Review by Karl Verhoven
As per the memorable doggerel concocted by Gardner Fox to accompany Green Lantern recharging his ring, brightest day precedes blackest night, but in narrative terms it made more sense for the optimism of Brightest Day to follow the darkness of Blackest Night. That ended with a dozen people returned to life.
A good opening chapter from writers Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi has the revived characters pondering their return. Captain Boomerang sums it up with “Why me and not my son, or Cold’s sister or your ridiculous friend the Elongated Man? Hellifiknow, but I’m not going to sit here letting that rot my brain”. The explanation, of course, was the revived are all decent characters, largely ill-advisedly killed off for cheap shock value in years gone by. The exceptions were those killed during Blackest Night and as such always intended to return, and the anomaly of Deadman, who’s the key character, the only one still wearing a ring.
Despite the use of four different pencil artists, there’s no visual disruption as they broadly all have an open and relatively anonymous style, with the differences being in their layouts. It’s also the case that specific artists follow specific characters throughout the series, Reis drawing all the Aquaman pages for instance, and he has the best sense of the spectacular. Scott Clark’s Firestorm pages have the least visual appeal, a slightly more refined version of 1990s superhero distortions.
We’re obviously pleased to see the assorted characters return, but it’s soon revealed that each has a problem, something inherent to them that’s plain not right. The concentration on the heroes throughout while ignoring the revived villains is a weakness, but everything is plotted to be fast paced, so there’s little concern about what Maxwell Lord or Professor Zoom might be up to. The writers use the series to reveal something new about what Aquaman, Firestorm, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter believed true, and in each case it’s interesting, although anyone really invested in Aquaman may consider what’s revealed about his wife Mera to be a tinker too far.
As exciting as most of this opening volume is, there is also the irritation of an artificial limiting factor. Deadman is pulled from place to place by the ring, which can communicate with him, but only issues commands without explanations. That’s dealt with in the final chapter when it’s clarified that each of the dozen revived people must complete a mission, and those begin in earnest with volume two. Alternatively, the entire series was a briefly available as Brightest Day Omnibus.