Red Lanterns #20 Review

Red Lanterns has had a strange journey since its inception, between a wandering sense of direction to feeling like there is no direction at all.  Atrocitus, once considered once of the most popular characters created by Geoff Johns in his tenure with this corner of the DC Universe, no longer seems to be quite the draw he once was.  However as with all the twentieth issues in the Green Lantern family of books there is a sense of closure as we reach the end of an era.

The Story – 
The issue opens on Oa during the immediate aftermath of Volthoom’s attack as Atrocitus finds his way to the Guardians only to find that Sinestro has killed them all but one which he has left for the Red Lantern to take out his revenge on.  As Atrocitus goes in hot pursuit of the last Guardian (well, except for Ganthet and Sayd), the scene shifts all too quickly back to Earth where Kim unsuccessfully fends off her offensive suitor, Stephen.
Back on Ysmault the Inversions try to assault the Red Lantern central battery but find their magic ineffective against them.  Bleez and the Red Lanterns return having been sent away by Atrocitus in Green Lantern #20 and the Inversions flee with their tentacles between their legs when confronted by Bleez.  With Atrocitus having apparently stepped away from his Corps Bleez is the obvious choice to succeed him.  Oddly Bleez doesn’t jump at the chance, instead pointing to….Rankorr?  The human Red Lantern still hasn’t fully embraced his new life and questions exactly what he has become.
The return of the Inversions lacks the punch that the buildup would have us expect
Back on Oa Atrocitus catches his prey and the Guardian wallows in guilt while he squirms in the Red Lantern’s grip.  Atrocitus puts an end to the Guardian in grisly fashion and ends his journey of thousands of years.  Rankorr returns to Earth and finds Kim battered and bruised before whisking her away to confront Stephen.  Rankorr’s form of justice repulses Kim and she casts him off in disgust, effectively pushing him to embrace his new identity and killing Stephen out of spite.
Atrocitus travels back to Ysmault and Bleez quickly abdicates any short lived authority she had over the Red Lanterns.  Rankorr arrives as the issue comes to a close having chosen his path.
The Writing –
Great runs come from the perfect marriage between character and creator, and while I have no doubt that Peter Milligan is a good writer there’s been no shortage of criticism leveled at this run from all corners of the Internet.  I’m not sure if it’s as much a bad marriage as it might be the role of this book in the greater Green Lantern universe conflicting with the story he has been trying to tell.  While Red Lanterns seem to read better in blocks of issues rather than as a monthly book, it’s disheartening to look back at these past twenty issues and see any real signs that these characters have evolved since issue one.
Atrocitus finally exacts his revenge that was thousands of years in the making
In fact I think other than the creation of Rankorr and however we interpret Atrocitus’ journey the only real contribution to the characters that comes to mind is that the Red Lanterns no longer function as nonsensical rage obsessed creatures.  This issue does indeed put Atrocitus in a different mindset now that he has finally gotten the revenge that has been his goal for so, so long.  With Guy Gardner’s impending arrival in this title it’s a coin toss to know what future might hold for Rankorr in terms of whether or not he’ll be a major fixture in the title or simply fade into the background.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment to me is seeing the Inversions return only to have them dispatched so easily before they have a chance to confront Atrocitus.  It’s certainly a plot thread that Charles Soule certainly can opt to continue, but it seems like so much unfinished business for Milligan to go to the trouble to resurrect them only to push them aside when he must have had something in mind for them.
Only time will tell if Rankorr continues to be an emerging star or he disappears into the background
Milligan does manage to wrap up his other subplots by juggling the three different stories and it works for the most part, but sometimes the transitions between the three scenes causes a disconnect that undermines the issue overall.  The conclusion to Milligan’s run is not on the same level as the other Lantern family books, but it’s not the worst conclusion to a run I’ve ever read, either.
The Art –
Will Conrad is back again for this issue and along with his return comes many of the same issues noted in the last issue.  Conrad isn’t a particularly bad artist, but he doesn’t create the same powerfully dynamic images that Miguel Selpulveda has brought us and it’s a shame that he wasn’t able to return for the finale.  
What Do I Think?
With this issue we conclude Peter Milligan’s run on Red Lanterns.  Largely disliked by fans and plagued with mediocre sales there are many who thought this title wouldn’t last very long.  The title’s Wrath of the First Lantern epilogue effectively brings closure to the characters journey up to this point with the exception of the the return of the Inversions who are once again free to terrorize a universe which has changed greatly since they last walked among the living.  While issue twenty doesn’t quite create the same sense of satisfaction that the rest of the book in the family does, it does manage to deliver.  Three out of five lanterns.
  

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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