The Comic Book Club: “Brightest Day” and “Bring the Thunder”

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This is what happens when Techland goes to the comic book store: we end up discussing what we picked up. This week, Douglas Wolk, Graeme McMillan and Evan Narcisse talk about Brightest Day Vol. 1 and Bring the Thunder #1.

DOUGLAS: I really wish Brightest Day were better, in much the same way that I wished Blackest Night had been more carefully structured. I love the idea of a fast-paced, multi-threaded, frequently-published serial in practice–obviously I was a big fan of 52. The stumbling block Brightest Day keeps running into is that it’s got too many threads; this is a series with a ton of major characters, only a few of whom interact with each other to any appreciable extent. (There’s the Deadman thread, the Hawkman/Hawkgirl thread, the Firestorm thread, the Aquaman thread, the Martian Manhunter thread…) And even though a lot of the other resurrected characters among the 14 (!) on the front cover of the first collected volume have been offloaded onto other series, they still have to check in with the parent title. Which means that we don’t get much of a sense of what this series is even about–the idea that the “white light” is giving them all missions (from the abstract, “balance the darkness,” to the ridiculously concrete, “eat a cheeseburger”)–until this volume’s almost over.

(More on Techland: Decoding DC’s Brightest Day Teaser Image)

GRAEME: This is, I think, a place where the original, serialized run of Brightest Day wins out over the collected edition. The next issue after the last one contained here–for which there was only a two-week gap in original release, not the probably six-month one we’ll have between collections – felt like, if it didn’t explain the missions, then at least let the characters share in the readers’ “What the what?” reactions. I can see the reasoning for ending the collection where it ends – it’s the best cliffhanger in the series to that point, and also a sense that there is SOME point to all the stories that’re unraveling – but I kind of wish they’d included something more from what was to come.

That said, am I the only person who thinks that the scene where the White Lantern Power tells the Reverse Flash “Mission Completed. Life Returned” feels very videogame-ish? It’s as if Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi are already thinking in terms of either ripping off Scott Pilgrim or making multimedia tie-ins already.

DOUGLAS: The whole thing’s videogame-ish. The violence is videogame violence; half the plot-advancing scenes here feel like cut scenes.

(More on Techland: Weekly Comics Column: More Weekly Comics, Please!)

EVAN: I resemble that remark, Douglas! And you, too, Graeme. But I do agree with what you’re getting at. The plot feels objective-driven and not character-driven, and any dialogue just kills time between the set pieces.

What I was hoping for was a fusion of Tomasi’s strong skill with modulating tone to complement Johns’ penchant for finding good angles with DCU characters. Instead, everything feels like it’s being pushed along a roadmap. Of the various character threads, I was really looking forward to the Firestorm one and the Aquaman one, but I feel like they both take such hackneyed turns. Well, of course, Ronnie and Jason don’t get along. And Mera’s an assassin who fell in love with her prey? You don’t say! The characters don’t actually feel like they’re moving forward.

The bigger problem with such plot turns is that it perpetuates this continuity re-invention that’ become such a fetish lately. And when the characters graduate to their next stages–be it in solo books or as part of a cast–the stuff from Brightest Day will just be more baggage for them and other writers to deal with.

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