Brightest Day / Generation Lost #24 and Series Wrap-Up

Swamp Thing

B

SPOILERS for the final issues of Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost follow.

It seems like a too-easy criticism, but Brightest Day and Generation Lost almost mirrored each other in the twists their final issues took. Brightest Day was a series plagued with pacing problems; it juggled too many balls and had a hard time keeping them all moving fluidly. Generation Lost, on the other hand, proceeded at a sharp clip, and other than a couple flashback/flash forward issues kept building momentum towards a conclusion that could only be exciting. Yet in the last two installments of each book something changed: Brightest Day‘s plotlines converged into an incredibly compelling story, while Generation Lost‘s big finale fell kind of flat.

I think all of that relates to the characters on which the last couple of issues focused. After dancing around it for 11 months, Brightest Day revealed that Earth’s resurrected champion was the Swamp Thing, a major character from DC’s past who’s been relatively underserviced since Alan Moore gave up his reigns in 1987. Meanwhile, the monster villain that Generation Lost had been preparing its team to face was… an AMAZO. Yes, it’s an AMAZO augmented with OMAC, Metal Men and Creature Commando technology, but it’s still an AMAZO. In 1999 Mark Waid wrote a JLA issue where the team beat Amazo in 22 pages. I don’t think you can build an arc around him anymore.

In Brightest Day #24, Swamp Thing — who once assimilated the memories of Alec Holland — now believes himself to be Nekron, the death-entity from Blackest Night. DC’s elemental heroes (Aquaman, Firestorm, Martian Manhunter and the Hawks) must now help the resurrected Alec Holland assume control of Swamp Thing so Earth’s life-force can be restored. Over in Generation Lost, the Justice League International has its final showdown with OMAC Prime while Booster Gold and Max Lord duke it out on their own.

Both final issues have different ups and downs, and both provide pretty satisfying cappers to these year-long events. Let’s start with Generation Lost, which is the easier to digest: Despite the fact that AMAZO’s a played-out villain, his massive fight scene scripted by Judd Winick is actually pretty cool. It has a couple solidly inventive “oh crap” moments (how does AMAZO react to Captain Atom, a character who can draw in energy as well as emit it?) and a nice conclusion to his character work with Jamie Reyes, the Blue Beetle. Penciller Aaron Lopresti isn’t my favorite artist to work on this series (that’d be Fernando Dagnino), but Lopresti does a great job on the fight visuals; although OMAC Prime is a lame threat, he at least looks cool. In particular, there’s some really nice Bill Sienkiewicz-style moments here when OMAC Prime begins to break apart.

Brightest Day #24′s also a big-ass fight; this one’s between the real Alec Holland and the Nekron-possessed Swamp Thing. The writing verges on annoying at times; I’ve pointed out before that this series tends to be really melodramatic and always! has! characters! yelling! at! each! other! As usual for this series, the art is great and remarkably consistent, which is especially surprising considering 12 pencillers worked on this issue. As a big Alan Moore fan, I’m liable to be especially critical of anyone who doesn’t draw Swamp Thing well, and I’m happy to say that in my opinion everyone who draws him in this issue nails it.

I think we have to talk about how these books end. After thwarting Max’s plans but not really defeating him in Generation Lost, Booster’s down in the dumps until Batman suggests the Justice League International reform on a permanent basis. You all might have seen the book building to this, but I was pleasantly surprised; as a Batman fan, I’m especially interested in how this upcoming book might relate to Bruce Wayne’s recent attempts to expand his Bat-franchise. Whether or not I purchase that comic’s going to come down a lot to the creative team, but I’m certainly leaning towards “yes.” If it makes use of any of Generation Lost‘s creators, I’d at least try out the first issue in a shot.

Brightest Day‘s last pages, I think, might be a little more controversial. Though it’s certainly in keeping with the series’ melodrama, I quite liked the way the book wrapped up its four elemental characters’ plots in one-page vignettes. I’m especially happy that, while the other three got smothered in “to-be-continued” conflict, Martian Manhunter found some peace. He deserves it. As for the Swamp Thing epilogue, in which he brutally murders a boardroom full of slimy executives… I was all ready to be angry at this book; “Swamp Thing doesn’t do that!” But then the last page happened, and a certain English occult expert who looks nothing like Keanu Reaves showed up, and I got hopeful again. Back in Alan Moore’s run on the title, John Constantine’s role was to teach Swamp Thing, albeit indirectly, how to master his powers, as well as his place in the world. Might that not be his job again? I’m envisioning a series where the Holland-infused Swamp Thing has no idea how to control himself and Constantine reluctantly steps in again to show him the ropes. Maybe I’m dreaming, but look at the solicit for June’s Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search #1.

Following the events of Brightest Day, the new protector of Earth has been chosen. But one reluctant hero making his return to the DCU is trying to convince Batman, Superman and the others heroes of the DC Universe that this may not be a good thing, because he can see that things are not right and mankind’s brightest days are indeed over.

Comic event series have a way of sucking me in and giving me buyers’ remorse. Even knowing that, though, if I’m right about what the future holds for Swamp Thing, I’m there.

Spill it in the comments, guys. Who do you want to see as the creative team on Swamp Thing and/or Justice League International?

tags: aaron lopresti, brightest day, geoff johns, judd winick, justice league, peter tomasi, swamp thing

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  • Anonymous

    I think I have to answer my own question, so –

    My dream team for JLI would of course be Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire. Failing that, I’d want Keith Giffen and Fernando Dagnino. Next on the list would probably be Winick/Dagnino, though I wouldn’t mind another solid author getting a hold of the series.

    Swamp Thing’s tougher. The creative team for “The Search” has already been announced — it’s Jonathan Vankin/Marco Castiello, two folks I know almost nothing about. I want to see how they do before I pass any judgement, but I think Ardian Syaf would do a great job on pencils. Who can write the character well… that’s tough. If I was shooting for the stars, I’d say Jeff Lemire.

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