The Sinestro Corps War' pushed the 'Green Lantern' series to new heights and opened it up to a myriad of possibilities. After that, Geoff Johns began preluding the 'Blackest Night' event with story arcs that laid down the foundation for a climactic and epic War of Light. The story's complexity steadily increases as Johns builds on the concepts and premise of the comic, and the art is always top notch.
The notion behind the War of light, with its rainbow assortment of Lantern Corps, each powered by the emotional spectrum, chanting oaths and shining their rings across the galaxy, is admittedly a pretty silly one at its core. It takes a talented writer of Geoff Johns' caliber to transcend the series beyond the superhero genre and transform it into the compelling character-driven space opera, that it is.
The 'Green Lantern' series has a lot of spinning plates, and 'Rage of the Red Lanterns' is no exception. There's as much character-development as there is for the plot. I don't like to give away spoilers, so here's a vague summary of what to expect:
The Alpha Lanterns, an IA division of the GL's, the Atrocious's Red Lanterns, and Ganthet's and Sayd's new faction of Blue Lanterns are all revealed in this hardcover. Sinestro's role in the Blackest Night is foreshadowed to be detrimental to the universe's survival, and Hal Jordan proves to be an emotional roller coaster.
The Alpha Lanterns are a handful of supporting characters in the series transformed into machine-like and powerful agents who enforce the law within the Green Lantern Corps. They are only a small part in what is the slow unraveling of the Guardians' deep-seeded deception, hypocrisy and fascism.
Atrocious, one of five sole survivors of an ancient but not forgotten holocaust in sector 666, is further evidence of the Guardian's endless history of self-righteous tyranny. Using the blood magic of the five survivors, called the Five Inversion, Atrocious harnessed the red spectrum of light, allowing him to empower the infernal anger within him. The Red Power Ring was born out of hate and crystallized in the blood of the Inversions. He is constantly on the verge of mindlessness, but stays driven in his quest for vengeance and therefore focused, but the same can not be said for his volatile corps. They expunge their own blood, their hearts stop working, and the red ring keeps them alive with rage. This will serve as an advantage during the Blackest Night, and the fiery plasma vomit might come in handy too.
Ganthet and Sayd, the banished Guardians have started their own corps, harnessed the blue spectrum of hope. The Blue Lanterns are spiritual in nature, and are possibly the most powerful of all the corps, if not for their necessity to have Green Lanterns within relatively close proximity. Their role in the series is clearly dynamic, but not yet fully expanded on.
Hal Jordan is of course the main character in the series, but Sinestro truly shines in this arc and is steadily mixing the role of antagonist with protagonist. There is a possibly controversial moment when Sinestro is crucified in a very familiar pose. It possibly reflects on the deifying qualities of a power over fear. However, during the ordeal, he experiences heart-felt terror, profoundly rare for his character, and it's more likely that it signifies a new beginning for our yellow rabble-rousing villain.
Hal's emotional capacity is pushed to it's limits, and this doesn't help pressing matters, such as an ambush in space by two separate and extremely dangerous corps, being subdued in a lake of blood and strung up before a raging mob to be sacrificed, and trying to sort out who his friends and foes are in a suddenly crowded universe.
The artwork is exceptional in 'Rage of the Red Lanterns'. Ivan Reis does a brilliant job of bringing the series to life. His figures are iconic but emotional, and he's a master of fluid detailed panels crammed with action. I also enjoyed the quest artist Shane Davis. His style had less motion, and there were a few too many poses, but it was vivid and stunningly colored. The perspective was fresh, but it was clear Davis faced the same old challenges all guest artist for the series are presented with. There are a lot of moving characters in the series, Reis seems to have become the authority on the issue.
The creature designs for the Red Lanterns aren't all that impressive, I should point out. They're mostly humanoid with big claws and monstrous alien heads; it's nothing too intriguing or spectacular. The Blue Lanterns share a similar issue, but there is a more cohesive theme to their soft, rounded and curvy figures.
Overall, 'Rage of the Red Lanterns' layers the 'Green Lantern' title with more interpersonal drama, plot twists and foreshadowing of things to come. Despite the violence and gore-porn prevalent in this arc, Geoff Johns knows precisely when to lighten the mood with well-placed humor, though some of that takes a back seat to the suspense and action.