Peter Milligan has done the impossible – he’s made me actually want to read more adventures of the Red Lanterns. Blood-vomit-spewing characters may be intriguing to some readers, but I find the very concept rather repulsive and shallow. The other ring-bearers manifest their own imaginations, but the Red Lanterns will simply ruin your suit and most likely make you smell bad in the process. Oh, and they’re all mad as heck. That’s not the type of thing I go out of my way to make sure my comics include. After all, the very concept was one-note, and the characters themselves were hollow.
Until I gave “Red Lanterns” a spin, that was pretty much my take on the Red Lanterns. Granted, it really hasn’t changed drastically, but Milligan provides action and adventure aplenty, which when mixed with a certain amount of navel-gazing, turns out to be an entertaining story.
The story opens with the adventures of Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern cat, who happens to bite off more than he can chew by coming to the aid of a poor alien being who is methodically being dismantled by a gang of saurian-inspired thugs. How does Dex-Starr enter the story? Double-page splash featuring the rage-spawned kitty spewing forth the blood-vomit. Ed Benes presents the cat in a manner that isn’t as laughable as it sounds when you read the previous sentence out loud. From there, Benes draws up some sickly detailed Red Lanterns, and still somehow manages to squeeze in the near-trademark, Ed Benes gratuitous female butt-shot. How? He’s Ed Benes. It’s what he does. Aside from that, Benes heaps detail and energy upon the characters, giving the readers a whole lot to take in.
Dex-Starr’s misadventures set the stage for Milligan to bring in Atrocitus, the progenitor of the Red Lanterns. Problem is, Atrocitus isn’t feeling all that ragey lately, and is wondering how he can re-spark his enthusiasm for hacking up plasma. That leads to a natural recap of Atrocitus’ origins, but the art on the origins has an overly-large feathered panel buffer between all of the panels in the flashback. It was tempting for me to draw in some more details, but I did refrain.
To wrap the issue, Milligan leaves a hint of things to come. Things aren’t necessarily right in the Red Lantern corner of the DC Universe, and from what I can see here, they’re not going to get better any time too soon. That, of course, is going to make for some good stories with plenty of blood being spewed everywhere.
One final note that hit me as I read this book, if Dex-Star can get this much panel time, is there hope for a new Captain Carrot series in this brave new relaunch? After all, you need funny animals to counter the market presence of the really pissed off animals.