If you happen to be a fan of one particular Bronze Age DC Comics character (who shall remain unnamed in this review for the sake of spoiler concerns), then Brightest Day #23 may very well leave you absolutely psyched. After decades of near dormancy, this character is brought out of storage and dusted off for a pivotal role in the series’ endgame. In fact, if writers Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi are tipping their true hand here in this penultimate issue, it seems that the culmination of the entire Brightest Day storyline may be to establish this character with a prominent role in the DC Universe from here on out.
If you’re like me, however, and your familiarity with this long lost character is merely passing (as I suspect it will be for many of Johns and Tomasi’s readers), then your enthusiasm for this comic is bound to be much lesser. That’s because, aside from the revelation that I’ve just mentioned, there is very little else of substance here in this issue. Almost everything is built around the big moment where the curtain is drawn back, yet essentially none of it serves to explain who the character in the spotlight is or why he’s important.
But while this may put a damper on one’s enjoyment of the current issue, it’s only a minute blemish on the face of Brightest Day as a whole. The road leading to this point has been littered with creative additions to the lore of each of the rotating cast of main characters, making the cumulative series a much more positive experience than most event books end up being. It’s also impressive to see that Johns and Tomasi have managed to coalesce their many disparate plot threads into a unified conclusion, even if its effect is not as powerful as they likely intended it to be.
After pitching a complete game on Blackest Night last year, it’s a shame to see artist Ivan Reis have to rely on help so close to the end of this series. The overall looser look of this issue and the lack of a penciller/inker distinction in the credits suggest that he may have only contributed breakdowns to many of the panels here. The end result certainly isn’t terrible, but it definitely lacks the level of fine detail that Reis often provides. All may be forgiven, though, if it turns out that he’s saving his best stuff for the finale.
Though Brightest Day has boasted very few unqualified great issues in its run, it has generally been a series that deserves some slack for its flaws. Even so, I can’t let it off the hook for the nature of this most recent outing. With an out-of-the-blue reference to a character that has been out of the public consciousness for the bulk of many readers’ lifetimes, there’s no doubt that quite a few fans have been left high and dry.