Now that “Brightest Day” has hit its halfway point, I think most readers are feeling a general sense of relief that it wasn’t 2010’s “Countdown to Final Crisis.” It’s a book that’s still all over the map, certainly, but it’s finding its own rhythm and pace, and all in all it’s definitely smoothing out.
That said, two of its characters have been curiously absent for a few issues now, so it makes sense that almost all of this entry is about Hawkman and Hawkgirl. With hindsight that’s a good thing, in part because Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi get to unload a lot of back story all in one large chunk (rather than drips and drabs), and in part because we can hopefully see all the last mentions of “lizardkons,” “lionmanes,” and “manhawks” in one fell swoop.
The story itself isn’t bad, even if it’s a little exposition heavy. Hawkman fighting the enemy forces gets slightly dull in places, but with what looks to possibly be the end of the curse and resurrections of the Hawks around the corner, I’m willing to put up with it if we finally have this convoluted fix to Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s histories concluded once and for all. (Considering Geoff Johns helped put this into place within the pages of “JSA” back in the day, having him finally dismantle it is rather fitting.) There’s also a rather gruesome bit of torture going on here; with four “Aaghh!”s and four “shunk” sound effects, let’s just say that it’s a reminder that “Brightest Day” is getting its name because it’s a reversal of “Blackest Night” and not because this is a terribly upbeat or violence-free story.
The most important thing here, though, is that “Brightest Day” is starting to feel like this is a series that will actually wrap stories up, and that we’re getting conclusions. There is, after all, only so long you can string readers along with promises of things happening, and it’s nice to see that Johns and Tomasi know that way lies danger. It’ll make readers feel much more charitable about the series in general, and get excited about upcoming issues. Between this and other recent issues having Ronnie and Jason cooperating within the Firestorm, it’s a good step in the right direction.
Tag team artists Ardian Syaf, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Vicente Cifuentes pull off a remarkably consistent look for “Brightest Day,” and I appreciate that with three different artists providing pencils that it doesn’t turn into artistic whiplash. There’s too much of an over-reliance on double-page spreads here for the purposes of good storytelling, but I will cheerfully admit that the image of Hawkman with a mace in each hand, flying directly towards the reader is dramatic and well-executed.
Topped off with a dramatic cover from David Finch, “Brightest Day” #13 serves as a good halfway point to the series. While all but two pages focuses on a single plotline, it’s still a good moment of transition; things are actually happening, resolutions are around the corner, and chances are looking good everyone will come out of the experience with a positive memory of the story. That’s about all you can ask for, really.