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It’s no secret that I’ve felt that Red Lanterns has been a bit of a let down and I’ve made it a point to try to let it stand on its own merits and not color my opinion with my own preconceived notion of what the title should be by focusing on what it is.  I really felt that issue 7 was a step in the right direction and that the book had finally found a focus with the arrival of Rankorr and a brewing civil war.  Issue 8 adds another plot to the mix which could render the civil war a meaningless affair as the ghosts of Atrocitus’ past comes back to haunt him in a most volatile way.

The Story –
In a form of a short flashback Abysmus makes his way to the Red Lantern central battery and taints it with one of his ribs, promising that this will pollute the Red Lanterns and destroy Atrocitus and his Corps from within.  Returning to the present moment we rejoin Rankorr and Atrocitus and Jack Moore fights to maintain his humanity against the tide of rage that swells within him.  He feels the effects of Abysmus’ attack but he is somehow able to throw off the effects and move to aid his new master Atrocitus.

Abysmus provides a change to how we might view Atrocitus and the formation of the Red Lanterns

Before he can remove the spike which impaled the leader of the Red Lanterns Zilius Zox arrives with reinforcements under the presumption that Rankorr is one of Bleez’s agents.  The rising plague manifests itself in Atrocitus and some of his Corps leading Zox to attack Rankorr and pushing him further over the brink.

Meanwhile in space Bleez learns of the newest member of the Red Lantern Corps and sends Skallox to Earth to learn more about the human, a story which will pick up in May’s issue of Stormwatch.  Speaking of Earth, the scene shifts there where Guy Gardner interrogates Baxter about Jack Moore before leaving to go to Ysmault.  
Abysmus has found a ship on Ysmault which once belonged to Iroque, a reference to Indigo-1’s identity before she became a part of the Indigo Tribe.  The failed experiment explains his origins to his minions and provides a clue that his resurrection might have been intentional.  As Abysmus makes his ascent Rankorr continues to battle Zox  while Atrocitus and Dex-Starr make their way to the central battery and the issue comes to a close with their discovery of affects of Abymus’ poison.
The Writing –
Despite how I feel about this issue as a whole there are a couple of bright spots to be found with one of them the continued inner dialogue of Jack Moore as we get to witness his descent into the darkness of being consumed by the forces of rage that flow in his veins.  I find this journey to be the best part of the series so far and to be honest I think had this been the focus from the get-go I’d be a very happy camper right now.  While I still feel that Moore’s story isn’t tragic enough to warrant his selection as a Red Lantern I find his journey to be compelling.

Jack Moore’s descent continues to be the high point of the series

There are a few interesting reveals with this issue with one being the reference to Iroque.  Way back in Green Lantern #47 in 2009 I wondered whether Indigo-1 was the child on the ship that Abin rescued in Alan Moore’s “Tygers” short story and my hunch may not have been too far off base after all.  The notion that someone dug up Abysmus is an interesting plot point as well and one has to wonder if this was an attempt to distract Atrocitus by an unknowing Bleez who may find herself a victim of her own treachery.

Something that Abymus alludes to in the opening of the issue is something that I have an issue with, however.  Abymus states that Atrocitus murdered his own people, building the Red Lantern battery from the blood of his people that died by his own hand.  I am rather hoping that he recollection is inaccurate and that Atrocitus forged the battery using the blood of the remaining members of the Five Inversions since I think the notion that he killed his own people undermines the thought that he was entirely a victim of Krona’s folly to send the Manhunters to destroy all life in the sector just to prove a point to his fellow Guardians.

A link in the connection between Abin Sur and the Indigo Tribe

While I liked the sense that we had (finally) gotten this red ship set on a specific course I finished this issue with the feeling that writer Peter Milligan has once again failed to provide a focus for the series.  Rather than elaborate on Bleez and the civil war that would have served as the main thrust to propel the book instead we have another plot thrown into the mix.  I find myself in that familiar place of feeling like I’m at an all you can eat buffet with so many things in front of me that no matter how much I might think I like the variety of the courses I’m left unsatisfied by the mediocrity of it all rather than having one stellar meal I can consume and walk away from the table feeling satisfied.

The Art –
With Ed Benes taking a break before his last issue next month the art for this issue is by Andres Guinaldo and Jorge Jimenez.  While the artwork was serviceable I was a bit disappointed by the lack of detail and background work on nearly every panel that took place on Ysmault.  This issue featured one of my biggest coloring pet peeves as well with Guy Gardner’s boot being white rather than green.  The art isn’t horrible, but it’s just average enough to not elevate the book in any way.

What Do I Think?
After eight issues I’m still struggling to find the enjoyment with Red Lanterns that I do with other books.  I really do want to love this series but I find that I’m really only reading out of wanting to keep tabs on the Red Lanterns between their appearances in the rest of the DC Universe.  Despite a couple of pieces of new information this issue is just average at best.  Three out of five lanterns.

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