Red Lanterns #26 Review

Atrocitus gets his mojo back while the Reds lose one of their own.

If you’d asked me a year ago I would have told you that I thought Red Lanterns would be cancelled by issue twenty-five based on the book’s sales and the overwhelmingly negative fan reaction to the series.  But here we are at issue twenty-six and this series is getting a lot of praise from the same people who were disappointed with, myself included.  The reason for the turnaround can be summed up in two words: Charles Soule.
This issue concludes the Red Lanterns first campaign as the sole lantern corps in Sector 2814 with Guy Gardner and crew are thoroughly caught in the well constructed trap of Gensui.  Soule does a superb job of weaving some humor and wit into the narrative by taking the Red Lanterns and putting them in a situation where they are, well, high is probably the first adjective that comes to mind.  On the surface that sounds like forced humor, but Soule makes everything fit in nicely by intelligently crafting a story where the bad guy has done his research and found a way to negate the power of the Red Lanterns by putting them in a state where their rage is so suppressed they cannot use their rings.  In doing so the Reds are in a nearly doped up state and they start making comments that provide humor without doing it at the expense of the integrity of the character.  (Yeah, Larfleeze, I’m looking at you!)

Soule finds creative ways to interject humor without undermining his characters

Balancing out the lighter tone is a tragic element and we get some real strong characterization as Ratchet meets his demise.  I initially thought that the panel with Ratchet talking to his ring in issue #25 was a residual connection to the Inversions but Soule does something far more clever by using Peter Milligan’s back story for Ratchet and realizing that the Red Lantern Corps was the answer to his rage.  Just as Atrocitus lost his connection to his rage after the death of the Guardians, Ratchet found in his Corps the companionship that he sorely needed but was not allowed by his own society.  Ratchet gets a wonderfully touching send off and illustrates the promise that this series has always had.  And we already know where that power ring is going!

Dex-Starr and Atrocitus, on the other hand, get little page time which I think is a good thing, especially when what time they do get finally puts Atrocitus back in line with the strengths of the character.  The big bad Red Lantern is back and I’m looking forward to the reunion he’s going to have with his former followers.  What I think will be most interesting is how the Red Lanterns will react given that Guy has really done a much better job of leading them in the short time he’s been in charge and I can see how some of them might be more inclined to back Gardner in a fight for control.

Finally Atrocitus gets his groove back

Zilius Zox proves once again to be a great character when written well and he’s another example of how Soule is deftly able to balance the sinister nature of the character with the buffoon nature he tends to exhibit.  In the end Zox saves the day and the Red Lanterns have their first official tally on the win side albeit at a tragic cost.

Jim Calafiore jumps on for this issue and he does a great job of backing up Soule’s script with great imagery.  Red Lanterns has become one of my favorite comics over all and I’m so glad that we have a creative team which has found the proper tone and voice for the series.  Issue twenty-six is a great read and gets four 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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