From the beginning, I haven’t exactly be a big fan of Brightest Day. I was disappointed by the “bait and switch” tactic the book seemed to be playing. The title and promotional material seemed to imply a change in tone from the grim stories that lead up to it. But the first issue made it clear that this story was as dark as anything that preceded it.
Worse still, the book has suffered from terrible pacing problems. The popular theory is that Johns and Tomasi just haven’t been able to juggle the large cast and multiple (mostly unrelated) plot threads very well. I would agree that this has definitely been a problem for the book so far.
However, after narrowing their focus last issue to good effect, Johns and Tomasi have delivered what I consider to be the best issue yet. And once again, they have done so by narrowing the focus to just two stories per issue.
The issue starts with an update on the Firestorm storyline. I’ve always liked both Firestorms. So the idea of a Ronnie/Jason hybrid should be a home run for a reader like me. But Johns and Tomasi have written both characters extremely badly. I don’t feel like I recognize either one of them. Jason has a chip on his shoulder that was never there in his own book. And Ronnie acts like he was given a lobotomy in the hereafter.
I was not looking forward to reading another installment in the battling Firestorms saga. (Even if it was nice to see Jason driving for once.) To make matters worse, the opening pages indulged in two of my least favorite Geoff Johns trademarks. First, endless exposition in which Johns explains a bunch of things that never really needed to be explained in the first place. Always done by a character telling us what Johns should be showing us. Second, a Geoff Johns retcon that somehow connects Firestorm to the big bang.
Bleh. And yet, both characters were at least likeable. This is a tremendous improvement over any previous installment in the Firestorm story line.
Things picked up when the Aqualad story kicked in. Jackson is an immensely relateable character right out of the gate. Yeah, his story is pretty much one cliche after another right down to his Darth Vader of the Deep daddy. But the execution was there. By the time Aquaman showed up for the obligatory rescue, I was cheering. The issue had won me over.
I was a little disappointed that we had to go back to the Firestorm story after that. But Johns and Tomasi had to set up the issue’s cliffhanger ending. We all know that the Black Lanterns are coming back. This issue ends with my least favorite BL (that being Black Lantern Firestorm) making an unwanted return. I hate, hate, hate Johns’ throwback dialog for BL Firestorm. I’m not sure what he’s going for. It’s not funny, cool, or bad assed. It’s just old and lame. And not at all appropriate for a character who is supposed to be in his 20’s in 2010.
I know I complained a lot about this issue. Frankly, even with the improvements, there was a lot to complain about. But at the end of the day, I liked this issue. And that’s a first for the series. Hopefully Johns and Tomasi will continue to keep the focus on no more than two stories at a time.
And hopefully, the unwanted (and way too soon) return of the Black Lanterns won’t last very long.