REVIEW: Brightest Day #12

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Welcome back for our ongoing discussion of DC ComicsBrightest Day series. As these posts have begun to pile up, we’ve created a new hub to access previous issues and even some of the things we had to say about Blackest Night. Brightest Day #12 is all-Martian all the time, which proves you can’t judge a book by its cover (unless it’s the variant cover).

Spoilers to follow.

PTB: I’m not so crazy about the cover this time around. It has nothing to do with the art, it’s more about the use of text. “DEATHSTROM RETURNS!” From where? He’s been in nearly every issue including the last one.

It’s also another odd cover choice as most of this issue focuses on Martian Manhunter, with only 4 pages used for anything else.

KevinMLD: The only way any of the covers on this series make sense is to assume they need a lot of lead-time and that at the time they are commissioned and designed, the issue hasn’t been written yet. Having said that, the alternate cover would have been perfect for this issue.

PTB: I completely agree, and understand about commissioning these covers in advance of the scripts being complete, but that text makes no sense.

KevinMLD: I don’t know about you, but to me this issue felt like a huge derailment for the series that had just started to feel like it was finding it’s feet with the Aquaman/New Aqualad story as well as the Firestorm stuff to a lesser extent. I’m just not a fan of this Martian Manhunter subplot and I’m definitely not sure it needed so many pages dedicated to it. And with the promise of a return to Hawkworld next issue, it looks like the train isn’t headed back on the tracks for a little while.

PTB: It’s definitely a departure from the last few issues. The non-Manhunter pages do give some indication that stories are beginning to converge, at least in the case of Firestorm, the Black Lanterns and Deadman.

The “meeting” of Martian Manhunter and the other last of the Green Martians, D’Kay D’razz is pretty cool. Beautiful art, I really wish I knew who worked on what pages in this book. The coloring here adds such an incredible mood to whole scene. Any significance to the ruby quartz coffin they’re using as a table?

KevinMLD: The art is nice. The Manhunter’s face kind of reminds me at times of the way Kevin Maguire drew him in JLI. I’m certain there is significance to that coffin that I’m just not aware of. Maybe it’s his coffin from Final Crisis?

PTB: Could be. I believe Manhunter also said something about her being in his family’s ancestral home.

What are they going for with D’Kay’s extra mouths? In this issue it seems that she is speaking through all of them, but in the past I got the impression that they may have had independent minds.

KevinMLD: I think she’s just being a shapeshifter. I don’t think they have independent minds.

PTB: The graphic physical “mind meld” between the two Martians was wild. I liked the artists’ attempts to try some new tricks with their shape shifting powers. It was also a great way to tell D’Kay’s back story. Any familiarity with this Martian telepathy plague or the non-telepathic mutants of Mars?

KevinMLD: Here’s the thing. I hate that her name just happens to be D’Kay. It’s bad enough J’onn’s Martian name just happened to basically be a weird spelling of an earth name/word but this second Martian as well?

But it also seemed really awkward that D’Kay just spits out her origin out of nowhere. She tried to justify it afterwards with there being a need for lovers to share, but I think it fell totally flat. Especially with how much they shouldn’t need to discuss because they can read each other’s minds!!! She never needed to introduce herself, but she needs to detail her secret origin? It almost should have been a scene without any dialogue.  Just images.  It could have been amazing with the right creative team.

Anyway, I knew a plague had wiped out the people of Mars but none of the details.

PTB: Her story about staying hidden until he was resurrected was a little too convenient (she’s isolated for centuries, all her people die, she gets dragged to Earth, pretends to be human, gets lost in it until Manhunter dies, and is now obsessed with him now that he’s resurrected). I understand they want to retcon her into his entire history, but hasn’t he been around on Earth for a long time?

KevinMLD: I thought his current origin had him arrive on Earth and becoming a detective in the 1950s. But that might make the professor and his daughter who appeared early on in Brightest Day too young? Maybe that was retconned again at some point.

PTB: During that time he was a part of this old Justice League lineup with Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan?

KevinMLD: Well, he was on the Justice League International with Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and the rest of those guys.  But he was retconned at one point as being the only consistent member of Justice League throughout its existence… Until Final Crisis anyway. So he would have served with Hal at other points in time.

PTB: This nightmare he’s experiencing is clearly the result of D’Kay being in his mind and I’m thinking there may be some interesting long term effect on Manhunter. She may be able to manipulate him into attacking Earth, especially after she creates a positive fantasy world to better deceive him. Again, the artwork is fantastic here with all of the dynamic things going on, even if they may only be in Manhunter’s mind.

Should Manhunter be this easy to manipulate? I’m getting the distinct impression that Martians get an idea in their head and just go with it using absolute tunnel vision.

KevinMLD: This was another problem I had with the issue. She hasn’t used her abilities in decades, but she can totally control J’onn?  Really?  Maybe he’s weak from being dead or whatever, but we haven’t seen any evidence of that elsewhere… Except he was all messed up in Sherwood Forest.

PTB: The art through the rest of the book is top notch as well. The Firestorm pages look great, even if there’s not a lot of story progress there. All we really learn is that there’s no sense in flying from place to place when you can just “FZZAMM” away if you’re running late.

In this scene, Professor Stein thinks he recognizes the voice of the Black Lantern. Is this a suggestion that it’s Nekron again, or that it’s someone yet to be revealed that we may have seen before?

I was about to say that the fact that no Black Lantern other than Deathstorm speaks had me thinking they were just hollow constructs of his powers and not the actual Black Lanterns we’ve seen before. However, the way Deadman reacted after they teleported, and the panel showing Undeadman to go a long with it, has me thinking otherwise.

KevinMLD: Yeah, I have no idea what the deal with the Black Lanterns is yet. I guess we’ll see. I was hoping they were back just for like a month for Halloween or something. I guess that’s not the case.

PTB: Deadman and Dove are reviewing potential candidates to bear the white ring, but I don’t recognize anyone in those photos other than Green Arrow and Flash.

KevinMLD: Something about the art in this scene really got to me. I think it’s the way Dove was drawn. It made me think she’s starting to dig Aliveman, but then I wondered if this was intended or if the artist had just used some pornography for photo reference purposes.  Certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

The only people I recognize from the photos beyond Flash and Green Arrow are the Ray and The non-rapist version of Dr. Light. I thought maybe the picture at the bottom of the panel was supposed to be Raven, but that’s just because there’s a lot of blue in the picture. I really don’t know when any of them died or were resurrected or what their connection to the light might be.

PTB: I’ve definitely gotten the impression that Dove is attracted to Deadman in previous issues. I think that was part of what made Hawk so angry when they teamed up. Although it may have been obscured by Hawk’s natural over-the-top anger.

One thing that’s become clear from these and other discussions is that Brightest Day isn’t providing a lot of payoff so far for some readers. I still think it could bring all these plot threads together, but I can see why people are losing interest. It should be interesting to see where things stand when we reach the halfway mark next week.

Read our thoughts on:
Brightest Day #11 / Brightest Day #13

More on the series can be found at our Brightest Day hub.

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