Red Lanterns #39 came out last week, the second of Landry Walker's brief run on the book, a run that will end next month with its cancellation of the book. It is a shame that this title is coming to a close because I would love to see just what Walker would have done had he been given more time on the book.
Last issue was a downbeat story with Guy inheriting a world he feels he deserves, a chaotic realm of pain and destruction. And this issue starts out similarly. About halfway through I was wondering just where this book was going. Would it be three issues of a depressing commentary on the human condition?
Then Walker turns the pages a bit, showing that love can still conquer all. And there is hope at the end of the book. This is why I would have loved to see where Walker would take the book.
But we know that this book is ending. In fact, this last page would have been a perfect open-ended finale to the book. It will be hard to top this.
As I have said in all my reviews of Red Lanterns, Jim Calafiore's art is perfectly suited for this book. Thick-lined, occasionally muddy, sometimes ugly ... just perfect.
Of course we open up with this odd, almost comedic splash page. Guy getting punched out by a baby.
Now it is a demonic baby. So it is sort of scary. But this is still a baby.
And it echoes the 'one punch' famous scene with Batman.
We flash back a bit.
Guy is walking across America, being drawn to areas of rage and death, the fallout of some Atrocitus attack.
I have to say, for some reason the first thing I thought about was Grounded. That was J. Michael Straczynski bad story where Superman walked across the country.
Guy enters the tiny town of El Sobrante. And there in the city center, is a cute baby sitting on top of a dead person. When Guy starts to analyze the baby, a giant rage demon comes up behind him and basically beats the snot out of Guy.
There are some interesting things to notice in the fight. One, the demon seems to be protecting the baby, or trying to separate Guy from the baby. Second, in the middle of the battle, his red energy seems to simply dissipate.
Luckily, Guy survives the battle. He wakes up in the home of an elderly couple who took in his unconscious body and cared for him. I love how they are afraid of the baby, asking Guy not to talk about the little tyke. It reminded me a little of the Twilight Zone episode 'It's a Good Life', where Billy Mumy plays an omnipotent kid.
Again, even here, Guy doesn't seem to have rage ... and as a result he has no red energy.
After a little legwork, Guy heads to the baby's home. He is Danton Dexter Dibble III. His parents died when the town was attacked by Atrocitus, crushed by the rubble.
And somehow, Danton has the ability to absorb everyone's rage. And that rage feeds this being who has possessed him in some way.
This is exactly what a rage demon should look like! It's ugly and spiky and smiling. Excellent.
Now I assumed that this thing was some manifestation of Danton's rage, that this thing was in him.
But Guy makes a point, at length, to say that this thing is a parasite. Danton absorbs the rage and this thing feeds off it. And when Guy decides to battle this thing, it possesses Danton.
This leads to 4 great pages of brawl with trucks being tossed, building being leveled, and Guy being punched.
There is only one way to end this. Guy queues up a loop of home movies, of Danton being loved by his mother. And that pain from missing her, that love of her, cuts through Danton's rage. Calm for a moment, Guy is able to suck the demon out of Danton and then eliminate it.
With the battle over, no one in the town wants to take over care for Danton. He has inadvertently brought so much pain to the place. And so Guy has no choice to become Danton's caregiver. Time to 'get in some trouble'.
Isn't there just a twinge of hope here? Guy as a dad, walking into the horizon? This is a great counterpoint to last issue. And this would be a great ending to the title!
We have one more issue with Walker at the helm. I am very interested to see what he has for us.