Friday, May 6, 2011

The Light At The End of the Brightest Day Tunnel

The bi-weekly "epics" Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost both ended last week. Me being the Giffen-era Justice League fan I am I stuck with JL:GL through to the bitter end, while I abandoned Brightest Day about halfway through as it was doing little to sustain my interest.

I skimmed through the final two issues of Brightest Day last week at the comics shop, half a mind to perhaps pick them up and see how this thing closed out, but the wallet won out and I shelved them again. My curiosity was piqued however (SPOILERS ahead) as Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and Hawkwoman, Firestorm, and Aquaman became the earth, wind, fire and water elementals (respectively) in the 23rd issue to, seemingly, combat a Black Lantern Swamp Thing. Having these characters become elementals seemed like an interesting thing to do, and a rather monolithic change (except for Firestorm who has been the fire elemental in the past) for these characters. Of course, this was reversed in the final issue, Swamp Thing has returned to the land of the living (and the land of the superheroes) with John Constantine not far behind. So, it would seem, ultimately, the point of Brightest Day was to reintroduce a couple Vertigo characters back into the DCU proper. I didn't actually read the whole thing, but this is my impression anyway.

Over in JL:GL(the whole thing I did read and reviewed over at CHUD) - itself tangentially connected to Brightest Day - Maxwell Lord was reborn and decides to make the world forget he ever existed, which frees him to do whatever the hell he wants. The only exception is his former teammates in the JLI - Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Fire and Ice - haven't forgotten him and a cat-and-mouse chase ensues. (More SPOILERS) There's a lot of hinting at Max instigating a dystopian future, essentially bringing about the events of Kingdom Come using Magog as a pawn. But that doesn't come to pass and Max's grand designs ultimately are revealed to simply be revenge on Wonder Woman for killing him the first time. But he doesn't succeed in killing Wonder Woman, he's forced to lift his cloud of forgetfulness off the world (everyone remembering who he is once again, but with the complication that people don't remember who Wonder Woman is because of the events in her book, so they don't remember seeing her kill him), and he gets away to make a youtube video that is supposed to acquit him of all wrong doing in public perception. And Batman reforms the Justice League International... new series coming soon.

In both cases, these 24-issue, bi-weekly non-events were constructed as a gateway to new series. In the case of Brightest Day it's to bring Swamp Thing back to the DCU, in JL:GL, to launch a new, less funny, less heartfelt, less Giffen-y Justice League International. In both cases, it seems like a long way to go, and a lot of demand on the readers' wallets just to launch some new series.

If you want a new Swamp Thing or a new Justice League International title, then just launch them. You don't need to go through the whole pretense of an epic mini-series to get to that end. Quite frankly the experience of JL:GL has had the opposite effect than what I think TPTB at DC had intended. I don't want to revisit the Justice League International anymore. I'm done with that concept. It was awesome back in the late 80's, and the little things Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire have done over the years to stir up nostalgia were good, but this series didn't rekindle any of that fire and having a new Justice League International series, starring a fuzzy facsimile of the old cast, only seems like pissing on goodwill of the original. Dare I say it, it feels somewhat like the Star Wars prequels in that regard.

I had initially hope Brightest Day would be the testing ground for a new Justice League series starring Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Deadman, capturing the eclectic second-string feel of the book from the late 70's early 80's, but it instead seems to be angling for individual series for these characters. Had they launched a new Martian Manhunter, Firestorm or Aquaman series instead, I probably would have read all three with more interest than some "event book" that took its time in connecting the threads (if it ever did). And now, if there are new books for those characters, I'm not entirely sure how interested I am in them.

I'm feeling a little bitter about my JL:GL experience and even about my Brightest Day experience (despite bailing early). I think a maxi-series of 24 issues should contain a full, enriching story and not be just and excuse to lead you elsewhere. I'm not saying it has to be as good as Watchmen, but it should at least strive for that level of completeness and complexity. 52 is perhaps the better benchmark, having juggled multiple stories from multiple creators, but all of them completed and satisfyingly so. That derivative series were launched from 52 was more a result of the strength of the series and not some put-upon mandate to lead the reader into something else to try and achieve the completeness that should have already been offered.

Am I wrong? I certainly can justify this feeling with JL:GL but did I otherwise miss something in Brightest Day or is it as it seems, a 24-issue series designed to bring Swamp Thing back? Were the individual arcs for the other characters satisfying in their conclusion or were they left open-ended?


Eyz said...

Yeah. Totally with you on this one.

And I'd rather have new Hawkman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Firestorm and Deadman books launched after BD.
Though I think Aquaman was confirmed for after Flashpoint, right?
And both books should have had real "story arcs" and a conclusion to their run rather than "to be continued"...

Lazarus Lupin said...

You know I sometimes wonder if the whole point of these big maxi series is to confuse everyone. What, about 10% of folks are going to actually buy and read everything. The rest of us gets drips and drabs and then we wind up shaking our heads and going something like, "When did Green Arrow get two heads?"

Lazarus Lupin
art and review