Over three consecutive collections from the end of The Sinestro Corps War Geoff Johns built toward Blackest Night. He introduced ring-wearing warriors whose ability was tied to emotions other than lack of fear, and considerably shifted perceptions about just how benign the Guardians of the Universe actually were. So what did he have left after the universe-shattering activities of the Black Lanterns? Quite a bit, actually.

Anyone who prefers a standalone graphic novel will be pleased to learn you won’t need to reference the core Brightest Day. All necessary information is presented, and this is a far more straightforward graphic novel than Green Lantern: Blackest Night, although one presenting some complex ideas. Each of the ring wearers knowingly or otherwise represents an entity around since the time of creation, and those entities seem to be on Earth. Certainly the primary ring bearers using their power are collecting on Earth. In addition to them Johns continues to amaze with the way he’s able to connect so many of Green Lantern’s old foes with a greater destiny than has been previously assumed.

While despair was prevalent in Blackest Night, Brightest Day is about optimism, although it might not always seem to be the case. It means that artist Doug Mahnke tones down the nastiness to a more suitable level for a standard superhero title. He’s a superb artist, expansive when it comes to laying out a page, and his design work is first rate. There’s not the opportunity to put it into practice as much as before, but the results are still something to astound. He’s moved to a more stylised version of human figures, however, and this is sometimes more distracting than it ought to be. A short back up strip providing the origin of Red Lantern Dex-Starr is credited to “Shawn Davis”, while artist Shane Davis is listed as the character’s co-creator. As the nice art resembles that of Shane Davis from elsewhere, the credit seems to be a mistake.

In addition to the adventure and the surprises Johns always ensures there’s undercurrent of human emotion to his stories, one working on a more subtle scale than the broad spectrum powering the rings. Every chapter has one or two nice little moments, some thought provoking, with one of the best the tables being turned on the Hal Jordan/Carol Ferris relationship. A discussion with the Flash works beautifully, and the hole within Larfleeze is a treat. It’s these sorts of moments that were too few and far between in Green Lantern: Blackest Night and make this a superior read. Don’t think it’s short on action, though, because it’s not. In addition to Flash there are good roles for Lobo, the Spectre and at the end Batman as Johns continues to undermine the solid ethical foundations presumed on the part of the Guardians, using Green Lantern’s past well to achieve this.

Brightest Day concludes with Jordan departing alongside other ring bearers into what will develop as War of the Green Lanterns.