Review: Brightest Day #21

Writers: Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi

Artists: Patrick Gleason, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado

Inkers: Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, Norm Rapmund, Christian Alamy

Colour: Peter Steigerwald and Nathan Eyring

Letters: Rob Clark Jr.

Cover: Gary Frank and Nathan Eyring; Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis (variant)

Publisher: DC Comics


The home stretch is upon us folks. Things are coming together with the puzzle pieces finally locking into place, and it certainly has been a long road to this point. With strange twists leaving the formerly resurrected heroes less than breathing, it’s anyone’s guess what this issue and the final three issues of this maxi-series have in store for us.


Twelve heroes and villains are resurrected in the wake of Blackest Night, each charged with a task they must complete if earth’s next champion is to arrive. Heroes and villains will fall, and the white entity’s larger plans have begun to take shape.

What’s the Story?

In the aftermath of Aquaman, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl’s deaths, some of DC’s mainstay heroes are left to pick up the pieces and ponder what to do about the situation. Amidst an argument on the Miami beach where the Aquawar took place, the heroes discuss how to deal with Brand. Meanwhile black clouds form in the sky above them.

On Mars, Martian Manhunter and D’Kay continue their battle on the deserted planet. Battling back and forth, J’onn eventually launches a psychic attack on her and forces her to listen to the thoughts and emotions of earth’s population. D’Kay suffers a sensory overload and is left struggling to recover.  J’onn finally comprehends the threat she poses to earth and flies with her towards the sun and throws her into it, nearly sacrificing himself in the process. A message from the white entity is broadcast. It tells J’onn his mission is accomplished and his life is returned.

J’onn is asked to choose his home between Mars and Earth, quickly flying to Star City to help protect Green Arrow’s forest. He saves several young children and moves some debris out of the way to corral the fires in the streets. White lightning strikes and the entity delivers another message to him, telling him his heart is no longer divided. Brand arrives and he sorrowfully tells J’onn he can’t stop the ring. J’onn reads Brand’s mind and acknowledges his fate with open arms. The entity imparts one final message: “J’onn J’onnz of Mars, the earth has accepted you.”

The Pretty, Pretty Pictures

The issue features the work of three artists. Prado and Reis’ work is confined to a few pages while Patrick Gleason’s work alternately fills the majority of the issue. Neither Reis or Prado really offer much worth commenting on. On the first page we’re offered a great page of Ray Palmer examining the scene where Carter and Shiera were killed; standing near a pile of ash of what was Carter’s body. I liked the transition at the bottom of the page too showing Aquaman’s hand which leads into the beach scene featuring all the resurrected heroes helping in the aftermath of the Aquawar. Their only other contribution are the final two pages which are nicely done. Other than these, Gleason’s work takes centre stage and he surprisingly does not disappoint.

I’m hardly a Gleason fan, but he did some fine work in this issue. Gleason captured the Martians’ powers quite nicely and created a seamless, creative battle between them. Towards the end, the scenes with J’onn and D’kay flying into the sun were nice, as were the following pages of J’onn becoming a white lantern and choosing Earth over Mars. Gleason’s best is offered when J’onn launches his psychic attack against D’Kay. Here the action spreads over two pages and blurs itself as we see the faces of men and women, hero or otherwise on the earth. Their faces stream backwards, spiraling from four directions as they funnel into D’Kay’s consciousness. This is some of the best work I’ve seen from Gleason up to this point.

The art was quite good this issue. The artwork delivered as a whole with Prado, Reis, Gleason’s contributions combined.

Final Thoughts

This was another strong issue from the creative team. It was also the first decent issue featuring Martian Manhunter to be frank. The story has crawled along the entire series towards this one gigantic pay-off of an issue, disproportionately balancing the worthwhile material on the back-end of this story. I thought this piece of the story was written well and nicely paced itself to the conclusion, but it’s mostly rehashed the same plot device from the previous two issues. The only difference between this issue’s plot execution and the previous one’s is the final page where Johns and Tomasi throw a wrinkle into the story and force us to wonder what the white entity’s message to J’onn means in the larger context in contrast to the end Aquaman and the Hawks met.

This was very much a worthwhile issue in the sense that the end  left us to question what’s going to happen next. These sorts of cliffhangers have served the book well throughout the series and typically have led towards some of its better issues. This hasn’t always been the case throughout the series though. Despite feeling somewhat of a drop-off in overall appeal, the issue continued its trend of good solid issues and progressed the story along. I felt like the ending was satisfying in that it bookends this part of the story, and functions well as a singular issue on its own that propels the principal characters toward conclusion. With three issues to go our journey is nearly at its end. The series has been on a good run as of late and is set to finish strong. I wonder though whether the pay-off will justify the breadth and structure of the stories.

Andrew Ardizzi
Andrew Ardizzi

Andrew Ardizzi is an honours graduate of journalism from Humber College, and is currently working out of Toronto as a freelance writer and editor. He's also the Senior Editor at Crystal Fractal Comics. You can find him at his blog, or follow him on Twitter.

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