Red Lanterns are like Green Lanterns, but instead of willpower, they’re fueled by rage and instead of protecting the universe, they spit up burning blood on people. Red Lanterns #0 tells the story of their leader, Atrocitus – but will it make this Major Spoilers reviewer sputter in anger?
RED LANTERNS #0
Writer: Peter Milligan
Penciller: Ardian Syaf
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorist: Peter Pantazis
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover: Miguel Sepulveda & Santiago Arcas
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Previously, in Red Lanterns: I don’t read this title, but I am lead to believe it involves angry aliens flying around space and vomiting burning blood on people. So there is that.
NEEDS MORE BLOOD VOMIT
Red Lanterns #0 focuses on the origins of Atrocitus, the first Red Lantern. Once simply Atros of the planet Ryutt, he witnessed his family (and the rest of the planet’s population) murdered by faulty Manhunters built by the Guardians of the Universe. Found by a quartet of demons from the “Cancer Worlds,” Atros joins forces with them to form the terror group known as the Five Inversions, waging a war of vengeance against the Guardians. This war continually enflames his rage as his other emotions die off, until finally he founds the Red Lantern Corps.
Peter Milligan has done over-the-top, insane, intelligent work before (see: X-Statix), but the spark I expected is missing in this issue. Atrocitus’s story relies on hoary old tropes about vengeance and prophecy without bringing anything original to the table. We’re told that Atros is full of rage, but why is he more full of rage than any other denizen of the planet Ryutt? Presumably, millions of other inhabitants witnessed their families murdered, but Atros lives to become Atrocitus… because he does? There is nothing seemingly special about Atros other than the fact that we are told he is special. This doesn’t make for terribly interesting reading. Everything is played deadly serious too, which results in this issue being a bit of a slog.
MY EYES ARE BLEEDING NO WAIT THAT’S JUST THE PAGE
Syaf and Cifuentes do a fine job with the illustrations. The non-Atros members of the Five Inversions are particularly good, as Syaf draws some bizarrely inventive demons. But the art suffers from a fairly obvious problem. Unsurprisingly, the art calls for a whole lot of red, meaning Peter Pantazis has a thankless job as the colorist. He does a decent job breaking up the tone as much as he can with varying shades of red for Atrocitus’s skin or for the blood seas or blood magick (you get the picture), but there is only so much that can be done. The red becomes extremely tedious by issue’s end, matching the exhausting storytelling.
BOTTOM LINE: DIDN’T SELL ME
Red Lanterns #0 did not draw me in as a new reader. It’s clear that Atrocitus is one angry, messed-up guy. But there’s little to separate him from the many other similarly angry, vengeful characters that litter the comic book landscape. The guy’s got blood magick and ties into the larger Green Lantern mythos, but nothing in the storytelling here hooked me for further reading. I have the feeling that Peter Milligan is shackled on this title, for whatever reason. If he could cut loose, maybe it could actually be fun. Red Lanterns #0 rates a disappointing one out of five stars.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!
Actually, I avoided Red Lanterns but tried them out during the #0 issue, but reading this issue made me want to see what else is going on in the series. However, this is only because I didn’t expect to see so much random green lantern lore woven in (such as the demons, etc), so not sure that most readers would find that interesting or even if the rest of the series has that much back story woven in. So “your mileage may vary”…but “I liked it!” :P
Good point – I should note that I am not a regular Green Lantern reader myself. I came for the Peter Milligan and the blood-spewing aliens. So folks who are more into the GL mythology might receive this issue better.
I gave up on Red Lanterns after issue 9 because the plot was moving slower than congressional hearings where all the senators are high on weed. And even then I think I gave the series too much slack. It is true things happened, but they were things that could have happened in roughly half the time it took for them to actually happen. Spinning its wheels is how I described it on my blog, and that’s basically what occurs in that series, at least up until issue nine.
And yes, everything is red. It doesn’t help that most of the series up to the point I stopped reading took place on the Red Lanterns’ homeworld, which used blood as its predominant color. Red and brown. I jumped for joy every time it cut to anywhere besides there, just so we could get variety.