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When I declare war, you will know.”

This week’s Red Lanterns #31 continues the tug of war between Guy Gardner’s gang and Atrocitus over the newest member of their Corps, The Judge. The story continues from issue thirty after a slight detour over to Supergirl #31.  For those that didn’t read the issue you really didn’t need to, you just need to know that Guy’s faction of the Red Lanterns split up to find The Judge and while Zilius Zox was sent back to the ship Guy and Skallox tried their best to not retaliate against the attacking forces from Primeen, Supergirl encounters The Judge having left the weakened Bleez behind.  The encounter is pretty uneventful but Kara comes up with the idea to dowse The Judge with a sampling of the blood ocean they are carrying on the ship to try to prevent her from trashing the entire planet, leaving an opening for Atrocitus and Dex-Starr.  You can read a full review of that issue from our good friends over at DC Infinite.

Soule creates an opportunity for Kara to learn from her mistakes and for Guy to demonstrate his leadership.

Writer Charles Soule takes the baton back from Supergirl‘s Tony Bedard and starts the issue off with the Judge trying to pass judgement on Atrocitus, something she did with bloody efficiency in Kara’s book.  Her inability to get in Atrocitus’ head causes her to pause, allowing Atrocitus to make his case for her to stand by his side as perhaps the most powerful Red Lantern yet.  Soule has done a superb job with The Judge, making her an instant favorite with fans and it will be interesting to see how her baptism in blood affects her going forward.  Rankorr is present in name only; a bargaining chip that Atrocitus uses to no effect when trying to get The Judge on his side of the coming war.

Soule is very effective at ratcheting up the tension between Guy and Atrocitus when the two come face to face, keeping the heat between them from barely boiling over while building anticipation for the conflict that will be unfolding in the months to come.  He also uses Kara’s impulsive nature against her and creates a moment for her to consider how she chooses to channel her emotions, a further step forward in her own growth during her stint as a part of this series.  I did find myself questioning Bleez a little since she was fully aware of what the ramifications were when Kara set out to literally make the skies rain blood – giving Atrocitus an powerful weapon to use against them – that I felt her motives might be suspect.  In the end I chalked it up to her not thinking quite as clearly as she should given her weakened state.
Them’s fightin’ words!
Visually Alessandro Vitti and James Califiore get to unleash a lot of mayhem on Primeen, even creating a “bloodnado” for Atrocitus to wield as a weapon and then upping the coolness even more when Supergirl errs in judgement and uses her heat vision to set it on fire in an attempt to destroy it and transforming it into an even more powerful “flaming bloodnado”.  The two also do a good job at conveying the narrow spectrum of emotions in this issue which definitely adds some punch to the scenes, especially for The Judge as she realizes what she was doing while not completely in control of her faculties and finding herself suddenly both regretful and contemplative about her own future.
In the end neither side gets to claim The Judge as their prize and she is left on Primeen to pass judgement on herself and decide her own fate while Atrocitus has promised to kill Rankorr, setting us up for next month’s issue and perhaps the moment when Atrocitus and Guy Gardner will turn their war of words into a full on battle for the future of the Red Lanterns.  Red Lanterns #31 gets four out of five lanterns for an issue that is filled with a great deal of action yet still provides some great characterization.
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