Writers: Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi
Artists: Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Scott Clark, Ardian Syaf, Joe Prado
Inkers: Vicente Cifuentes, David Beaty, Mark Irwin
Colour: Peter Steigerwald and John Starr
What do you do when life gets you down and you’re not sure what to do next? When all you do is search for the answers to questions that only beg more questions? Well, I don’t know. What I do know though is that with issue seven of Brightest Day, readers finally get some explanations about the mysterious returns of 12 dead heroes and villains, and we learn above all that cheeseburgers hold the secrets of life.
In the aftermath of Blackest Night, 12 resurrected heroes and villains struggle to understand their returns. Why are they back, and what is their purpose? Brightest Day follows Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman and Boston Brand as they uncover the mysteries of their returns, and what secrets the white lantern holds for them and their destinies.
What’s the Story?
Issue seven opens in a small diner in Georgetown, where Boston Brand, Hawk and Dove sit awaiting their meal. After having his deep, dark secret love for cheeseburgers revealed in the last issue, Boston Brand can only sit and stare at his meal while Dove coyly flirts with him. After taking a bite of his burger, followed by a rabid assault on a jukebox playing a Dixie Chicks track by Hawk, the white entity from the lantern speaks to Hawk and Brand. It appears that with a single bite, Brand’s road to understanding his return begins, as the ring proclaims, “you are ready.” They’re teleported to Silver City, New Mexico where the white lantern rests. Doing what no other has been able to do thus far, Brand lifts the lantern up and asks why each of them were brought back. The lantern responds by saying, “you need to embrace life.” The white entity quickly explains what it is and why each character was brought back. Explaining itself as the guardian of existence, it also tells Boston it’s dying and a replacement must be chosen. Both Hawk and Brand’s uniforms change to a solid white with the white lantern symbol on it. Each returning hero and villain has been charged with protecting the world until a new champion arrives.
Meanwhile in Austrailia, the Martian Manhunter experiences the same phenomenon as Hawk and Brand as his costume changes into a solid white. M’Gann Morzz who had been injured in the last issue is healed of her wounds, while the white entity tells J’onn that he needs to burn down the forest, presumably the one Green Arrow lives in at the moment. M’Gann tells him that there may be another martian about, one they weren’t aware of.
Back in Pittsburgh, we find Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond meeting with Professor Stein in search of answers about what’s happening to the Firestorm matrix. They ask who the voice from the previous issue belonged to. Stein informs them that the voice is likely the manifestation of the third and final stage of the matrix. Just as Stein prepares to reveal something to the boys, the white entity interjects with a message for them. It tells Ronnie that he needs to study, and tells Jason he needs to get his head out of the books. It tells them to learn from each other so they can stop “him” from destroying the entity.
On Hawkworld, we rejoin Carter and Shiera separately as they learn of their purpose from the white entity. The entity tells Carter that he must stop “them” from leaving Hawkworld, and that the queen must be stopped. This was apparently prophesized, a prophecy the beasts are privy to. Meanwhile, the hawkpeople who had taken Shiera find that she isn’t an easy person to keep captive. The white entity quickly contacts her and tells her that if Carter dies here there is no more resurrection, and he must be saved from their eternal enemy Hath-Set.
We finally join Aquaman and Mera as they stand at the shore of a beach surrounded by dark waters and dead fish. He too is quickly contacted by the entity. He’s told that he must find him first, before they do. The only image we see is of the teenage boy we’ve seen periodically throughout the series, and most recently at the site of the white lantern. Suddenly the waters cleanse, and all the fish washed ashore spring to life.
In the following pages we’re shown images of each other resurrected character as the entity informs them of what they must do. Captain Boomerang is told to throw the boomerang at “her”, Jade is told to balance the darkness while her brother will save her friends. Osiris is told to free the goddess of nature, his sister Isis. The villainous Max Lord is told that Magog will plunge the world into war, and it must be stopped before it starts. Professor Zoom is told as he’s restrained in prison that he allowed Barry Allen to escape the speed force; mission accomplished. The entity says, “life returned.” Finally we see Hawk, who is told to catch the boomerang, the very same thrown by Captain Boomerang. It just so happens he’s to throw it at Dove.
The issue ends with a message from the entity. “If you want to truly live again, help me.” It tells Boston that life is gift, and the chosen one will know that better than anyone.
The Pretty, Pretty Pictures
With the exception of the Martian Manhunter art, it’s pretty solid. That’s been a staple of this series thus far though, so that’s not unexpected. Foremost, the Manhunter art doesn’t come off well again. J’onnz and M’Gann both look blandly drawn and without much detail. It’s far too blocky and unrealistic for my tastes. The supplementary art around them though was good, specifically the visions from the white lantern showing J’onn burning down Green Arrow’s forest.
The Firestorm artist continued to draw these pieces quite well. I like the fire on Firestorm’s head. It’s more pronounced and actually looks like a raging fire blowing in the wind. The cool page effects used in the previous issue are absent, so in that department the art pales by comparison. The page breakdowns are very basic too when compared to the more experimental divisions used in issue six. The highlight of the two page spread was Firestorm’s transformation into what looks like a White Lantern elemental version of Firestorm, similar to the classic Professor Stein Firestorm.
The Hawkworld art is okay. The artist team vividly recreated the savagery of these creatures, such as the white lion who had been biting into and eating a deceased hawkperson. Overall though the art is somewhat lackluster in its presentation and is generally uninteresting.
Once again we saw some great art during the Aquaman pages, especially the second page. In contrast to the first page which saw dead fish around the shoreline of a beach with the waters blackened, the second page features the fish on shore springing to life as the water’s vitality restores around Aquaman and Mera. The best panel is easily the image of both Aquaman and the young man poised to be the new Aqualad. This was fantastically drawn, and the colouring makes the entire image vibrant.
The proceeding page quickly summed the stories of the other characters not routinely appearing in Brightest Day. Here the art is split between White Lantern versions of each character, complemented by the task they are charged with by the entity. The one exception is Zoom, who appears to have already fulfilled his purpose, while the others still need to find their way. It was an interesting way to present the story and summed up the routes each are expected to take with very few words. In this case, the picture does tell the story.
Finally, the Boston Brand pages continue to be overwhelmingly strong in how they’re drawn. The team created some nice shots of Boston as he contemplates his cheeseburger, as well as those where he, Hawk and Dove are teleported to New Mexico. Everything form these scenes, to Dove’s doe eyes as she talks to Brand, to the cool energy effects on the final page all come off well and continue to be a strong point of the book.
Geoff Johns said this was going to be the game-changing issue, and he wasn’t overselling the book. As someone from my local comic shop said, “stuff actually happened.” This is really the issue I’ve been waiting for, and the quality of storytelling I’ve come to expect from Johns and Tomasi. The first five issues quite frankly were horrendously organized, lacking any semblance of the structure we’ve seen in the last two issues. Setting the pieces of a story’s foundation in place is one thing and that’s fine, but there was little to no story progression over the first five issues, and it really felt disjointed as I read six to seven pages about one character and then two about another.
Hilariously, in those two pages, more arguably would have happened than in the seven pages in their entirety. The series had really struggled to find its footing.
The last two issues though have followed a much more structured premise, using a main story thread to bookend the issue, leaving the supplementary stories to be told in full before moving on to the next. I applauded the team for this before, and I’m glad they maintained this mode of storytelling in this issue. It makes the issue easier to read as a whole when you aren’t jumping around from character to character whimsically. Although the issues have been better in the last month, it’s hard to judge how the book will read once we start including Aqauman or the Hawks as that centerpiece story, with the others acting as the supplemental stories. I still don’t feel some of the characters in this book can carry much interest for readers beyond their core base, but if this structured presentation continues, it will at least be easier to get into those characters’ stories that I’m not otherwise interested in. I’m sure it’s the same for many other readers.
The heart of the issue finally reveals the purpose of the white lantern entity, and we finally learn why each of the characters returned in Blackest Night. They have been charged to protect earth, and to search for the chosen one who I assume will host the entity, or act as it. I liked that the issue focused on Brand, as I’ve felt from the beginning that his story was the most intriguing, and more importantly, that it was the heart of the story Johns and Tomasi are trying to tell. The issue added a layer of mystery to some of the other stories I feel are otherwise less interesting, at least introducing some intrigue to each. It’ll be interesting to see how these play out, especially the other characters not featured in Brightest Day.
Now seven issues in, we’re finally seeing some direction in terms of where the series is headed, and after several lackluster issues it’s greatly welcomed. Its philosophical premise isn’t earth shattering by any means, but the book poses some interesting questions to the readers as to where the story is going as a whole. It also instills a sense of wonder as well regarding what the future will hold for these characters and the rest of the DCU. This issue injected new life into the series, and it appears this bi-weekly book cut from the same cloth as other weekly series like Trinity and Countdown has found its legs. This issue for all intents and purposes is a first issue, a brightest day of sorts for a series already having suffered through its blackest night.