Review:Brightest Day by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, & Ivan Reis

Brightest Day

Written by: Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi
Art by: Ivan Reis, Ferndando Pasarin, Scott Clark, Patrick Gleason, & Adrian Syaf

Published by: DC

Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

I am admitting up front, this review is a huge experiment for me. I have never tried to do one review that encompassed 25 comics before. If this really sucks, I apologize in advance. It was a very slow week for comics for me, and I still wanted to be able to provide some review content.  Last weekend, DC put all the issues of Brightest Day up for 99 cents each. Since that is MUCH cheaper than the trades (Vol. 1 is $20, Vol. 2 and 3 are $30 each), I had to pick them up.

Up front, I will say that it annoyed me some that so many of the story elements set up in this book aren’t even addressed in the main series. Of the 12 characters who were brought back and given quests by the White Lantern, Professor Zoom’s assignment was resolved even before Blackest Night began (Flash: Rebirth), Jade’s assignment was resolved in Justice League #48, Osiris’s in Titans #32, and Maxwell Lord’s in Generation Lost #13. This comic was 25 issues long, with a lot of filler. There was no reason they could have not devoted at least a age to each (with a nice little narration tag saying “For the full story, see Titans #32”).

Also, the epilogue miniseries doesn’t seem to be traded or available digitally yet, which I think is kind of strange.

As for the stories addressed in Brightest Day, they are a bit of a mixed bag. I especially loved seeing Deadman as the main character. His journey to find out who should be the White Lantern, and how this interacted with the other characters that were brought back to life was great. I especially like the surprise when we realize that Swamp Thing would become the new White Lantern :

I also thought Deadman’s journey gave a very thorough look at the status quo of the DC Universe after Blackest Night. Which I guess ended up not mattering all that much since a few months after Brightest Day ended, DC Relaunch happened. It’s still not clear exactly which parts of Brightest Day actually happened in this new continuity. It seems that Deadman and Dove still have a relationship, which started in Brightest Day. But Firestorm’s story seems to be a complete restart, which makes everything that happened in Brightest Day to him invalid.  And it doesn’t seem like Swamp Thing is still a White Lantern (though I haven’t read the Brightest Day epilogue yet, so maybe that is addressed there).

I also loved the Aquaman and Martian Manhunter stories. This is the first time I got to see this Aqualad in the comics (I’m a huge fan of the version in the Young Justice cartoon), and I think he’s a great character with a lot of potential. Definitely enjoyed reading about him much more than I ever have with Garth. It was also great to see Mera’s background, and some of the scenes with Aquaman channeling dead sea life were just disturbing:

Geoff Johns really has a good handle on Aquaman, and he was definitely the right choice to pick the series up after Relaunch.  I just hope that some of the Aquawar elements end up coming back to effect the series.

The Martian Manhunter story was also really well done. It was kind of creepy at times as we saw Martian Manhunter find a lost Martian who was completely out of her mind. Jonn’s struggle to figure out what is more important to him his Martian legacy or his Earth friendships took the story to some really interesting places. I have always liked Martian Manhunter, and this might be one of the best stories he’s even been featured in. Purely a personal comment, but I would have liked to see more of Miss Martian. She is another character I haven’t read much of, and the quick glimpses here made me curious to know more.

The two stories I didn’t like all that much were the Firestorm story and the Hawkman/Hawkgirl story. I thought some of the Firestorm stories in Blackest Night were really strong, but here the Jason/Ronnie dynamic seemed very forced at time. The whole “you must get on the same page or the universe could end” seemed like a huge stretch. And I never felt all that connected to Jason’s dad to be  all that worried if something bad happened to him. And Deathstorm seemed more annoying than all that threatening a foe. It’s never good when the only part of a story I really like is a real quickie cameo by Atom:

I also thought it was kind of amusing that Atom’s thermal armor seemed to be from the same shop the heroes all got their more armored Relaunch costumes from.

As for the Hawks story…well to be honest, I have never liked Hawkman all that much. I do think the idea of a cursed couple destined to meet and face tragedy through time is a real good one with great story potential, but I don’t think DC has ever really found a way to make it not boring. There did seem to be a lot of cool ideas in this one, but the execution just left me flat. And whoever thought we needed to bring back the idea of Hawkworld is clearly delusional.  I did think it was pretty messed up to basically ensure that the Hawks still can’t get a happy ending, but it was the right way to end their story.

Considering Brightest Day was 25 comics, I did think the pacing was really good.  Granted, I didn’t have to wait two weeks between issues, so I’m sure I might have felt differently if I had read it normally.

And it really kept me interested the entire times, I basically read all 25 issues in one sitting. That said, I did really wanna rush through some of the Firestorm and Hawkman/Hawkgirl parts to get back to the parts of the story I found more engaging. And some of the resolutions felt really tacked on. Did they really need to bring Captain Boomerang back just to throw a boomerang at Dove, which seemed very out of character? It might have tied things together in a much more logical fashion if Max Lord was the one who needed to try and kill Dove. Instead, we have a real big plot contrivance.

I also thought it was so strange to devout so much of the first few issues to Hal and Sinestro, only to have the rest of that story trail off into Green Lantern and not get touched again in the main Brightest Day series.

I  kind of liked the whole elemental thing, though it seemed to be a little hurried and ended up not being as important to the story as it seemed it should be. Actually, I think that would be my big complaint about Brightest Day, too many story elements seem to be given weight and focus that didn’t seem all that important in the end. And like I said earlier, I am not sure it was all that good an idea to do a big year long event, only to end up Relaunching and making a lot of the story out of continuity just a few months later.

One thing that really surprised me when writing up this review was how many different artists worked on this book. The art through these issues is very consistent (and very good), which shows a lot of dedication and careful editing. A few of the books of Relaunch have had different artists working on the books, and they are nowhere near as consistent as Brightest Day was.

All in all, Brightest Day had some flaws, and I definitely thought it missed out on hitting it’s full potential, but there were many great moments throughout (most centered around Deadman, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter who are all characters I like) and the art was great throughout.  All in all, Brightest Day succeeds much more than it failed.  Though I wouldn’t recommend paying 80 bucks for the trades.  But at 25-50 bucks, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

Final Score: 7.5 A lot of Brightest Day was very good, but the Firestorm and Hawkman/Hawkgirl stories really dragged it down for me.

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