Charles Soule’s name got me to pick up a series that I had given up on, and man, am I glad I did. This collection is a total reversal in quality from what I found in the first few trades. It turns out that adding a popular character, adding unique personalities to the supporting cast, adding a sense of fun, and reducing the use of “Hrrrngg” and “Grrrllrrrggg” by 75% goes a long way in making a bad comic turn good!
Instead of keeping the focus on the boring Atrocitus (who NEVER should have anchored any sort of series), Soule immediately brings in Guy Gardner. It is simply a revelation. Bringing in Guy Gardner, letting him keep his unique tough guy voice, and making Guy the leader of the Red Lanterns suddenly transformed this title into a great read. Even Rankorr, the stupidly named Brit who was meant to be our POV character in the early trades is suddenly interesting. Skallox, the goat-man with no personality is now fun! Bleez, with her tiny costume and bone wings, has actual motivations and interests!
Simply put, this is one of the most revolutionary about-faces I’ve ever read in a comic.
Heck, even the goals of the Red Lanterns seem to have been refined and re-though. In the early trades, the Reds were mainly about puking blood, grunting, and being occasionally crossing over with the core Green Lantern title. Now, under Soule’s pen and Guy Gardner’s leadership, the book is now about a new corps of space cops. The Reds are still angry, but now they are angry while policing the universe and punishing evil-doers. That is a concept that actually could go somewhere!
I don’t mean to be cruel to the original creative team, but I honestly am just shaking my head at what a great lead character and clear direction can do for a title. Soule is rapidly moving up my rank of writers to follow. (I’m still not buying Inhumans, though. Let’s not go crazy.)
Alessandro Vitti’s art isn’t revolutionary, but it is fine. He actually does a bit better on the aliens than his humans, but he still makes sure to keep Bleez looking weird/hot. Skallox is the character that has changed the most; he has gone from a cipher that only existed to fight the Stormwatch team into an alien with actual personality. Vitti’s art really helps sell that transformation. I also absolutely adore Zillius Zox as the roundest of the angry lanterns.