Brightest Day #5

Five issues (and more than five issues of "tie-in" series) into the series and we've hit a point where the comic doesn't feature some of the characters it was established to feature. This is the second issue (out of five) in a row without Martian Manhunter. Firestorm, whose story seemed to be turning a corner last issue, is nowhere to be seen in this issue. We only get a handful of the returned twelve this issue: Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Hawk, Aquaman, and Deadman. Those stories hit some interesting points, though.

First things first: thanks to those readers who clued me in to the identity of the Mera look-alike. Hila, Mera's twin sister, returns in this issue and interrupts Mera and Aquaman as the duo are trying to curtail an oil disaster of BP-like proportions. Conveniently enough, the problem they are trying to fix allows them to steal away from Hila and her squad of goons. Not a lot of action, but at least the story finds some footing to move forward.

Reis' art here is nothing short of brilliant, which is to be expected from Ivan Reis. His style here projects glimpses of Neal Adams and Alan Davis, but the whole way through, there's no doubt this is Ivan Reis. Steigerwald shines brightest here, especially with the water constructs, such as Mera's hammerhead sharks. Beautiful artwork.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl, meanwhile, find themselves on a world that is eventually revealed as Hawkworld. Their time there is fraught with peril, however, as they are attacked by cat-people, not unlike Hawkman's old foe Lion-Mane, only with less lion. When I had interviewed Richard Howell while researching "The Hawkman Companion," he shared some art with me that depicted other cat-people, akin to Lion-Mane, but with leopard and a pre-George Perez Cheetah. I'm glad to see those concepts realized and printed here, as it adds to the sense of otherworldly adventure that can -- and very much should -- be part of Hawkman's existence. The confrontation between Carter, Shiera, and the catfolk is rudely interrupted by a host of Manhawks. Johns and Tomasi definitely have ideas in mind for the Hawk-couple, and their story feels like the most dynamic of segment of this issue, especially as they encounter some residue of the Black Lanterns.

Syaf's art is solid, light on backgrounds through most of it, but that is more a direct result of the Hawkworld than the action of the story. My biggest gripe with this segment, though, is where did the Hawk-couple retrieve their helmets from? I'll help out here and surmise that when your best friend has a size-control belt, it stands to reason that he may have helped the Hawks with figuring out how to reduce and resize items. This, of course, would open up a whole new level of possibilities for the Hawks' arsenal. You're welcome, DC. Another possibility is that the helmets are reconstituted, like Captain Boomerang's weapons over in "The Flash." Wow. DC managed to manipulate me into plugging their other books. Pretty sneaky.

Hawk, Dove, and Deadman are testing a theory in the Ivan Reis-drawn graveyard adventure. It can be said that this segment is the part of the story where the least happens, but there is potential bubbling underneath the surface. The answers to why the group is resurrected seem to be hiding in the shadows and the unasked questions from the characters here: Hawk, Dove, and Deadman.

It's nice to see some of the storylines moving forward. If we need to thin the cast each issue to ensure that happens, I think it's worth it, but I was hoping to get Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Hawk, Deadman, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter in every issue.

There's not a whole lot of answers given in this issue of "Brightest Day," but there are some gasp-worthy (my wife was concerned for me) moments that make this book a compelling read. DC solicited this issue as a turning point of sorts for the series. "Deadman discovers the truth behind the formation of the White Lantern and what it means to the twelve returnees and the rest of the DC Universe. Plus, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Firestorm discover the price for their resurrections...and why they may be doing more harm than good to the world." That doesn't happen here. It's still a good read, though.

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