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The Rise of the Third Army is nearly at a close and this week’s Red Lanterns #16 is Atrocitus’ last chance to gather his army to seek revenge against the Guardians of the Universe.  When we last saw the leader of the Red Lanterns, Atrocitus was on Ryutt surrounded by a bunch of Manhunters left beneath the surface after their attack millennia ago.

The Story –
Under the instruction of an Alpha Manhunter (?) the surrounding horde of Manhunters attack Atrocitus, but the Red Lantern makes quick work of the leader and they suddenly stop attacking, allowing Atrocitus to make his play for leadership.
On Earth, Rankorr is on the verge of taking revenge on his grandfather’s killer, but Bleez tries to appeal to the human’s darker nature by proposing a long, slow death for him.  When that fails and Rankorr strikes him down a vision of his grandfather arises to chastise Rankorr for not following Bleez’s idea.
Back on Ryutt, Atrocitus kills a number of creatures that also lie under the surface and uses their blood to mark and control the Manhunters, sending them off to Oa. The task leaves the Red Lantern weak, wondering what’s keeping their central power battery from gaining strength under the watchful, um eye of Rachet.
Speaking of Rachet, the intellectual Red Lantern has burrowed beneath the surface of Ysmault in search of the source for the power drain on the battery having abandoned his notion that the planet was suffering from a form of anemia.  Ratchet eventually falls into the clutches of Roixaeume and the rest of the Inversions.
Ratchet discovers the secret of the Red Lantern’s power battery issue
Bleez’s friendly overtures to Rankorr are revealed to be nothing more than veiled attempts for power by getting him to share his blood with her so that she might be able to create constructs with her ring.  Bleez pours on the vixen routine to try to seal the deal, but Rankorr rejects her, and we all the one about a woman scorned and she makes sure he knows she is now his greatest threat.
The Manhunters arrive on Oa while Atrocitus has traveled to Maltus, the original homeworld of the Guardians and the Zamarons.  Deep under the surface Atrocitus and a small group of Manhunters discover what the Guardians hid there, a repository of sorts, containing what appears to be either the consciousness of the Guardians or a number of artificial intelligences representing the Guardians in a time before the Green Lantern Corps.  As the issue comes to a close Atrocitus is confronted by the living memory of none other than Krona.
The Writing –
I never thought I’d ever hear the words “Thank You” or “we’re going to have to learn to get along” ever appear in a word balloon attached to Atrocitus, but in this issue you have both.  For a being of rage Atrocitus sure seemed to talk alot this issue but I guess when surrounded by a bunch of robots all one can do it talk to oneself.  
The unusual concept of an Alpha Manhunter aside I enjoyed seeing Atrocitus take control of his new army, however what’s really missing is the payoff in seeing him lead them in an assault on Oa.  The decision to go to Maltus seems like an uncharacteristic decision for the Red Lantern and, in my mind at least, I can’t see Atrocitus choosing this course of action.  Making a pitstop on Maltus on his way to Oa, sure, but he’s the kind of being who wouldn’t send an army off to do something he himself has used as fuel for some many thousands of years.
In what might be perceived as a backwards step for Bleez I can totally see her slipping into a convenient means of operating given what little she knows about Rankorr and her wanting to pounce on him at a weak moment to get what she wants.  Despite her time with Fatality she is what she is and here she embraces her past to delightfully negative results.  
Bleez tries to work her way into Rankorr’s blood
The biggest plot point for me in this issue was Atrocitus’ journey to Maltus.  For those unfamiliar with Guardian history, Maltus is the planet that they are originally from, the mainly male counterparts to the female of the species, who at least in Pre-Crisis continuity left to become the Zamarons.  Atrocitus’ discovery in this issue might not seem like much, but in the greater context of the Green Lantern universe it may be the seed for a mythology altering event depending on where things go.
Here are a few ways I’m looking at this that makes me believe this a major event.  One option might be that these are their “true consciousness”  of the Maltusans which, for as yet unknown reasons, were put there when the Guardians tried to purge themselves of emotion as part of their atonement for Krona’s actions.  The Wrath of the First Lantern could lead to a reunification of the Guardians with their “lost” beings, resulting in the Guardians getting a second chance to make up for poor decision making caused by their choice to abandon their emotions rather than master them.
Another thought it that there are living recordings of what the Maltusan were like eons ago.  Should these memory recordings be overwritten on the Guardians it would essentially “reboot” them and we’d have a completely different set of Guardians to rule the Corps.  But perhaps the most interesting thought to jump into my head is a chamber like this one on Oa where the essences of the Maltusans become the new Guardian council under the care of the Hidden Ones still huddled away in the Chamber of Shadows.
These are only a few of ways out of I’m sure dozens that could possibly evolve from this one story point and while I think it’s a shame that there’s not a more dramatic revelation I kind of like the fact that it’s being downplayed now and watching it possibly emerging as a something that shapes the fabric of the mythology down the road.
There’s a lot of potential for Atrocitus’ discovery
I also felt that the whole Dex-Starr subplot was left dangling out there with no payoff at all, further making his brief appearance last month seem like a complete afterthought and a waste of pages.  Perhaps we’ll see the rage kitty in Wrath of the First Lantern event but it will seem strangely out of place if and when it gets revisited.

The Art –
I’m not sure why Miguel Sepulveda didn’t work on the interiors for this issue despite his name being on his great cover for this issue.  Andres Guinaldo and Bit step in to do the pencils and inks for him and while they do a good job they aren’t quite on the same level as Sepulveda.  I particularly didn’t like Guinaldo’s take on the Manhunters with their fabric looking pants.  His take on the Inversions was also a bit off base not to mention that there are two too many.
What Do I Think?
Red Lanterns #16 is an average issue for the most part with perhaps a little too much dialogue and some questionable script decisions held together by some unremarkable art.  But with a potentially major reveal at the end it’s not the worst way that the Red Lanterns title could have finished up their part in the Rise of the Third Army.  Perhaps a generous three out of five lanterns.

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