With the Green Lantern family of books winding down their current story arcs to make way for the coming Third Army story, Red Lanterns #12 tries to bring everything to a satisfying conclusion. While there are a few bumps along the way, this issue does a good job of resolving most of what has come before it and acts as a pretty satisfying bookend to the first issue.
The Story -
Atrocitus is having his head handed to him by the Abysmus, rejuvenated by his new masters last issue. With the Red Lantern's ring running low, Dex-Starr attempts to come to his master's aid but finds himself nothing more than a minor distraction for Abysmus. In what may be his final moments, Atrocitus relives the massacre of Sector 666 and the rage at the core of his being fuels him enough to be able to send out a signal for help into space. The flare is seen by Rankorr and we see the fates of many of members of the Red Lantern Corps, falling to the disease ravaging them all and coming under fire.
|Atrocitus finds his sense of rage renewed|
On Zamoran the duel of rage versus love continues as Fatality tries to save Bleez by inducting her into the Star Sapphires, must to the disdain of Zilius Zox. Bleez perhaps for the first time questions her devotion to the red energy of rage and seriously considers Fatality's offer to save her from the plague.
Rankorr arrives in response to Atrocitus' signal and quickly turns the tide against Abysmus. Rankorr's onslaught preys on Abysmus' sense of compassion and he is momentarily weakened, allowing Atrocitus to gain the upper hand after his creation reveals that the Guardians are his new masters. With that Atrocitus reaches into Abysmus' chest cavity and removes his secret weapon, a seed created by the blood of his fellow members of the Five Inversions that had been placed inside Abymus when he was first created. Feeding Abysmus to Dex-Starr, Atrocitus returns to Ysmault and uses the seed to heal the central power battery as Rankorr fully embraces his destiny and throughout the universe the Red Lanterns begin to heal.
Back on Zamoran the wave of healing red energy allows Zilius Zox to free himself and with her rage renewed Bleez turns away from Fatality's seduction and departs with her fellow Red Lanterns. On Ysmault the Red Lanterns make their return, offering blood offerings to the central battery which helps it continue to regenerate itself. Rankorr believes he hears a voice crying for help from within his ring with an editor's note that this is tied directly to the upcoming Green Lantern Annual. The issue comes to a close as Atrocitus re-establishes himself as the leader of the Red Lanterns with a renewed sense of purpose, but unknown to everyone the use of the seed has allowed for the return of the rest of the Five Inversions right beneath their feet - and they likely are going to be looking for revenge on Atrocitus for their savage murders.
|While seeming more than a little contrived, the ramifications this causes by issue's end is pretty cool|
The Writing -
Peter Milligan does a good job of bring the most important elements of the series and resolving them in a pretty epic conclusion. While I think this could have been done more effectively with fewer issues and certainly without some of the meandering the book has suffered from, I have to give him credit for successfully bringing this to a conclusion which not only wraps up the major loose ends, but gives us a pretty surprising conclusion. I never expected that the rest of the Inversions would show up and I'm happily thinking about all the possibilities that this creates.
I'll admit that at first I really found the Abysmus story line a bit underwhelming and it was disappointing to see how quickly the tables were turned on him. But remembering that Abymus is a character who spent untold centuries with this festering anger and that he lashed out in rage and self-pity not only seems very real, but makes his fall more credible when confronted with the visage of the result of his actions.
To me the most satisfying parts of the past few issues has been watching Rankorr slowly let go of his humanity and the seduction of Bleez as she begins to question herself. Both of those storylines played out well in this issue.
|Both ends of the emotional spectrum offer their own brand of seduction|
What didn't work for me was the notion that Atrocitus had this secret weapon lurking under Abysmus' hide and so easily removed it when he could have ripped it from his chest before the Guardians stepped in. It read to me very much like a very hastily crafted deus ex machina way to resolve the plot.
The Art -
Miguel Sepulveda really did a wonderful job with this issue, giving it an epic visual style that to me make the book better than what it could have been under another artist. In particular the panel where we see Bleez from the ground level as she stood there bathed in the red glow was spectacular, as was the splashpage of Atrocitus rallying the Red Lanterns.
What Do I Think?
As has been said in the past, Red Lanterns is perhaps a book better read as a long form story versus a monthly book. Wandering at times this series has definitely been a hit or miss for most fans. However, read together one gets a sense that Red Lanterns has thus far been the exploration of the nature of rage, how it isn't too hard to be consumed by it and how one being, Atrocitus, struggles to define himself when his sole purpose for being is called into question by not only everyone around him, but from within himself.
With the second chapter of the post relaunch DCU about get underway I find myself looking forward to how Red Lanterns will fit into the mix and seeing the Five Inversions reunited, not to mention seeing how the vision of Atrocitus leading the Manhunters plays out. Issue twelve does a really good job of putting the important pieces of the puzzle together and provides some great moments for most of the recurring cast. Four out of five lanterns.