With the New Fifty-Two, we’ve gotten a lot of good comics. Justice League brought back the sense of adventure, the sense of discovery. Deathstroke brought us a badass villain who is not even halfway redeemed by some noble cause. Action Comics finally brought us a Superman who is not Justin Bieber. Some books are also quite bad. OMAC brought us more writing genius by Dan DiDio, much like Hawk and Dove brought us the question why they still let Liefeld draw things. And then there’s the odd ones out. Books that you can’t help but wonder why they were greenlit. One of them is the new Red Lanterns book.
It’s about Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lanterns of Rage. He’s angry. Because rage is the emotion that fuels the Lanterns. Rage is the source of their powers. Rage is what they do. As such, the only thing they’ve done during Blackest Night is scream something along the lines of “RAAARRGH!” That was that. End of story. They raged, then they raged some more. Not much to it.
Why is there not much to it? Because rage is one of the most primitive emotions there is. Sure, the rage-inducing thing might be different – annoying co-workers, lack of money, feeling of being wronged by the government, that annoying neighbour dog and many more – but in the end, it all boils down to “RAAAARRGH!” and maybe some choice expletives.
And that’s the book’s main problem. You can’t do anything with rage. And they’ve realized that fairly early on in an issue that wasn’t even about the characters. Thus, Atrocitus and his buddies are getting a new mission. That mission is something like “We’ll punish all the guilty people in the universe.” And that somehow is rage… which it really isn’t. It’s revenge, to an extent. Maybe a sense of justice to go with it. But not rage.
Actually, most of the other Corps would have made for better ongoings. You know, books that do not require the writer to completely rewrite characters and having to make it sound logical and like it’s the natural progression of the characters. Let’s look at some.
Blue Lantern – Hope
Hope can be many things. Often, hope is something you don’t even see as hope. Sometimes, it’s someone going “It’s going to be alright” or a hug. Other times, it might be a gun. Something that you’re given to fight. Or something to oppress someone else. Saint Walker could appear on a planet where some group of people has issues of some sort. An investigation into their problems and what drives them follows… There’s a million stories in that.
Violet Lanterns – Star Sapphires – Love
The Star Sapphires were among the most interesting corps before Blackest Night. Right from the get-go, we knew that the love the Star Sapphires preach and enforce goes far beyond anything that is considered healthy. They’re obsessive, they’re possessive, they’re actually downright evil. And there are some stories in that as well. But it might be a bit too “out there” even for comic book readers who have been hardened by stuff that attempts to deconstruct emotions… and usually fails.
Orange Lantern – Larfleeze – Greed
If Larfleeze wouldn’t be so one-dimensional and if he actually had some supporting characters that are not stars of other comic books, he would actually make for a pretty damn good comic book. Why? Because driven by greed, he wants it all. And to have it all, he needs to go and get it. Imagine intergalactic treasure hunts, daring break-ins and adventures, starring Larfleeze who is pursuit of treasure.
These were the most obvious candidates. Sure, all three teams have not been fleshed out and they don’t have the likes of Dex-Starr – who is an instant internet-favourite because he’s a kitten – or any sort of depth to them. And sometimes, their logos were rather shoddy and appeared phoned in. The Red Lanterns have an internet crowd-pleaser, a cool logo and there’s something that at least looks cool when you see a character vomit blood. But there’s nothing behind it.
And that’s why the Red Lanterns book will fail.