Here’s a quick summary of Issue #1:
The issue opens in space sector 666 where a group of large, blue, lizard-type aliens are torturing a smaller, weaker alien life form. They quickly become bored with the dying creature when one of the crew informs the captain that an odd-looking being is approaching the ship. They gleefully decide to torture it.
“It” turns out to be a cat... and a Red Lantern! The cat makes quick work of the alien crew before being snared around the neck. Unfortunately for the blue aliens, this is when kitty’s owner shows. His name is Atrocitus; he commands the Red Lanterns and he brings painful death with him.
Atrocitus spends much of the issue explaining who and what he his. Consumed by hate since the day a rogue Guardian destroyed his entire people, Atrocitus created the Red Lanterns in response. The Red Lanterns may have been created by Atrocitus, but they are brutal, vicious, hate-filled creatures that are barely restrained by his leadership.
Over the course of the issue, Atrocitus is disturbed to find his rage dulling as time goes on. Some of this relates to the fact that Hal Jordan killed the Guardian that destroyed Atrocitus‘ people, leaving the Red Lantern with no chance at vengeance. Still, Atrocitus eventually sees the suffering in the universe, and the cry for vengeance relights the fire inside him. The Red Lanterns will be an instrument of vengeance... if Atrocitus can fend off their growing uprising against him!
Atrocitus. I haven’t read much of Geoff Johns‘ work on Green Lantern, so this is my first introduction to the Red Lanterns and Atrocitus, and, boy, do I enjoy him! Atrocitus is a bad-ass, yet tragic, character with an awesome look to him. He commands this entire first issue, and it never becomes boring as you learn more and more about his history. Atrocitus also has a fantastic entrance in the issue, literally tearing through the steel hull of a spaceship in a full-page shot of the red, muscle-bound monster. It’s a terrifying and exhilarating image that only benefits more from the fact that Atrocitus is also asking, “What are you doing to my cat?” Don’t mess with a bad-ass‘ kitty. All this really adds up to the lead character having a great amount of charisma. Filled with hate, yet easily understood, in his quest for vengeance, Atrocitus ends up feeling like a cross between Darth Maul and Batman... and ends up being just as fun as he sounds!
Cosmic coloring that pops! Wow, do the colors in this issue sing! While I praised the colors in Green Lantern #1, colorist Nathan Eyring knocks that book out of the water with his vivid and addictive addition to Red Lanterns #1! Paired with penciller Ed Benes and inker Rob Hunter, the trio accomplishes amazing things with the artwork created for this book. Just as eye-catching as a book in outer space should be, the visuals in Red Lanterns #1, with electrifying contrasts like the initial battle between the blue aliens and the intensely red outfits of the heroes of the book, are so captivating, that I found myself pulled back into the issue several times when I reexamined it during the writing of this review!
Flying space kitty. Enough said.
Sustainability of the Red Lanterns Being creatures powered by and motivated by hate, the Red Lanterns are very similar in tone to the Sith from the Star Wars films. And, while the Red Lanterns are slightly more sympathetic, or, perhaps, more heroic, than the Sith, they still may encounter the problem many writers have dealt with when focusing on evil characters: sustainability. There are only so many tales that can be told of the delivering of vengeance before the concept runs out of gas or becomes something the readers can’t relate to. It always helps with there’s some sort of code of honor or heroic element present in our “baddie-lead” (example: the serial killer hero of Showtime’s Dexter), so let’s hope that writer Peter Milligan is experienced and savvy enough to avoid pitfalls like these.
While only a few seemed to share my complete enthusiasm for the book, the majority of the buzz on Red Lanterns #1 is highly positive. Even those that felt the book left some things to be desired still seemed to agree that it was an adequate edition to the DCnU.
In closing, I say embrace your hate, grab your flying space kitty, and get yourself a copy of Red Lanterns #1!
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer