Since the very beginning of the Red Lanterns series there has been a slow, and some would say too slow, buildup towards a confrontation between Atrocitus and Bleez for control of the Red Lantern Corps. Issue nine brings us a head to head confrontation between the two, but whether or not it is a satisfying confrontation or not depends on what the reader is hoping to see happen.
The Story -
Away from Ysmault Bleez and her band of renegade Red Lanterns have finished dishing out their rage fueled form of retribution knowing that Atrocitus will hear of their actions and take the bait to finally confront Bleez and unite the Red Lanterns under one leader. But on the Red Lantern homeworld Atrocitus has his hands full with the poisoning of the central power battery by Abysmus in issue 8. Jack Moore continues to come to grips with what he's become while continuing to be repulse by his new brethren.
Bleez arrives on Ysmault to force the confrontation and wrest control of their Corps from Atrocitus and a brief skirmish breaks out before Rankorr breaks up the fight between the two leaders to focus their attention on the larger problem that's developing around them as the central battery's destruction wreaks havoc on the planet and the rest of the Corps. Hoping this distraction will provide him with a way to return to Earth Rankorr tries to remove the ring and deny his new destiny, learning in the process that the red ring is a part of him that he cannot live without.
|Jack Moore's journey continues to be the best part of the series|
Momentarily the scene shifts to the ice world of Hummb where Abysmus has a monologue moment, sharing more of his backstory as a flawed creation of Atrocitus and drops some information regarding his actions serving new masters who have offered him a great prize as a reward for sabotaging the central battery. Returning to Ysmault Atrocitus makes the decision to abandon his planet and start anew while Bleez points the finger of treachery at the Star Sapphires, accusing them of unearthing Abysmus and setting forth the plot to destroy the Red Lantern Corps. With Bleez potentially going after the Sapphires Atrocitus pledges to take on Abysmus one on one and the issue comes to a conclusion with Atrocitus declaring war on the universe promising to rain destruction on anyone who stops them from uncovering the masters behind the plot to destroy the Red Lanterns.
|Have the Guardians used Abysmus to gain the upper hand against Atrocitus?|
The Writing -
|Bleez's logic is confounding|
It's taken nine issues to get there, but finally we've got the Red Lanterns promising to live up to the expectations that many readers had that this book would focus on what Red Lanterns do best - wreak havoc on everyone. It's really a shame that it took this long to get here and it seems that we could have gotten here some much earlier if the series was perhaps more focused in the storytelling department. That being said this issue had some good points in it as well as one that I'm still scratching my head about.
I continue to find Jack Moore's inner dialog to be the best and most compelling part of the book and we get more of a good thing in this issue. I am really enjoying his perspective as the Red Lantern universe unfolds around him and we gain insight into the tragic nature of being trapped in a body that one cannot control. While I feel that Jack Moore's story of why he was chosen to wear the red was powerful enough, the story of his new life has me hooked.
The other thing that I enjoyed was the mystery of who Abysmus' new masters are. I found Bleez's rationale of the Star Sapphires being the ones behind it all the head scratching moment of the issue for me and I'm still trying to understand her logic. To me the most logical choice would be the Guardians themselves, knowing their role in Atrocitus' past I would think that would be Atrocitus' first choice, and our understanding of what's going on in the rest of the Green Lantern universe makes them the only ones I point my finger at. Unhinging the Red Lanterns is one more step in getting rid of the rest of the emotional spectrum and making it all the easier for the Third Army to rise.
If I can put behind me the wandering nature of the series and dismiss all the unresolved subplots this issue was pretty good. However I have to say that timing the confrontation between Bleez and Atrocitus to take place at this juncture was ill conceived. Rather than play out as this epic battle for supremacy that has been built up for months it plays over a few pages as a distraction rather than the main event it should have been.
The Art -
First of all I have to commend the cover art by Miguel Sepulveda and Rain Beredo. Sepulveda will be the regular artist on Red Lanterns starting with issue ten and if this cover is any indication of what we can expect then this book is going to really be a visual treat. This issue features interiors by fill-in artist Tomas Giorello and he does a pretty good job overall. I have to say I like his depiction of Atrocitus better than most of what we saw from Ed Benes during his tenure.
What Do I Think?
Red Lanterns number nine to me is the last page of the first chapter in the story of the Red Lanterns story. With this issue we can put behind or outright dismiss many of the unresolved subplots from the past and simply move forward with the strengths of the Red Lantern concept. I'm ready to put these past nine issues behind me and start anew with the series and I find myself looking forward to what I hope is a more focused direction for a book that I've had a hard time rallying behind. That said, issue nine is an average book with some interesting developments counterbalanced by a downplayed moment that should have been a high point that the series was building towards. Three out of five lanterns.