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The Red Lantern Corps is hilarious to me. Honestly, if I did not know otherwise, I would think that they were some sort of parody of the Green Lanterns. Maybe they are. This is a group whose primary characteristics are being constantly pissed off and spewing blood. You don’t need a pussy cat or an oversexed alien chick (surprisingly not Starfire) on the team to get that idea. Still, they and their ever so subtly named leader, Atrocitus, have their own book now, and it just happens to be written by Peter Milligan, who also wrote Justice League Dark #1, which I loved. That being the case, let’s take a look.
Aside from an incredible couple of opening pages featuring Dex-Starr, the most bloodthirsty Red Lantern and most genius running joke in DC, Red Lanterns #2 has a lot more going on than the exposition-heavy introductory issue. Basically, Atrocitus, leader of the rage-fueled Red Lanterns and only member capable of some rational thought, is having a dilemma. See, he used to be really super-duper pissed off, but, ever since Hal Jordan killed the guy responsible for all Atrocitus’s anger, the big angry red guy is just going through the motions. In an effort to boost his emotional state from moderately-pissed back to the ravenous psychosis of yesterday, he’s started bombing around the galaxy, honing in on the rage of others. He ends up looking like a cross between the Silver Surfer and the Spectre. Atrocitus flies around the galaxy looking for epic wrongs to right and then violently murders those wrongs in the name of justice.
Quite a bit of this book is given to looking through the eyes of a particular few participants in one planet’s war, which is a compelling way of making these feel more like actual characters than just stuff for the big red guy to hit. However, there is not a lot of context given to the war and it is not long before each of these characters is either dead or fleeing. We get one page, which basically says “this war has gone on a long time and both sides have made dick moves,” and then it’s time to move the story along. This brevity really seems at odds with portraying these as round characters and the setup left me rather indifferent in the end. Of course, this little adventure is just a flashback while Atrocitus stalls for time before making a decision that is put off until the next issue. When Red Lanterns #2 ends, he is standing exactly where he was at the end of Red Lanterns #1.
Despite a disappointing lack of progression, this second entry is a more interesting read than the previous issue and a hopeful start for the series. Ed Benes’s art is really well done, especially at portraying the Red Lanterns’ most important component: violence. We’re off to a start that is fairly by the numbers, but if anyone can throw us a few cerebral curve balls, I’d like to think it’s Milligan. Honestly though, Red Lanterns looks like it might be an entertaining series, if for no other reason than it being fun to laugh at how seriously it takes itself, despite being incredibly silly. Just give me more Dex-Starr and I’ll be happy.