I review Charles Soule and Jim Calafiore’s Red Lanterns #26, from DC Comics.
My first exposure to Charles Soule’s work was his Action Comics one-shot featuring Lex Luthor for Villian’s Month and I haven’t looked back since. I’m now following all of his works for DC Comics and am thinking about jumping on board his Thunderbolts for Marvel as well as his indie book Letter 44. He’s the main reason why I’m reading Superman/Wonder Woman despite not being a fan of the Clark/Diana relationship and he’s also why Swamp Thing is among my Top 3 favourite books of the New 52, right up there with Green Arrow and Batman. Soule has proved with this issue that he can do no wrong, and shows us just why that if you’re only reading one book from the Green Lantern line it should be this one, which is ironic because there are no Green Lanterns featured in this issue at all.
The Red Lanterns led by Guy Gardner have taken over responsibility Sector 2814, which includes Earth, following the Light’s Out crossover event which I haven’t read. In this issue the Reds find themselves on their first mission – to stop an army over a million strong led by the fascist Dictator Field Marshal Gensui. However – not everything is as easy as it looks and this issue ends with the death of one of Guy’s Lanterns that will no doubt have repercussions for him and his team especially given with who the ring finds as the Lantern’s replacement.
The series is a lot of fun, and having jumped on with #25 I’m glad that I made the decision to do so as Red Lanterns (along with Guardians of the Galaxy over at Marvel) is providing me with the fun space-set adventures in mainstream superhero comics that I need. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Green Lantern – especially during Johns’ run and less so during Venditti’s – but the constant crossovers that the book was involved in really threw me off especially as they inevitably dragged in the other Lantern books into the equation and I’m hoping that as I’m not reading Green Lantern this series doesn’t fall into the trap of endless crossovers in the future, and remains on its own disconnected with the other books in the Lantern line.
Even though I’m not too familiar with the characters involved Charles Soule has a pretty strong grip on writing them well in a variety of settings – his Superman for example is one of the best portrayals of the character that I’ve seen. and there is some equally strong characterization going on here with a nice amount of humour and witty banter thrown in for good measure. The Atrocitus subplot is also touched upon in this issue, and signs of a big change is on the horizon that makes things look up going forward.
Soule is no slouch when it comes to emotional moments as well – there’s a dramatic moment that the solicit hints at and it’s handled very well indeed, even for someone like me who wasn’t familiar with the character could feel the impact. The artwork is also good as well – there wasn’t a weak moment as Jim Calafiore proves that he’s a solid artist capable of doing justice to the Red Lanterns and his take on the issue is a pretty solid one with some strong artwork.
If I could pinpoint one weakness that prevents this book from becoming pick of the week it would have to be the fact that the storyline wraps up a little bit too quickly for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this should become a whole four or five issue arc, but something beyond just the one issue would be nice (maybe just an additional one). However, that’s pretty much my only major complaint with this issue – Charles Soule delivered a very strong book with signs of greater things to come. Whilst I may not familiar with the Red Lanterns or Guy Gardner, I trust in Soule – and he’s delivering an excellent read so far. I’ve mentioned this earlier, but I’m just going to reinforce this statement here – if you’re reading just one book from the Green Lantern line, make it Red Lanterns. It’s excellent.