With Guy Gardner’s bid for his own sector at the end of Lights Out in effect, it’s time for the Red Lanterns to celebrate in issue twenty five, but it’s not long before Guy’s not so merry band is up to their necks in trouble and there’s even more mayhem on the horizon as Atrocitus begins his return. Charles Soule continues to transform this series from forgettable to one that Green Lantern fans can’t ignore and I hope that readers who abandoned the series give the book another chance while we’re fortunate to have have Soule at the helm.
As the Red Lanterns revel in the freedom to patrol sector 2814 without interference the rowdy band find themselves in a state of stupor, except for Ratchet that is. Ratchet’s ring calls to him, perhaps as a call back to his time with the Inversions or a strange new foe, and before long Ratchet proposes that the Red Lanterns establish themselves prominently by going after a warlord named Gensui, an acquaintance of Barg, the man Gardner defeated on his way to taking his ship as a mobile base.
A secondary plot of this issue revolves around Atrocitus and Dex-Starr who are in search of a new ring for the deposed leader of the Red Lanterns. In what is perhaps the best moment in Soule’s run the rage kitty of Earth says what many fans have thought about Atrocitus’ sad state lately, calling the once feared being a baby. It’s both hysterically funny and a sober commentary on the loss of Atrocitus’ mojo that helped make an otherwise distracting subplot far more enjoyable. One can only hope that we get back the being who embodied wrath and doled out the harshest form of justice this side of The Spectre.
Amen, brother kitty, amen!
Atrocitus’ status is symbolic of what the Red Lanterns needed to have done to them to sustain an ongoing series. The mindless wraths as Geoff Johns created them was fine for their guest appearances, but in a monthly book it proved too much for Peter Milligan to sustain in the long term. Soule ratchets down the righteous rage a little bit so that there’s room for characterization to develop and create lighthearted opportunities to balance out the violence that is synonymous with the Red Lanterns. There’s a fine line that Soule needs to walk here but I have so far had no reason to question whether or not he’s able to keep the balance right in the long haul.
With the hungover Red Lanterns trying to infiltrate Gensui’s lair at the suggestion of Ratchet it’s no wonder that the whole plan backfires on the final page when it’s revealed that Barg is not only alive, but kicking it up with Gensui. This sets the stage for the next issue when Guy and the Red Lanterns will have to figure out how to deal with going from the frying pan to the fire.
Soule effectively inserts character driven humor into a book about beings ruled by anger
Artistically this issue looks great, especially the awesome cover that Alessandro Vitti provides for the issue. Vitti doesn’t waste the background space, providing detail which adds a lot of character to the scenes. His work on Dex-Starr wonderfully conveys the disappointment and frustration the cat feels towards his master.
Overall Red Lanterns #25 is a winner, using the down time to add some levity and character to the cast before plunging them back into action. While the Atrocitus subplot seems extraneous it is important to keep track of his actions as his path begins to wind back towards an intersection with his former followers. Red Lanterns has finally become a book really worth your $2.99 and I hope that the creative turnaround is reflected in the book’s sales. Four out of five lanterns.