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With the recent announcement that all of the creators on the Green Lantern books would be leaving and the information about the creative directions the new writers seem to be headed in, Red Lanterns looks to be the book that’s most likely to have some major changes along with Green Lantern: New Guardians.  Issue seventeen is one step closer to the end of Peter Milligan’s run and with the events that need to take place in the series between now and issue twenty there’s some concern that long building plots like the Five Inversions’ return and Rankorr’s journey that could literally get lost in the shuffle.  That said, this issue moves one of those plots along while providing us with greater background history on Krona and Atrocitus is faced with a decision that could alter him forever.

The Story – 
While the Manhunters attack Oa, Atrocitus confronts the emotional remnants of Krona deep beneath the surface of Maltus, the original home world of the Guardians of the Universe.  Krona reveals an untold chapter of his story that precedes his fall from grace, a story wherein he loses his own family to tragedy and wraps himself in guilt.  The story rattles Atrocitus, but in the end his long standing rage wins out and he continues he search for the “Great Heart”.  As Atrocitus plunges even deeper into the planet Krona encounters a new visitor, realizing a split second too late that it is the First Lantern as his essence is destroyed.
Krona’s own tragic story mirrors Atrocitus’
Back in London Rankorr witnesses a woman being pursued by an unwanted would be suitor and he feels a pang of longing to once again walk among humans.  Knowing full well that he would never be accepted  as he is, Rankorr proceeds to use his construct ability to create a false front so that he might be able to pass himself off as a normal person.
Returning to Maltus we find that the Guardians have a protective force around the “Great Heart”, the collected emotional essences of themselves.  The sentries will not allow Atrocitus to pass without being cleansed while the Manhunters are welcome guests.  While Atrocitus ponders the notion of being purged of his rage and pain the scene shifts back to London where the newly disguised Rankorr comes to the aid of the young woman and the two head off for a drink as a very mischievous Bleez looks on.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave…..
As the Manhunters encapsulate the Great Heart Atrocitus wrestles with the notion of purging himself from his emotion until the rage wins out and he takes out his anger on the sentries.  As the issue comes to a close the First Lantern appears, ready to play his game with the leader of the Red Lanterns.
The Writing –
Overall I think Peter Milligan did a good job with this particular issue.  Having Atrocitus put in this clearly disturbed state is a bit of a hard sell and it’s hard to imagine him so filled with self doubt and questioning everything he believes.  But I bought what Milligan was selling despite some early misgivings and I think it pays off in the end when rage takes over.
What I did have some trouble with was the characterization of the Manhunters.  Their dialogue seemed a bit too organic for my tastes, but I suppose that the blood magic that Atrocitus used on them to gain control could be affecting them.  I just found it a bit unnerving.  I also like the elaboration on Krona’s back story and it’s not too hard to picture someone so wracked with survivor’s guilt that it pushes them over the edge.
Now if Atrocitus were to succeed with this plan…..
The Rankorr story is still very compelling to me and I can’t wait to see the house of cards he’s built come crashing down on his head. The build up between he and Bleez is something I hope we get to see payoff before the end of this arc and Milligan departs the series.  For that matter I have some concerns that we’ll see the resolution of the return of the Inversions as well.
The Art –
Miguel Sepulveda nails it once again with the great artwork.  All I can say is that his consistency has been a blessing for this series and has held the book up when the narrative has sometimes faltered.
What Do I Think?
Red Lanterns #17 is more of a prelude to the Wrath of the First Lantern arc that anything else, but it needed to be in ordered to tie up a few loose ends.  While the sequences on Earth seem to have little bearing on the story itself it’s almost a required element knowing that there’s only a few issues left on Milligan’s run.  While this is an average book that I’d normally give three lanterns to, I think that the issue is better than other issues in the series that I’ve given that rating to, so I’m going to give it a little bit of a generous four lantern rating.

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