It’s a small bit of irony that this particular issue of Brightest Day coincides with DC’s iconic covers month, during which a single character is being featured on the cover of each book in front of a backdrop that displays his or her trademark insignia. The company wide initiative, which seems aimed at elevating the profile of individual star characters, comes at a time when Brightest Day is shifting back into ensemble gear. After several issues spent delving deeper into particular plot lines, we’re now once again getting a series of brief look-ins to a wider range of this book’s rotating stories.
For the most part, Brightest Day works better when in this mode. Though the limitation this places on the number of story beats per arc can make the overall movement of each subplot seem slow, the variety it entails acts as insurance for the reader’s enjoyment of any given installment. With uneven levels of quality from one aspect of this series to the next, it’s reassuring to see that an entire issue isn’t dedicated to one of Johns and Tomasi’s lesser efforts.
So, while Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s encounter on Zamaron with the increasingly overused Predator entity remains mired in blandness, it only comprises about a third of the page count. Going down more smoothly are the moments involving Firestorm (the beneficiary of the aforementioned cover gimmick) and his quest to recover the White Lantern from the planet Qward. The implication this mission seems to have for the revelation of the long awaited Brightest Day endgame helps to infuse it with a sense of dramatic significance.
Strongest of all, though, is this issue’s return to a focus on Boston Brand, as good a candidate to be considered this book’s preeminent character as any. As Brand pays a visit to his long lost grandfather, we get a glimpse into what the series’ enigmatic White Ring has meant in its repeated commands to “live.” In the vein of the obvious-yet-true metaphors that often crop up in Geoff Johns-penned comics, Brand’s tale is a parable that defines true living as living well, sharing one’s life with and finding joy in others.
It may not threaten to convert the most pretentious and cynical readers, but you’d have to question why folks like that would still be reading this book. For the rest of us, Brightest Day exists as the perfect mission statement on what a mainstream DC comic should look like in 2011.
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