Here Comes the Judge!
When Charles Soule cast Atrocitus aside as the leaders of the Red Lanterns back in issue 21 most readers knew it was only going to be a matter of time before we’d see Atrocitus return and there would be a day of reckoning for Guy Gardner. Nine issues later and that day is nearly upon us with the first part of “Judgement Day”, an issue which introduces a new ring bearer who causes a race to see which faction of the Red Lanterns will be able to recruit her first.
The issue opens on the planet Primeen and Sheko, a young woman who embraces her new role as judge, jury and executioner, but after decades of service Sheko finds that the corruption which has so deluded the planet’s system of justice has completely failed. When she finds herself in a position of serving justice to the treacherous son of the king her sense of idealism crashes head on into that corruption, leading to her demise as the hand of her closest aide.
|The story of Sheko’s fall and rise as the Judge was compelling and visually powerful
Soule’s script sets the stage wonderfully for Sheko’s inevitable induction into the Red Lantern Corps and Alessandro Vitti’s amazing visuals really sell the power that Sheko wields once she’s overtaken by the blind fury of rage and vengeance. Contrasting with that is the parallel running arc of Guy Gardner and the Red Lanterns, where the reader experiences the “new” Bleez who has clearly been changed by recent events.
Supergirl’s injection into the series pays dividends in this issue as she and Bleez have some of the best moments of the issue. Bleez finally have another woman to talk to and Kara finds a kindred spirit in her winged counterpart. Kara fits rather well with the rest of the team and Guy has done the smart thing by not treating her like a teenager, paving the way for Kara to find a place where she’s valued for who she is and not for what everyone thinks she’s supposed to be. In what is a clearest definition of the purpose of the Red Lanterns, Bleez succinctly sums up why the Red Lanterns have a place in the universe with a noble role to fulfill that comes at a great personal cost.
Soule also plants some seeds of discourse with Skallox which puts the reader in the mindset that not everyone will side with Guy when the clash happens. While Gardner has certainly made his mark with Atrocitus’ former followers, the one time leader still casts a very imposing shadow that will challenge any loyalty that Guy might have built.
|Kara and Bleez find what they need in each other and a new friendship is born.
The bulk of the issue is drawn by James Calafiore and his style blends nicely with Vitti’s so that the reader doesn’t notice when the changes occur too much and that’s helped along by dividing the art chores between each location. The book looks very conhesive.
Rankorr’s fate is left up in the air but one has to assume that he was overcome by Atrocitus’ forces and with Klarn not accompanying Atrocitus and Dex-Starr to Primeen we could assume that Rankorr is being held and overseen by Klarn somewhere. Something to note is that this story arc crosses over with the Supergirl title and readers are aren’t currently following that series will want to pick up Supergirl #31 in a few weeks as the story continues there.
I have to say that so far I’m really enjoying Kara’s time with the Red Lanterns and any concern over adding her to the title disappeared rather quickly. Soule has continued to make Red Lanterns a must read for me and this issue is a shining example of what he’s brought to the title. This issue felt much longer to me, in a good way, because the story felt very dense and the twenty pages neither dragged nor read too quickly. I really enjoyed the introduction of The Judge and the character moments for Bleez and Kara which is why I’m giving Red Lanterns #30 five out of five lanterns.