Brightest Day #16

Brightest Day 16

B-

DC’s approach to Brightest Day has left me scratching my head a bit. While previous series with accelerated release schedules basically kept most of their key characters present in at least every other issue (I’m thinking of 52 and Countdown specifically), Brightest Day seems to have no problem shunting major plotlines to the back burner for months at a time. I can’t remember the last time Aquaman’s story advanced in a significant way; a quick check has shown me it was issue #10, which was three and a half months ago! It creates a feeling that instead of reading one connected saga we’re getting bi-monthly comics starring Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Firestorm, etc. I’m not sure if that’s a good way to handle momentum in a bi-weekly series, which can really suck a reader into its world if orchestrated well.

If you haven’t yet guessed, Brightest Day #16 is mostly all about Aquaman (I should note that the cover you see here isn’t the issue’s actual cover, but it is on all DC’s promo material. They must’ve switched at the last minute). Actually, there is a little bit in here about Firestorm/Deathstorm too, which is welcome. Readers of this site will know that Deathstorm has by far been my favorite element of the series, and this issue gives him a pretty great moment in his torture of Jason Rusch’s dad, although the speed at which this script incorporates suicide as a plot device is a little unsettling, I think.

But back to Aquaman! As the issue opens, Arthur Curry shelters Jackson Hyde and his family from Black Manta’s onslaught, but warns Jackson that he must soon go into battle with Aquaman to defeat Mera’s criminal ancestors. Jackson, of course, resists, and he and Aquaman have a little fight about it. Then Aquaman tells him a story from his childhood that too closely echoes Gary’s jihad speech from Team America (actual line: “I was thirteen when they came out of the water for me”). Thusly inspired, Jackson gets some sweet new weapons and prepares for battle.

If it sounds like I’m being a little flip, forgive me. It just seems like any time Geoff Johns wants to have two characters talking any more, they have to be fighting and YELLING AT EACH OTHER LIKE THIS!!! It’s getting a little tired. I mean, I understand Jackson’s feeling some major teen angst and whatever but almost every issue of Brightest Day has carried on in this fashion. It all feels too much like a Michael Bay movie. (I realize this comic has two writers, by the way. But this has been a serious problem in recent Green Lantern issues as well, and that’s squarely on Johns.)

Not that there’s nothing positive about this issue. As the new Aqualad, Jackson Hyde has a lot of potential, and I meant it when I said his costume’s implements are actually pretty spiffy (those of you who tuned in to the Young Justice cartoon premiere have seen them in action already). And, as I mentioned above, most of the Firestorm/Deathstorm stuff here is pretty good. The last couple pages, in which Firestorm supposedly causes something catastrophic to happen, are obviously a misdirection but are still interesting nonetheless, given that the actual explanation of what’s going on isn’t immediately apparent. And again artists Ivan Reis, Scott Clark and Joe Prado do a terrific job on pencils; Brightest Day has been very consistent art-wise, if not in story.

Coming off the excellent Blackest Night, I had really high hopes for Brightest Day. So far, outside of the Deadman and Firestorm stories, they haven’t really been met. There’s certainly potential here, but I believe it’s being mismanaged. Again, I want to talk about how comics should model themselves less off movies and more off TV shows. A good TV show, which is inherently serial in nature, knows how to balance many diverse characters and ongoing plots. That’s something you’d think comics would have mastered by now, but Brightest Day is still all over the place in synthesizing one satisfying story from five or six different plot threads. A little more work in that department would make a whole world of difference for this series.

tags: brightest day, geoff johns, ivan reis, joe prado, peter tomasi, scott clark

  • Kyle Gnepper

    I think what really sperates this from other group books is these main characters aren’t on a Super team of any kind. Characters get far more exposure when they’re in the same place so they are at least shown regularly. I had a similar feeling when reading 52. There would be 4-5 issues without touching on my favorite arc (Olong Island scientists) but all you can really do is wait for everything to come together.

  • http://nerdynothings.com Rebel Rikki

    Kyle,

    I suppose you’re right about 52; I hadn’t considered the Oolong story. However, I do still think most of its “A” plots (Steel, Booster, Question, and the like) made appearances at least every few issues, so we’d check in with them once or twice a month at least. It seems crazy to me to put Aquaman’s story off for something like three months when he’s one of this book’s main characters, you know?

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