(yeah yeah yeah, I KNOW that picture has nothing to do with this issue...sue me...)
So maybe there’s something to be said about going into something with dismal expectations…
Peter Milligan: X-Force/X-Statix still remains one of the best comic series I’ve ever read, but some of his other work? X-Men’s “What Lorna Saw”? from what I still gather it was “hey, that alien is the same color as my hair, I bet it’s cool!”…yeah, no. And Flaspoint: Secret Seven? What was that exactly? Does anyone know? Anyone?
Still, DC had me at “Red Lanterns”, because Red Lanterns = Dex Starr. Love the little guy, absolutely love him. Not even mildly ashamed to admit that when I read his origin story, I cried like a little kid, hugged my cat, and then a few weeks later I rescued a stray, named him Dexter, and tell him he’s a good cat every chance I get. Yeah, I friggin have a huge soft spot in my heart for Dex-Starr (as an aside, he and I are both doing fine after my foolhardy attempt to try and get him to ‘wear’ one of those Blackest Night Red Lantern Rings on his tail…). So needless to say I was glad to see that Dex ‘survived’ the reboot.
Still, there was a little bit of trepidation picking up this book. Obviously I’m a little sketchy on Milligan’s writing; personally I wouldn’t have picked Ed Benes, an artist known for T&A pin-up shots to draw a book full of blood drooling aliens; and finally, the mythology surrounding the origins of Atrocicus and his Red Lantern Corps relies a bit heavily on continuity to launch a new ‘reader friendly’ book. Suffice it to say, I picked up Red Lanterns #1 neither wanting, nor expecting, anything more than to get to see the ‘Rage Kitteh’ for a few panels or so.
So after reading the book? Well, ‘pleasantly surprised’ doesn’t even come close to describing how I felt when I got done with the book. Not only did Milligan deliver up a decent helping of Dex-Starr action (and c’mon, that scene of Atrocicus holding Dex? Even the angriest dude in the universe likes cats!), but he uses the lead character’s powers of Blood Prophecy to open the series in a way that actually managed to explain the rather convoluted way that the Rage Corps came into being and start the ball rolling on the tone the book will take in the future (or at least so I suspect).
And the art? Wow…I suspect that due to some book he probably drew in the 90’s, Ed Benes has gotten himself typecast as a guy who can draw sexy women and that’s pigeonholed his work since then. With only Bleez to satisfy the T&A quotient of the book (and a little bit questionably at that), Benes provides top of the line illustrations to Milligan’s story full of rich detail to city streets, alien landscapes, and space ships. My only complaint would actually be the aforementioned panel with Atrocicus holding Dex, since it gave a bit of an appearance that Rage-Kitteh’s forward appendages were actually arms, not front feet/paws.
Only time will tell whether the Red Lanterns can actually hold their own in a monthly book or if this is a limited series that may drag itself out too far. As it stands now though, I would highly recommend this book and look forward to issue #2. The only caveat is one I direct to Mr. Milligan himself: Whichever one of those U.K. boys you’re planning on giving a ring to here eventually better not mess with the first and true Red Lantern of Space Sector 2814, otherwise it’ll be *my* rage you have to worry about…