Brightest Day #1

Here we go…

Let me just begin by saying that I think Brightest Day # 1 is a decent comic. Not good but not terrible either. I liked the Jordan/Ferris/Sinestro team up.  The set up explaining what would possibly bring these characters together post-blackest night is actually pretty effective. My only squabble here is that I hope that this storyline merely serves as a prologue for Deadman now that it seems he will be a real character and not some narrative device. The Green Lantern characters have 3 books being published right now; I really hope they don’t take up to much space in this book as it already feels a bit crowded. I liked the brief Martian Manhunter storyline though I am a little disappointed that his mission to terraform Mars is apparently being postponed.  I also liked Mera’s portrayal (she’s not Aquman in a skirt). I even liked the twist on Aquaman’s power.  Ah but Aquaman is also where everything starts to go to hell.

Before I get into that mess let me just preface it by saying that I’ve been trying to not give too much credence to some of the racial criticism leveled at Blackest Night. Yeah I get why a White force saving the universe from an overwhelming Black presence might tick some people off. Sure. But the day/night opposition doesn’t really need to be read as overlapping on racial categories of white/black. Its a little weird but lets move on. Oh how I wish I could! In Aquaman’s first real story post Blackest Night we find him fighting Black Somali pirates that have kidnapped 15 children (all white). One of the pirates explicitly states his intent to rape one of the children right before Aquaman and Mera burst from the ocean to save the day. The racially uncomfortable overtones don’t end there unfortunately. After hearing that Aquaman has returned, a black worker (for a fish market. If you are wondering, it is as contrived as it sounds) goes into a murderous frenzy for no apparent reason and kills all the people in the store and then sets the building on fire (I imagine this last bit of overkill is supposed to cement how bad-ass this character is?). Oh, and to cap it all off this leads into the Firestorm story which, besides suffering from being the most boring of the bunch, serves to remind us that the once prominent black superhero is now a second string  character in his own story.

C’mon guys!

Piracy! Yes, great. That is a wonderful way to make Aquaman relevant. The world, now more than ever, is entrenched in a global economy that relies almost completely on shipping for international goods transportation. Pirates can, and do, wreck major havoc. About 13 billion dollars is lost to piracy every year. How do you mess up such a good premise? The pirates should be attacking oil ships, doing actual infrastructure damage not kidnapping defenseless white children. Instead of actually making the stakes high the writers rely on the emotional impact of the threat child rape to fill the gaps of the story and even if we don’t consider the weird racial overtones that’s still just cheap writing (I mean what European tour ships sails around Somalia?).

Newsarama favorably compared this book to 52. That tickled me. To be fair though I went to my comic book stash and reread 52 # 1. Brightest Day definitely doesn’t hold up.  Sure, it has its superficial similarities. They both take place in the aftermath of a global crisis and they both do so by covering the lives of a handful of characters. However, that’s where the similarities end.The biggest difference is that 52 is actually really well written cohesive story. Brightest Day reads terribly fragmented.

It reads like some one cut and pasted segments from individual Green Lantern/ Aquaman/Martian Manhunter / Hawkman / Firestorm/ Atom comic books and made a fan-fic zine. Ironically this is probably its biggest attraction for some fans, myself included. I love characters like Aquaman and Martian Manhunter (B list characters that really deserve to be on the a-team.) and I am really happy that Johns is trying to popularize them. However that in itself does not make a good comic book.

Not only was there an underlying cohesion to 52 that just isn’t there in Brightest Day, 52 was also incredibly dense. This story continues the decompressed writing trend in comics which I so loathe. I literally read this book in 5 minutes.  What this book is in desperate need of is a good editor. Sadly John’s popularity, as well as his promotion, means that he can play with all the toys he wants how ever he wants. Which is unfortunate because there is some pretty cool stuff here just waiting to be polished.

Final Verdict: D+

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About YWz

Soldier of Fortune, Lover of Knowledge.

15 thoughts on “Brightest Day #1

  1. Pingback: Welcome Aboard, YWz « read/RANT!

  2. I don’t for one second ever really consider if Johns or Tomasi are racist. It doesn’t cross my mind. My big grievances is like you mentioned the lazy writing. The problem is that the weird undertones are a product of the lazy writing more than anything else. Lazy writings lends itself to those moments when you cringe and just scratch you head wondering what they were thinking. Those weird moments wouldn’t feel so abrasive if these guys just really thought through their plot (european tour ships would NEVER sail around somalia). If they didn’t go for the cheap emotion shock of seeing kids being threatened with rape and just had military personel as the hostage that whole scene would have read complete different and (imo) much better. At the very least couldn’t they think not to make the children homogenously white? Again it definitely is accidental. I am certain they didn’t think about. A good writer would have considered all the nuances of such a scene.

  3. wow seventh…. that was incredible. I can’t agree more. I have a much less elegant, much less well written, but similar piece submitted on this site. This is a really big problem, “regresssive storytelling” (love that) because it basically panders to an rapidly ageing core audience rather than expanding its readership. I fear this could be disastrous in the long term for superhero comics.

    Between this and Blackest Night in 60 seconds, I really really need to read comic alliance more often.

  4. The scene with Black Manta killing everyone was due to the fact he overheard the news report of Aquaman’s return, if you read at least one issue of Aquaman that featured Black Manta, you’d know he HATES Aquaman, a true Silver Age arch-nemesis.

    As an Aquaman fan, I loved this issue. As a comic read, it was a decent first issue. As for the racist undertones, this is the FIRST time I even thought of all the things you brought up in your review. It doesn’t bother me, but I find it weird how people can read too much between the lines.

  5. Thanks for commenting. My point is not that Black Manta is written out of character but that the scene were he appears in (along with a bunch of other scenes) was badly written. Him working at a fish market, specifically, is beyond cheesy but the whole idea that black manta can keep a normal civilian identity but the moment his “silver age arch nemesis” returns he hypnotically turns back into a homicidal maniac doesn’t really do it for. I think Villains that exist solely to arch make boring one dimensional characters. The Venture Bros is one of favorite shows largely in fact because it lampoons this notion.

    But I am also not a big fan of the silver-age either. Anyway I am not trying to be a hater. I am glad people enjoy this book. I think it has a lot of potential and I am still really excited for it. I love these characters and I hope it is successful.

  6. Actually British, Italian, German, and American Cruise ships have all been attacked by Somali pirates in that area, along with a number of French yachts. So yes they do sail there and yes they are attacked. So before you go off on another rant you might want to do a little research first.

  7. Few things:

    Cruise ships have been attacked mostly near Kenya and even as far tanzania (though none i can think have been cought correct me if wrong, Crusie ships specically). However never in european waters. Since piracy has become so rampant in the gulf of aden very few cruise ships sail through it. But there are a few exception I am sure you can find.

    I think you can nitpick fine. Great. However I stand by that Johns probably did virtually no research on this. He just said lets have somali attack a cruise ship (lets just have the readers think out the situation that would make such an act feasible).

  8. I agree that the pirates could have been doing something more original and relevant than kidnapping white kids, however i’m gonna give Johns the credit of having some meaning behind the choices. Based on what we saw in Blackest Night, he seems to be driving the Mera story towards her never wanting to have had a child and having some very strong anger problems and things to work out. Hence the children and the “feel my rage!” line.

    Maybe. We’ll see…

  9. Yeah that the only good argument I think I’ve heard. But perhaps that is because I really like Mera and want her to be a break out star. I am much more willing to be forgiving of something that pushes her character along.

  10. Pingback: Geoff Johns is a Sexist « Der Bugmann

  11. Pingback: New Comics 05/19/2010 « read/RANT!

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