Brightest Day #0 (June, 2010)
Writers – Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller – Fernando Pasarin
Inkers – John Dell, Cam Smith, Prentis Rollins, Dexter Vines & Art Thibert
Colors – Aspen MLT’s Peter Steigerwald w/Beth Sotelo
Letterer – Nick J. Napolitano
Assistant Editor – Rex Ogle
Associate Editor – Adam Schlagman
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
Welcome everyone to… Brightest May! Where we’re going to spend the month revisiting the last time I felt positive and excited about DC Comics’ direction!
Now, I’m planning for this to go all the way through May… but, ya know… things happen. I might get burned out on the concept a week or two in. It’s unlikely that’ll happen… but worth mentioning. We’ll just play it by ear.
Brightest Day was when I made my “grand return” to DC Comics fandom after a little while away. I’ve mentioned it before, but in 2008 I lost my job… and the Christate was anything but “Palatial”. I actually lost the damn thing! Needless to say, comics weren’t anywhere near a priority at the time.
When things began to turn around, DC Comics was just wrapping up something called Blackest Night. I gave it one look, figured it would cost me an arm and a leg to get caught up… and turned my attention back to Marvel. Well, it wasn’t too terribly long before the siren song of DC Comics brought me back over.
This… I dunno, “initiative” (I guess?) felt fresh, after years of darkening the DC Universe… there was finally some light. Heroes were hopeful… and it felt as though we were actually headed somewhere. Ya know, because DC told us as much.
That’s another thing we’ll be looking at as we work through the month. Brightest Day led to the grand cosmic toilet flush of 2011. Of course DC will tell you that was the plan all along… I think as we re-familiarize ourselves with Brightest Day we’ll be able to mythbust the hell out of that.
Anyhoo… I hope you’ll join me this month for our trek through an odd, wonderful, and frustrating time in semi-recent DC Comics history.
Don’t you dare be sour… we open on a new day. The kind of day where a baby bird might make their first overtures toward leaving the nest… a day where it might be too soon for such a thing. The poor bird plummets from the tree, and bonks its tiny head against a tombstone. Not just any tombstone, however… the tombstone of Boston Brand, the not-so Deadman.
Brand lets loose with a sledgehammer, destroying his tombstone… and questioning his new lot in “life”. Since the white ring found him, he’s feeling all those “human” things that the rest of us mere mortals find ourselves putting up with every day… achy legs, hunger… stuff like that. He kneels down and picks up the baby bird… and in a flash of light, it comes back to life!
Then… the white ring speaks. It asks Deadman for help, while bathing him in white. Brand’s original death would occur in his first-appearance, Strange Adventures #205 (October, 1967).
We shift scenes to the Amnesty Bay Lighthouse, where Mera has begun to stir from her slumber. She heads outside to find the recently revivified Aquaman watching the sunrise. Aquaman had died sometime during the Infinite Crisis/One Year Later deal. He wonders why he was chosen… when Garth and Tula remained dead. I mean, the easy answer is “those characters couldn’t support their own feature, much less title”… but, I get what he means.
Mera attempts to entice him into into going for a swim… but Arthur just can’t shake an ominous feeling. As he sits down on the dock, Deadman appears.
Next stop, Iron Heights Penitentiary, where Deadman materializes before the cell of Eobard Thawne, who had also been brought back to life. Thawne was killed way back in Flash #325 (September, 1983) in the story that would send that title into the never-ending Trial of the Flash. Brand considers what this could mean. Why would the ring choose a psychopath?
At that very moment, the Flash arrives at Iron Heights to check in with yet another returning villain… Captain Boomerang (Digger Harkness). This Captain died during Identity Crisis. Barry’s not completely sure how to approach him. Digger ensures him that he won’t waste this opportunity.
We shift over to St. Roch, Louisiana where Hawkman and Hawkgirl look at some tchotchkes. The Hawks were killed not too long ago during Blackest Night. At that moment, a strange expedition is taking place in the Andes.
Deadman arrives just in time to see the Hawks start “goin’ at it”… and so, he shields his face. After a moment, Carter pulls away… suddenly the room is full of the ghosts of their past lives.
Shiera attempts to comfort him, when an odd crystal shard given to them by a Star Sapphire bursts from his utility belt, and bonds to his gauntlet. It appears to want to lead them somewhere.
As they follow the mitt, we see just what that expedition has uncovered… the bones belonging to Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s first bodies!
We next shift over to our old pal Max Lord. He’s hooked up to IVs and stood before an ice-bath. Yep, we’ve discussed this bit before. Anyhoo, Max was killed by Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman (vol.2) #219 (September, 2005). He is, of course, putting his “powers of suggestion” into overload in order to make the entire planet forget that he ever existed… and, as we’ve seen in the pages of Justice League: Generation Lost, it almost works! Deadman arrives just as he takes the plunge.
Next stop, Mars… where Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner are visiting their pal the Martian Manhunter. J’onn was killed in Final Crisis #1 (July, 2008). It’s a cordial (jovial, even!) and hopeful reunion between the three friends. J’onn informs the fellas that he will remain on Mars for now… and do whatever he can to “bring it back”.
Speaking of Lanterns, we next shove off to Oa… where the recently returned Jade is being run through some training exercises. Jenny died in Infinite Crisis Special: Rann-Thanagar War #1 (April, 2006). She thinks she’s being put through this intense regimen in order to keep her from reconnecting with Kyle. Kyle eventually shows up, and they chat a bit before splitting off. This scene closes with Jade being frightened by the White Lantern logo? Well, that’s not entirely clear…
Back to Earth, and New York City to be specific. We’re at the funeral for Gehenna, former girlfriend/partner-of-sorts to Jason Rusch, that other Firestorm. Gehenna was killed in Blackest Night #3 (November, 2009) by Black Lantern Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond). Well, now Ronnie’s back… courtesy of the White Lantern. Ronnie had died years earlier during Identity Crisis.
It’s not the greatest of meetings between Ronnie and Jason… as you might imagine. Ronnie sheepishly apologizes for turning Jason’s girlfriend into a pillar of salt, or whatever… and gets a punch in the face for his troubles. This results in the two boys combining into an all new Firestorm matrix!
Next stop, Kahndaq, where Amon Tomaz… Osiris has also returned. He is the brother of Isis, and former student of Black Adam. He died in 52 #43 (February, 2007). He “Marvels up” by shouting out the name “Black Adam”… and takes the statues of his sister and mentor for a proper burial.
We head back stateside, to Arlington, Virginia where the revived Hawk (Hank Hall) is teaming up with the still-alive Dove (Dawn Granger) to take out some smugglers. Hawk died, as Extant… I think (it gets pretty gnarly)… back in JSA #15 (October, 2000). He’s still the same ol’ “might makes right” Hawk. Yadda yadda.
Deadman’s final stop (for now) is the decimated Star City. A great big chunk of Star City was destroyed by Prometheus during Justice League: Cry for Justice… leaving the city severely scarred.
The ring begins to speak again… it’s worth mentioning that of all of the folks brought back to life, Boston Brand is the only one still wearing the White Lantern Ring. The ring cries out for Brand to “Help Them”… while giving us a flash of what’s to come.
The ground begins to shake, and Brand falls to the ground. Suddenly trees begin to sprout, filling in the Star City scar with a lush forest. Deadman panics and attempts to remove the ring from his finger, but it unsuccessful.
We wrap up in Silver City, New Mexico, where the actual White Lantern Power Battery sits in a crater. The locals don’t know quite what to make of it… however, they don’t get the luxury of thinking about it all that long, because… Sinestro is on the scene!
Well, that was a whole lot of travelling wasn’t it? I gotta tell ya, I’m exhausted.
This was a great “world building” issue… and really made you feel like you got your money’s worth. It’s a $3.99 book, but… we really get a lot here. I mean, this was supposed to be setting the stage for the DC Universe going forward… if not for, well… you know.
It was cool having Deadman as our “tour guide”… this really was my first time “warming up to” the character, as he never really did all that much for me beforehand. I mean, I thought he had a cool look and gimmick, but never felt the need to go out of my way to read his adventures.
I suppose that could be said for a few of our heroes here. Back in 2010 I was far less acquainted with the DC Universe than I am now. Didn’t really follow many of these characters. So, this odd assortment of revived folks proved to be a better than expected “education” for me.
Firestorm was one of those characters, like Deadman… that I thought looked really cool, but could never really get into his book. I suppose we could lump Hawk and Dove and the Hawk-family into that pile too!
I will say that I did get a bit tired of the “Why me?” reactions. I mean, I get it… the more heroic among the revived have those pangs of altruism and whatnot… but it did get a bit old.
I mentioned it in the preamble, but this really was the last time I felt optimistic about DC Comics as a whole. Even with the recent Rebirth initiative, I was only really excited for 3-4 books. Hell, even two years into Rebirth, I’m still not sure which continuity we’re using! I feel like DC Comics has a pretty big problem “sticking the landing”… or just plain “committing” to an idea.
With Brightest Day, it seemed as though DC had a clear vision for the entire line. This was all “leading somewhere”… and these “neo-seminal” stories were going to actually matter. They were going to lay the foundation for the DC Universe moving forward. When I read this in 2010, I actually felt as though I was on the “ground floor” of something. I didn’t need a cosmic reset… or toilet flush… this felt new enough for it to be a novelty, yet familiar enough to keep me comfortable.
Over this month, I hope to shine a light (ha!) on this weird hiccup of a time in DC Comics history. I’d like to kinda “comb” through this to see if we can deduce exactly when DC Comics “threw in the towel”… and lost interest in the initiative in favor of tossing the babies out with the bath-water. I haven’t reread any Brightest Day books (outside of the handful we’ve already discussed) since 2010/2011.
Hopefully at this point we are far enough removed from this for me to shove aside those feelings of… well, almost betrayal. I felt like such a jerk buying up all of these Brightest Day books (at cover price, even!)… with the promise that it was leading somewhere, only to be told on Memorial Day, 2011 that we’d been pranked. I’m sure we’ll brush up against these feelings throughout our journey. If anyone reading has any stories they’d like to share, please feel free!
Overall, as an issue… thought it was great! The writing was solid and engaging, and Pasarin’s art was wonderful. I’d definitely recommend revisiting (or just plain visiting) this era.
Interesting Ads (and just some of the books we’ll be covering this month):