Despite the disappointing performance of the Green Lantern feature film, the Green Lantern comic books are still one of the biggest franchises at DC. That's why it emerged largely unchanged from Flashpoint. As far as the Lantern Corps are concerned, Barry Allen never f***ed with their timeline.
And now that DC had an excuse to launch a new round of spinoffs, the Red Lanterns have become the second of the Lantern Corps to get their own monthly title. This reminds me of the way that Marvel has constantly spread out the X-Men related comics into roughly eight monthly series after Schism. It can work for a while, but eventually the brand is going to be spread too thin.
With Red Lanterns, DC is reaching that point a little earlier than they should be. It's hard enough to justify three Green Lantern books, but if there had to be another Green Lantern spinoff then Red Lanterns may not have been the right choice to go with.
Atrocitus is a pretty good Green Lantern villain, but in order to make him a leading character, writer Peter Milligan tries to deepen his personality by giving him doubts about his place in the universe after he was denied vengeance on the Guardian who slaughtered his people. In theory that's not a bad place to start and the series does a good job of recapping his history and why Atrocitus founded the Red Lanterns. There's also an interesting hint that Atrocitus may have accidentally killed other sentients who served as proto-Red Lanterns before he eventually perfected it.
The only problem with Atrocitus' narration is that he really comes off like a whiner at a few points. Milligan also gives Atrocitus the campiest line I've read this week when he finds Dex-Star being tortured by space pirates: "what are you doing to my cat?" At times, the artist Ed Benes seems to forget that Dex-Star really is a cat from Earth and not an alien humanoid that looks like a cat. Yet somehow Dex-Star has human like abs and he even looks like a small person when Atrocitus holds him in his arms. Even Atrocitus seems oddly off model from his previous appearances.
For a book that is about the Red Lanterns, it might be reasonable to expect the title characters to do something more than just standing around and fighting each other. But aside from Dex-Star and Atrocitus that's pretty much all that they do. There are indications that the Red Lanterns have sensed Atrocitus' faltering purpose and they're ready to rebel against him. However, their extreme lack of personalities and grating vocal patterns don't exactly make for an entertaining hook.
There's a three page interlude on Earth as two brothers named John and Ray deal with the murder of their grandfather. Clearly, one or both of these brothers will likely become Red Lanterns before the first story is over. Presumably John and Ray are important to wherever Milligan wants to take the book. But having them speak in fluent exposition about how their grandfather raised them and on and on… may not have been the best way to introduce them.
The best thing about the book is Benes' art, which has a very clean style under Rob Hunter's inks. But Benes being Benes, there are also some really gratuitous butt shots of the female Red Lantern, Bleez. Honestly, it's what Benes does in nearly every comic that he draws. I don't think anyone should be surprised by that anymore.
Aside from the art, there's very little reason to come back for the next issue. Without compelling lead characters or a well defined story, Red Lanterns just isn't going to work.
Crave Online Rating: 6/10