“Hey Corey, it’s Future Corey, did you know that before the year ends, not only will one of your favorite books on the shelf be Red Lanterns, but it’ll be Red Lanterns starring Guy Gardner?” That was the message that I got from the Future two months ago, and I didn’t believe it. Guy Gardner was one of my most hated characters in comics (not so much for his own characteristics, but for how seriously writers seemed to take him) and Red Lanterns wasn’t even on my radar anymore. But thanks to Charles Soule’s incredible writing and characterization, this is absolutely one the best books on the shelf and one of my favorites over the last two months. Last issue, Guy Gardner was tasked by Hal Jordan to infiltrate the Red Lanterns after their last mole was found out and harshly disposed of, a mission Guy was reticent to accept, but eventually flung himself into with incredible vigor. Now Gardner stands atop the Red Lanterns, but he has other ideas for them, besides being an ersatz leader after vanquishing Atrocitus. Soule has cut out the fat from a title that previously had plenty to spare, and worked it down to a trim, cut book in just two issues. Forget the politicking and scheming, Guy Gardner wants the Red Lanterns to have room to spread their (bony, glowing red) wings and expand. Somebody call Jordan, cause Gardner seems to have gone native in record time.
Alessandro Vitti goes out of his way to render the Red Lanterns in all their hideous, kinetic, raging glory. These Lanterns have always been the most fascinating to me, because they’re clearly the most visceral, and I do mean that literally. While all other Lanterns wear their rings to channel their power, the Red Lanterns wear theirs to stay alive, and that connection to their ring is never better exemplified than in their primary weapon of vomiting their own toxic, acidic blood on opponents. Say what you will about the Indigo Tribe’s teleportation, the Blue’s serene amplifying or even the Yellow’s horrifying constructs, there is nothing that so exemplifies what a spectrum warrior is about more than “they vomit toxic, acidic blood” and Vitti really captures how intensely hideous this act is. Gabe Eltaeb’s colors are, as always, extremely important in a book that focuses on spectrum warriors and various aliens of strange construction.
Can’t think of any downside off the top of my head, I absolutely loved this issue.
Red Lanterns has turned on a dime and become an absolutely fantastic book. The idea of wreaking vengeance on a cosmic level seemed to be holding the book back, and while it’s somewhat the point, I like Soule’s solution of Guy leading the Lanterns to villains, then finding reasons to wreak vengeance against them. It makes the book feel far less directionless and had a much more driving and focussed stories which, along with the intense, hard-hitting, kinetic art makes this one of the most intense issues on the shelf.