(p) Gabriel Sepulveda
Red Lanterns hasn’t been the best book of the ‘New 52’, but neither is it the worst, or even close really. Giving Atrocitus and the Red Lantern Corps their own series was a risky move, but one that has paid off in terms of the world-building – the greater good, if you will. While they are indeed fueled by pure rage, and their methods absolutely include torture and murder, the Red Lanterns are still good guys, technically, out to right the wrongs in the universe. Actually, Atrocitus has been one of the more multi-faceted characters throughout the entire ‘New 52’. Without any sort of focused mission or crisis to follow, the Red Lantern leader has had to deal with his personal demons throughout the series, and that’s not something a lot of comic book writers get to try. Even though the results have been mixed, the fact that Peter Milligan is ready and willing to delve into the psyche of the universe’s angriest living thing is impressive in it’s own right.
Red Lanterns #13 brings Atrocitus and his crimson cronies into “Rise of the Third Army” in style with the best tie-in this month. It’s crazy that of all the Green Lantern Family titles, it’s Red Lanterns that gives readers the most information and the best story leading into the event. The issue focuses on a young inhabitant of planet Arhtky named Taya. Taya’s parents are murdered by a vicious warlord named Cord who has apparently been laying waste to the planet town by town. Taya and her sister are taken prisoner, and Taya is forced to be a dancer for Cord and his men. Milligan does a fantastic job conveying Taya’s growing rage through these pages, and he hits an issue high when Taya’s sister is murdered simply for offering herself in exchange for Taya’s innocence. These pages are simply brutal, and honestly hard to read at some points. This is all to Milligan’s credit, who’s been struggling to find the right niche when it comes to the essence of rage.
Soon, the story integrates Atrocitus, Bleez, Rankorr, and new Red Lantern Skorch as they descend upon Arhtky to lay judgement upon Cord and his men. Taya is mortally wounded in the chaos, and Atrocitus explains that the Red Lantern central battery isn’t yet at full enough capacity to create new rings. When the Red Lanterns ‘feel’ Taya’s rage half a universe away, they understand that since she won’t receive a ring, it’s up to them to seek vengeance on her behalf. Up until this issue, Milligan was again having difficulty justifying the Red Lanterns’ actions against their supposed morality. The fact that Atrocitus comes to Taya’s aid is a solid example of how the Red Lanterns act as a force of justice, however ruthless it may be.
The Guardian Soldiers also happen to be on Arhtky, and Atrocitus soon learns that the eyes are the weakness. I won’t go into this part of the issue any more because it’s the first real introduction to the Third Army, and it’s worth reading.
If you can’t tell, I was seriously and pleasantly surprised by Red Lanterns #13. The main reason I’ve kept up with the series is because Green Lantern is my favorite character franchise, and I just wanted to collect all the GL Family titles. Simple as that. Now, I’m truly invested in Red Lanterns.