Red Lanterns #15 Review

Red Lanterns #15 is the first new Lantern title of 2013 and this issue sets the stage for Atrocitus’ resurrection of the Manhunters.  Meanwhile Rankorr learns that going home again isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be and the evil lurking beneath the surface of Ysmault festers and grows.


The Story –

The issue opens with a brief scene between Skallox and Zilius Zox and their differing levels of faith in their leader, Atrocitus, who on the next page begins to confront the visions in his mind that force him to relive once again the destruction of Ryut.  Hidden beneath the surface lay not the remains of the Manhunters themselves and soon the Red Lanterns’ leader has them unearthed as he contemplates using them to bolster his own weakened forces to take on the Guardians and their new Third Army.

Alas poor Manhunter…..

On Earth Bleez and Rankorr arrive and Jack Moore learns that his brother Ray has totally gone off the deep end in the wake of Jack’s transformation and the loss of their grandfather.  Seeing his older brother’s life in shambles sparks Rankorr’s rage and sets him and Bleez off in search of his grandfather’s killer while elsewhere Dex-Starr seeks his vengeance against Midnighter for the thrashing he was given in issue ten.

Rankorr and Bleez catch up with Baxter and his police escort, the man Rankorr scared for life in their last confrontation.  Just as Rankorr is about to get his retribution the scene shifts to Ysmault where Skallox and Zox have returned to taunt Ratchet while providing blood to help heal their central power battery.  Ratchet’s time observing and protecting the battery has led to a growing belief that there is a disease which is feeding off of the energy in the battery and their rings, all the while below the surface the recently revived Five Inversions laugh in secret knowing that they are the source of the problem as they siphon off the energy they need to return in full force.

The issue comes to a close back on Ryut where Atrocitus has used his blood magic to re-activate the Manhunters, but his attempt to control them backfires as they turn on him in the closing moments.  The last image we see is Atrocitus being blasted by the newly re-energized Manhunters that surround him.

The Five Inversions continue their return to life

The Writing –
Peter Milligan is juggling four different plots in this issue with varied degrees of success.  While the continued development of the Five Inversions keeps the foreshadowing of their impending return from slipping too far into the background, Dex-Starr’s appearance seems superfluous and poses an unnecessary distraction which doesn’t really pay off.  Meanwhile the notion that the Manhunters are simply buried under the surface of Ryut  waiting for someone to uncover them seems all too convenient.  Any dramatic potential for the issue’s closing moments is undermined by previously the seen image of Atrocitus leading his army of the Manhunters.

If there’s a strength to be found in this issue it’s in the continued development of Rankorr.  His journey continues to be a compelling one and to see what has become of his brother Ray provides a moment to pity Jack and how his life and the lives of his family have been affected by a senseless act of violence.  Rankorr continues to struggle with the rage that consumes him and threatens to leave him without his humanity as he wrestles with his feelings of regret for his previous actions against the policeman and the burning anger that eventually overwhelms him.

Rankorr’s journey continues to be the best part of Red Lanterns

With Red Lanterns one issue away from the conclusion of this group-wide story line it’s clear that there will be no resolution to the Rise of the Third Army, an event that isn’t an event so much as a bridge between the status quo and the Wrath of the First Lantern which begins in March.  While I continue to look forward to Volthoom’s wrath I think this particular story arc will not go down in Green Lantern history as the major event we all thought it would be and in hindsight will likely be considered as something that didn’t quite live up to the hype, sacrificing story potential for a mandated timeline that hindered the writers.

That said, Milligan is doing the best with what he has and while it’s not clear yet why some of these elements are all in play I have some degree of hope that there will be a payoff worth the time investment by the time all is said and done.

The Art –
Miguel Sepulveda is the star of this series to me with his art not only supporting the script but elevating it.  His visuals are dramatic and engaging and he has in my opinion done a great job creating the tone for this series.  While I’m not quite sure how I feel about the skeletal teeth on the Manhunters I certainly admit that it is an intriguing and unnerving look.

What Do I Think?
On the surface it appears that little is happening in Red Lanterns #15 and if I had to tell someone what the issue is about I think I could sum it up in one short sentence what appears to have any importance.  It’s no wonder that Red Lanterns is the poorest selling of the Lantern books and one has to think that someone in a decision making capacity isn’t looking at this title and asking how to improve the sales numbers.  On paper Red Lanterns should be a hit book but it has yet to really grab hold for most comic readers.  This issue is one that you could pass and probably not be left behind in the overall narrative.  Three out of five lanterns.

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About the author

Life long Green Lantern fan and co-host of the Podcast of Oa. I’m a Barbecue snob and aficionado of blues music. Hal Jordan is my co-pilot!

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