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Everything Keeps Happening: Graeme Catches Up On Brightest Day’s First Half Year

So, now we’re past the halfway point of BRIGHTEST DAY (#13 came out last week, and it’s a 27 issue series, I think – That’ll be the 26 announced issues, plus the #0 launch), and I feel like I’m less sure about what the series is actually about than I was three months ago.

Okay, that’s not exactly true; it’s become clearer, over the last few issues, that the series is on some meta level, about rebuilding each of the leads as a viable character to be spun off after the series ends – Firestorm and Aquaman in particular, I think, have had scenes where a character almost says “So this is your new status quo, now,” and Hawkman and the Martian Manhunter are both in the middle of storylines clearly designed to give them more urgency and, potentially, new arch-villains – but as fun as that is, it doesn’t necessarily help Brightest Day feel any more coherent. With the recent change in pacing – characters now disappear for issues at a time, letting those remaining have more space for their stories to advance, something that I think is working out better than the initial “everyone is in every issue” approach – the series is starting to feel more and more like multiple different series pushed together without a throughline to connect them all.

Part of that, perhaps, is that the throughline – What, most likely, is the Brightest Day storyline when all is said and done – has been pushed out by all the other bells and whistles (J’Onn isn’t the last green martian alive! Aquaman’s wife was originally out to kill him and by the way, the new Aqualad is Black Manta’s son! Firestorm has somehow vomited out Deathstorm, the hopefully sarcastically-named Black Lantern Firestorm, who’s recreated all the Black Lanterns! Hawkman is, oh holy crap, I’m not even sure I understand anymore or care!). What I loved so much about the series’ quarter-way mark, was that Geoff Johns and Pete Tomasi seemed to explain why the characters had come back to life and give the series a point… and then the following six issues have pretty much backed away from that, with the exception of the barely-there (and pretty wasted) Deadman arc that gets a couple of pages every couple of issues.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually enjoying the series for the most part – Hawkman storyline aside, and Firestorm is beginning to lose me, too – but the further we get into the run, the more and more it feels like things are beginning to slip out of control in terms of the writing, and the more I begin to worry that the end of the series will either be rushed, completely unsatisfying, or less of an end than a “To Be Continued In All of These Awesome New Series.” For now, though, Brightest Day gets an uneven Good.

13 Responses to “ Everything Keeps Happening: Graeme Catches Up On Brightest Day’s First Half Year ”

  1. Yup.
    I’m getting the vibe Brightest Day didn’t get as much pre-planning as it needed, and after a really slow start, they are running through plots as fast as they can, presumably to clear them so they can get back to whatever point they were hoping to achieve with the series – something to do with the White Lantern and the 12 returned.

    Does feel like there’s been some missed opportunities – Aqualad feels as botched as the launch of Batwoman in 52.
    I don’t just want to see a new character, I want to see them do something!

    I’m sticking with Brightest Day as it has some nice moments, and might pull together into a whole, but I much prefer JLI: Generation Lost.
    That feels like a weekly comic done right – even though it’s slowed down the last few issues (how long are they going to spend hidden in Checkmate HQ?), it’s been doing some nice character development each issue.
    I never knew Judd Winick had it in him.

  2. Hmm… I’m preferring Brightest Day to JLI:Generation Lost. I think the artwork is consistently stronger over in BD, whereas in Generation Lost you get a really strong issue, followed by a handful of mediocre ones.

    Art aside, I’m enjoying the stories in BD more than the JLI tale (which really, I’m supporting because I really like the new Blue Beetle and would like to see him back in a series somewhere). I kinda enjoyed the beginning issues of BD, which only gave us a couple of pages for each story, but I don’t really mind the current issues which are more focussed on a single character. It would probably work a little better with a few more pages given over to whatever the B plot is going to be for those issues, though, instead of just a page or two.

    But… I really would like to see the point of Brightest Day become a little clearer in the last half of the series. Find a way to pull those characters together into one story… or a couple of stories, and then tell it with energy and oomph!

  3. I’m not digging Brightest Day. This is one of the first Geoff Johns series in a long time where the characters standing around trying to convince us of how important they are rather than doing something cool. Okay, granted that’s been his shtick for writing Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, who are both completely boring characters, but at least they exist in comics with really interesting casts and storylines. Brightest Day, though . . . I’m just sick of being told I should like Firestorm and MM and Aquaman, and even if I once did, this series is making me stop caring.

  4. Speaking of rushed storytelling, let’s not forget, a few short weeks from now we’ll have even less pages in this and any other DC series. Being bumped down from 22 to 20 (a whopping 9 percent!) isn’t going to do storytelling where everything is already smooshed together any favors. I’d have preferred a $3.27 comic over one that’s priced “the same” but doesn’t have enough room for its content as it is.

    Odds are even that double-page spreads and one-page splashes won’t disappear, on the contrary, I’d say. Poor writers, having to cram what they want to say in ever more confined spaces.

    And oh, I think Brightest Day feels much like 52 like various mini-series mixed together. There might be a relation between plots, but it’s not readily apparent. At least they crossed over some more in 52 (which was a Booster Gold + a Question + an Elongated Man + a Black Adam series, cut in bits and pieces, mostly. I dug it though, and miss those days of weekly excitement)

  5. 30 years from now, Geoff Johns will be known as the cancer that eventually killed the DCU.

  6. Dan – that’s a harsh way of putting it.

    Not that I disagree with you – I do think he is style and approach is very bad for the DCU.

    I liked some of the work he did on Action Comics, and the Wally West Flash pre Flash 200.

    But for me Green Lantern, JSA (post Goyer), Blackest Night, Infinite Crisis, Brightest Day, Legion of Three Worlds… are all pretty bad comics.

  7. Might be damning with faint praise but for me Johns is the first writer since Peter David to make Aquaman interesting, plus (or maybe in part because of) the return of Mera. To me they were Baby Boomer Camelot. And the Hawks together, plus Hawk and Dove cameos. Maybe there’s a monogamy meta theme here, but I’m enjoying it so far and has succeeded at least on a few points of bringing some of these characters back and making them viable for some kind of relaunch in their own books.

  8. “Odds are even that double-page spreads and one-page splashes won’t disappear, on the contrary, I’d say. Poor writers, having to cram what they want to say in ever more confined spaces.”

    Er, you do realize it’s the writers who determine how many panels to put on a single page, yes?

  9. “30 years from now, Geoff Johns will be known as the cancer that eventually killed the DCU.”

    Oh, is that why his books always sell well and he keeps getting promoted? In that case, he’s killing the DCU very kindly.

  10. Johns and Tomasi are definitely just figuring out what they want this series to be. DC’s first modern weekly went through a similar, though more subtle change as well. 52 was originally going to show how the whole DCU changed through the skip year but the stories of the main characters completely took it over and the book was better for it.

    BD #0 was about the 13 characters who came back to life but by #1 it was down to the story of the white lantern and the main characters (Deadman, Hawkman & Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman & Mera, and Firestorm). Now it’s just become a rehab center for these characters for their inevitable series coming out Summer 2011.

    One upside to this, and the best thing about the series for me actually, is that character’s story is assigned a specific artist. I’m actually only getting the book to follow Patrick Gleason’s art, so I only pick up the issues with his name across the top. I flip past the pages that don’t interest me and look at his creepy pencils of Martian Manhunter. I’ve been enjoying the series a lot more when I just see the parts of it I want to.

  11. 30 years from now, Geoff Johns will be known as the cancer that eventually killed the DCU.

    How so?
    I think he’ll be remembered as fondly as Shooter, Thomas, Levitz, O’Neil and all the other writers people always talk about when remembering the good ol’ days.

  12. Would that make Grant Morrison the comics equivalent of chemotherapy?

  13. “I’m sticking with Brightest Day as it has some nice moments, and might pull together into a whole, but I much prefer JLI: Generation Lost.”

    And then I read the latest issue and am thinking of dropping it.

    Seems the old Judd Winick started writing it again.

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