This was an interesting week, to say the least. DC pushed out some fun annuals, while Marvel further explored the broken time stream. The Indestructible Hulk came oh-so-very-close to earning this week’s top spot: they made Hulk a time cop! (I immediately started daydreaming of The Hulk running into The Doctor or Jack Harkness!)
But Hulk channeling his inner Van Damme didn’t quite make it. This week’s honor goes to the most unlikely of books. After months of mediocrity and some outright crap, the rage of red has shone through.
My name is Sean Sorensen, and I am of sound mind and am writing this review under no duress: Red Lanterns #22 is the best buy you can make this week!
For the past two years, Red Lanterns has wandered the wastelands of mediocrity. The book was aimless. Even when it was tied into the huge GL events, it failed to impress. But then a man named Charles Soule took ahold of his (hopefully red!) pen, and suddenly everything changed. In just two issues, Soule has made Red Lanterns the book it was meant to be.
With Guy Gardner as the new focus, this book looks to be the new king of the Lantern series!
Soule withdraws from the melodramatic monologues about rage (and/or the lack thereof), opting instead for wonderfully snappy dialogue befitting Guy Gardner. When Guy meets Zilius Zox, he refers to him as a “testicle with teeth,” and my new favorite pairing was born. Guy and Zox provide some wonderful comic relief.
In the earlier issues, the new human Red Lantern Rankorr was the audience’s proxy, but I never really bought his struggle with rage. Guy Gardner has struggled with rage his entire life. Having Guy go undercover as a Red Lantern is like having a recovered heroin addict go undercover as a drug dealer. It’s not going to end well, but it presents some fantastic drama. Kudos to Soule for not being afraid to really play with his main character!
I would be remiss not to mention the art in this book. Alessandro Vitti has mastered exactly the style this book needs. At one point, almost every frame is like a heavy metal album cover with women, blood, and monsters. From there, Vitti’s heavy metal imagery switches to and then melds with a sci-fi style, creating an extremely impressive aesthetic.
The thing that blew me away, though? Vitti’s Guy Gardner bookends. The first page features a completely out-of-control, blood spewing Guy, while the last page shows us a cold, in-control, and rather evil-looking Guy sitting in his new “throne.” The end image gave me chills. I look forward to many months of him penciling a blood-spewing Guy Gardner.
No joke, Red Lanterns was amazing this month. I have a very good feeling about this series going forward. With Soule and Vitti at the helm, this book could be a top contender each month! So, run — don’t walk — to your shop or tablet. Grab issues 21 and 22 of Red Lanterns, and prepare for the ride of your life. To enhance the experience, I recommend having a metal album on hand. Trust me.