It’s Month 2 of DC Comics’ The New 52! It’s do-or-die this month for the books I bashed last month, and time to see if the titles I loved last month are as good as I thought! I’ll be reviewing all 52 #2 issues released this month, and you can find all of the reviews on the Comic Book Reviews index page. This week we get 13 #2 issues, including Red Lanterns #2! Red Lanterns #1 surprised me by being my favorite of the Lantern books released in month 1 of The New 52. I’m happy to say that the first issue was no accident, and Red Lanterns #2 is nearly as fun, interesting, and unique as the issue that preceded it.
This review will be as spoiler-free as possible.
Like most great stories, there are both major external and internal conflicts in Red Lanterns #2. The physical conflict is an incident that takes place on a war-laden planet of warring species, where soldiers fighting for their own survival inadvertently kill young civilians who they mistake for hostile enemies. It’s easy to sympathize with both sides of this scenario, and serves to make the internal conflict a powerful one.
This killing fuels Atrocitus’ inner struggle as to how you judge if one person’s rage is more worthy or justifiable than another’s. Atrocitus ends up taking actions that some people will say are the correct ones, and others would say are totally reprehensible. Atrocitus straddles the line between murderer and bringer of justice, and it makes him far and away one of the freshest and most captivating characters in the new DC Universe.
The resolution of the issue is not what I expected it to be at all, and I’m genuinely excited to see what happens in the next issue, as Atrocitus has a big choice to make that is going to fundamentally alter the nature of the Red Lanterns as a corps.
The only real faults I found with Red Lanterns #2 lie not with what’s in the comic, but what’s not. Last issue a fair number of pages were devoted to a subplot regarding an elderly war veteran who was beaten to death by street punks and his vengeful grandson and not-so-vengeful grandson. That subplot isn’t followed up on in any way in this issue, which is a bit of a disappointment. If that thread was important enough to break up the events transpiring in the first issue, then it should have been followed up on in the second one. I doubt that storyline is being dropped, but it’s very awkward and noticeable that it was totally skipped here.
In addition, Red Lanterns #1 seemed to be building towards a revolt of the Red Lanterns against Atrocitus, led by Red Lantern Bleez. Unfortunately, there’s no follow-up to that in this issue either–in fact, Bleez appears but doesn’t speak or do anything at all. I can deal with a slow build, but it seems weird to introduce another seemingly important plotline in the first issue and then ignore it utterly in the next.
“Where Can I Buy It?!”
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Overall: Red Lanterns #2 was another thought-provoking, well-written issue. Perhaps the biggest triumph so far for this series is that Atrocitus, a character I previously had no affection for whatsoever, is quickly becoming among my favorite characters in the DC Universe. While the story in this issue is strong on its own merits and as a standalone tale, the book does feel like it’s treading water a little this month as it doesn’t advance most of its subplots. That keeps Red Lanterns away from the level of greatness that Swamp Thing and Animal Man are presently on, but I have a lot of faith in Peter Milligan and his grand plan for this book and I’ll be greatly anticipating the next book of Red Lanterns.