Red Lanterns #2
Written By Peter Milligan
Penciller Ed Benes
Inker Rob Hunter
Colorist Nathan Eyring
Letterer Carlos M. Mangual
Plot Summary: (Via DCComics.com) “On a war-torn world where invading forces fight insurgent forces, the innocent always suffer the most. When a child screams with red-hot rage at the madness around her, she is answered by her weapon of retribution: Atrocitus”.
Red Lanterns #2 is a great story. It brings forth questions of justice, and who in fact is worthy of really passing judgment upon anyone. I have been drooling at the mouth to read this series since I heard of its release. Atrocitus is an intergalactic Frank Castle, his thirst for vengeance is all consuming, but unlike Castle, he has the power of the Red Ring. A little back story for those who maybe are unclear of who Atrocitus is can be found here.
We find ourselves on the planet Shan IX, which is a planet of ravaged by an ongoing war between the alien Yuevers and native Ghanites. We see the perils of war in this issue, and it's casualties as viewed inside the cockpit of two Yuevers, Knapp, and Harr. We are given a little back story to Knapp, he comes across as a sympathizer to the Ghanites cause, and we also discover that he is married and has a daughter. As they are flying with another ship, an aerial rocket destroys the neighboring ship. Knapp and Harr have found themselves in the defense and spot what they believe to be the attackers on their radar screen.
What they don't know is that the “attackers” are actually three Ghanite children foraging for wood.
The resemblance to The Running Man couldn't be more evident. Knapp suggests not engaging, while Harr insists and opens fire. The end result is the slaughtering of two of the children leaving one fearing for her life. After the assault we see the girl, named Rixx, who, after seeing the bullet ridden corpses of her brothers screams in anger, “DEATH TO THE YUEVERS!” This anger, this desperation, this adamant plea for vengeance does not fall on deaf ears. Her scream has caught the attention of Atrocitus. The paradigms brought about in this issue are questions reminiscent along many issues of The Punisher from the early 90's era. How is one rage more worthy than another? How can one pain be more worthy of retribution?
Atrocitus does not seem to know the answers to these questions, but knows that vengeance must be dealt. Next Atrocitus engages the ship in a dog fight ending with Atrocitus pulling Knapp from the plane and destroying both it, and Harr. Atrocitus takes Knapp to the site of the two dead children, and Knapp immediately recognizes his trespass. In his anguish and repentance Atrocitus declares to Knapp that he is an instrument of justice and vengeance for the defenseless. Knapp replies, “I have a wife and small daughter. Kill me and you'll be destroying their lives too. Who will be the instrument of justice for them?”
Atrocitus incinerates Knapp by spitting his blood all over him. The question was valid, and Atrocitus has discovered a flaw in his system. If he is to unite the Red Lanterns, and truly dispense vengeance in the galaxy, he was going to need assistance which will be a second in command.
I love the ramifications of these questions. The entire justification of the Red Lanterns rage is a symbol of those who have been wronged and demand vengeance. In this vengeance it gives us insight into our own thoughts. This comic so far is being brilliantly engaging and
I struggle with perfect scores, but I have to give this one a 5 out of 5. The art was fantastic, the story even more so. This title is one of the gems of the New 52. New readers can jump on here and not have a lot of back story they need to know to really be able to jump in. Great work guys.
Bret Kinsey is a contributing writer at Champion City Comics.