Geek Reads

Geek Reads

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Red Lanterns: All About Rage or...More....

When I first heard about the New reaction? Why!???

When I saw the line up for the New 52 and it included a separate storyline for the Red Lanterns; borne out of their "following" after the successful DC crisis, "Blackest Night", I made the same reaction (along with some head scratching)... Why!??

And then when I read the recent Vol 1 compilation that collects the first 7 issues of their New 52 run...I had to stop, nod my head and say...Oh, that's why? :)

In short, reading this compilation has surprised me and made me wonder what was the reason for choosing to highlight Atrocitus and his Rage-filled band of Red Wielding Lanterns instead of the others in the Lantern spectrum. As I figured, Rage would be the least important emotion of the spectrum, because aside from destruction and tearing down what you know and love all in the name of Rage, you're pretty much left with nothing save for the consequences of your actions. And if we equate the need to resolve and address consequences in the wake of any destructive streak, it definitely needs to be met head on. And who better than the master of rage, Atrocitus, himself.

And while I don't want to be a Master at SPOILERS, better be warned now before reading further. :)

The compilation which collects the first 7 issues of the series,opens in Ryut, Space Sector 666, Atrocitus' own homeworld, with a hunter named Zuuq flaying a prisoner alive. He is interrupted by the arrival of our favorite Red Cat and later Atrocitus coming to his cats rescue and pondering a change that he has been feeling. Inspite of the carnage that he inflicts upon these hunters, he acknowledges that he seems to be merely going through the motions; that his Rage is not what is used to be. It is waning. And more than that, the effects have already begun to be felt by other members of the Red Lantern Corps, like Bleez, Ratchet and Skallox among others and like a singular organism body, they are restless and have begun to war with themselves.

Atrocitus believes that this unrest can only be solved by making another blood prophecy and he does this by reaching into the corpse of the dead Guardian Krona, killed during the War of the Green Lanterns by Hal Jordan. By Krona's blood and with his own ways of necromancy, Atrocitus offers Krona's blood as payment for his desire to be shown the answer to his dilemna. Thus he is shown visions of his past. From being a father on the planet Ysmault and suffering the brunt of the massacre of his people at the hands of the Robotic Manhunters before the Green Lantern Corps were formed, to other crimes of war and injustice on other planets. He thus accepts the visions as a sign to take on the rage and outcry of the Universe as his own. And is thus recharged and renewed for a new and higher purpose. And in line with this, he accepts the necessity of having a helper, and is left with his ruminations of which Red Lantern to "promote" and join him in his renewed quest. That is, if they really need him, at all.

Meanwhile, in another Sector, on Earth actually and better known as Sector 2814, and more specifally in the UK, another family is undergoing a crisis of its own as the grandfather of Jack and Raymond Moore was the casualty of a mugging. Bereft without a guardian who has become a surrogate father to them, brothers Jack and Raymond are each dealing with the crisis the best way they know how. One decides to punish the guilty by going after the mugger named Baxter, while the other decides to curtail his own anger and frustration and accepts the situation for what it is.

But when an attempt on their grandfather's killer, carried out by the outspoken Raymond and botched and intercepted made by the repressed Raymond which later results in his arrest and subsequent beating by the arresting cops for his refusal to cooperate, Raymond is left to deal with his guilt, his frustration, and his Rage at his situation, and so opens himself up just as a Red Ring flies and slips onto his fingers and thereby makes him the first Red Lantern of Earth; and named Rankorr. Following his insticts, he goes after his grandfathers killer only to be stopped further by Guy Gardner, who like us is surprised to find out that this Red Lantern is able to speak "normally" without spewing tons of napalm at the person they're talking to.

Back on Ysmault, Atrocitus himself has his plate full with having to deal with drafting Bleez as his second-in-command and returning her "normal" state of mind by submerging her into the River of blood and making her re-live her trauma and rage until she rises from it fully aware of who she is. (Note: When one becomes a Red Lantern,  your heart stops beating and is replaced by the Red Ring. Along with that you become a blathering drone spewing Napalm from your mouth, as a Red Lantern doesn't have coherent speech, except Atrocitus)

Bleez begins to question her existence and her life before being drafted and flies to exact revenge on her tormentors who sold her first to selected members of the Sinestro Corps. But Bleeze, as the story pans out, isn't the only one thrown into the river as Skallox and Ratchet followed suit and relived their own hellish life before equally questioning the morality of their cause. And it is this speaking and mentally capable band of Lanterns that Atrocitus brings with him on the search for the body of Krona after he returns to find it missing and not on the empty slab of stone where it has been since the events of Brightest Day .

Ironically, Atrocitus blames Krona for the massacre of his people and yet Krona is the only confidant he has and it is only after a ritual involving Krona's blood does Atrocitus  find his sense of purpose once more. For someone being the object of one's hate, Krona still has some use long after his death.

The search takes Atrocitus back to the Abominable Zone, a ruined city built from the bone of marooned space travelers where he began his experiments with first Red Lanterns. And with that journey, he discovers that one of his failed experiments named Abysmus has stolen Krona' corpse, ate is and has absorbed his power. And if that were not enuf, the abomination named Abysmus, has breathed life into the other corpses of the dead Red Lanterns, re-animated and apty named them the Abysmorphs. Add to this surprise is the arrival of James Moore; aka Rankorr of Earth which gives Abysmus the perfect timing to skewer Atrocitus from behind and leaving Rankorr to face the onslaught of the "Zombie"Red Lanterns and we are left to wonder who will eventually get the upper hand and win.

And win is what this first compilation of the Red Lanterns does for me as it certainly mirrors one's struggle in grappling with anger in real life. How long must one be angry? About a person who may have wronged us? About a situation that we feel powerless to change? Or even anger at ourselves for not being as driven as we feel we should be or even anger at how others can impose their expectations upon us. Truly there is much to be angry for and if you have a short attention span like Atrocitus, you may find yourself moving from one thing to another to focus on; from finding a helper only to realize that she will plan your downfall eventually because she shouldn't have been given that much credit, or the things you did in the past will bite you in the ass if you assume that it is dead and buried, or you are surprised to find that your anger is not only abating but equally moving into new territory. Anger can only be a primal source of power if it is focused and unrelenting. Something that Atrocitus should've learned and known all along. In short, no points for wanting too many things all and once and distracting oneself from the task at hand.

But to give our Red napalm spewing Lantern some credit, he himself is focused, its just that the results of his focused planning is not living up to his expectation and hereby as a reader we are thrown in for that unexpected ride, and if you like a semi-rollercoaster ride, with the promise of more turbulence, then I suggest this one should get you started and don't be surprised if you crave for more.

How could you not? With a cliffhanger at the end of issue 7, I can only wait for the release of the next volume next year on my Bday, which is March 12. But in the meantime, let me treat you for the cover of Issue #8. And if that doesn't get your blood boiling for more? Then perhaps better check your Red battery, it may have been affected by a roving Blue Lantern. :)

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