Brightest Day

The "Blackest Night" is over and the "Brightest Day" has begun. Ad-free save for the plugging of the various "Brightest Day"-related series at the end of the issue, this book packs a lot in, but doesn't overwhelm. Boston Brand -- the character formerly known as Deadman -- serves as our guide through this story, but it is his story, as well. He's pulled through it like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life," helpless to impact the events herein, but witness to more than he would prefer. Brand is given a new twist on his old gift, and he also holds onto a relic from the last issue of "Blackest Night," inferring that his role may be the largest of the lot.

Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi spend this issue introducing us to the newly-reborn Boston Brand, Aquaman, Professor Zoom, Captain Boomerang, Hawkman and Hawkgirl (why not "Hawkwoman?"), Max Lord, Martian Manhunter, Jade, Firestorm (or at least one-half of the Firestorm matrix in Ronnie Raymond), Osiris, and Hawk. This issue is used to set up the attitudes, drives, and supporting cast of these dozen characters. The story, for now, seems to be less of a team book and much more of an anthology feel, with each returned character independent of the others save their method of returning to life.

Some of the recently resurrected are more divergent from their pre-death characterization (Martian Manhunter) than others, while some (Ronnie Raymond) seem to have reverted to a shadow of themselves that fans may have issue with. Still, it is good to see a lot of these characters back, even if the selection of characters is not to everyone's preference. After all, there are still twenty-six more issues (plus the inevitable spin-offs, tie-ins, and crossovers) to develop these characters further. Some of the stories will undoubtedly be told elsewhere. Hawk, for example, has joined Gail Simone's "Birds of Prey," Boomerang and Zoom will most likely return to vex "The Flash," Jade is set to join the "Justice League of America." But some of these characters -- Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Firestorm, specifically -- have nowhere else to go right now.

It appears as though the readers are not the only ones questioning why these characters came back. The characters themselves question their return, with some acting out differently, others seeking answers, and some just trying to live in the now since they have a second chance.

Pasarin's art is well-defined and technically sound. I recently re-read "The Legend of Aquaman," which featured art by Curt Swan inked by Eric Shanower, and in reading this book, the similarities in style are uncanny. Pasarin brings Swan's mastery of anatomy and heroism with the refined line and stroke of Shanower. Unfortunately, this locks some of the characters into their panels a little too heavily, making them feel weighed down on the page. For the most part, though, the art is clean, crisp, and appealing. The fact that there are six different inkers but Pasarin's style remains true is testament to Pasarin's ability as a penciler. His keen eye for detail is welcome in a book with such a deep cast.

Napolitano continues to letter the Story of Light, providing an additionally welcomed connection between "Blackest Night" and this title. Stiegerwald and Sotelo round out the visuals with solid coloring. I realize forty-eight pages is a lot to color -- and the duo delivered consistency in this book -- but some of their color choices seemed murky and undefined, such as Firestorm's skin tone.

As has been the trend with Geoff Johns' books of late, we get a peek into the future of the cast of "Brightest Day" with a multi-faceted page that features art from Fernando Pasarin, Mark Bagley, David Beatty, Ed Benes, Vicente Cifuentes, Scott Clark, Fabrizio Florentino, Patrick Gleason, Rob Hunter, Andy Kubert, Aaron Lopresti, Francis Manapul, Joe Prado, Ivan Reis, and Ardian Syaf. Those are the artists for the further adventures of these characters in the myriad of "Brightest Day" titles. That page undoubtedly has some false leads in it, but there's probably a scene or two that will play out under the "Brightest Day" storyline, and some that will surely be told in this series.

This issue sets up things to come in more than a few DC books, but it doesn't answer any of the questions fans might have coming in. Instead, it gave me a few other questions, one of which is: does the return of these twelve tamper with the balance of the thirteen as referenced in Brad Meltzer's early issues of the relaunched "Justice League of America"? Why did these characters revert to the points they did? Ronnie Raymond had previously worked with Jason, why doesn't he remember it? I'm also wondering what the extent of Un-Deadman's new powers are. Some of my questions are sure to be answered over the course of this story, but for now, they have me anticipating the launch of the regular series.

Issues numbered with a #0 have been deemed to be the perfect hopping on point for new readers, and this collection of characters has frequently hurt for new readers. Johns and Tomasi deliver a fine introduction that gives any reader a chance to step right in on the ground floor on this book or many of the others flying the "Brightest Day" banner.

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