Red Lanterns has been a bit of an enigma in comparison with the rest of the Green Lantern family with wandering plotlines that seem to never reach fruition and artwork that similarly waffles between cheesecake and a horror film. Last month's issue showed the promise of what this title could be as some of the random elements began to come together. As all the Green Lantern books converge for the coming of the Third Army and the First Lantern, the next to the last issue of Red Lanterns before the event attempts to cinche things a little tighter.
The Story -
Following up on the events of issue eight, Guy Gardner and a team of Green Lanterns arrive on Ysmault in pursuit of Jack Moore, a.k.a. Rankorr, only to discover the woeful state of the Red Lantern Central Battery. Seeing the destruction the squad leaves the dying battery behind and take to the stars.
On Zamoran we see that Bleez and her team that struck out to attack the Star Sapphires have been captured and as Fatality attempts to get to the bottom of things the disease plaguing the Red Lanterns rears its ugly head. This enrages Bleez, who manages to burst her shackles and attack Fatality and a battle of emotions ensues.
|The dynamic between Bleez and Fatality is interesting, but not elevated by the script to live up to its potential|
Rankorr finds himself alone in the vast expanse of space, unsure of where he is or where to find anyone else, but he recounts an altercation between the Star Sapphires and the Red Lanterns that left him unconscious and alone. Wondering about his place in the universe he sets out to find his comrades.
Atrocitus contines his quest for Abysmus, but when Skallox and Dex-Starr return with no news on his location the leader of the Red Lanterns seeks a blood prophecy to determine the location of his enemy.
Meanwhle Bleez and Fatality battle it out both physically and verbally, discovering along the way that they are much more alike than they think, but it's their difference in the way they have played the hands they've been dealt that defines them both.
Rankorr discovers a growing number of floating Red Lantern bodies which creates a resurgence in rage to fuel him on and consider that the ever increasing body count might be akin to a bloody bread crumb trail that could lead him directly to Abymus.
Atrocitus' blood prophecy reveals a less than positive future right before that future, in the guise of a newly rejuventated Abysmus, arrives to start the final confrontation with his creator.
The Writing -
If you can't tell by the recap of the story, this issue is all over the place trying to juggle many of the various plots that have been presented so far in this series. While it does serve to show how spread out and desparate Atrocitus and his army of rage are, it also fractures the book into a few too many pieces and the issue reads like a fractured mess. I'm not sure why we're given three pages of Guy Gardner going to Ysmault only to up and leave while something more important to the story like actually seeing the confrontation between the Star Sapphires and the Red Lanterns gets a one panel flashback and that' s the lack of narrative focus that has hurt this book thus far.
The conversation between Bleez and Fatality had the potential to be a highlight for the series, but their debate over the merits of love and hate end up being circular arguments that end up serving as a pointless debate rather than the potentially character defining moment it could have been. And like Guy's appearance Rankorr's panel time doesn't seem to serve any purpose beyond reminding us he's still there.
The Art -
For the most part I've liked what Miguel Sepulveda has done so far, but there are a number of hiccups this issue that I found distracting, but not all of them are his fault. Color mistakes like giving a Green Lantern a yellow ring are just stupid errors that really shouldn't happen, but then there are those things that just look awful. At several points in this issue Fatality's uniform is nearly backless only to have the back reappear a page later. I still can't look at Atrocitus and not think Red Skull - and I don't think Zilius Zox is looking too great this time around as well. While some of the visuals are stunning, the number of mistakes drown out the good points and I'm left wondering if artists are even given character design references or if they are just given free reign. Between this issue and last week's Green Lantern: New Guardians #10 I'm left thinking that things are being rushed to meet a deadline without looking at the quality of the end product.
What Do I Think?
While I think Red Lanterns is a better book than it started out being, this issue is a bit of a step backwards from issue ten. That's really a shame because this title seemed to be moving forward every so slowly towards something really good. While I hope this is just a little bit of setback I find that this issue is only worth two out of five lanterns.