sense as a straight-forward anthology, rather than as this hybrid “multiple subplots that will eventually converge” form we have now. You mentioned that many of the 12 returnees are in other books, and it occurred to me that what we have here are characters who seem to have done best as solo heroes in anthology books. They don’t fit well in the JLA (except perhaps for J’onn), and they’ve had only partial success maintaining their own books (compared to the GLs and Flashes). Why not just make this series an anthology series featuring these heroes? (And throw in the Atom as well.)

    I too felt that not much happened this week–in fact, I felt that way about most of the books I saw (except for B&B): everything’s in holding across the DCU.

    This issue of BD also reminded me of the recent poster who complained about how the artist in Adventure took way too many panels to present the story. I had that sense here as well, especially with the Firestorm segment–couldn’t that have been condensed on the page to make room for more story?

    The art in the Hawks story also confused me, as I never had a clear sense of how far away they were from Hath-Set at each moment. Did he have guards spread out for a mile? Because it sure did seem as if the Hawks were too close to his camp for him to have gotten through that portal before they arrived….

  6. aerspyder
    June 7, 2010 at 10:54 am — Reply

    I think Stephen hit the nail right on the head when he said, “And, I think that missing bit is a villain”. Who is the big bad, why is he/she/it the big bad, is there a big bad for each story or one over arching villian?

  7. ykw
    June 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm — Reply

    “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.”

    I would remind everyone spreading this meme (and, hoo boy, it’s darned near =literally= “everyone”) that this was the format used not just in 52, but for most of the Levitz/Giffen-era LSH. There’s nothing inherently bad about the format.

    Further, everyone’s story has certainly been advanced in the three issues thus far, further than one might reasonably expect given that the story is barely one-ninth of its way through. In 52, did we have any idea of the secrets behind Infinity, Inc. or the Superboy cult or what in the world was up with Ralph or Skeets by issue three? Heck, I’d suggest we know more about the nature of what the BD crew is up against (Death and its avatars) at this point than we knew about 52’s big-bads three or four times further in.

    • Brian G.
      June 7, 2010 at 5:44 pm — Reply

      Couldn’t agree more. I think people look at these large arc stories and expect fast paced pay offs when that’s not the name of the game.

    • June 7, 2010 at 10:32 pm — Reply

      Heck, I’d suggest we know more about the nature of what the BD crew is up against (Death and its avatars) at this point than we knew about 52’s big-bads three or four times further in.

      Really? Where do we get that information? The interaction with Anti-Monitor were vague, and all answers from the white ring have been pretty vague…

      • ykw
        June 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm — Reply

        J’Onn J’Onzz: ritualistic serial killer

        Hawks: Hath-Set (kills, dies, is born again to renew the cycle of death)

        Boston Brand: Anti-Monitor (embodiment of entropy)

        Firestorm: Ronnie as Bringer of Death

        Aquaman: given power over the dead

        Granted, we really don’t know exactly which of the DCU’s Death-type concepts is the Prime Mover here, or what the game really looks like, but the themes and the main players are already clearly set up.

  8. shamon from the bronx ny
    June 8, 2010 at 5:56 am — Reply

    long wait in between issues and less answers or stories development is driving people and this can’t be compare to 52 which was the best weekly imo . I will give it sometime to grow but i’m lost in where this is leading along with the flash which i still can’t understand why it has a brightest day banner on it .

  9. Brainlock
    June 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm — Reply

    I noticed the bit about Mr. Rusch’s hand(?) being back as well, having picked up a few scattered issues of JR’s run of Firestorm.

    The thing is, they’ve obviously rebooted continuity AGAIN, as they just RE-seeded the Legion Worlds over in Adventure Comics. I know Lar is no longer Valor, but surely someone (Kal?) could have been ret-conned into having done this post-“Invasion!” like he did? and what are the repercussions of having Titan being an active colony now in the present day DCU solar system?

    thanks for the heads up that Max’s arc is in JL:Gen.Lost. I was going to wait for the trade on that. as for what’s up with Thawne and Digger, their story is playing out in the new Flash title, which has me bored to tears after two issues. I’m going to let this RFTF/renegades arc play out before I decide to drop it. Seriously, Barry framed for murder AGAIN??

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