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Alive Again

June 18, 2010

Brightest Day is now in full swing, and already by Brightest Day #2, a ton of stuff has happened.  The Brightest Day book itself focuses on the stories of half of the resurrected characters, specifically Deadman, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, and Aquaman, as well as, to a lesser degree, Green Lantern and his stuff.  So with Brightest Day #1, we see a different perspective of the scene when Hal Jordan, Carol Ferris, and Sinestro examine the White Lantern in Silver City.  Elsewhere, on the ocean, Deadman is wondering what in the world is going on and why he’s the only one left with a white ring.  The boat is a slaver boat, and it is attacked by Aquaman and Mera just afterward.  However, when Aquaman tries to call out to some native aquatic life, he calls a dead squid and a dead shark, like when he was a Black Lantern.  Elsewhere, a fishmonger, upon hearing that Aquaman has returned, kills all his customers and his employee.  In Pittsburgh, Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond, the two halves of Firestorm, try to separate unsuccessfully.  And the Atom and Professor Stein have bad news for them.  On Mars, Martian Manhunter takes a glacier and uses it to start nurturing life, but he suddenly gets a psychic flash of choking Professor Erdel, the man who brought him to Earth, and of a woman nearby.  Then, Hawkman and Hawkgirl follow the Claw of Horus to the men who found Khufu and Chay-Ara’s bodies, but they are unsuccessful in retrieving them.  They are taken to the man who hired the mercenaries, their old foe Hath-Set.  And elsewhere, the fishmonger reveals himself as Aquaman’s archnemesis, Black Manta.  Atom gets in a special suit and tries to shrink down and divide Jason and Ronnie, but as he does, Ronnie hears some strange voice and mistakes it for Jason’s.  Then, while Atom is still inside them, they explode.  In New York, upon seeing footage of Martian Manhunter, a housewife murders her whole family, then starts ripping off her own skin, revealing something less than human underneath.  Jonn finds Professor Erdel’s coffin and discovers that he had a daughter, and Hawkman and Hawkgirl track down Hath-Set to find death masks from all their previous lives.  Jonn finds Erdel’s daughter, who is now old, and turns into her father.  She tells him of her and Erdel’s obsession at finding something from Mars, and the monster they summoned the first time.  Then, when they summoned Jonn, a glass shard hit her in the head, giving her permanent brain damage.  Then, as Deadman watches Aquaman and Mera dive into the water, and sees dead fish float to the surface in their wake, he is teleported to the Antimatter Universe, where he finds himself face to face with the Anti-Monitor.  And his ring tells him to fight.

Well, what a whirlwind we’ve been brought into.  I’m basically going to have to look at each individual storyline.  Deadman is obviously the main focus of the book, as he is the only one still with the white ring.  Yet he also has the most unanswered questions, like why he, a ghost was brought back, why he still has the white ring, and what the White Entity wants him to do with it.  From what the scene with the White Lantern in Silver City indicates, he may be Carol’s King Arthur.  It’s an interesting story, but he’s gotten the least time, and again, he has the most unanswered questions.  Aquaman…  Okay, I’ve never liked Aquaman.  And thus far, I can’t say that Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi have won me over.  He’s largely an aquatic Superman with the ability to summon fish.  That’s an oversimplification, but with the sharks and squids, I feel like they’re trying to make him seem more dangerous.  Plus, there’s the bullets bouncing off him.  I wasn’t aware that he was that strong/tough.  Mera, I like, especially with her water manipulating powers.  And her personality, of course.  But although the question of whether Aquaman is still partially a Black Lantern or not is interesting, I’m not yet sold on him.  At least Ivan Reis’ pencils on both Deadman and Aquaman are superb, as usual.  Hawkman and Hawkgirl are the two characters with the most continuity problems possibly in comic book history, and I’m glad Johns and Tomasi are trying to fix their complicated history.  I love the tie-in with the Star Sapphires, and I’m curious to see how their possibly final fight with Hath-Set turns out.  Ardian Syaf is doing a lot better work here than I expected, since at times, I couldn’t even tell that the artist wasn’t Ivan Reis.  But Johns and Tomasi have to tread carefully, considering all the mistakes that have been made with them in the past.  Martian Manhunter has the most interesting story, since he’s probably the most beloved character.  I like going back to his origin, since Johns’ biggest skill is revitalizing a character through his/her origin.  And Patrick Gleason was a perfect fit for his story, since Gleason is good with aliens and, as it seems, shapeshifting.  Lastly, the Firestorm story is also interesting, since these are two characters who really, really don’t get along.  I’m curious to see who that voice is, and I’m curious to see if these two will be stuck together.  The death of Gehenna really got me, more than any other death in Blackest Night, but I do hope that her death means more than just another casualty for Women in Refrigerators.  Scott Clark’s art is edgier than Reis’, Syaf’s, and Gleason’s, which really fits for the story, considering the clashing between the two members of the Firestorm Matrix.  So right now, we have more questions than answers.  And I’m not entirely sold on all the characters yet.  But Johns and Tomasi are really doing a good job keeping us excited and interested in where things go.  Plus, with a great artistic team like this, everything looks wonderful.  I’m excited to see where this story goes, and I hope that it goes more in the direction of 52 than Countdown to Final Crisis.

Plot: 8.7      Art: 9.0      Dialogue: 8.8      Overall: 8.9

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