Red Lanterns issue fourteen marks the end of the first half of the “Rise of the Third Army” as Atrocitus and his army survive their first clash with this new galactic threat. Along the way Atrocitus comes up with a battle plan to get his final revenge against the Guardians of the Universe and Rankorr comes to the realization that he can never go back to what he was before the red ring found him.
The Story –
Continuing from last month’s issue
, Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns are in the thick of it with the Third Army on the planet Arhtky after discovering a potential weakness in their foes. Given the directive to target the eyes of the Third Army the Red Lantern gain the upper hand, except for Rankorr who has trouble taking another life, especially when he perceives some remnants of the soul of Taya, the poor girl who was assimilated last month. In the end the human Red Lantern puts it aside and employs the tactic despite his misgivings.
|Rankorr struggles to fully accept what it means to be one of the Red.
Departing for Ysmault with some of the remains, Atrocitus performs some blood magic on them to learn not only their connection to the Guardians of the Universe but also of their ignorance of non-organic matter. As Atrocitus hands out missions to Bleez, Zilius Zox, Dex-Starr and Skallox to strengthen their weakened central power battery they are attacked by a mutated creature which emerges from the blood ocean, leading to the conclusion that they need a synthetic armor to fight against the Third Army.
With Ratchet left behind to guard their battery Rankorr is sent to Earth to face the source of his rage in hopes that it will allow him to at last become a “true” Red Lantern. Bleez chooses to join him and the two are followed by the revenge driven Dex-Starr who has the memory of his defeat by Midnighter from issue ten
foremost in his feline mind. Upon their arrival on Earth Rankorr is stunned by how small everything seems to him now, leading to a bit of reflective conversation between the human and Bleez.
|Atrocitus realizes that their future lies in his past
Atrocitus arrives on Ryut with the goal of finding the remains of the Manhunters who destroyed his planet to use to create his synthetic army. The wounds of the past boil to the surface quickly and suddenly it seems as if Atrocitus is forced to relive the destruction of his world once again as the issue comes to a close with hundreds of Manhunters raining down upon the planet.
The Writing –
Now that all the Red Lanterns seem to have the ability to carry on an intelligent conversation there’s the opportunity for the cast to interact to a greater degree and we see this used throughout the issue to varying degrees of success. In some cases the dialogue borders on the cliche but entertaining nonetheless as when Bleez comments on her typecasting, but other times it add layers to what could otherwise have been a two dimensional story. Rankorr’s moments on Earth with Bleez serve as high points in the issue as does the whole sequence that leads off the issue when Rankorr wrestles with the notion of intentionally taking a life.
This leads me to wonder if the reason why Rankorr has been able to create constructs is in part due to the fact that he hasn’t avenged his grandfather’s death and therefore hasn’t completely given in to rage. I find that an interesting part of the character’s exploration and wonder if we’ll see him draw the line now that he’s found out just how small his world was before his transformation and that revenge doesn’t quite hold as much value to him anymore.
|Rankorr finds Earth so much smaller than when he left it
While I’m more than past the point of wanting to relive the destruction of Ryut yet again I am intrigued to learn why the past has come alive for Atrocitus. There’s a notion lingering in my head that this has something to do with the rest of the Inversions lurking under the surface of the planet and that they are behind the rat creature being mutated and attacking the Red Lanterns. It might very well be me just looking for something that isn’t there, but it would make some degree of sense to have them somehow influencing events prior to their full reveal.
The Art –
Miguel Sepulveda by and large does a great job this issue despite a few quirky moments. I feel that he continues to struggle with keeping Atrocitus’ proportions under control and there is one panel in particular right at the start of the issue where his size is so massive in comparison to everyone else that it borders on the ludicrous. That and the rotated Red Lantern logo on the rings served as the major complaints in what otherwise is a visually compelling issue.
What Do I Think?
This issue is certainly one of the better issues of Red Lanterns in my opinion and hopefully it is the start of trend. This issue delves further into the nature of sacrificing one’s more nobler traits when rage takes hold while continuing to advance the “Rise of the Third Army” story. Despite some less that wonderful dialogue in places and an art goof or two Red Lanterns #14 is a good read, but not a great one. Three out of five lanterns.