Brightest Day #18

A long time ago, I swore I wouldn't let comic book deaths affect me. It's fiction, after all. A dead character isn't really dead. I can ignore their non-existence and revisit the happier times whenever I want to after all. This issue really challenges that mindset for me.

As "Brightest Day" winds down to a handful of issues left in its run, it only makes sense that the disparate storylines of the characters in this title begin to merge together, too. These characters have history together, some more than others. Johns and Tomasi take two of those threads -- Deadman and Hawkman and Hawkgirl -- and begin to wrap things up. As this happens, two more of the Returned Twelve accomplish their respective missions in this issue.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl are determined to use the power of their love -- yes it sounds cheesy, and Star Sapphire points out as much in this issue -- to defeat their opponent, and the confrontation occurs on Zamaron, the homeworld of the Star Sapphires. I haven't seen so much pink and purple in print since I spent an entire midnight shift in isolation re-merchandising and restocking the Barbie aisle at Toys R Us. I remember how much my eyes ached that following day from the onslaught of pinks of pinks and purples. It's no wonder that Steigerwald required a coloring assist on this issue; He probably suffered similar pains. All the same, the colors are played as a strength in this issue, even serving as a framing sequence once the action moves away from Zamaron.

Reis' work is beautiful as always, stunning in its deceptive simplicity. In addition to Deadman's story, Reis is given the moments in this book where the story threads of the Returned Twelve begin to weave back together, including the stunning final sequence and jaw-droppingly haunting final page of this story. Reis' work is matched, stroke for stroke, by Ardian Syaf who packs every panel of Hawkman's and Hawkgirl's adventure with raw passion and battle-tested fury. Syaf doesn't stop there, though. The panel of the risen dead shells of the Hawks' previous bodies is chilling in its detail and craft. If the Hawks wing their way into further adventures from this book, Syaf is on my short list of candidates to draw that series. This book is a visual spectacle once again, the art on every single page -- every panel of those pages -- inviting me to come back and spend more time absorbing the subtleties and detail. I'm going to do just that.

This issue is where things start to click into place and answers start to address their questions. But, as some of those answers fall into place, I'm finding more than a few questions are rising up to replace them. "Brightest Day" still has a mystique to it regarding where the brightness emanates from and who it shines upon, but one thing is for certain: it's a fun read.

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