The Red Lanterns Ongoing is Doomed

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Posted by Battlepig (285 posts) - - Show Bio
Fig. #1: One dimension
Fig. #1: One dimension

With the New Fifty-Two, we’ve gotten a lot of good comics. Justice League brought back the sense of adventure, the sense of discovery. Deathstroke brought us a badass villain who is not even halfway redeemed by some noble cause. Action Comics finally brought us a Superman who is not Justin Bieber. Some books are also quite bad. OMAC brought us more writing genius by Dan DiDio, much like Hawk and Dove brought us the question why they still let Liefeld draw things. And then there’s the odd ones out. Books that you can’t help but wonder why they were greenlit. One of them is the new Red Lanterns book.

It’s about Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lanterns of Rage. He’s angry. Because rage is the emotion that fuels the Lanterns. Rage is the source of their powers. Rage is what they do. As such, the only thing they’ve done during Blackest Night is scream something along the lines of “RAAARRGH!” That was that. End of story. They raged, then they raged some more. Not much to it.

Why is there not much to it? Because rage is one of the most primitive emotions there is. Sure, the rage-inducing thing might be different – annoying co-workers, lack of money, feeling of being wronged by the government, that annoying neighbour dog and many more – but in the end, it all boils down to “RAAAARRGH!” and maybe some choice expletives.

And that’s the book’s main problem. You can’t do anything with rage. And they’ve realized that fairly early on in an issue that wasn’t even about the characters. Thus, Atrocitus and his buddies are getting a new mission. That mission is something like “We’ll punish all the guilty people in the universe.” And that somehow is rage… which it really isn’t. It’s revenge, to an extent. Maybe a sense of justice to go with it. But not rage.

Actually, most of the other Corps would have made for better ongoings. You know, books that do not require the writer to completely rewrite characters and having to make it sound logical and like it’s the natural progression of the characters. Let’s look at some.

Blue Lantern – Hope

Fig #2: Detective stories with a moral twist
Fig #2: Detective stories with a moral twist

Hope can be many things. Often, hope is something you don’t even see as hope. Sometimes, it’s someone going “It’s going to be alright” or a hug. Other times, it might be a gun. Something that you’re given to fight. Or something to oppress someone else. Saint Walker could appear on a planet where some group of people has issues of some sort. An investigation into their problems and what drives them follows… There’s a million stories in that.

Violet Lanterns – Star Sapphires – Love

Fig #3: Maybe a bit too meta.
Fig #3: Maybe a bit too meta.

The Star Sapphires were among the most interesting corps before Blackest Night. Right from the get-go, we knew that the love the Star Sapphires preach and enforce goes far beyond anything that is considered healthy. They’re obsessive, they’re possessive, they’re actually downright evil. And there are some stories in that as well. But it might be a bit too “out there” even for comic book readers who have been hardened by stuff that attempts to deconstruct emotions… and usually fails.

Orange Lantern – Larfleeze – Greed

Fig #4: Cosmic treasure hunts
Fig #4: Cosmic treasure hunts

If Larfleeze wouldn’t be so one-dimensional and if he actually had some supporting characters that are not stars of other comic books, he would actually make for a pretty damn good comic book. Why? Because driven by greed, he wants it all. And to have it all, he needs to go and get it. Imagine intergalactic treasure hunts, daring break-ins and adventures, starring Larfleeze who is pursuit of treasure.

These were the most obvious candidates. Sure, all three teams have not been fleshed out and they don’t have the likes of Dex-Starr – who is an instant internet-favourite because he’s a kitten – or any sort of depth to them. And sometimes, their logos were rather shoddy and appeared phoned in. The Red Lanterns have an internet crowd-pleaser, a cool logo and there’s something that at least looks cool when you see a character vomit blood. But there’s nothing behind it.

And that’s why the Red Lanterns book will fail.

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#1 Posted by danhimself (21430 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't know....issue 1 came off pretty well....and Larfleeze is anything but one dimensional

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#2 Posted by Battlepig (285 posts) - - Show Bio

@danhimself said:

I don't know....issue 1 came off pretty well....and Larfleeze is anything but one dimensional

I've thought about this. No, the first issue wasn't good. It was about everyone but the Red Lanterns. Speaking of which, I've written a review for it. So you might want to check that out.

And what else is there to Larfleeze. He was a treasure hunter who wanted it all. Now he wants it all. There's nothing to him, other than "Mine!" and some bits of comic relief.

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#3 Posted by Nocall (45 posts) - - Show Bio

Well that's, like, your opinion, man, and, like, opinions are opinions. Or whatever.

Anyhoozle, yeah, you're probably right. For the time being, though, I'm happy for any love that DC is willing to give to the other corps..s.

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#4 Posted by ReVamp (23015 posts) - - Show Bio

Haven't read it, but Larfleeze would've been better.

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#5 Posted by Technoman (141 posts) - - Show Bio

I really liked Red Lanterns.

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#6 Posted by fodigg (6239 posts) - - Show Bio

I really hated the first issue. Flipped through it and put it right back on the shelf (which I guess I'd do anyway but I'm not planning on buying the trade ever).

I didn't see any reason to care about any of these characters. If they were going to do this book, they should've put Guy in it.

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#7 Posted by Gambit1024 (10217 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm kind of "meh" towards the the first issue. I'll give it a chance, but I would've read about the Blue, Yellow, or Orange Lanterns first

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#8 Edited by CrimsonAlchemist (412 posts) - - Show Bio

I love the Red Lanterns and if you ask me the first issue was'nt that bad it was just setting things up for later issues ,give the series a chance it's only on it's first issue. I bet it will pick up steam after 2 more issues.

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#9 Posted by Battlepig (285 posts) - - Show Bio

@CrimsonAlchemist said:

I love the Red Lanterns and if you ask me the first issue was'nt that bad it was just setting things up for later issues ,give the series a chance it's only on it's first issue. I bet it will pick up steam after 2 more issues.

This is less about the book. Well, the column was inspired by the book. But it's more about the concept and execution of the book. At least they realized that there's not much to be done with the Red Lanterns as raging about is really boring after two pages - as evidenced by everything Bleez and her lot do in the first issue. But if you change the Red Lanterns to make them be a force of intergalactic Punishers, you're removing the rage from them, which is their core concept. It would be like making a Green Lantern book where his powers weren't fuelled by Willpower all or a sudden anymore, but by their love of yoghurt.

But let's say they ran with the rage-thing. Basically, every story would essentially be like this: Atrocitus and the gang arrive on planet. They hang around for a bit and then something pisses them off. They go to slaughter everyone. End. Because the very second they overcome their rage, they're not Red Lanterns anymore.

However... this gives me an idea. How about making this a book where they are lost in some ridiculously, stupidly far-away solar system and they have to rage their way back home? Same story, but at least you'd have something to keep it going for an arc or two.

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#10 Posted by Dfense75 (27 posts) - - Show Bio

While I agree with your notions on the appeal of the Blue Lantern Corps. I do not agree with those of the Red. Have you read any of Atrocitus's or the other Red Lantern's appearances? If you have than I would say you missed some things. Their motivation's extend beyond simple rage. It's that common notion that I am eluding to that Peter Milligan will be focusing on for the stories.

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#11 Posted by feargalr (1245 posts) - - Show Bio

I immediately assumed that this was going to be doomed too.... then I read it, Im up to date now and its actually a pretty good book... the characters are all pretty interesting, with all the dimensions... plus its selling pretty good, issue 2 sold like 65k copies and was number 20 in the sales for that moth

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#12 Posted by KingofMadCows (349 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the problem with the whole emotional spectrum is that they fail to explore the cultural aspect of emotions. Different cultures raise people to feel differently about different things. However, the Red Lantern comic applies standard American conceptions of emotions to extra-terrestrial cultures. For example, in the last book, Atrocitus destroys a temple in which young girls have their eyes ritualistically cut out but in some cultures, it is an honor to be selected for ritual mutilation or sacrifice.

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#13 Posted by Demonturtle (573 posts) - - Show Bio

I agree! I had high hopes cause I love them normally but their own series just isnt doing it. I had hoped Benes artwork would help it out.......but not so much!

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#14 Posted by Battlepig (285 posts) - - Show Bio

@feargalr: That's just it, they expand characters that are consumed by one emotion by definition. They embody rage. They have nothing else. That's their entire point in Blackest Night and whatever led up to it. So if you let Atrocitus smile or do anything but "Rargh! Angry! Destroy!" the Red Ring should go "Wait, you're not angry anymore. I'll be off then, finding someone more angry than you."

@KingofMadCows: Yes, then there's that. But they're not even doing that right. They're trying to apply some odd form of righteous American Rage to the characters. And it's that seeming righteousness that bothers me. They're angry for good reasons and then act upon that rage to do the right thing... uh, let's just say that it's kind of a daft premise.

@Demonturtle: Well, you do get buttshots of Bleez ("Bleeds", get it? It's a wordplay, because she bleeds.).

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#15 Posted by Adnan (1042 posts) - - Show Bio

I'd definitely read a Blue Lanterns title if it was anything like how you described it, and I'm not even interested in the Lanterns mythos.

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#16 Posted by BloodTalon (477 posts) - - Show Bio

@Battlepig: I love this book it is shaping nicely. If they had put out a Blue Lantern I would not have bought it and that goes for most of the other corps as well.

I think you have a very limited view of what you can do with rage but I am not hear to convince you, you don't like it so what it is time to move on.

Maybe one of the less interesting corps will get a book soon and you can be happy.

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#17 Posted by AtraCruor (241 posts) - - Show Bio
Well that kinda is the reason why Atrocitus formed the RLC.  Revenge for the murder of his family by the Manhunters.  He and the other 4 Inversions were all part of Sec. 666 which was butchered so they wanted revenge.  Rage is the power that drives them, but it is the fuel for the revenge.
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#18 Posted by Battlepig (285 posts) - - Show Bio

@BloodTalon: Well, looking at how they apply human morals to everything (see discussion above), the Blue Lanterns book would also be doomed. Every kind of mystery would be solved by being way too obvious, since apparently aliens are just humans with green skin... or something. See, this is something that the much-cursed Red Hood and the Outlaws does right. At least the alien there is alien, apparently can't remember human faces and having sex is something like saying "Hello". Sure, it is different. Sure, our morals contradict that, but hey, she's an alien. She's supposed to be at least somewhat different.

@AtraCruor: In that case, the entire premise of the Red Lantern Corps is flawed (and also isn't, since in the end, the writer's always right). If it's not rage that makes them all angry, then why would the Red Rings - that are seeking out beings with great anger inside them - seek them out? Also, how does that desire for revenge make them good people so that they do the right thing while being angry?

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#19 Edited by KingofMadCows (349 posts) - - Show Bio

@AtraCruor: That's part of the problem with the whole premise of all the other Lantern Corps. It made sense when the Guardians could control who possesses the ring since evil people can overcome great fear and the Guardians made sure that the rings didn't go to bad people.

Now the different Lantern rings seek out people who feel a certain emotion very strongly or are able to inspire that emotion in others but the problem is that emotions themselves are neither good nor evil. So the rings can just seek out people who go against the will of the Corps like how a Yellow Ring chose Batman. So why doesn't the Red Ring choose racists who feel great anger against people of other races or insane dictators who feel great anger for perceived insults from other nations? I'm sure that there are just as many bad people who feel great anger as there are good people who feel great anger. Isn't it a bit convenient that everyone the ring has found are not only justified for feeling angry but for reasons that are meaningful in our culture?

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#20 Posted by RazzaTazz (11946 posts) - - Show Bio

The Red Lanterns are the anti-heroes of the new 52.  One or two anti-heroes working together is something but this in an entire corps.  Every issue thus far has been worth it

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#21 Edited by chalkshark (1271 posts) - - Show Bio

First of all, you're completely discounting the appeal of mindless rage among the readership. Once upon a time, the Incredible Hulk was written as the story of a pathetic little man who, upon becoming angry, transformed into a raging , unstoppable engine of destruction, that broke everything & everyone in sight, until such time as his fury was spent. There was little to no character development. One issue of the Hulk was pretty much like any other issue of the Hulk. It was the second best selling & popular title, behind Amazing Spider-Man, for years. It even spawned a television show which was even more formulaic than the comic book series, & it was a huge hit. Because of it, the Hulk is the second best known character in Marvel's entire stable of characters. All based on anger & getting even with the people... or things... that made you angry. To this day, a large part of the Hulk's appeal is from the vicarious, cathartic release the audience gets from reading his adventures. Ang Lee's Hulk film took enormous amounts of criticism from the Hulk's fan base, based solely on the fact that the Hulk didn't break enough stuff during the course of the movie.  Anger is a very relatable emotion.  As part of a civilized society, we do our best to keep it in check, but we've all dreamed of cutting loose from time to time. The Hulk... & the Red Lanterns... are fueled by those dreams. 
That said, I think the writer has done a pretty good job of acknowledging the inherent limitations of the premise. The first issue shows a Red Lantern Corps that has seen it's primary revenge answered, & is now left rudderless without it. Atrocitus is seen groping to give purpose to his rage, & largely failing to do so. It allows for a more philosophical approach to the characters & their underlying concept. It's very true tha,t to some degree, if Atrocitus  moves too far away from the core concept of the Red Lantern Corps, that he could grow into a very different kind of character. One that has no place in the title. It's important to note, though, that while Atrocitus may lead the Corps, the title of the book isn't "Atrocitus". By continuing to return the root personalities of the other Red Lanterns, the filed is open for the book to become about someone's else's rage... someone else's vengeance. Before they were the mindless brute army of Atrocitus , raised to give voice to his rage... his need for revenge against the Guardians & Krona. That was the direction of the Corps before the re-launch. It could very easily change direction & follow  the path of another Red Lantern's rage. 
I think it's premature to call it a day on this series. The re-launch itself has been enormously successful, across the line, in terms of sales. That's enough good will to keep all of DC's  titles up & running for a little while. Until you start seeing a precipitous drop in sales... on any given book... I wouldn't count out anything DC releases, for the next year. The Red Lantern Corps also has a friend in Geoff Johns, him being the creator & all. Given his high position in the upper echelon of DC's creators, it's very probable that he would grant a stay of execution for the title, were it to come to that point. It's a book they would, likely, try to save, rather than just let it go.

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#22 Posted by Joygirl (21019 posts) - - Show Bio

You forgot that Bleez is totally hawt. Another selling point.

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#23 Posted by Battlepig (285 posts) - - Show Bio

@chalkshark: Where do you see mindless rage in the Red Lanterns book? In fact, the entire creative team seems to make a big deal of going out of everyone's way to have them not be mindless, raging monsters anymore. Remember that part where Atrocitus just throws his Lanterns into the Ocean of Blood which either destroys them or gives them back their minds, thus removing their mindless rage? The book tries to make rage a selling point, build it all on rage, but it falls flat because it's not doing what's promising. What this book is, is basically a couple people brooding over pointless stuff, then vomiting blood over other characters. There's no actual rage involved. It could be called "Red Lanters that are slightly miffed at one thing or another".

And either they go somewhere with the Earth-plot or they don't. But four issues of this, in three of which the Earthlings were guest-stars at best and everyone knows it's the reasonable, calm brother that gets the Red Ring.

But all in all, the book will stay, even though its premise has been failing since the very first page. This is why editors should not write comics. There's nobody there to stop them if they screw up or have some screwed up book on their hands. Case in point: everything Dan DiDio's ever written.

@Joygirl: She also has an EXTREEEEEME name. And she bleeds. It's her name. Because she bleeds. Her brother, I presume, was named Vomeez.

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#24 Edited by chalkshark (1271 posts) - - Show Bio

For the record, Peter Milligan, the writer, is not an editor at DC comics. Now whether or not Darren Shan or Brian Cunningham, the actual editors of the book, have any creative input or are bothering to provide checks & balances on MIlligan's scripts, I can't say.  
Mostly, I see the mindless rage in the background, whenever we see the other members of the Red Lantern Corps. Without a focus for that rage, they turn it on each other in pointless brawls or inward so that they're just standing around fuming & vomiting blood. The Corps is mindless. Until Atrocitus actually leads them into battle, they're not actually going to do anything. Krona's death leaves Atrocitus nothing to rage against. Milligan, then, is left with a choice. He could immediately establish some action that  incites great rage within Atrocitus again, thus giving him something to rail against, & thus rile up his Corps. He could turn the Corps into a series of intergalactic Punishers, an idea he has obviously flirted with, but is ultimately, I believe, abandoning. Which is really for the best, as it just doesn't work. A mindless rage monster isn't going to act on behalf of someone's else's grievances. There isn't enough intellect or empathy at play for the average Red Lantern to act in the name of someone else's vengeance. Milligan shows, in the second issue, through Atrocitus, that even if the Red Lantern Corps could make a choice to revenge on behalf of others, in many cases, there's no clear target, no one individual more deserving than the person he seeks revenge against. 
Milligan chose a different route to take the book in. He decided to explore Atrocitus after the rage has been spent. Once the defining element has been taken away, what's left to the character? Atrocitus is clearly lost. Not being one of your great thinkers, he stumbles about to establish purpose. He tries one thing. Than another. He starts making mistakes. Giving Bleez back her identity was a bad idea. Her conflict with Atrocitus has largely been expressed in passive aggressive terms, but it's likely she intends to rise against him, & usurp his position in the Corps. Throwing Skallox, Ratchet, & Zilius Zoxxx into the Ocean of Blood was a worse idea. If he hasn't killed them outright, he's gained nothing in giving their intellect back. If they are conspiring with Bleez against him, they have no reason to come clean about it,  & are actually a worse threat to Atrocitus now that they're back in command of their mental faculties. Before, Atrocitus could have just beat them down, establishing himself as alpha dog, & continued to keep the Red Lantern Corps under his leash. Instead, he's actually making his enemies stronger. Subconsciously, that may be the point. Atrocitus doesn't have an enemy, anymore, so perhaps he's making one. Perhaps the influence of the ring is making him do it. After all, Atrocitus merely believes that his Red Lantern Corps is conspiring against him. There's no empirical evidence to support that it's actually happening the way Atrocitus sees it. 
 I honestly don't care about the birth of the human Red Lantern. It's an unnecessary subplot. I get the notion that people can better identify with  a character if it has a human face, instead of a monstrous alien one, but, it's a really obvious thing to do. They did it in Dark Stars. They did it in L.E.G.I.O.N. There are humans in the Green Lantern Corps ( at least 5, that I know of). There's, at least, one human Star Sapphire. Of course, there's going to be a human Red Lantern. It might have been interesting had that person been an already established character. Maybe a villain no one was doing anything with, or an old supporting character. Someone the reader might feel invested in. A brand new guy, though. Eh... who cares? Unless Atrocitus immediately throws this guy into the Ocean of Blood, all this back story Milligan is building is pointless. Once whichever brother becomes the Red Lantern, he'll just be a mindless rage monster, in servitude to Atrocitus. His prior history won't matter. 
I don't think the book's premise is necessarily failing. I don't believe the title's premise is as obvious as some people might have expected. If you're not enjoying Red Lanterns, that's fine. You wanted something else out of the title, & you're not getting it. That's fair. I was most familiar with Peter Milligan from his long writing run on Shade The Changing Man, & his shorter run on Detective Comics, as well as his current work on Hellblazer. I knew the kind of story he was likely to tell. I knew the approach he was likely to take. In that respect, Red Lanterns has met my expectations. When Milligan was announced as the writer for the title, I thought it was  a strange fit. Honestly, I picked it up more for  Benes than I did for Milligan. I'm still enjoying the Benes artwork. I'm starting to enjoy Milligan's writing. The characters are on a slow burn, & I'm looking forward to the inevitable explosion.

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#25 Posted by Mayo88m (253 posts) - - Show Bio

@Battlepig: I personally like the book, it's different to say the least. I would also like to point out that the book may not be taking away from the concept of Rage as much as you may think. Atrocitus decides in the first two books that he will make the universe's rage his own. In fact the first book is set up by him contemplating the meaning of his rage, and if he even still has it now that his focal point is gone. Regardless, like I said he decides that the occupants of the universe and their rage will serve his purpose, and thereby offers a new justification for the corps, and the comics existence. It may be a shallow angle, but it does work on some levels.

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