This review is spoiler-packed. If you are trade-waiting or have fallen behind on your reading, please try another review for now.
First things first: I’ve enjoyed the hell out of this series. It’s been a successful non-anthology ensemble book that featured a handful of characters that have kept me interested in comics.
The shift in the last two issues to suddenly make this a book that featured Swamp Thing was dynamic and sudden, but also detracted from the wonderful stories being set up for the other characters who truly carried this book through.
Swamp Thing – and Alec Holland – has time in the spotlight in this issue. The Swamp Thing entity has become infected by Nekron and needs to be purged, and, in essence, rebooted. Holland has to live, which means someone has to die. One of the returned twelve does, indeed, die in this issue. The end result is a Swamp Thing that is Alec Holland set against the Swamp Thing infected by Nekron. What follows is plenty of Swamp Thing on Swamp Thing action in this book. On the topic of Swamp Thing, Kiel Phegley had a chat with Dan Didio about the wrap up of this series and the implications set to hit the DCU.
That said, each of the characters that have held the spotlight in this series has an epilogue moment in this issue. Unlike the epilogue over in “Justice League: Generation Lost,” however, the “Brightest Day” epilogue is hollow without any indication of where to follow these characters from here, save for Swamp Thing. He will obviously be a factor in the “Brightest Day Aftermath: Search for Swamp Thing” three-parter spinning out of this series’ end. I use the word “end” because this series doesn’t really “conclude.” Like many of the other DC events stories to this point, this is left wide open and waiting for the next big announcement of a follow-up.
Honestly, that plan sorely disappoints me. The stories told here were readable and enjoyable, and I realize that no one person’s tale is ever complete in one segment, but this series, moreso than other event series to this point, seems to just string the characters and the readers along without indication of where, when, or how those stories are going to be completed. It is almost as if DC doesn’t know how to handle closure.
Of the characters that were returned in the final issue of “Blackest Night,” all but one completed his mission, yet another open storyline started here but is left unfinished. One of the characters dies in the pages of this issue. Those characters whose mission was completed elsewhere are recapped here. That leaves Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Firestorm.
We know Aquaman is moving on in a book by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado later this year. The others are just left. Hawkman is suddenly and inexplicably without Shiera, Martian Manhunter seems to have found a new start, and Firestorm is facing an uncertain future. Nothing is shared with where those characters’ futures lie.
If I could split my rating by art and story, I would. While the story was sorely disappointing in its personality shift, spotlight change, and, most importantly, its lack of conclusion, the art was consistently brilliant, as it has been the entire run of this book. The story would garner a two-star rating with regards to the “Brightest Day” saga, but a four-star Swamp Thing story. The art would definitely merit four-and-a-half. Each of the “character artists” gets one last shot with their “star”: Gleason drawing Martian Manhunter, Clark and Beaty on Firestorm, Syaf with Hawkman, Reis, Joe Prado, and Oclair Albert dive in with Aquaman and Mera. Each of those match-ups has established a new standard for those characters, and I will miss regular visits with those combinations.
With each issue, “Brightest Day” offered up genuine surprises. As we all know, those are a rare commodity in the comic business today. The reveal of Swamp Thing was a genuine surprise, and a welcome character returned to the DCU proper. Unfortunately it robbed this last issue of the opportunity to be a stellar surprise.