Two issues into Charles Soule’s run and he seems to have done something that many Green Lantern fans thought was nearly impossible – he’s turned the series around completely and made it everything we thought it was going to be. Although I think that artist Alessandro Vitti is still finding his way artistically, particularly when it comes to Guy’s face, he’s done a good job in keeping the book from going too over the top visually and when the action level rises it seems much more dramatic.
With Atrocitus dead the Red Lanterns are left leaderless and we see Rankorr step up and be a main player now that he’s finally embraced his destiny. There is a sequence when Bleez has decided that Guy Gardner as he is makes the perfect weapon, but Rankorr defies that by dumping Gardner into the Blood Ocean and directly confronting the woman who vowed to be his enemy. Soule and Vitti balance the tension and action out with humor in the very same sequence as Rankorr drops Guy in behind Bleez’s back much to the devilish delight of Zilius Zox. The moment provides a brief amount of levity to the tension while also positioning Guy Gardner to emerge more control of himself.
Rankorr asserts himself with a confidence that shows he’s fully embraced his fate
To me it’s the sense of balance that made this issue a great read. While there is certainly action and personal drama, Soule and Vitti find the opportunity for Guy to use the phrase “rocket surgery” and compare Zox to a “testicle with teeth”. Those two lines and the whole sequence where Guy asks the Red Lanterns want a roof over the heads had more humor than the first two issues of Larfleeze combined.
While the issues doesn’t have as much plot advancement as it does continuing the initial setup for the first story arc I think that’s perfectly fine given that this is all getting the title ready for Lights Out. For a great many readers Red Lanterns was a bit of a mess and the new creative team needs a few issues to get some very basic things set right with readers before they move on – and they are doing it in a highly entertaining fashion.
Guy is setting himself up as an authority figure and I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before his fall. Given his history of getting himself into trouble and what we learn of Atrocitus’ fate it’s just a matter of time and I think the inevitable comeuppance is going to be amazing. There’s still that nagging question in my mind of whether Guy left the Green Lantern Corps on this mission entirely faithful to them or if he’s really made the personal decision that this is what is best for him. I’m enjoying the mystery so far and I have a high degree of faith in the new team that this particular point will be executed well.
Zox and Guy are nuts!
Speaking of Atrocitus, there is the question of how Dex-Starr is able to accomplish what he seems to in the closing moments of the issue. While the Red Lantern rings don’t have the ability that is shown, Atrocitus isn’t just any Red Lantern and I would not be surprised to see a deep connection between the blood magic used to form the Corps and Atrocitus himself that puts him in a different position that anyone else. So I’m not judging the scene as anything more than a moment shown without context for dramatic purposes. With the arrival of The Butcher next month I’m hopeful we’ll learn more about that and much, much more.
Red Lanterns #22 is a great read with a well paced story that has all the right amounts of action, character development and humor served up with great visuals. If not for some of the art with regard to Guy’s facial features I’d like make this the first issue of Red Lanterns with a perfect score, but with a minor ding for that particular issue I give it four out of five lanterns.