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26 of 52: Red Lanterns #1

by on September 21, 2011

Atrocitus

Image via Wikipedia

When will I learn.

Over a decade ago, I stopped following characters. My purchasing philosophy is to follow writers I like. I am more likely to enjoy Warren Ellis writing My Little Pony than Joe Schmoe writing Teen Titans.

Now, I’m not a huge Peter Milligan fan. I have enjoyed his 90s Vertigo work, but haven’t followed him much since. But I know him to be a good writer. So he takes over a title, that I know little to nothing about. I’ve not read the recent Green Lantern series, and much of my experience with the Red Lanterns comes from Wikipedia. Regardless, the reviews across the cyber-landscape were such that I gave it a try as my last comic book for DCnU Week Two.

Red Lanterns #1: With Blood and Rage
Writer: Peter Milligan | Penciller: Ed Benes

There are other places to go for a true synopsis of the Red Lanterns. All I know is that the Red Lanterns emerged sometime around the Sinestro Corps War. Their members each have the power of rage. Generally speaking they are on the side of good, but rage can be uncontrollable. Apparently the leader of the Red Lanterns is an alien called Atrocitus (great name by the way).

There, now you know as much as I do. (Not really true, as I’m writing this after I’ve read issue #1, but it’s what I knew before I read it… so there!)

Synopsis

  • In space, some sadistic blue-skinned aliens are torturing someone, when they are attacked by the Red Lantern leader Atrocitus and his cat Dex-Starr. They decimate the ship and free the tortured.
  • Atrocitus wonders whether his rage is pure and is as strong as before.
  • On earth, in the UK, an older man is attacked and killed by a mugger. His grandsons fight after the hospital, one who is filled with external rage (Ray) and the other more of a pacifist (John).
  • On Ysmault (Red Lanterns planet), Atrocitus watched his Red Lanterns fight. When he tries to stop it, Red Lantern Bleez mocks him and walks away. Atrocitus doubts himself more.
  • Atrocitus visits the corpse of Krona and performs a blood ritual to enhance his rage. He has a flashback to when the Manhunters destroyed his planet including his wife and daughter.
  • Atrocitus takes on the universes rage as his own, but wonders if Bleez and the other Red Lanterns need him anymore.

Questions

  1. The two brothers have the potential to be involved with the Red Lanterns. Which one is the more likely member?
  2. Rage is not the same as loyalty. Does Atrocitus expect his Red Lanterns to follow him unconditionally?
  3. Why is Bleez challenging Atrocitus’s authority? Is she simply fueling her rage against him for ambition’s sake? Or is there an underlying cause?
  4. Are there repercussions throughout the universe for Atrocitus attacking people simply because they are cruel.

Analysis

Great debut issue. I’m not sure if it’s accessible to people who have NO clue about the recent happenings in Green Lantern. But I read this comic with knowledge only from Wikipedia. So I knew the Red Lanterns used rage as a power source, that Guy Gardner became a temporary Red Lantern, they helped defeat Nekron during The Blackest Night saga, and that they are not necessarily enemies nor allies of the Green Lantern Corps.

With that knowledge, I was able to understand the plot perfectly. You learn very quickly what make Atrocitus tick, and what his motivations are. The only thing that was lacking was the motivations of the other Red Lanterns. That was much more vague. I don’t know if Bleez is a potential enemy, or a second in command who is looking to take down the leader and lead the Red Lanterns herself. I don’t need to know that in issue #1, but right now she is a 1-dimensional character.

The two brothers is pretty interested. The one, Ray, shows rage on the outside, but most likely, it is the pacifist, John, who is more likely to be a character in this book. Either used as a foil for Atrocitus, or to show that external rage is not necessarily the same as rage that is held due to personal beliefs.

Peter Milligan showed more interest in the conflict between Aggression and Pacifism than was shown in Sterling Gates Hawk and Dove, which is supposed to focus on that struggle.

I loved how Dex-Starr acts as Atrocitus’s herald, almost announcing the arrival of the Red Lantern leader.

The artwork was very good. I would have liked a more balanced showing of the other Red Lanterns. But that’s a very minor complaint.

As of now, I don’t know how this works as an ongoing series, but as a short-term story arc, I am definitely intrigued. I think Peter Milligan can pull it off, but I cannot see it from where I’m standing at the moment.

Verdict

Wow, a complete surprise. I never thought I would read Red Lanterns, enjoy Red Lanterns, and be on board to read issue #2. But Milligan is a good writer who is able to boil concepts down into a very enjoyable single issue.

A- (Very pleasantly surprised)

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From → Comic Books, DCnU

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