Brightest Day Vol. 1 Paperback – Dec 13 2011
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About the Author
Geoff Johns has written Infinite Crisis, 52, Green Lantern, X-Men, The Avengers, Superman, and much more. Peter Tomasi is the writer of The Light Brigade as well as stories for Outsiders and JSA Classified. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
First, the good. Having already gotten several year-long series under its belt, DC has learned from experience and banked some of its best talent for this project. Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi co-write Brightest Day, bringing the same accessibility and ease of prose that made the current Green Lantern books such a success. Artistic collaborators Ivan Reis and Patrick Gleason are also on board, as well as Scott Clark, Joe Prado and Adrian Syaf. It's an impressive roster, and unlike 52 and Countdown to Final Crisis, here each artist is assigned a specific set of characters and their story arc. So all the Aquaman segments are drawn by Reis, all of Martian Manhunter's odyssey is handled by Gleason, and so forth. In addition to maintaining the visual continuity, the breakdown of artistic chores gives each artist a bit more time to refine their pages. You'd never know Brightest Day was running on a twice-monthly schedule with its quality of art. DC also rethought the way their year long "spine" titles should operate - whereas 52 had the benefit of operating in its own continuity bubble and Countdown to Final Crisis tried and failed to mesh disparate elements from various concurrent titles, here Brightest Day is the focus with the other titles brancing out and taking notes from it. You'll never feel like you're missing a plot point because you're not reading Justice League of America: The Dark Things, The Flash, Vol. 1: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues, Titans: Villains for Hire, Green Arrow Vol. 1: Into the Woods (Green Arrow (Graphic Novels)), etc. The focus on 2nd-tier characters is appreciated. Johns has made a career at DC out of resurrecting the intriguing-yet-underused players, and it's great seeing Aquaman, Deadman, Firestorm and Hawkman handled with the same reverence as the big guns. All the arcs are generally intriguing with their own highs and lows, my favourite being the Aquaman story. The occasional revisionist history (a staple of Johns' work) is a concession most fans have learned to live with.
So why the 3-star rating? I mentioned I generally liked all the individual story arcs, but the series doesn't make a strong case for why they needed to be presented together (as opposed to individual minis with bookends, much like Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory series. None of the arcs really tie into each other, and in turn the pacing suffers when you spend time away from one set of characters to focus on another. There's not a lot of logic in how Brightest Day chooses to dictate its focus. And without spoiling the ending, Brightest Day sets up a sense of reader involvement that it never really pays off. This is, at its most basic level, a missing persons mystery story. There's the detective (Deadman) the suspects (all the returnees, and a few others) and a person to find (the Chosen One). But unlike other stories in the genre that lay out clues along the way and reward readers for paying attention to details, there's really nothing here in the beginning that is relevant in the endgame. There are several opportunities for Johns and Tomasi to layer in foreshadowing, and none of it is really taken advantage of. This is a *huge* disappointment in a story that purposefully asks readers to guess a mystery character, and undermines what should have been the high point of an exposition-heavy volume 1.
The trade edition comes with a variant cover gallery, as well as the special character-themed variants from all the tie-in books that form a larger spread. I can't totally write off Brightest Day, but it's also not the crowning success that all the talent involved could've made it to be. At the very least wait for paperback - DC's attempt to peddle this out in 3 volumes versus 2 (see the companion series : Justice League: Generation Lost, Vol. 1) reeks a bit of money grab.
Brightest Day coninutes right after the mega-event Blackest Night, and explores the new lives of most of the reborn heroes and villains(Max Lord is postlighted in Jstice League: Generation Lost, Zoom & Captain Boomerang in Flash, Jade in JLA and GLC I think.) I does a big amount of jumping around between characters at first but then goes into large chunks of story being focused onto one character. The larger chunks that are fosuced on just one or two characters are great and do a little bit of retconning to provide new wrinkles to the characters or new threats, especially in the case of Firestorm. The story telling is great at points but personally I don't really care for the Deadman/Dove storyline. It just doesn't appeal to me. I never really got into these characters before this series but find myself really enjoying the stories. I never thought I'd be excited about a Hawkman or Aquaman story. The art team also does a good job of blending their styles to fit the story-telling.
Just because it says Brightest Day doesn't mean the stories are light either, so expect the same gritty kind of story-telling that you usually read in other DC books. I am really liking the direction that Johns and Tomasi are taking these characters and look forward the the future of them as well. Also, check out the other books under the Brightest Day banner like Green Lantern, Flash, and Justice League Generation Lost.
Tapping into the 52 formula, BRIGHTEST DAY aims for 26 issues, is published twice a month, opts for the slow burn approach, strives to inject relevance into predominantly second tier characters. In Silver City, New Mexico perches the unliftable White Lantern battery and we first caught a glimpse of it at the end of BLACKEST NIGHT and the immediate thought was: "So who's the White Lantern then?" There's a White Lantern ring on Boston Brand's finger, and maybe the assumption is that the ex-Deadman is the first White Lantern, but not so fast. Boston Brand provides the connecting thread to the other story arcs as the ring teleports him across the globe (and even into space), forcing him to observe (unseen) what's been going down with the other eleven revived characters, most of whom are still haunted by the atrocities they committed as the murderous Black Lanterns. The ring instructs Deadman to "Help them."
A sense of mystery surrounds each of the core characters, never mind the elephant in the room which is why these deaders were restored to life in the first place. Thru Deadman's eyes, we catch up with a pensive Aquaman who can now summon dead rotting sea life, and we also note a sort of retconning job done on Mera.
J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, seems more at peace now as he goes about his plans to nurture life back on his home planet Mars. But then he learns of a Martian entity that preceded his arrival to Earth years ago, and this creature tends to rip the skin off her victims.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl are fed up with Hath-Set's existence, the fiend what had been murdering their past incarnations; Hawkman aims to kill him. There are also scenes of Carter and Shiera Hall catching up. For fans of the Hawk, this is good stuff (and I'm a fan of the Hawks).
Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch, hating on each other, are now forced to co-exist as Firestorm but they may not be the only ones inhabiting the Firestorm matrix. Someone or something keeps insinuating itself into their conversations, making those ominous remarks.
Deadman (now Aliveman?) can suddenly bring things to life, and I'm still not sure if this is his natural power or brought about by the ring. But when the always angry Hawk learns of this power, it's the most natural thing in the world for him to ask Deadman that one favor. Hawk has never read "The Monkey's Paw."
Professor Zoom (a.k.a. the Reverse-Flash), Boomerang, Maxwell Lord, Jade, and Osiris aren't featured as much. They'll get theirs later or they make their mark by popping up in other comic book titles (Jade in JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA, Maxwell Lord in JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST, Hawk in BIRDS OF PREY, etc.). Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi make the story arcs accessible, explain enough backstory that new readers won't drown coming in. They set up a good pace - or a pace that benefits from the trade format, anyway - and, for the most part, the various story arcs pique my interest. To be honest, I still don't give a what about Hawk or Osiris or Firestorm. But I'm glad Aquaman, J'onn J'onzz, and the Hawks are back, and that there's spotlight on Boston Brand and that Hawkgirl's done tripping with her "I don't remember our past" cr@p. But there's a solid sense that a plan is in the works, some sort of core narrative that'll weave all these threads together. Just because these twelve cats get a second shot at life doesn't mean they'll all earn it... or even get to keep it. The White Lantern entity has cryptic plans for each of them. Issue #7 gives us an inside peek to events in store for our players, and what we glimpse isn't all pretty. Right now, color me curious, man. But Brightest Day? Not so fast.
If it were up to me, Ivan Reis would be drawing everything in sight. This trade comes with a wagonload of artists, including Reis. Thankfully, all these artists are pretty good. It's key that there's enough commonality in their styles that they don't distract from the narrative.