The Revolution enjoyed the Sinestro War and is looking forward to the upcoming Blackest Night event. So, naturally, I am interested in Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1. I have a feeling that this issue will be a Final Crisis tie-in issue in name only and actually have nothing at all to do with DC’s current big event. I would expect that Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 is designed to start building reader interest in the Blackest Night event. Let’s go ahead and do this review.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Shane Davis
Inks: Sandra Hope
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin the issue with the statement that this issue takes place between Final Crisis #1 and #2. We start on Ysmault and witness the birth of the first Red Lantern: Atrocitus. Atrocitus narrates how the liquid fire of the red light fills his veins. Atrocitus begins throwing up blood. Atrocitus continues that the Guardians were responsible for the slaughter of his people in Sector 666 at the hands of the Manhunters. Atrocitus states how he was them imprisoned by Sinestro. Atrocitus recited the Red Lantern Oath. (Which is a bit heavy handed and over the top.)
We cut to Coast City where Hal is having lunch with his brother and Cowgirl. Hal thinks how with Ganthet gone that the Guardians have become even more removed and aloof. Ganthet was the only Guardian that Hal could ever speak his mind to.
Suddenly, John Stewart contacts Hal over the power ring and informs him that Sinestro has been scheduled to be executed. And that the execution will not be on Oa. That the execution will be held on Korugar instead. Also, the Guardians want Hal, John and some other Green Lanterns to act as escorts.
Hal replies that it is about time that the Guardians decided to execute Sinestro. Hal says that he will be right there. Hal then tells Cowgirl and his brother that he has to go on official Green Lantern Corps business. Hal thinks how he needs to talk to someone and that he feels guilty that as much as it should be Cowgirl that Hal is thinking about someone else.
Hal then adds that Sinestro probably knows him better than anyone other than Carol. Carol responds that it sounds like Hal needs someone to tell him that it is okay to support Sinestro’s execution. Hal replies that he was not looking for justification. Carol answers that Hal is justified. Carol talks about how the Guardians banished Sinestro in the power battery where Sinestro proceeded to make contact with Parallax and then unleashed Parallax on Hal.
Hal states that Sinestro still blames Hal for his expulsion from the Corps. Carol interjects that it was not Hal’s fault. Hal answers that he could have handled the situation better. Carol insists that it was not Hal’s fault and that Sinestro is not the friend that he once was. That that Sinestro was executed a long time ago.
Hal states that it is finally the end. Carol responds that endings are never easy to face even when you want that ending to come. Hal then flies off in space.
We cut to the scarred Guardian making contact with Ash. Ash informs the scarred Guardian that he found a piece of the Anti-Monitor’s husk. Ash says that he has traced the trajectory of the Anti-Monitor to Space Sector 666. The scarred Guardian instructs Ash to go into Space Sector 666 and retrieve the Anti-Monitor’s corpse.
We cut to the rest of the Guardians in their main chamber. One of the Guardians asks the scarred Guardian who she was talking to. The scarred Guardian responds that she was merely meditating. The other Guardians notice that the scarred Guardian has not fully healed. They offer to join into a mass meditation to help her heal totally. The scarred Guardian rebuffs the offer stating that her scars serve as a reminder that the Guardians must never grow as arrogant as they have been in the past.
The scarred Guardian then says that the Guardians must extinguish all of the other lights. That is why the Guardians are headed on a diplomatic mission to meet with the Zamorians and have also agreed to rid the universe of the Sinestro Corps. The scarred Guardians states that they must keep the fact that Sinestro is being transferred to Korugar a secret. That it would be very dangerous is that information leaked from the halls of Oa. We then see the shape of the Sinestro Corps symbol inside of the scarred Guardian’s eyes.
Hal responds that it is not justice. That it is what Sinestro deserves for betraying the Green Lantern Corps and betraying Hal. Sinestro asks “I betrayed you?” Sinestro then says that Hal is going to murder Sinestro. Hal says that it is punishment. Sinestro agrees saying that it is Sinestro’s law and that Sinestro is proud of Hal. That Hal is turning into quite a Green Lantern.
We cut to Atrocitus initiating the first class of Red Lantern recruits. Among them are Bleez, Vice and Laira. Atrocitus states how all of the recruits have great anger in their hearts. We see all of the recruits throwing up blood. Atrocitus goes on that they will spill the blood of those who wronged them. That their blood shall anoint them. That their rings need to feed. Atrocitus says that they shall begin with feeding on Sinestro.
We cut to the Green Lanterns escorting Sinestro in his cell off to Korugar. John tells Hal that if he wants to speak out then he better do it now. Hal responds that he has no problem with the execution. John asks Hal if he is sure about that. Hal says that it is the law and this time he is not going to fight it.
Sinestro then calls out to Hal and says that Hal never asked Sinestro his question. Hal responds “Forget it.” Hal says that he will live. Sinestro smiles and says whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger just like Abin Sur used to always say.
One of the Green Lanterns, Arx, suggest that they not waste any more time and just put a beam in Sinestro’s brain and be done with it. Boodika then tells Arx to stand down. Arx then gets up in front of Sinestro’s cell. Sinestro replies that he knows what Arx is afraid of. Arx answers that he is not afraid of Sinestro. Sinestro asks “What about death?” Before Arx can respond a yellow beam blasts his head off.
Suddenly, a bunch of Sinestro Corps members attack. Kilowog yells that it is an ambush. John wonders how the Sinestro Corps members knew that they were here. We cut to the scarred Guardian with one of her eyes filled in with the Sinestro Corps symbol and her other eye filled in with the Green Lantern Corps symbol.
We cut back to the brawl between the Green Lantern Corps and the Sinestro Corps. We see the Alpha Lanterns springing to action and killing several Sinestro Corps members. While the Green Lanterns are battling the Sinestro Corps members we see a member of the Red Lantern Corps appear on the scene.
The Red Lantern pukes some blood that burns the head off of one of the Sinestro Corps members. Sinestro’s cell then begins to blaze with a red flame. The rest of the Red Lanterns then appear on the scene and attack. The Red Lanterns start slaughtering Green Lanterns and Sinestro Corps members.
Laira then blasts Hal with her red power ring. Hal thinks how her red energy is burning away his aura. We see John Stewart unconscious with his power ring warning that it is incapacitated. Hal’s power ring states that its power levels are unknown. That its power is corrupted.
A voice then says that Ganthet sense Hal’s anger and the Red Lanterns’ anger. Suddenly, Hal’s power ring’s power levels rapidly increase all the way up to 200% power levels. We see a blue light emerging from Hal’s power ring. The voice continues that he has been chosen to uplift those in need. The voice says that there will be others.
We then see the Blue Lantern appear on the scene. The Blue Lantern states that he is Saint Walker. Saint Walker says that it is imperative that they retrieve Sinestro before he is sacrificed. That if the universe is to survive the Blackest Night then they will need Sinestro alive. End of issue.
The Good: Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 was a solid read. Johns turns in a well plotted issue. Johns basically picks up where we left off on the last issue of Green Lantern and continues to build a strong foundation for the upcoming Blackest Night event. Johns has a fine attention to detail and is quite skilled at crafting long term stories with multiple plotlines full of unexpected twists and turns.
Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 was a well paced issue. And the reason that this issue has such a good flow is that it is nicely balanced as we get a good mix of dramatic scenes, mysterious teaser scenes and all out action scenes. Johns does a fine job with the scene transitions which seamlessly tie the various scenes together.
There is no doubt that action junkies will enjoy Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1. Johns delivers a wild three-way brawl near the end of this issue. There is certainly no shortage of death, gore and ultra-violence in this issue. Johns lives up to his reputation as a writer who cannot resist butchering characters as often as possible.
As a general rule, I am completely sick and tired of the endless amount of death, gore and ultra-violence that has become mind numbingly ever-present in DC’s comic books. However, I did not mind it at all in Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1. This is a war story dealing with competing paramilitary police forces. It makes sense that in a universe spanning war story there would have plenty of violence and death.
Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 does not contain some of Johns’ best dialogue. As a matter of fact, this is some of the most uninspired dialogue that I have read from Johns in a while. Still, there were several scenes like the one with Carol and Hal as well as the scenes with Hal and Sinestro that present some enjoyable dialogue.
Character work was clearly not a priority in this issue. However, that does not mean that Johns doesn’t try and pull of some character development. Johns continues to do a nice job with Hal Jordan and Sinestro. I dig how Johns is handling the complex relationship between Hal and Sinestro. I know that the theme of mentor, friend and enemy that Sinestro has played in Hal’s life may not be the most original theme, by Johns has done a fine job with it and it makes for an interesting read. I do think that before the Blackest Night is over that Hal might be forced to realize how he and Sinestro are more alike than he would want to admit.
The scene with Hal and Carol was great. I have always been a fan of Carol and I prefer Hal with her versus him being with Cowgirl. I like that despite that Hal is now dating Cowgirl that he still only feels comfortable talking to Carol about certain things. And the line from Carol about how endings are never easy was a nice comment that applied to both Hal’s relationship with Sinestro and Hal’s relationship with Carol.
I dig how Johns writes Sinestro. I was never much of a fan of Sinestro prior to Johns getting his hands on Sinestro’s character. And that is a surprise since I usually find Johns’ villains to be rather one dimensional, unoriginal and uninteresting. That is not the case with Sinestro. Johns gives Sinestro plenty of depth and makes him a nicely textured character with many levels. I find Sinestro to be the most charismatic character in this story.
Then Johns has the scarred Guardian flashing the Sinestro Corps symbols in her eyes just as we see the Green Lanterns getting ambushed by the Sinestro Corps members. Clearly the scarred Guardian has her own agenda. And I am wondering of she is working with Sinestro or if she is simply playing every single side against each other in an attempt to demolish all of the different colored Corps.
The scene with the Controllers continues their search for the orange power source that we have seen over in Green Lantern. However, we did learn in this issue that someone else also wants the orange power source. It appears that Johns has several surprises in store for the reader when it comes to the chase for the various colored power sources.
I loved the exciting hook ending with the appearance of the Blue Lantern. Saint Walker is a great name and an interesting character. I am looking forward to learning more about the Ganthet’s Blue Lanterns. Johns also delivers a surprising reveal that Hal is going to have to help Saint Walker save Sinestro and that they will need him alive in order for the universe to survive the Blackest Night. That is sure to chap Hal Jordan, but I am looking forward to the drama that is sure to unfold between Hal and Sinestro during the Blackest Night event.
Shane Davis and Sandra Hope did a good job with the artwork. This was a dynamic looking issue with the best artwork being reserved for the action scenes.
The Bad: Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 certainly has its fair share of defects. Many readers may not dig the dark somber nature of this issue and the graphic violence and killing. Many readers, including myself, have already had their fill of the ultra-violence and gore that DC seems determined to deliver in just about all of their titles.
I found the Red Lanterns to be simply way too over the top. Johns went a bit overboard and gave us some extremely hammy and heavy handed dialogue with the scenes involving the Red Lanterns. And the constant blood puking and how the Red Lanterns all manage to synchronize it with their teammates was too much. And the fact that the Red Lanterns can evidently burn people to death with their blood puke just made it that much more silly. It was virtually impossible to take the Red Lanterns seriously. I do not know if Johns was trying to be campy with the Red Lanterns, but if he wanted me to take the Red Lanterns seriously and not chuckle at them then he failed.
Another problem with this issue is that it had nothing at all even remotely to do with Final Crisis. I have no idea why DC even bothered to call this a Final Crisis tie-in issue. This issue simply read like the newest issue of Green Lantern. It might have been wiser for DC to delay this issue until the end of Final Crisis and then bill this issue as a Blackest Night prelude instead.
Once again, DC seems determined to flood the reader with a myriad of “big events.” It would have been a smarter move for DC to let one big event end before cranking up the hype machine for the next big event. I swear, readers are going to end up getting “big event” fatigue at the rate that Marvel and DC are going.
Even there I liked the artwork, there was one moment where the artist and the writer were clearly not on the same page. In the scene with Hal having lunch with his brother and Cowgirl, Johns has John contact Hal via Hal’s power ring and asks if Hal is sitting down. Hal proceeds to answer “No”, yet the artist clearly has Hal sitting down in that scene. The artist needs to pay a bit more attention to the writer’s script.
Overall: Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 was a solid advertisement for the upcoming Blackest Night event. Johns made this issue as new reader friendly as possible and presented enough interesting mysteries to try and drum up interest in the Blackest Night event.
The Sinestro War story was extremely popular and a very strong performer in terms of sales numbers. I expect that readers who enjoyed the Sinestro War story will also be interested in the Blackest Night event. On the other hand, if you were unimpressed with the Sinestro War story then do not bother with picking up this issue. The Blackest Night event appears to be more of what we got during the Sinestro War.