Take one lone survivor of his race, mix in a bunch of rage, a red ring, and a cat that vomits red rage on its enemies, and you have the makings of the antithesis of the Green Lantern Corps. Enter the Red Lanterns!

RED LANTERNS #1
Writer: Peter Milligan
Penciller: Ed Benes
Inker: Rob Hunter
Colorist: Nathan Eyring
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover: Benes and Hunter with Rod Reis
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Red Lanterns: During the whole Sinestro Corps War, and the subsequent Darkest Night event, readers learned that there were more than just the Green and Yellow Lanterns – an entire rainbow of flavor and emotion patrol the universe, each Corps with their own agenda. For the Red Lanterns, it is all about rage, and their leader, Atrocitus is the ragiest rager who ever raged.

I’M NOT AS ANGRY AS I USED TO BE

For some reason, the events happening in the Green Lantern books haven’t been as affected by Flashpoint and the subsequent DC Relaunch. Save for the current status of Hal Jordan, everything still seems to be moving along as if nothing has happened, almost as if everything is localized to Sector 2814 and Earth specifically (Mystery Woman – page 16). In this first issue, readers are introduced to the “true” history of Atrocitus told through his eyes, and not through the green tinted glasses of Geoff Johns Green Lantern: Secret Origin.

To fill everyone in, we get a flashback (told by Atrocitus) that in an attempt to make the Guardians reconsider an emotional police force, Krona tweaked the Manhunters to kill an entire sector, which included Atrocitus’ family and entire race. The rage over this genocide, sent Atrocitus on a quest for revenge, that played out across the previous story events. Though now, after the last big bust-up event, the central character isn’t as angry as he used to be, and he seems lost trying to find meaning in life. That is until the blood from the dead body of Krona (don’t ask, it’s pretty weird and creepy) re-ignites his passion for revenge.

And while the previous incarnations of the Red Lanterns were all about hate, this time around, Atrocitus wants to be the hand of vengeance, righting the wrongs inflicted on others. Oddly, Atrocitus doesn’t come off as a bad guy in this issue, and his new quest/mission seems to be more like The Spectre. Of course Atrocitus is going to need the rest of the Red Lanterns to follow him, and right now it looks like they are more consumed by rage than vengeance. And that is going to be a problem.

It may be because of the constant vomiting, or maybe it is the over use of the color red, or maybe, just maybe, I’m simply not a big fan of making a villain a sympathetic hero. While Peter Milligan attempted to pull on the heartstrings and make the reader feel something for this misunderstood character, it didn’t work for me. Unlike many who might be reading this for the first time, I know what came before, and no amount of cheese is going to make me feel anything for this character in the long term.

PROJECTILE ART

Did I mention there is a lot of red in this issue? There’s also a lot of violence – and by violence, I mean torture, beatings, killings, and general hooliganism that really shows the evil in the DCnU. Granted the level of violence doesn’t reach Crossed status, but for a DC book, there’s a reason this is getting a Teen Plus rating. The big question then is, “does the artist glorify the blood and guts, or does the artist attempt to bring more to the table?” The good news is Benes doesn’t let the imagery get too out of control, and a lot of the extreme moments take place off panel.

There are some panels and pages that really work in terms of composition and framing, but there are just as many panels and pages that seem like a bloody mess…

BOTTOM LINE: I’LL PASS

With the success other companies have had in creating popular antiheroes, I can’t help but think DC is trying to at least capture a portion of that market for themselves. It isn’t the first time the company has done this, and I’m sure there are some who are going to dig everything the Red Lanterns series will offer. The writing is solid, and the art is good, but at the end of the day I don’t think this series is for me. Red Lanterns #1 felt a little empty, and earns 1.5 out of 5 Stars from me. Of course, your milage may vary.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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13 Comments

  1. Ced
    September 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm — Reply

    Man, I was looking forward for some silly raging fun (Orange lantern style), instead I ended up with a boring brooding Atrocitus.
    I will also pass.

  2. TaZ
    September 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm — Reply

    The cat ripping the bad-ass alien’s scalp off was pretty funny and the fact that Atrocious rips apart an entire ship full of supposedly world-killing marauders during his “I ain’t mad as I usta be” funk makes me wonder, what the hell is this guy supposed to fight? They make him like he could eat Darkside for breakfast and still have room for Galactus for lunch.

    The fact that only Atrocious seems to be able to speak other than grunts and partial words doesn’t seem to give us any indication that there will be a lot of dialog from this corps. And only a few of us out there remember what napalm is and if that’s what the “red fire vomit is” then the thought of these folks spewing burning petroleum jelly makes me wonder even more why they need a ring.

    Decent art but I just don’t follow this concept yet. “RAAAAGEEEEE…AAgUUUUEEE…NNNOOOTTT…NUFFF!!! GAAAguhhhaaa!”

  3. Doctor Mango
    September 18, 2011 at 7:35 am — Reply

    I haven’t been following Green Lantern for years so was intrigued by a Red Lanterns book. So I didn’t have all of the information I needed to really understand what was going on.

    If the New DC 52 is all about bringing new readers in, I personally thought this was a big fail. I didn’t understand why a Red Lantern cat got most of the action in the opening pages and I didn’t enjoy Atrocitus or any of his RL posse enough to want to read a second issue. There are too many great new DC titles (like Demon Knights – my current favourite!) that I want to follow instead.

  4. kevinpbreen
    September 18, 2011 at 11:17 am — Reply

    “The antithesis of the Green Lantern Corps” Also the antithesis of everything I liked about Green Lantern comics. I always thought the subtext was that the rings were created as a way to deal with crises without violence.

  5. seneca
    September 18, 2011 at 12:42 pm — Reply

    Well they should of saved the red lanterns to be a plot villain in a GL comic and saved one of thier 52 titles for Power Girl.

    • Rome
      September 18, 2011 at 9:35 pm — Reply

      Word! What’s Amanda Conner doin’ right now anyway?

  6. Adam
    September 19, 2011 at 1:31 am — Reply

    Wow, I’m the only one who liked this book. I was happy to call the Dex-Star splash page just before I saw it. I really liked the new version of Atrocious, I liked the depth and the fact that they dealt with the idea that the target for his rage was now gone. What does a man do when he can no longer rely on revenge?

    I guess it’s just me, but I enjoyed it, and look forward to more.

    • Ced
      September 19, 2011 at 8:34 am — Reply

      Man, Dex-Star got owned in issue one instead of being awesome, no way!

    • Damascus
      September 21, 2011 at 1:35 am — Reply

      Hey Adam, I kinda liked it too. I don’t know anything about Atrocitus and only a little about Dex-Starr but I still enjoyed it. It’s just setting up the mood of a character, so I get that nothing really happened during the entire issue. But you see a character figuring out his new mission in life and thus begins his story. I definitely don’t feel it’s quality is a 1 1/2 star affair, granted I know Stephen’s reviews are fair and they reflect how he personally felt about the title, but I don’t feel that there’s anything inherently terrible about the book, other than not much really happening. Apart from that, I’d still only bump the book up about another star to 2 1/2. It would have been a full 3 stars if I’d been able to see Dex-Starr really beat some sadists down.

      Also, I didn’t read the Rainbow Corps War, so can the Red Lanterns create constructs like the Green Lanterns or is it all just the spewing red stuff?

  7. September 19, 2011 at 10:42 am — Reply

    Good review. I almost fell asleep reading this book, seriously. The high point was Atty’s cat (Nyan cat, eat your heart out) and then it went downhill from there. I don’t have high expectations for the next book because I figure it’ll just be more exploratory blah blah blah for the rest of the red lanterns. But I’m hopeful. The idea of an anti-Green Lanterns team is cool.

    • Jimmy
      September 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm — Reply

      Actually, I believe this cat would eat Nyan’s cat heart out, not the other way around. :)

  8. Kent Nelson
    September 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm — Reply

    I, too, was really looking forward to this book. Due to sheer boredom with this book, my reading boiled down to looking at each panel to see when Waldo’s sister Walda would show up in her hood and purple aura…

  9. brenton8090
    September 25, 2011 at 8:11 am — Reply

    YAY, Dex-starr splash page! Boo, Dex-Starr gets owned. YAY. evil bad guys! Boo, evil bad guy is really just a misunderstood psychologist with an origin mash-up of Batman and the Martian Manhunter. I wanted naughty black evil, not bleeding heart sympathy. Remember that first red-lanterns issue? Back in Final Crisis? They were SCARY and COOL.

    BA-BUM.

    If they can’t recapture that feeling for me, count me out.

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