Most annuals tell a one-off story. The Red Lanterns Annual is an important chapter in the extended story arc Charles Soule has been writing. There’s been a lot of build-up with Atrocitus preparing to destroy Guy Gardner and his team, and this is where his plan begins. His target: Earth.
This entire comic is an action issue. It starts off with Atrocitus’s team of Red Lanterns surrounding our home planet. They kick off their attack by destroying a number of famous landmarks before dumping hundreds of Red Lanterns onto the planet, throwing it into utter chaos. The rest of this comic is split into several battles. Guy Gardner struggles against the Lanterns on the surface, allowing a few superheroes to cameo. Bleeze works above the planet to find technological means to help calm the fresh Red Lanterns down. Zox works to attack Atrocitus’s home base while dealing with the Lanterns staying behind. A few betrayals and guest stars mix things up to keep things interesting. The comic ends with the two opposing Red Lantern teams trying to gather as many of the new lanterns as possible, leading to the most epic cliffhanger ending I’ve seen this month.
Despite this comic’s huge scale, there’s still room for character moments and story development. Rankorr (who was recently rescued from Atrocitus) has a quick yet effective conversation with Zox. Supergirl shows up to help, now free of her Red Lantern. It’s clear that she and Guy have a growing respect for each other when they exchange a few lines. Unlike before, he doesn’t resist when she insists to help with the situation. Her characterization is much better here than it has been in Supergirl since Tony Bedard took over, almost making me wish Charles Soule was writing her instead. One person can only write so many books though.
The art by Miguel Sepulveda is very good for the most part. The Lanterns are complete with a number of visually interesting alien species, each with their own variation of the Red Lantern outfit. When they attack Earth, the panels have a very impressive amount of environmental detail and debris flying around. It almost looks straight out of a $100M movie at times. The level of detail remains consistent throughout the comic. As one could imagine with all the raging lanterns flying around, this is a very red looking book, yet there’s enough panels in space, blue holograms and energy beams to balance it out. My only complaint on the art is that Supergirl appears older than she should in a couple panels.
The Red Lanterns Annual is fantastic. If you’re a Red Lantern regular, it’s a must. Some of the plot details will confuse new readers, but the action is intense and fun enough that you should still enjoy it. This is my favourite comic of the week.