With “Brightest Day” almost over, it’s time for Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi to start wrapping things up. And with the final issue just two weeks away, that means that this issue is a big mass of exposition, and “what that really meant.”
So now we are suddenly addressing the strange forest in Star City, the missing heroes and why they were resurrected (and then eaten by the White Lantern), and of course, the long rumored return of a character to the DC Universe. And while some of it feels like it’s just being pulled out of a hat (the setup for some of these revelations is a little weak), it makes sense and fits into the DC line as a whole.
And as for the returning character? Well, it feels remarkably like what several previous writers have done in the past, feeling like a nod to those takes on the character. Where it goes from here, of course, is anyone’s guess. But it’s building on a base of previous information.
The downside, though, is that a huge exposition dump is often boring, and “Brightest Day” #23 falls into that trap. A first read-through might have some readers excited about the big revelations, but once the element of surprise is removed, it’s got several lackluster stretches. A lot of “Brightest Day” has been fast-paced and entertaining, but that overall energy has faded with this issue.
Likewise, the art in “Brightest Day” #23 isn’t quite up to standards. There are some impressive pages, like the unveiling of the elementals, where Ivan Reis shows off their new forms. Despite being a static image, there’s a lot of power put into that spread, and it feels like they’re ready to leap off the page. But by way of comparison, look at the title credits page, where Firestorm is being warned by Deadman about the White Lantern. The characters look half-formed here, more like a sketch that’s been colored and thrown onto the page than a finished product. For every good page (like the image of the Dark Avatar attacking), there’s another that feels hurried. I suspect all of the artists involved in “Brightest Day” will be happy with the conclusion of the twice-a-month schedule.
Fortunately there’s still the big conclusion to come in two weeks, because this is an uncharacteristic dip in quality for the series. With elements being hastily yanked back in (hello, Captain Boomerang) and explanations left and right, hopefully that phase is now completed in order to give us a stronger conclusion. Right now, though, it’s an underwhelming beginning of the end.