Ya know...BEFORE Charles Soule came along, I had a good thing going. Everyone (from creators to characters) was taking Guy Gardner too seriously, his arrogance was completely unchecked, my hatred for him was totally justified. Then Mr. Soule comes along and has to go and RUIN a perfectly good hatefest by making the character’s ridiculousness be acknowledged by others. And acknowledged by HIMSELF. And actually form him into an interesting, different kind of character. And now? He’s given him a SWEET MUSTACHE. Review over. Five-star mustache...yeah, okay, the rest of the issue’s great too. We get to see the Reds survey their work having liberated their first planet from injustice, but now it’s time to account for some unanswered questions. So while Bleez and Rankorr go off in search of their fallen comrade’s ring, the other Reds head to Earth for a tour courtesy of Guy Gardner. I’m a big fan of this tactic of splitting up the two human Red Lanterns as it always feels a little redundant when they’re around and starts to smack of the Green Lantern books a little too much. And, of course, Soule does a fantastic job of differentiating the characters and injecting some much-needed levity into this book from both groups, with Zox’s burning question in particular getting a chuckle.
Art is divided amongst the series’ regulars and they alternate throughout the issue with Alessandro Vitti taking the earthbound Lanterns while J. Calafiore handles the space cases and this division of labor serves the book quite well. It’s clear when it happens, but the fact that it’s got a clear divide and setting change stops it from being too abrupt and unexpected as well as ensuring a continuity of tone. That’s also helped by colorist Gabe Eltaeb across the entire issue, and the art stands out amazingly. There’s not much in the way of action, but the character interactions, and especially the expressions and body language, are absolutely perfect and even someone with seemingly a single expression like Skallox is able to get so much across with the rest of his gestures and stances. The colors, as always, stand out on the page and, have a wonderful diversity for a book that has the color red at its core. And I haven’t even mentioned the reappearance of an old Gardner flame (for a hint, check out the cover. And by “hint,” I mean she’s clearly on the cover).
There’s very little dislike about this book. I’d say I’m disappointed we didn’t get to see more of Zox and Skallox’s globetrotting adventures in exchange for the two space exploring Reds, but frankly the banter between Rankorr and Bleez was very well done and worth reading. I’ll say that I wish both groups had gotten their own issue.
After some forays into a bit of confusion and heavier subject matter, Red Lanterns is back to being the hilariously over-the-top ultraviolent title that it’s at its best at. We’re delving a bit into Guy’s past and we’re seeing him try to legitimately improve himself and his way of living to have another chance with the one that got away, and I think it’s ripe for both comedic and romantic tension. Also: Five Star Mustache.