Spawning out of Geoff Johns’ legendary run on Green Lantern where he created the multiple hues of Lantern Corps, came the crazy raging Red Lanterns. Now as part of DC’s New 52 comes Red Lanterns, one of several Green Lantern spin off books being offered this month. Does the title stand enough on its own? I think so, as it carves out new mythology of Lanterns with one of the more interesting of the rainbow of Lantern Corps.
The book begins in space with alien creatures even meaner than the Red Lanterns themselves! When one Red Lantern (not telling which one) tries to stop them, he gets captured leading to the Red Lantern leader, Atrocitus coming to save the day and kick some tail. It is really sweet to see him in action.
There is a big portion of the story dealing with Atrocitus’ origin and the reasons he hates the Guardians and Green Lanterns. But Atrocitus worries that his Red Lanterns are becoming mutinous, with them so angry and amped up all the time, they fight each other like wild dogs. Can Atrocitus control them? What new direction does he want to take the Red Lanterns in? And what exactly is happening on Earth that looks like it may involve the Red Lantern Corps in the not too distant future? The answers to these queries lay in issues ahead, so there are some good hooks in here to make you want to come back next issue. There’s also a part that features Dex-Starr, or as we like to call him around Super-Fly, Rage Cat, which definitely makes for a cool moment and provides kitty lovers a great reason to check out the series.
The art is lovely. Ed Benes, who worked with writer Brad Meltzer on the last volume of Justice League of America, does a fantastic job of bringing the Red Lanterns to life. There is an impressive display of detail which succeeds in making the Red Lanterns look mean mad and completely dangerous—even the petit feline Dex-Starr looks tough! Other Red Lanterns look out and out terrifying. Rob Hunter’s inks add depth and accentuate the Red Lanterns, and Nathan Eyring’s coloring job is vibrant and beautiful to behold.
While all well and good, there is one big drawback to the book: Atrocitus carries on like an angst filled teenager about his rage. I haven’t seen characters carry on so dramatically about something since Justice League: Cry for Justice, where characters literally cried out “Justice!” over and over ad nauseam. Here it’s the rage that burns within that is brought up repeatedly. Red Lanterns definitely has some cool parts and it is gorgeous to behold. I just feel I would appreciate this more if I were still an angst overloaded adolescent; with all the problems that period of life brings, Red Lanterns would be some great escapist fantasy. Now, I enjoyed it, but feel some of the raging was a bit overdone. During my first read, this really bothered me, but then I remembered that they’re Red Lanterns. Raging up like maniacs is what they do best. With the Red Lantern Corps, they are the avatars of rage—it should be expected that they don’t have very good anger management skills. So that is forgivable; any other characters it wouldn’t be though.
Red Lanterns #1 was an alright read, but it’s more so-so than exciting and is really weighed down by its emo protagonist, which is easy to get over but still distracting. Red Lanterns is hardly one of the worst books that have come out, but it’s not over the top great either. I do think it is a perfect starting place to learn about another Lantern Corps besides the Green one, and if you’re fans of the characters, you won’t be terribly disappointed with their portrayal. Red Lanterns #1 gives you everything you need to know about the Red Corps and sets the stage for some intriguing situations. Check it out—just be prepared for a lot of raging!