Red Lanterns #34 came out last week, the last issue of a big 'Guy Gardner vs. Atrocitus' storyline as well as the last vestige of the Red Daughter storyline. I have said it many times before and I will say it again now. I did not expect to like this book or Red Daughter at all. But I did. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Writer Charles Soule makes these Reds tortured souls, angry at an unfair universe but channeling that rage into some form of good, some force for justice. And that camaraderie, as well as a peek into where rage can lead you, is just what the solitary, disaffected Kara needed to see to turn things around in her life. The art, dark and thick lined, by Andrea Sorrentino and Jim Calafiore, is perfectly suited for the book.
That sort of high octane action with surprisingly deep characterization is still seen here. But this issue read like it should have a 'Final Issue' tag on it. Everything is different at the end of this issue. I have no idea what this book is going to be like in November (next issue being a Futures' End crossover). And that makes me worried. Because it would be just like DC to take a book that seemed to be firing on all cylinders and pull the plug on the creative direction.
I won't get too deep into this issue but there are some moments worth reviewing quickly.
We do get a quick scene with Supergirl at the beginning. With Atrocitus spawning an army of Earth Red Lanterns, Guy decides to take the fight off planet. Needing some time, he asks Kara to scatter the troops. And she does so with a classic move - the sonic book of the super-clap.
It was nice to see Supergirl with the Reds, as her time with the group should matter. But I also was glad to see her listen to Guy and stay on Earth, leaving the fight to the opposing Corps.
First off, I am glad Skallox did not betray Guy but instead was an undercover agent, worming his way into Atrocitus' Corps. I want Guy to be the leader here so to see he actually convinced Skallox to go along is good characterization for Gardner,
My favorite character in the book has been Bleez. She has been shown as a tortured soul, filled with self-loathing. She hates who she has become; she doesn't want anyone living her tortured life. She wants justice.
But she is also a good friend and a great warrior. When Guy tells her to leave Ysmault, to save herself from the approaching horde of Reds, she calls him an idiot and swears to stay.
She has really been a revelation in this book.
And then there is the Judge, the extremely powerful Red Lantern who has just been observing.
She finally uses her powers on Guy, judging him and finding him innocent. With the right side of the battle chosen, she immolates herself. She kills herself, but also eliminates the Earth army.
It is sort of a shame that the Judge is gone. She had potential.
But the big moment occurs when Guy and Atrocitus finally face off. It is a battle of will and rage.
Guy decides to let his ring ..formerly Atrocitus' ring ... decide who will lead the Reds. It is a true gamble. by taking of the ring, Guy is dying. He is opening himself up for an attack.
But then ... the ring chooses him!
And Guy is able to remove the rings off of Atrocitus and Dex-Star. He absorbs the multitude of Red Rings which powered the Earth Ragers. And he is able to control the rage, regain some composure, and become the true leader.
It is a great moment for Guy!!
It seems like with all this stuff behind them, that this title is ready to move forward. Guy is the leader; Atrocitus powerless. It should be the time for this established team to fight on, with only themselves to worry about.
Instead, Soule (or maybe DC) blow the thing up. Guy will remain a Red, but temper his anger, keeping the ring around his neck. He will remain on Earth. The others are to defend the rest of the sector.
Who wants this group split up?? And The Judge and Zillius are gone too fast, too soon.
I am hoping this is a feint.
Even with Supergirl out of the picture, I thought I would still be on board with this book. And I will get the next couple of issues to see if things take a step backwards, or veer from the current direction.
But enough worrying about future. This was a very good ending to a very good prolonged run. The characterization of all the Reds was solid. But the faceoff between Guy and Atrocitus was perfect.