Review: Brightest Day #23

Earth, Wind, Fire, Water... by your powers combined, I am Captain.... What?!

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

The penultimate issue of Brightest Day is out, but the main topic of conversation seems to be centered on the return of a classic character near the end of the issue. Trust me, I'm going to give you a big spoiler warning before we dive into that one. But first, let's deal with Brightest Day #23 on its own terms.

One of the main problems I've had with this series is that its been a lot of buildup with not enough payoff. The endgame of the White Lantern power is finally revealed here, and while the eventual return of a certain character is interesting, most of the resurrected superheroes and villains feel like they're just randomly hanging out. So, let's get this straight, the original Captain Boomerang was resurrected to throw his boomerangs at Dawn during a critical moment… and there were no living heroes who could fill that role?
I generally like Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi as writers, but I can't stand the voice they've given to the White Lantern itself. It speaks in nothing but vaguely worded exposition… and it's an a**hole about it. Does it say something about us that the genesis of all life in the universe comes from a complete jerk?
The pages by artist Ivan Reis have some life to them and they're the best thing about the series. His co-artist, Joe Prado is certainly competent, but his pages don't tend to match the more lush visual range that Reis can pull off. There are also a few pages in here that seem rushed.
After 23 issues, I was expecting to see more a grand design for the series finally coming into place. As expected, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter were brought back to life once again, this time joining Firestorm as the four main elemental powers, Wind, Water, Earth and Fire. If you know your DC history, then you're well aware that elementals played a big part in the mythology of…
Swamp Thing is back. Well, Black Lantern Swamp Thing to start. The splash page reveal of Swamp Thing as the "Dark Entity" was probably the best moment in the issue. While the newly made elemental heroes fight Swamp Thing, the White Lantern picks Alec Holland as Earth's savior.
I know there a lot of fans are pissed off that Swamp Thing is back in the DCU after being considered a Vertigo only character for over a decade. I actually don't have a problem with that. Although I should also point out that several fans guessed that Swamp Thing was making his comeback here, so it wasn't as big of a surprise as it could have been. If anything, it's kind of obvious.
But the people who are freaking out over his return seem to have forgotten that some of the best Swamp Thing stories were firmly entrenched in the DCU. Especially the Alan Moore run.
Now, if the revelation here is that Alec Holland is going to be Swamp Thing, the Moore fans might freak out again because Swamp Thing was never Alec Holland according to Moore. He was just a plant elemental with Holland's memories. There's nothing here to contradict that just yet, but even if does… so what? The Moore stories are always going to be there and Swamp Thing's return has been overdue for years. In fact, I suspect that Johns will probably end up on a Swamp Thing book after this.
I'm actually more excited about the upcoming Johns and Reis Aquaman series than I am about the last issue of this miniseries. Brightest Day has definitely had an uneven run, but I'd still love to see the writers pull it together for a strong finale.