“You put on a ring..any ring, any color….it ALL changes”
For a series geared around beings dominated by anger Red Lanterns has become one of the introspective books in the Lantern family these past few months. Since Atrocitus’ attack on Earth Guy Gardner has been in a deep funk and as the series comes to a close he is at a breaking point having lost the perspective of all the good he has done regardless of what color ring he’s got on his finger. After thirty-nine issue is comes down to this and whether or not Guy can finally let go of the burden he carries before it consumes him completely.
Landry Walker brings the series to a close on a highly personal note for Gardner in an issue which is likely to be hit or miss for the reader. If you can overlook some issues with the overall story and embrace this final arc as a personal journey you’re more likely to enjoy how the series wraps up. From that perspective the issue succeeds in moving Guy past his demons as he finally manages to do the one thing that he’s always had the hardest time accomplishing – letting go of his anger.
On the other hand the story relies on the reader completely overlooking the fact that if there was a “rage plague” infecting the Earth there are a whole slew of superheroes on the planet who would probably be dealing with it – let alone Simon Baz who has been left the sole member of the Green Lantern Corps on the planet. While there’s always been a great deal of magic behind the abilities one must also accepts a big dose of the metaphysical in how Guy finally deals with all the pent of up rage and somehow manages to rid himself of the Red Lantern power ring without dying. And, yes, we must also somehow see the logic behind Guy choosing to carry a baby on his back without the means to provide for his well being rather than turn the child over to his sister. Let’s not even consider what this wee babe’s psyche is going to be like after bearing witness to all the horror that Guy has already trudged him through.
All of that aside I was surprised not to see a least a token appearance by Rankorr, Bleez or Atrocitus before the issue reached the close. They are all out there somewhere and as Guy was purging himself of rage with a side order of hope I kept expecting one of them to take notice and show up. In fact I found the absence of Rankorr and Bleez a bit of disappointment as I felt at least one of them would be there for Guy in the end. Instead we get a bit of sisterly tough love from Gloria Gardner, who in the end helps Guy realize that all he has to do is have faith in himself. In finally overcoming the demons within Guy is able to defeat the demons lurking within everyone Atrocitus affected.
Jim Calafiore’s detailed artwork works well, particularly in the darker flashback sequences where the script calls for a Guy to relive some of his more horrific recent memories while talking with Gloria. His sharper lines aren’t as effective when it comes to Gloria and the baby. The choice to color Guy’s memories entirely with shades of red is very effective at highlighting their terrible nature as well as provided a visual signal between the present and the past.
Red Lanterns #40 is hit or miss depending on how you look at it. As a personal journey Landry Walker leaves Guy Gardner in a better mental state that he’s likely ever been in, perhaps at peace with himself for the first time in his troubled life. However with a more pragmatic view there are plenty of things that leave me scratching my head and get in the way from fully embracing the book’s conclusion. Six out of ten lanterns.