DC Comics’ The New 52 rolls on in its second week! I’ll be reviewing all 52 #1 issues released this month, and you can find all of the reviews on the Comic Book Reviews index page. This week we get 13 more new series, including one of the rare new series that’s not a relaunch of an older title: Red Lanterns! Many were skeptical about the validity of a book focusing on what’s often perceived as a villain corps, but those doubts are washed away by this issue. When you open up a book to a double splash-page of a blue intergalactic space cat puking flaming hate, you know you’ve stumbled upon something truly great.
This review will be as spoiler-free as possible.
Red Lanterns #1 is one of the best-structured and most accessible to new readers of any first issue in the first half of The New 52. You get an action-packed introduction to the most popular Red Lantern (by which I mean the cat) as well as the main character of the series, the Red Lantern leader Atrocitus. You see the concise and well-written backstory on Atrocitus and the events that led to his creation of the Red Lanterns, as well as some visions of the future and the direction that the Red Lanterns (and this book) will take. There’s an interlude on Earth to introduce a likely future Red Lantern and to give us the human perspective. We even get an intriguing cliffhanger ending, something which most of The New 52 first issues have failed to provide. The structure and pacing of this book is pretty much perfect.
I thought the artwork in Red Lantern #1 was particularly excellent, and has a great sci-fi look to it. The first splash pages we get of Dex-Starr and Atrocitus are memorable and exhilarating, and the other Red Lanterns we see are terrifying and really jump off the page. The art here is so good that I actually preferred the art in this issue to that of its parent book, Green Lantern #1.
I’m a little surprised by how much I loved the script for this book, as I hated writer Peter Milligan’s recent “Flashpoint: Secret Seven” as well as his famed “X-Statix” series. I haven’t really connected with any of Milligan’s work before, but this clicked totally with me. If you haven’t particularly liked Milligan’s writing in the past, I think Red Lanterns #1 may change your mind about him somewhat.
Nothing, really. I loved it all.
Overall: Red Lanterns #1 has all of the tool to be a huge success: great artwork, fun storytelling, characters like Dex-Starr that are a spectacular hit in popular culture, a high level of accessibility, part of the flagship Green Lantern line of titles, and the tidal wave of New 52 marketing. This is one of my absolute favorite books of the entire relaunch, and is highly recommended to anyone who wants to try out a new and fun book.