Brightest Day #2 (2010)

Brightest Day #2 (Late July, 2010)
“Nuclear Options”
Writers – Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi
Artists – Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark & Joe Prado
Inkers – Vicente Cifuentes, Tom Nguyen, Rebecca Buchman, Don Beatty & Patrick Gleason
Color – Aspen MLT’s Peter Steigerwald w/John Starr & Beth Sotelo
Letterer – Rob Clark, Jr.
Assistant Editor – Rex Ogle
Associate Editor – Adam Schlagman
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99

Sure seems like that credits-list gets longer every time I type it!  I’m glad I don’t mess around listing the skatey-eight hundred variant cover artists.  Could you imagine?  These days I’d be out of digital ink before we even hit the synopsis!

Anyhoo, welcome back to…

After spending a couple of days on the fringes of the “crossovent”, we’re back to the “main” event book.  Who’s ready for some vignettes?

We open with the Firestorms… well, it’s just the one body… but, you know what I’m saying.  They’re behind a sort of vault door in the Pittsburgh University Lab… and they be bickering.  Professor Stein sends in the Atom to see if he might be able to “disarm” the Firestorm Matrix, and send them on their separate ways.  And so, Ray shrinks down and hops in to the thousand-degree heat of the Matrix.

While Ray putters around, Ronnie and Jason continue to bicker… suddenly a third voice enters the mix… and it’s not messing around.  It even refers to Ronnie as a (gasp!) “white boy”.  This sets off a chain reaction… and Firestorm soon “overloads” and gets all blowed up.

We shift scenes to Pearl River… New York.  Got excited there for a moment, thought we might get an Ahmed Johnson cameo.  Anyhoo, we’re in a suburban home where a mother is preparing a… er, ham and tomato bake of sorts.  While she works she listens to the news of the resurrected superheroes… her family is in the living room playing Rock Band: Tom Petty Edition.

Suddenly, mom loses her mind!  She repeatedly utters that “he’s alive” before slaughtering her family.  As if that’s not bad enough, she then yanks off her face revealing herself to be… mayyybe a White Martian?  Whatever she is, she hates her some J’onn J’onzzzzzzzz.

Speak of the Martian, we next check in with him as he checks in on the gravesite of Saul Erdel.  He phases into the casket, where we find a… very well-kept Erdel… almost too well-kept.  Anyhoo, Erdel was buried holding some photos… and if you recall, J’onn’s memory flash included a woman he couldn’t remember.  Well… we learn here that the elusive lass was Erdel’s daughter.

We next shift to the Peruvian Jungle to rejoin the Hawks on their quest for… whoever is after their bones.  After beating up a group of random guards (they seem to do that a lot) they discover Hath-Set’s… sorta-kinda sickly shrine to them.  Ya see, Hath-Set has been following the Hawks all this time… and even went so far as to create “death masks” of them each time they died.  Seems like a sickness… while at the same time, a pretty cool thing for a super-baddie to do!  Hawkman destroys the relics… and the thousands of years of history they represent.

Back to J’onn… who arrives at the Mount Hope Senior Home in Denver.  This is where Erdel’s daughter Melissa is kept… and since J’onn’s looking for (some sort of nebulous) answers, he shapeshifts into Erdelly form to try and get ’em!

He flies off with her, and asks what she remembers about the night they brought the Martian to Earth.  She mentions an Aztec tablet that her father had translated and became obsessed with.  She then tells a story about (I think) the first extraterrestrial Erdel summoned to Earth.  It was a monstrous critter, who nearly killed them both before escaping.

Then, Erdel brought J’onnz to Earth… however, this time he kept Melissa safely in another room.  Of course, this didn’t help all that much… she was nearly blinded by a light emission… and her face was scarred by the shattering transporter console.

The elder Erdel wasn’t as lucky.  His last words to J’onn were an apology… and a request to act as a hero.

We then shift scenes to Aquaman and Mera about to go on a swim.  Deadman appears just as they take the plunge… and we can see that there is a trail of floatin’ dead fish left in their wake.  Aquaman’s wake, if we’re being specific.

Then, Deadman is nyoinked away by the white ring yet again… and we wrap up this chapter with him stood before… the Anti-Monitor?!

What I didn’t consider when I decided to cover this crossovent was how difficult/tedious our “review” portions were going to become.  After all, this book is just a bunch serialized vignettes.  I suppose, as ever, we just do our best.

Let’s start by discussing our cover boy, Aquaman.  You’d almost figure from the cover that he would appear in more than a single panel, wouldn’tcha?  Well, he doesn’t… even so, his mystery deepens.  Over the past couple of issues we’ve seen him summon undead sealife… giving us the distinct impression that there might still be a little bit of Black Lantern left in him.  Here, we see him hop into the drink… and kill a bunch of fish.  Fair enough.

The Firestorms bit was… well, a bit.  There appears to be a third entity inside the Matrix… I wonder if its name might start with “Death”?  It didn’t overstay its welcome… so, I’ll give it that.

The Hawks scene… still does very little for me.  What’s more, this time around, I’m actually a bit annoyed by it.  I get being upset at what they found in Hath-Set’s “study”, but… why destroy it all?  Might there have been some answers there?  Well, I guess we’ll never know!

Speaking of “answers”, this issue really belonged to the Martian Manhunter.  Now, I love J’onn… but, most of my (and I’d assume most people’s) experience with the character is as part of an ensemble.  I feel like that’s where he is best used.  His solo stories… kinda leave me cold.

Here we have him looking for information from the Erdels.  Not sure just what he plans to do with it… or, outside of learning that Melissa Erdel exists, just what he learned in the first place!  Been so long since I read this… maybe it was to introduce that “first” alien Erdel summoned?

Or maybe it was to reinforce that J’onn is a hero?  I mean, dude just resigned himself to the gargantuan task of reviving a damn planet… I think he’s secure in the fact that he’s a hero… right?  Oh well… we also met that suburban mother who is triggered into an anti-J’onn rage when she hears Tom Petty music… that was pretty interesting, and gross!

It’s always cool to see the Anti-Monitor… though, I feel like he’s one of those “diminishing returns” type characters.  The more we see him, the less of an impact he has.  I suppose that could be said for a lot of characters… but for as cosmically important a being as the Anti-Monitor, I definitely feel like “less is more”.  Johns seems to really dig him, and used him less-than-sparingly during the tail end of the pre-Flashpoint DCU.  I don’t wanna say he was rendered into “just another villain”, but… I dunno.

Overall… this was mostly a good time.  I’m not sure I’m doing the story a service by reading it in such rapid succession however.  We talk a lot about “writing for the trade”, which this undoubtedly is… but, the serialized vignette nature of it almost makes the reading experience require a week or two between installments.  I mean, we’re getting cliffhangers… which, I dunno, I feel like need a bit of time to “stew”.  Seeing the Anti-Monitor, and just turning the page in a trade collection feels… I dunno, cheap?

Either way… had a good time here, and I’m looking forward to having my memory refreshed as we continue.  The art throughout is pretty fantastic… definitely worth a read!

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