Since the beginning, each Brightest Day title page has promised the eventual revelation of the series’ unifying mystery: an explanation as to why each of the featured characters has been brought back from the dead. Though the delivery of these answers has been presumably planned from the book’s inception, it certainly seems that creators Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi have written themselves into an unenviable position. After a year of churning out a biweekly stream of relatively isolated plot threads, it’s now time for them to tie it all together.
To be fair, Johns and Tomasi haven’t completely neglected their overarching story as an afterthought. They’ve referenced it regularly, especially as the series has wound down. Still, the fact remains that this connecting thread has never been the primary appeal to Brightest Day, its more significant achievement having been the revitalization of several semi-languished DC properties. That goal having already been accomplished in earlier issues, this grand finale ends up as one of the least interesting moments of the series.
On top of that, a number of the characters who get shoehorned into Johns and Tomasi’s conclusion barely factored into the series during the bulk of its lifespan. In my previous review, I wrote about how the last minute addition of Swamp Thing put a real halt on any momentum this series might have had going for it. The same could be said again here for Captain Boomerang, or the even more briefly referenced Jade, Osiris and Maxwell Lord. And don’t even ask me what the Reverse Flash was supposed to have to do with anything.
Nearly every artist who ever worked on Brightest Day returns to contribute a little something for this last issue, though you might never know it without glancing at the credits. Only Patrick Gleason has an obviously distinct style from the rest. As he’s done all series, Ivan Reis sets the pace that the rest of the pack follows, though it’s probably most accurate to say that they’re all the artistic offspring of DC co-publisher Jim Lee.
It’s rare that a floundering conclusion doesn’t cast a dark shadow upon the entire tale that preceded it, but that’s exactly the case with Brightest Day. Despite the pretense of a cohesive big picture, this has essentially been an anthology series, the bulk of which was fairly enjoyable in and of itself. Johns and Tomasi can keep their whole; I’ll take the sum of Brightest Day’s parts.