Friday, 6 March 2015

Red Lanterns, Volume 5: Atrocities Review (Charles Soule, Alessandro Vitti)

Red Lanterns: mean, angry, blood-spewing idiots who’re angry and mean – but are slowly becoming more cuddly? In this volume, Guy Gardner’s Red Lanterns square off against Atrocitus’s Red Lanterns – grrr! Then Supergirl becomes a (temporary) Red Lantern - rarrr! Then there are suddenly hundreds of Red Lanterns – GRRRRAAARRR! But the Red Lanterns are all buddies so they’re gonna save everything together, yay! 

So much – too much - of this chunky book is filler. Skallox and Zilius Zox go sight-seeing on Earth! Guy woos ex-girlfriend Ice unsuccessfully! A new, uninteresting character called The Judge is introduced! Supergirl becomes a Red Lantern and then turns back! Two pointless crossovers are thrown in! There’s meaningless cameos galore: Batman, Superman, John Stewart! And watch as one boring fight after another happens! 

The bloated volume could have been condensed into a strong, tight four or five issue book - instead we’ve got eleven issues!! The search for Atrocitus and the nine red rings is a fine story and that alone could’ve been enough. Have the Red Lanterns focus on this rather than send them here, there and everywhere else. All that extra stuff can easily go, like what was the point of having Supergirl become a Red Lantern? None, except to fill up a lot of space - it didn’t go anywhere anyway! 

I really hate crossovers because it forces you to read titles you’re not reading for a reason. So having Robert Venditti’s Green Lantern and Tony Bedard’s Supergirl comics shoe-horned into this book were unwelcome additions. Not only were they boring but they added nothing to the overall story that wasn’t already in it. 

The ending was definitely the worst part as it’s really rushed and poorly put together – thrown together really! After spending scores of pages on irrelevant fluff, Charles Soule crams: Guy Gardner’s showdown with Atrocitus, major changes to the cast and series direction, and Guy’s new life in about five pages! Compare this to a useless fight between Skallox, Zilius Zox, and Shadow Thief earlier in the book which ran to more pages!

In addition to the overlong page count, the panels are packed with dialogue giving it a claustrophobic look. Soule makes sure every character has a lot to say about everything so trudging through this book is an exhausting read! When Soule does get around to focusing on the story of the Reds vs Atrocitus and his growing army of other Reds, things are good – it’s just so much of it is watered down making it less effective. 

Soule writes the characters to be much more likeable than they’ve previously been presented which somehow feels wrong – they’re Red Lanterns, they’re not supposed to be about the feels! And why have Guy Gardner frequently make the point that he’s not a leader and the Reds are independent, when all he does is lead and the rest follow? 

Art-wise, it’s difficult to say because there are a ton of artists contributing pages. It’s more or less consistently fine but it’s the usual story with DC mashing together an issue by having one artist draw the first five pages, then another drawing the next seven, another drawing three, and another drawing the remaining pages – multiplied by 11! 

The book could’ve benefitted from Soule culling a lot of his dialogue, focusing more on the main story, and giving the finale the space it deserved rather than barrelling through it at breakneck speed. As a result, Red Lanterns Volume 5: Atrocities is just an ok book when it had the potential to be much better.

Red Lanterns, Volume 5: Atrocities

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