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“They do not deserve clemency. Nor do I.”

If we didn’t know any better it would be easy to think that Red Lanterns #34 was the last issue of Charles Soule’s run due to the sense of finality it has and how nicely tied in a bow it all seems.  While that’s certainly not the case this issue clearly ends a chapter in the Book of Rage and it’s unclear what the future holds for the Red Lanterns moving forward.  While this issue is satisfying, providing a lot of action and moments to cheer, there’s more than moment that will leave readers scratching their heads.

To focus on the positive, it’s great to see that Skallox has more loyalty than anyone would have given him credit for and I for one was happy to be wrong about him this time.  Like Zox before him Skallox is given a moment to shine before he meets his destiny and it’s hard to think about how this title will move forward without what their dynamic has brought to the series.  As Guy and Bleez prepare for the coming assault of Atrocitus it’s rewarding to see how their relationship has grown since she first discovered that he was a spy.  There are a lot of those kinds of moments in this issue which provide readers with much to be happy with.  Alessandro Vitti and James Calafiore provide the art for the issue and their styles blend together well to create a cohesive presentation that is very pleasing to the eye.  Seeing how Guy takes on Atrocitus has visually spectacular and the wink and a nod to Emerald Twilight was great to see.

Things go from bad to worse for Guy Gardner and his Red Lanterns.
There are some things here though that I find myself having a really hard time with. While I suppose it’s not too much of a leap to think that Skallox and the Shadow Thief had enough time together to be a thing, there are some nagging questions about some of the plot points that I simply cannot overlook.  While the whole blood magic thing could be used to explain a lot of things that don’t make logical sense, I really can’t get passed the image of Guy Gardner taking his ring off and starting to die as we would expect giving what we know about how the Red Lanterns work and parsing that with the same thing not happen to Atrocitus and Dex-Starr moments later.  They, and all the human beings who’s rings were taken by Guy should be dead – didn’t Gardner just commit mass murder!?  
The Judge’s actions were puzzling at best and the lack of anything to explain how she came to her conclusion made it hard to decide whether she had done some soul  searching and found her own lack of making a stand led to her own guilty verdict or whether she just plain went off the deep end.  I’d like to think the former and that’s how I’m choosing to think of it but just a little exposition would be nice.  
I’m not sure where this issue leaves the series.  With Guy on Earth does the book focus on him while Bleez and Rankorr, the last two remaining Red Lanterns, rebuild the Corps now that they have a new blood ocean to help de-craze the new recruits?  We know that Guy plays a part in the upcoming Godhead story that follows next month’s line-wide Future’s End event, so it’s safe to assume that something will happen between those two arcs which will provide us with the answer.
Guy goes all Emerald Twilight on Atrocitus
Red Lanterns #34 provides a conclusion to Charles Soule’s first major chapter in the saga of the Red Lantern Corps.  With the exception of the fate of the Five Inversions the issue ties things up pretty handily, but not without posing questions for the future of the series.  If not for what appears to be some major continuity bending it’s a good issue, but having to judge the book by what little we have to go on it’s hard not to knock the issue down a peg or two.  I really hope that Soule answers the nagging issue of the removal of the rings as he’s done so well on the series that it would be a shame to see something this significant dismissed without explanation.  Three out of five lanterns.
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