Halftime Report: DC’s Brightest Day

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We’re at the halfway point in Brightest Day, and it seems like a good time to address some aspects of where the story stands. With 13 issues out, I think it’s fair to start asking some questions about how this series has progressed, where it’s going and whether it’s worth sticking around for.

PTB: You said you wouldn’t have stuck with it this long if we weren’t reviewing the series a few issues back, has anything changed you mind?

KevinMLD: No. The last two issues have reinforced that view. I just don’t see any tie-in between Hawkworld and the White Lantern.

PTB: That’s understandable. It seems like it’s going to be a stretch to tie that back in, particularly with a trip to Zammaron. What would you have liked to see more of or less of to keep your attention?

KevinMLD: I think the reason DC’s yearlong books fail time and again is that they leave their big guns out of them. The only yearlong to actually focus on the high profile characters was Trinity, in which Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman were turned into weird god creatures and the book instead focused on alternate universe versions of Dick Grayson, Lois Lane, Donna Troy, and Alfred. It was not good. I’m not saying every issue needs to star Batman, but one of the big five should show up regularly.

The only yearlong that succeeded on any creative level, 52, had Rucka, Morrison, and Waid behind it in addition to Johns. Those guys were able to make the minor characters work. Peter Tomasi is not Greg Rucka, Grant Morrison or Mark Waid.

Let’s face it, Johns is the first name on the cover. He’s the headliner creatively here. And I have no doubt he’s the guy who crafted the larger story. However, Pete Tomasi is the co-writer and while I really enjoyed his work on Green Lantern Corps, he’s also the guy that finally drove me to drop Nightwing. That’s a book that brought me back to comics, a title I loved dearly and followed from the beginning. I endured years of horrible writing post-Chuck Dixon, but I couldn’t take the clunky dialogue and general amateur feel of Tomasi’s writing. I finally bailed on the title and that bummed me out.

These last two issues featuring Hawkman screaming out things he should just be thinking and the double page spreads featuring nothing but exposition from villains detailing their secret origins reminds me of exactly why I quit reading Nightwing.

Couple that stuff with the fact that Tomasi was scheduled to take over Batman and Robin this month and his run was pushed back a few months at the last possible moment because he’s too busy with Brightest Day, and it suggests to me Johns’ involvement with this title has become limited. I’m just guessing about all of that, obviously, but it could certainly explain the large swings we’ve seen in terms of quality.

PTB: That’s certainly a danger with books that have more than one name listed as a writer. It’s usually unclear how the work is divided and when you see radical changes in quality and style, you’re left wondering who’s driving the ship. The examples you cited of the last two issues with their double-page spreads of villain history/schemes stand out as being decidedly unlike the rest of the series.

I have said a few times that I would have liked to have more story about the resurrected characters that haven’t been focused on (like Osiris, Professor Zoom, Boomerang and Max Lord). I would gladly have sacrificed some of the stuff with Aquaman, the Hawkpeople and Martian Manhunter to get it. The Deadman story seems to be the main concept here and I wouldn’t take any of that away, in fact I wish there was more of that.

KevinMLD: I would totally agree except the presence of Hawk has kind of ruined that subplot for me. He’s just not interesting or fun. He’s just annoying. I’m following books focusing on all of those characters and nothing interesting is happening with them. The most interesting appearance by any of them was Captain Boomerang in Red Robin. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Boomerang killed Tim Drake’s dad before dying himself in Identity Crisis. It didn’t make any sense at the time by the way, but it’s still in continuity. Tim got to confront/threaten Boomerang for the first time since his father’s death. It was a nice scene.

PTB: That’s the kind of stuff I wish had made it into Brightest Day. I’m sure it was more satisfying to Red Robin readers to have the confrontation in the pages of that book, but I feel like something was lost going from Blackest Night to Brightest Day. We were presented with the resurrection of these twelve characters by the White Lantern and told their story would continue in Brightest Day since they were all brought back for a reason. After issue #0, it became clear that only these six characters are really all that important.

Despite this, the series has been effective in showcasing the characters it’s using. I know very little about the DCU, but I absolutely know more about some of these characters and I’d go so far as to say I care about them on some level. I think the same would be true if all twelve were included and I might care more about what happens when they’re all brought back together.

KevinMLD: I agree that I know more about these characters than I ever did in the past, but for the most part I still don’t care about any of them. So on a creative level it’s failing as far as I’m concerned. I know you’ve become a Black Manta fan though!

PTB: That is absolutely true! I have to find that tiny Black Manta Action League figure at some point. Well, getting to a character I know you care about, Batman will be a major player in the next issue. Is this series something you would like to see him stay involved in?

I’m leaning toward a no here. He’s a very overexposed character, and bringing him back to the DCU and immediately throwing him into every title and storyline isn’t what I want to see. The upside is this is the only book I’ll be reading, but the principle still irks me.

KevinMLD: I’m sure he won’t become a big player in the series, but I do think it would help on some level. The book needs some of the bigger guns to help carry the load.

Speaking of Batman, I saw the strangest thing this weekend. Target is selling a t-shirt with the Black Lantern Batman on it! How does that happen!?!?

PTB: That is odd. With DC’s big guns in mind, do you think we’ll see appearances by the actual Superman and Wonder Woman as well, rather than their Martian hallucination forms?

KevinMLD: I would hope so. Overexposed or not, they’re the heart of the DC Universe. Superman particularly needs some high profile help at this moment. JMS just aborted his Superman run after like four issues. Now someone else is coming in to finish that Grounded story and I just don’t see that ending well. He’s not in the Justice League (which may have the worst roster in history right now) and hasn’t been around much since Final Crisis. So sure, bring him into Brightest Day.

PTB: More Superman certainly shouldn’t hurt a book that’s supposed to have an impact on the DC Universe. I saw the announcement that J. Michael Straczynski would be focusing on original graphic novels going forward, but I didn’t realize that meant he was off of his monthly titles effective immediately. That’s awful for fans that invested in what they thought would be a cohesive run by a top name creator on either Superman or Wonder Woman.

Overall, it seems like both of us are a little disappointed with Brightest Day after reading the first thirteen issues. There’s still a long way to go and I’m hopeful that this might yet turn into something satisfying. The second half begins with Brightest Day #14 on sale Wednesday, November 17th featuring one of the many returns of Bruce Wayne. Look for our discussion of it right here.

Read our thoughts on:
Brightest Day #13 / Brightest Day #14

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

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