Monday, May 9, 2011

Read: Brightest Day #24

Issue: Brightest Day #24
Title: "Brightest Day"
Published Date: Apr 2011
Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera
Retcon Status: In Continuity

Summary:  At the forest in Star city, the Dark Entity is on the offensive, attacking and attempting to destroy the forest along with the four elementals.  The White Lantern helpfully informs Dove and Boston that they are protecting The Green, the mystical center of the Earth, and that Swamp Thing is no longer connected to it.  To that end, he resurrects Alec Holland, who promptly is merged with The Green and battles his dark counterpart.

With the Dark Entity defeated, The Green/Swamp Thing spews out the Elementals, bringing them back to life once more -- except for Shiera.  Hawkgirl is gone, and as Hawkman attacks Swamp Thing demanding her return, he is simply told that she is not here.

Later, in at the Stonechat House in St. Roch, Carter holds up Shiera's helmet which she discarded during their lovemaking after defeating Queen Shrike.  The helmet evaporates to nothingness, and Carter's rage is unleashed...

Review: Man, what a downer.  After the rollercoaster of the first 24 issues, in the end it all culminates in a big Swamp Thing on Swamp Thing fight, with the main characters essentially shuffled off to the side.  From a narrative standpoint this makes sense, but emotionally it is disappointing to me to have these 5 characters play second banana to a character who has been exiled to Vertigo for the better part of 2 decades.  It's a good wrap-up (and I like that Johns and Tomasi address those who finished their missions in other titles) but ultimately it falls flat as a finale to the stories of these heroes whom we have followed.  

Now I need to dig up all the back issues and read this in one massive, butt endurance testing session.

Image: Brightest Day #24, 2011, Gary Frank.

5 comments:

Mr P said...

Yeah..
I like Swampthing well enough, but I certainly did not find it to be a satisfying conclusion.

Joseph said...

One very reasonable explanation of the Hawk-events in BD #24 is that this is yet another carrot to draw us along in the manufactured and manipulative melodrama of Hawkman's existence. Honestly, I think that by now, Hawkman must rank in the top 3 (the top 5, for sure!) of the most angst-ridden heroes of all time! Maybe, by default, *that's* become his "thing;" not archaeologist-warrior-adventurer, but sob-sister of the superhero community. By now it's seeming like an excuse to me; no one at DC seems to have any great liking for him, or innovative ideas of how to use him, so they just keep flogging the romantic melodrama line. (Gods! that's it! How could I have been so blind?! There's a way to completely denigrate and humiliate Hawkman.... and make him a major media hit at the same time--make him and Hawkgirl wayward, mopey teens, but super-hot--and give them their own show on the CW!!! Genius! Sheer genius!!!!!)

Luke said...

@Mr P -- I didn't mind the conclusion, it just was nothing near what I was expected.

@Joseph -- Hawkman being angst-ridden is a given, especially in his modern incarnation. When Johns and Robinson brought him back, they told Wizard that he was Conan with wings, and so his short temper must constantly be engaged.

I think that he and Hawkgirl has several fans at DC, including Johns and Robinson (also Starlin, but he's gone), but in the modern comic scene, putting characters through the wringer is what you do to characters you love. Witness Matt Fraction and Iron Man, or Johns and pretty much everyone he writes.

I don't mind Hawkman being angry; the conceit (which was illustrated beautifully at the beginning of this series) was that Hawkgirl was the tempering agent. And that is what annoys me the most -- that we won't get to examine that dynamic in more depth, at least not until Shiera regains some sort of physical form.

Furthermore, I assume you're riffing on Smallville? I wish Hawkman as a character was popular enough to be able to carry a successful, network-anchoring show for a full decade like Smallville. Especially since Smallville moved away from the stereotypes you mention a long, long time ago.

Joseph said...

Luke,

No, not so much riffing on Smallville as all the *other* "drama" programs on CW, in reference to the constant reference and recourse to Hawkman's angst-ridden-ness. Which I dislike; I perforce acknowledge what you say, that "in the modern comic scene, putting characters through the wringer is what you do to characters you love." But I hate that trend. Always have, always will. Heroes don't whine, they do. They're there for us to look up to and emulate, not so that we can say, "Gee, he's just like me."

I'm just saying that the tone or dynamic of Hawkman, or of Hawkman/Hawkwoman, perhaps in catering to modern sensibilities, has come ever closer to the angst-dramas on tv, which I also eschew and despise.

Johns doesn't seem like such a fan if that's the way he persists in using the character; I can't say for Robinson, though last I heard, he denied that he was working on a Hawkman story. I didn't think Starlin's take in the special was bad at all, and would like to see him elaborate his ideas there--or the ideas he was told to illustrate, if that's the case.

But one of my top picks for Hawkman would be Walt Simonson, for his Hawkman in JSA Classified, #s 21-22. That was a more-action, less-angst Hawk that I'd gladly see more of!

Diabolu Frank said...

I bought a twenty-four issue build up for the return of Swamp Thing, and I feel really stupid for doing it. After decades of failing to reach the bar set by Alan Moore, DC has finally decided to embrace the prior mediocrity that led to two bad movies, a cheesy toy line, a laughable live action series, and a quarter-season of a cartoon. I guess Alec Holland is alive again, to act as a grim n' gritty Captain Planet. Maybe Geoff Johns wants to start de-booting the Bronze Age now.

I'm not interested in solo Hawkman. I don't want that kind of drama. I want Carter/Katar and Shayera to whack BEMS with spiked maces. That's the same reason I bought Conan when I was a kid. Lusty wenches and bloody violence drawn by Barry Smith. Katar can be the thug, Shayera the cool clever one, and they should run around killing stuff to death with extreme prejudice.

I think this cuts to the bone. Justice League proved that Hawkgirl not only works fine, but better without Hawkman. She could be savage enough to kick ass, but was clearly more intelligent and disciplined than her closest parallel on the team, Wonder Woman. Hawkman without Hawkgirl throws hissy fits and is generally ineffectual and annoying without Shayera. This has been true since Hawkman became a swaggering jerk in the '90s, and it remains true. Maybe work needs to be done on him, but it seems best that it be done with his wife's support.