REVIEW: Brightest Day #19

Posted by under *mixed, Comics |

As the conclusion to DC’s year long series Brightest Day looms near, issue #19 opens just seconds after the stunning finale of issue #18 with the Deadman confronting the White Ring over its horrific actions. With the Hawkman and Hawkwoman subplot out of the way, the book’s focus turns to the “Aquawar” that’s about to break out between Aquaman’s forces and those led by Siren and Black Manta. A conflict which is capped off with a violent nod to the past.

Spoilers ahead…

KevinMLD: So I’m not sure if this is the first of DC’s 20 page $2.99 books that I’ve read, but it’s the first one that I’ve noticed that felt rushed. This issue felt like it was over as soon as the action started.

PTB: I didn’t count the pages but I can certainly believe it might have be two pages shorter than usual. The $2.99 price was also really prominent with that “Drawing the Line” logo around it. That being said, a lot of pages were dedicated to Deadman and the White Lantern exposition.

KevinMLD: We learn a lot early in this issue; specifically that a Dark Avatar will seek out the forest that the White Ring created and that this seems to be the “big bad” for Brightest Day. So basically, the last 19 issues have been filler and now with the coming of this main villain, Brightest Day is really starting. I can’t wait to see how they try to tie the Aquawar and the Hawk-curse into this finale.

PTB: I honestly don’t know that they’ll try. I get the sinking suspicion that everyone’s story other than Deadman is just a personal journey that may or may not leave them dead again. If this Dark Avatar and the forest business had been presented up front I may have bailed at issue #1. Any thoughts on who this Dark Avatar that hates trees might be?

KevinMLD: There are some rumors out there (and have been for many months) about a certain character returning as a result of the forest, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise here in case it happens. If it doesn’t, we’ll have to talk about it in our final column.

We also learn the Ring intends to kill Firestorm, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter after they fulfill their destiny because it is “necessary”… Whatever that means.

I’ll tell you what I think it means, that this is just another step they have to go through before being fully resurrected. There’s no way Hawkman stays dead. They killed him in Final Crisis. They killed him in Blackest Night. They killed him in Brightest Day. They’ll need someone to kill in Flashpoint. So he’ll be back.

PTB: I know you’re no expert on Hawk history, but Aquaman’s injury in this issue and your mention of Manhunter has me wondering if these resurrected characters aren’t reliving compressed versions of their histories and maybe some small change in a decision they make is what will truly restore their life. From a metaperspective, it’s like Johns is fixing good premises that didn’t end well on the page.

KevinMLD: That’s an interesting theory, but it only makes sense to me if they keep the characters around… which of course they will.

In a 20-page comic we get five pages of Aquaman and Aqualad swimming and chatting including a splash page. Tell me that’s not wasted space.

PTB: There was tons of exposition in this book. All the Deadman conversation with the White Lantern at the beginning, Fishtalk with the Aquaboys, it’s no wonder the issue seemed to fly by. The real shame with the Aquachat is that none of it is really new information if you’ve been reading Brightest Day.

KevinMLD: Agreed. Their conversation felt like a needless recap. We also get a double page spread of Siren’s forces attacking.

PTB: It looked great, but it’s impossible for me not to be reminded of every terrible “Atlantis attacks” story we’ve seen over the years.

KevinMLD: Plus there are two splash pages of Aquaman getting his hand cut off by Black Manta. No wonder this book felt so short. A quarter of the book is dedicated to four panels. I kind of like that Aquaman lost his hand again though. I always dug the hook and the beard. I’d like to see him keep this costume with shorter hair, but get the hook back and regrow the beard.

PTB: That look really worked for the character and I hope they take him back to it. I don’t know that we needed to see the dismemberment from two angles but it was some nice artwork that made Black Manta look badass. The cover goes a long way to doing this too even if the helmet is absurd. It was nice to see another David Finch cover.

KevinMLD: Black Manta is definitely the big winner coming out of Brightest Day. He’s the only character I gained any interest in. He should pick a new hero to feud with so people will read his stories, because no one ever reads Aquaman comics.

One other thing I recently read that I’ve been trying to find some confirmation of is that in addition to each issue being 2 pages shorter, the series itself has been cut down to 24 issues. The solicitations indicate that issue #23 is “the beginning of the end…” and that issue #24 is 48 pages long.

PTB: I had not heard that, and I can’t decide whether it’s a good thing or not. Most of our complaints have centered around what we consider unnecessary filler, but following that with a rushed ending would be the worst.

KevinMLD: Agreed. This series needs a solid conclusion or I’ll be furious that I wasted a year on it. I think both Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost are ending with issue 24 to make way for Flashpoint.

PTB: Does that translate to either of those series being considered a failure in DC’s eyes? I don’t have any perspective on the sales figures for either book, but I can’t be alone in following it after enjoying Blackest Night. Committing to 26 (or 24) issues is a big step though, so maybe more people have jumped off than they expected. I don’t know that I’ll consider it a total waste, but I will be frustrated if the ending is clipped and I’m left wishing I had more of the conclusion instead of all the stuff dedicated to Martian Manhunter and the Hawkpeople.

KevinMLD: I was actually just looking at some sales results for January today and the two issues of Brightest Day for that month were the #2 and #3 books for the month behind Fantastic Four #587. So I doubt they would constitute the book a failure.

PTB: That’s a great place for the series to be on the sales chart, but it makes the cut from 26 to 24 issues even more perplexing. Is Flashpoint directly connected to either of the Brightest Day series?

KevinMLD: I really have no idea what Flashpoint is going to be about  beyond that time seems to be broken. I think it’s going to tie into  the Reverse Flash’s efforts to mess with Barry Allen’s past, the recent tinkering with Wonder Woman’s history, as well as Bruce Wayne’s recent trip through time. I think the entire DC Universe is going to be messed up Age of Apocalypse-style but I’m not really sure.

The Flashpoint preview at the back of the issue indicates we’ll be seeing the Wally West Flash in that story. That’s cool since he’s been basically absent since DC started force feeding us Barry Allen. Would it have been so hard to add him to the current embarrassingly bad Justice League lineup?

PTB: All these Flashes honestly confuse me. I can name them, but I don’t know what order they go in or which ones were part of what stories over the years. The guy on the motorcycle that seemed to be from the future is Wally West? They presented him as being some kind of mystery man, didn’t they?

KevinMLD: I think the guy on the bike is someone new but I didn’t read the preview. I just flipped through it. Wally West was the Flash on the cover with the mask that covers his nose. So basically you had Jay Garrick who was the original 1940s Flash and is part of the Justice Society. He’s old and wears a goofy hat. He has one of my favorite superhero costumes ever.

In the fifties, DC brought back superheroes because they had gone out of style by introducing the Barry Allen Flash. Eventually he got a sidekick like Robin named Kid Flash who was Wally West.

When Barry died during Crisis, Wally became the Flash and was the main Flash of the last 30 years. He got his own Kid Flash in Bart Allen. Bart was Barry’s grandson from the future and originally was known as Impulse. At some point in recent years, Wally disappeared and Bart became the Flash. Then Bart was murdered and Wally was the Flash again.

Somehow Bart got better and returned to being Kid Flash. Then Barry Allen returned and Wally West has basically been ignored since then except for a brief appearance at the end of the Flash: Rebirth miniseries.

There are also other speedsters out there in the DC Universe including Max Mercury and Jessie Quick, but we’ll ignore them for now.

So what was so confusing about all that?

Read our thoughts on:
Brightest Day #18 / Brightest Day #20

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

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