Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quick Hit Review: Brightest Day #0

Written By: Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils By: Fernando Pasarin
Inks By: John Dell, Cam Smith, Prentis Rollins, Dexter Vines and Art Thirbert
Colors By: Peter Steigerwald
Letters By: Nick J. Napolitane
Publisher: DC Comics

What is Brightest Day?

52 part two? A spin-off of Blackest Night? I would accept both answers, but as the status quo currently stands, this story is all about characters. Characters who have been offered a second chance and wish not to waste any time.

Main complaint I have heard: “What is the point?” “Where’s the high concept? “Where are the werewolves and vampires and zombies?” Well, I do not see Brightest Day as that type of story. At least, not yet. Like 52, Brightest Day is going to be much more centered around character: the arc, the study and the presence. I am not saying all this will be is some sort of trippy, deep adventure into the head of Martian Manhunter – the audience will see their fair share of action – but in this issue, it appeared to me that the main intent of this book will be to rediscover who these twelve characters are and where they fit. Name example would be Deadman. In a living state, who is the character and what purpose does he play? It is obvious he is going through some sort of arc (smashing of tombstone).

The Martin Manhunter sequence (my favorite one) offers another example of my point. This is not J’onn J’onnzz collecting data for the Justice League or backing away from open flame. This is Martian Manhunter returning to his roots on his native planet. The character is beginning to rediscover himself as the audience does. Yes, J’onn has his “Mars mission” at hand, but the mission is more about the character’s own hope and sense of wanting to act rather than the high concept of “Hey, Mars may be resurrected”.

Two examples, but I think the same point could be pulled from all twelve: this is a collection of character arcs and not just the next status quo in the DC Universe. A point I can appreciate as long as the amount of characters are handled well. This will be a series centered on twelve characters for twenty-six issues, and I will say that this issue did make me feel the grind of that in some aspects. Every two or three pages the reader is thrown across time and space (ala Boston Brand) to a new situation with a new set of rules. Some situations are highly interesting, while others fall a bit flat and appear jarring in the grand context of the issue. An oversized issue, and I already felt a grind of “too much going on”. That makes me a bit wary for the following issues presenting twenty-two pages and at least eight different situations. Pacing is everything to me, and if I feel any sense of being rushed it can really affect my ability to sink into a story. For the most part, this complaint has been an issue with all of DC’s weekly publications; it is the nature of the product. I just hope Johns and Tomasi can finally work out the formula in this one.

Art. I was not crazy about it. Technically, it is good. Pasarin tells the story sequentially well enough. If Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner are flying around Mars, he captures it. Maxwell Lord falling backwards into a pool of water, his sense of motion is on. I just could not get into the style. It is clean. It is straight forward. It is boring. I like artists who can provide a more unique eye when it comes to anatomy and line (Gabriel Ba, Erik Larsen, John Romita Jr., Kirby, Sean Phillips). That approach is not within these pages, and for that fact I was not head over heals. It is not bad, just not praise worthy or something to let your eyes rest on.

Now, this is a zero issue, a premier, and I believe it does the job it should (introducing the basics), but I will say within the next few issues it needs to quickly progress past the information we already know. Meaning: I do not feel I learned anything new with this issue. The book really just places the press releases we have all seen into the context of a story and makes them “real”. Again, a zero issue. It cannot give much away, but I do not wish to see Aquaman in issue #6 still asking, “Why am I alive?” The audience understands that question; it is the main question of the series, so do not shove it up front every scene of every issue. Move past, push the story to new territory starting next issue, and have fun.

Good start. I like the idea. I will read until I grow bored.

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