Final Crisis - Rage of the Red Lanterns #1
Reviewed by Russell Burlingame
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and covers by Shane Davis and Sandra Hope
On Sale October 29, 2008
While I remain skeptical about the wisdom of creating a rainbow of multicolored Lantern Corps, the first serious foray into the territory--last year's Sinestro Corps War--was an unqualified success. Both in terms of sales and story, it outperformed Countdown to Final Crisis and became THE mandatory reading in terms of 2007's DC event books.
This year, DC was a little smarter. Taking things like Final Crisis: Revelations and Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns under their wings as official parts of the big crossover event was far smarter than what they'd done with Sinestro Corps War, which was segregated off in its own little corner and probably sold only about half of what it might have, had it been properly marketed.
That said, while the first issue of Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns was fairly predictable, and mostly just stage-setting, it was a much more enjoyable read than the Final Crisis core title, or even a good-but-slow story like Rucka's Revelations.
Following the formation of the Red Lantern Corps--a group who are driven by rage in the same way that the Green Lanterns feed on willpower and the Sinestro Corps feed on fear--Sinestro's execution becomes the backdrop for the beginning of a three way "war of light" that will, unless I'm mistaken, become at least four (and probably five) ways as the series carries on and we start to see more from the Zamarons, and from Guardian-in-exile Ganthet. The Green Lanterns, many of whom are called upon to accompany Sinestro in his sciencell to Korugar for execution, are attacked en route by a mess of Sinestro's loyalists, only to find that there's a third party--the Red Lantern Corps--who come in, figurative guns-a-blazin' for Sinestro, and not really caring who gets hurt in the crossfire.
Readers who read into the Sinestro Corps War that Kyle Rayner--the embodiment of "hope" for Ganthet, as it was repeated several times--might become the first of the Blue Lanterns will be surprised to see that, while an established character is recruited to the Blue Lantern Corps, it's not Kyle--and that apparently the Blue Lanterns will only have a certain number of their own member and will apparently serve chiefly to pull the GL Corps' fat out of the fire in bad situations.
It's still unclear what role the Alpha Lanterns will play in Final Crisis, as they've chiefly served both here and in the main miniseries to do nothing but stand around criticizing folks and, in the case of the core Final Crisis story, to keep Hal out of the fight at a time when he's sorely needed. Hopefully, with Geoff Johns on the issue, we'll get something useful out of them by the conclusion of Rage of the Red Lanterns.
It will also be interesting to see what happens to some of the established characters who fall prey to the Red Lantern Corps by the end. It appears as though their rings remove the blood of the ring-bearer and replace it with energy, suggesting that former Green Lantern Laira--and any other established character who joins the RLC along the way--might have no direction home if the Red Lanterns are shut down by the end of The Blackest Night.
Between this and his Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds mini, it's fair to say that Geoff Johns is responsible for most of the really high-quality storytelling coming out of Final Crisis. Despite the disappointment many fans felt at Infinite Crisis, its ramifications and follow-ups, Johns continues to be DC's workhorse, pumping out spectacular stories in books as wide-ranging as Green Lantern, Justice Society of America, Booster Gold and Legion of Super-Heroes. Combining his success with the failures of Morrison and JG Jones in this series, one has to wonder if maybe this series could have been better handled by Johns and Perez completely.
Look Insider the Issue
Russell Burlingame is a journalist and columnist living and working in New York City. In high school, Russell interviewed Elliot S. Maggin for a review of the Kingdom Come novelization, and since then has worked consistently in and around the comics industry. He interned for Wizard magazine, and has freelanced for Wizard and Newsarama, in addition to a number of non-comics publications, Russell is currently working on a graphic novel based on Cap'n Internet, the comic strip that ran in his college newspaper; and a graphic biography of folk singer Phil Ochs with artist Marion Vitus.
Currently, in addition to his freelance work and his comics projects, Russell writes a number of columns for ComicRelated, including Conscientious Sequentials, The Gold Exchange, What's Perhappenin', Closing Statements, Reflecting 'Pool and To See or Not To See. Russell also takes point on the Hot Shot of the Week feature.