Thursday, May 19, 2011

Critical Commentary: Brightest Day

So, what was the verdict of Brightest Day?  

It was alright.

I wish that Frank had not beat me to it when it came to this post, because a lot of the sentiments he expresses are the same as mine.  I think I have a better overall opinion of Brightest Day than he does, but I think our respective blogs have shown that I tend to be easier to entertain and more or less go with the flow if I am digging a story.  

The nature of the book made it like reading an anthology.  And luckily enough for me I enjoyed most of the "features" of that anthology.  The Hawks' story was what I would have imagined would have gone down in Hawkman if Shiera had been resurrected in that book.  I liked the mix of the modernist with the Silver Age throwback-y stuff and thought it was a good demonstration of what Frank called the Hawks "run[ning] around killing stuff to death with extreme prejudice." The dynamic I referred to early on -- that Hawkman's rage could be calmed and leveled by Hawkgirl -- might be cliche but it's also beautiful.  The other leads were pretty solid in my book too.  I don't have the history with Manhunter nor Firestorm to be overly concerned with the sweeping changes, and Aquaman, well, Aquaman brought it pretty hard.

That the entire book was ultimately a springboard to bring in Swamp Thing and John Constatine to the DCU proper kind of falls on deaf ears for me.  Never been overly interested in Swamp Thing despite my love of monster and monster heroes.  Just have not really read much of it and the Moore stuff, I feel, went a little too far into the hardcore fantasy stuff -- certainly moreso than I want to see in a monster book.  I will say, to give credit where it is due, if Swamp Thing becomes a violent ecological avenger, at least he'd be back to acting like a monster.  

So, solo Hawkman.  Hrrn.  Outlook not good.  I bought in hard and fast to the new Hawkcouple at the end of Blackest Night to be super excited about a solo Hawkman as an ongoing character.  I liked him sans Hawkgirl during the Jim Starlin stuff, but he was part of a larger ensemble with the rest of Abberant Six.  And we all know how that ended up anyway.  But on his own on Earth?  When he is this angry?  I don't think so.  That's going to get awfully one note real fast.

In the end: I dug Brightest Day.  Looking forward to rereading the series.  But how the end impacted the Hawks: Bleah.


Diabolu Frank said...

Luke, I'd say the major difference in our reading habits is that you're normal and I'm a bitter, hypercritical, bile-spewing bastard.

The Hawks were my least favorite feature, but only because Ivan Reis drew Dead & Dove. On the surface, their story was what I said I wanted. The problem was that it was just so dumb and melodramatic, with no payoff and gratingly tacked-on elements like the Star Sapphires. One of the best examples I can give for why it didn't work for me was the siege on the bad guys' palace. We get a handful of pages of that action, and then the rest of the story is the Hawks in a dark castle fighting a mom and the sissiest immortal arch-rival in comics. Outside, hawkpeople and lionpeople are tearing the crap out of each other, but I'm stuck in a bondage dungeon with these four jerks and fushia lighting?

As for Swamp Thing, you need to try to dig up the early Wein/Wrightson stuff. It's been reprinted a number of times in different formats, so availability shouldn't be a major obstacle. You, I feel, would dig it a lot. Lovingly illustrated macabre action spectacle.

Luke said...

I don't know that I am "normal" but I get your drift.

Your complaints are legitimate. There was some odd choices here and there, but I think that ultimately the focus was on the heroes and their struggle was the center stage. And the addition of the Star Sapphires, to me, seemed like they needed to add some element of the GL storyline to the Hawks just for Johns to say "Oh yeah remember I put Khufu and Chay-era in Blackest Night!" That element seemed somewhat predictable once a dimensional gate was introduced.

I have heard good things about Wein and Wrightson. I think those early Swamp Thing stories are reprinted in B&W in one of the volumes of Showcase Presents House of Secrets, which seems like a good format for 70s horror stories.