Will Conrad and Peter Milligan’s last issue of Red Lantern #20. It is also an epilogue to “Wrath of the First Lantern” so there was a decent amount that needed to be done.
We have a couple stories going on here, which has been the M.O. for Red Lanterns lately. I have read several reviews and have seen several comments on the internet by people saying that there is no backup story, even though there is one advertised. I consider Atrocitus our main story, while Rankorr is our backup. They are interwoven, back and forth within the same issue and story, going back and forth between each story. It makes for great pacing, and this issue uses it better than possibly any issue prior. We have Atrocitus looking to finally finish his journey and find some peace. Sinestro gave him a nice present, which helps him figure out what he needs to do to find some sort of resolution. Here is where we cut to the other stories of the issue. This is great, because, let’s face it, it takes time to get from Oa to Ysmault. We even have a few panels dedicated to the other reds discussing whether or not Bleez or Rankorr should be the new leader. The literal, physical gap in pages between the end of the first part featuring Atrocitus and the next time we see him. This creates a dramatic feeling where we as readers ask ourselves if perhaps Atrocitus has almost outgrown the red lanterns and their mission of rage. It is a subtle thing, but I really enjoyed the way it was done in this issue in particular. Rankorr learns a lot about himself in this issue, and a lot about his journey in becoming a full-fledged Red Lantern. He has finally come full circle and it appears he’s ready to dedicate himself fully to the cause. With that said, I put Rankorr in both positive and negative and here’s why:
Honestly, I had a lot of hope Earth’s first Red Lantern. I understand that, as characters,, they’re supposed to lack depth. Don’t get me wrong, I think some of them have been developed quite well, Bleez and Atrocitus namely, but by design, they should come across as creatures purely driven by vengeance, rage, and other things monsters are made of. Rankorr was human, and humans don’t really operate like that. He was a character filled with depth, and the beginnings of some great character development. I had hoped that his humanity would help him realize that he could not truly operate purely off of vengeance, rage, and hatred alone. As a character in general, I’ve been disappointed with Rankorr, and maybe his turn away from humanity will make me think differently of him. I know his last line was a bit more exciting than most of the stuff they’ve done with him in the past. With that said, I’m very interested to see where our new creative team goes with him, especially now that he will no longer be on Earth. When he returned, I just didn’t care what he was doing. One of the cool things about the Red Lantern corps is the lack of humanity in each of the characters. They’re lovable, badass monsters. But the majority of the time we spent dealing with Rankorr on Earth, the pace just slowed to a crawl. This issue and #19 were the lone exceptions to my “Earth is boring in Red Lanterns” rule and thank goodness we’re getting away from it (for now). The more and more he becomes a monster, the more and more I like Rankorr. At no point was he ever going to get any of my sympathy. The whole storyline featuring his return to Earth has felt forced, and although it was wrapped up quite well, I’m glad that it is mercifully ending.
With hints (and solicits) leading us to believe that there will be another Red Lantern from Earth, I hope that he doesn’t just get pushed to the side or become that character’s whipping boy. It would certainly be the easy thing to do, but it would just come across as cheap writing and a bit of a cop out.
In all of the cleanup work that needed to be done, I get that not everyone could have been featured, but I wish there had been a bit more of the action with Bleez and the rest of the corps against the Inversions. In addition, the art on the Inversions just doesn’t work. That really isn’t saying anything negative about the visuals of the book. In fact, Conrad does a great job in this issue. In the series, and since the character has been created, I think there has been a lot of inconsistency in how Atrocitus looks. By that, I don’t mean they change how he looks fundamentally, but sometimes his body language, and his image in general just doesn’t feel right. He needs a menacing, intimidating look, and sometimes he just looks big. That isn’t enough; something feels like it is missing.
The Verdict- (3/5)
I really enjoyed this issue and I like that Milligan left a lot of room for the new writer to take all of the characters wherever he wants to go. It was a pretty neat wrap-up for a run that doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. If only he had put a bird on it. He may have tried, but I’d guess Dex-Starr ate it.