Red Lanterns #2
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Ed Benes, Rob Hunter, and Nathan Eyring
The first issue spent its time setting up our lead character, Atrocitus, and what his new mission would be now that Krona was dead. The end decision was, essentially, Cosmic Punishers, rage fueled vengeance in red. Stripped of his own vengeance, he would lead his Corps to deliver vengeance in the names of those who can not attain it for themselves. It’s a far cry from the Green Lantern Corps, the space cops, but it’s also not quite the angry killers that we had been presented with over the past few years. This isn’t a bad thing though, as the Red Lanterns as they had been presented were far from the most intriguing potential leads we’ve ever come across. Milligan did a nice job setting up this concept as able to hold its own title, but does he deliver with the second issue?
The issue itself is him narrating a story to Krona’s corpse about a planetary conflict in which a group came in to play peace keeper and it has since escalated to the locals against these former peace keepers in a blood stained battle with heavy losses to both sides. It’s brutal, angry, brother would kill brother over simply the suspicion of having worked with the others. Milligan paints the picture of the planet quickly which allows him to move forward. The locals are the Ghanites, the occupants are the Yuevers. Th difference between a bunch of armed soldiers in flying ships and all manner of weapon against an almost barbarian race that I’d imagine didn’t even know guns before the Yuevers appeared. A Ghanite attack takes out one of two Yuever ships, which leads the now panicked pilots primed to make mistakes. Three Ghanite children are on the ground, siblings orphaned by the conflict. A sister and her two brothers, both of whom are quickly gunned by the panicked pilots, mistaking sticks for weapons and opening fire. The sister emerges, not to find her brothers, but to find the leftover pieces of her brothers, and it’s her rage filled scream that brings us our ‘hero’.
Atrocitus arrives as the instrument of the girls rage and retribution. With is own subsided, this is what it takes for him to truly begin to cut loose again. He takes vengeance for the girl, justified in what he is doing regardless of the other side of the coin. His character growing as he debates the merits of rage and vengeance at the same time he burns a man to death. WIth his own mind cleared Atrocitus has become that much more aware that rage and vengeance is an unending cycle of pain and punishment, it lacks the clear cut nature that he had long attributed to his rage. He finds himself forced to grow to actually understand what he’s doing now, as for so long his identity was so closely entwined his rage that he feels he is no longer the same man. He apologizes to someone in this issue, something I couldn’t have seen him do a year ago. He’s been changed, and he doesn’t seem too big of a fan of it, and it’s his intention to find a way to bring himself back.
Ed Benes does a great job all around until you look at Atrocitus. The action is fine, the violence is fantastic, but then you look at Atrocitus. Gone are the unique aspects of his face, which now looks almost like a bald red human with sharp teeth. I had seen Ethan Van Sciver talk about it on Facebook before I read the issue, and I found myself agreeing. He’s the main character and he’s easily the worst visual in the issue if you’ve ever seen him before. He doesn’t look nearly as intimidating with his new man-like face. Though I will give major credit to Benes for completely nailing the scene of the little girl screaming for vengeance.
Milligan seems to be embracing the one issue stories with a central plot that connects the books, and I think that might be a good call here. The shortened story about the Ghanites and Yuevers created a greater impact than I imagine we would have seen had it been stretched across several issues, while Atrocitus reacting to events such as this makes for a good way to push the story forward. He’s a leader without the fuel he needs to lead, and with an army that is as mindless as they are rage fueled…with but one real exception. I’d imagine the next issue, given the cover and the end of this one, will be him appointing an actual second in command of his Corps. It’s an interesting character story, and one I didn’t really expect out of a beast like Atrocitus. It’s not perfect, but it does have me wanting to come back next month to see what it takes for him to either get his groove back or completely reinvent the entire Corps.
Tags: Atrocitus, DC Comics Relaunch, ed benes, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), New 52 (DC Comics), Peter Milligan, Red Lanterns, Reviews