Red Lanterns #22: A Kick In The Pants
As I mentioned in my review of the last issue of Red Lanterns, the series up to this point had seemed to be spinning its wheels with a lot of culty "communion of rage" blather and not actually doing much of anything. I hoped that Guy Gardner kicking Atrocitius to the curb would be the kick in the pants this book needed, and it's starting to look like that will be the case.
In Red Lanterns #22, writer Charles Soule shows us why the Red Lanterns haven't done anything – because they're constantly furious at everything, including each other, and that leads to incessant bickering – over who will lead the group, over whether or not to dunk Gardner into Ysmault's lake of blood to allow him to regain his higher brain functions and not just be a frothing rage monkey, over everything. When the human RL Rankorr takes it upon himself to do the dunking, the Gardner who emerges starts whipping the crew into a different kind of shape in no time. First up, establish that no one needs a leader – there's only a handful of them, so they can run it like a democracy. Secondly, he tells them their stupid barren planet sucks, and the first order of business is to get off of it and find an actual place to sleep instead of the crappy ol' desert. Thirdly, they get off the damn planet and DO SOMETHING – namely, something Guy's always wanted to do as a Green Lantern and couldn't – murder the hell out of a scumbag space pirate and steal his ship.
FINALLY. Only trouble is that it feels so good to finally do it that Gardner might find his undercover mission with the Reds more tempting than he ever thought, now that he's kicked them into gear.
Soule's dialogue is pretty fun – it's sort of cathartic to listen to Gardner just rake the Reds over the coals for being ineffectual nimrods and completely change their M.O. Also, referring to Zilius Zox as "ZZ Blob" and "a testicle with teeth" is another sign that this book may be taking a few more steps towards genuine entertainment, and the assault on the bastard Barg's vicious piracy operation makes us think that this book will finally be about what it feels like it always should have been – visceral, justified revenge. Alessandro Vitti's artwork is solid as well, and his Red Lantern blood-puke is particularly icky, like it should be.
Of course, the book could always sink back into what it was, given that Dex-Starr the Angry Cat has resuscitated Atrocitus, but so far it seems like Soule knows how this book should work, and it's doubtful that he'll regress. Good news for fans of blood-soaked vengeance.