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Red Lanterns ended last month on a high note, providing an interesting study in human nature and setting the stage for what could be an awesome conclusion to Atrocitus’ story.  Given the hit and miss track record of the series I was really rooting for this issue to be the home run this title really needs.  Unfortunately the penultimate issue in Peter Milligan’s run comes up short on living up to the potential this issue had.

The Story – 
Rankorr opens the issue as he tries to explain his ruse to Kim, the young woman he courted while disguising himself as a regular human.  Kim rejects Rankorr and he returns to confront Bleez for outing him last issue and she once again makes a move to get his blood so she can gain the ability to make constructs.  Their ensuing fight is interrupted by Atrocitus’ call for action and his sacred order that his Red Lantern Corps destroy him despite the protestations from his Manhunters.
Atrocitus sets plans in motion for his own demise……kind of
Around the universe the Red Lantern Corps responds to their new directive differently, with some such as Zilius Zox almost unwilling to kill their leaders while others like Bleez and Dex-Starr willing to follow the order.  The Five Inversions continue to play with Ratchet, however in the end they decide to let him go in order to carry out Atrocitus’ mission and soon Atrocitus is surrounded by Red Lanterns who begin to dish out vengeance on him.
Bleez and Rankorr enter the battle, but something Rankorr says resonates with Atrocitus as he waits for his former comrades to finish killing him that changes his course, and soon he begins feeding off the rage of others.  As Atrocitus grows stronger and reneges on his order claiming that for the first time he truly feels the rage of his followers instead of being blinded by his own anger.  His admission turns the tide and the issue closes with the entire Red Lantern Corps heads for Oa.
Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of the Five Inversions
The Writing –
I have to say that I was left a little perplexed by this issue and where Peter Milligan is going with the story of Atrocitus.  I was rather looking forward to him being killed, honorably sacrificing himself for his decisions and bringing his story full circle in a fitting ending.  What really has me scratching my head is how in issues past Atrocitus dished out vengeance as a form of “hyper-justice”, avenging those who were unjustly punished by others.  Now we’re supposed to believe that this was all just an act because Atrocitus in the end is apparently too consumed by his own rage to feel anything else.
The plot at this point just unraveled for me and between that and the awkward nature of Manhunters who seem a little too organic I was never able to fully engage this issue.  As I’ve commented before this title does read better when you read several issues together, so maybe when the Wrath of the First Lantern concludes I’ll think differently of the book on another read through.
Atrocitus has a change of heart
The Art –
Will Conrad steps in for this issue with very mixed results.  His style doesn’t convey the sheer raw power of the Red Lanterns like Miguel Sepulveda does and for the most part the facial work fails to convey any real emotion.  Zilius Zox in particular is painful on the eyes.
What Do I Think?
Red Lanterns #19 pulls a bit of a bait and switch on the reader, but rather than providing a satisfying alternative to what we’re led to expect it ends up being a hollow experience.  For a series that should be powerful and something intense to read Red Lanterns lacks the punch is should be delivering.  The art does little to elevate a perplexing script.  Two out of five lanterns.

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