The Full Run: Red Lanterns Year TwoA column article, The Full Run by: Alex Wolfe
It took a good twenty hours or so for me to even get calm enough to write this in a reasonable way.
I'm a big fan of the Red Lantern Corps (have been for years) specifically the character Bleez and, to a slightly lesser extent, Atrocitus. I also tend to get pretty angry about everything that's happened since Red Lanterns #13, at which time the entire series and the entire mythos took a serious nosedive. There've been problems since the reboot, but they were ones I tried to overlook since I genuinely enjoyed the series from #0 to #12, along with the characters' appearances in titles like Blackest Night, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Rage of the Red Lanterns, and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors.
Now, I've compiled my feelings into a series of short chapters, ranging from #13 through #24. Strap yourself in.
Note: These rants deal largely with the mistreatment of the character Bleez.
Chapter One – Angry
This article (read: RANT) includes spoilers for Red Lanterns #16. If you haven't read it yet, and actually care about it, go read it before moving onward. If you don't care about it, or have already read it, read on.
So, I am a Red Lantern fan – a big Red Lantern fan.
Maybe the biggest Red Lantern fan.
Or the only Red Lantern fan; it's hard to tell sometimes.
I have defended the title from the very beginning against overwhelmingly negative reviews. Cast aside accusations about the title being wayward and poorly written. I have genuinely enjoyed it since #1, I love Atrocitus and Dex-Starr, and I adore Bleez. I have (as far as I can tell) read her every single significant appearance, and even with newer characters that takes some commitment.
So what if the title is wayward? It's using some very new characters, and has up until this point been doing so nicely. Atrocitus is the brooding, sullen, tortured, savage mastermind. Bleez is the cold, haughty, imperious, sarcastic second-in-command. Rankorr is the privileged nancy-boy.
But, more and more, I am starting to suspect that Peter Milligan's first dog's name was "Jack," and that his mother's maiden name is "Moore," because Rankorr has become the biggest Mary Sue I have ever seen in my life.
Reasons? I have many.
Intelligence: Rankorr became the first human Red Lantern a while back, Milligan's only actual addition to the roster. Now, generally, the instant a RL gains the ring, they lose their mind. Theyt become mindless, raging maniacs – or at least, until they get dipped into the Blood Ocean. The only character besides Atrocitus to show sentience before the Blood Ocean dip was Bleez, who, while still borderline-mindless, had enough intelligence left over to retain her ambition and arrogance.
Rankorr, on the other hand, has none of these problems. He attracts a red ring but pretends he doesn't have it, he retains full human intelligence without assistance from Atrocitus or anyone else. He's just better, because why not?
No reason has ever been given for him retaining his intelligence.
Constructs: Rankorr can make constructs. Magically.
Now, he isn't the first RL to make constructs – before the reboot, Bleez was clearly shown being able to make simple constructs and use them to great effect.
But not anymore. Milligan has specifically retconned that because nobody is allowed to make constructs besides Rankorr. Only he can, because he's the best, and if anyone else could do things Rankorr can he wouldn't be as super-duper-special as he obviously has to be.
This has also led to him being 'special' among Atrocitus and the corps. Big Red offers him special tasks because of his constructs, which are strange, foreign things to him, apparently. He gets to be the golden boy... just because.
No reason has ever been given for Rankorr being able to create constructs. Apparently, the secret is in his blood, however. Or at least Bleez guesses.
Too Sexy For His Ring: Rankorr's sexiness and coveted constructs are so powerful that they can easily destroy years of character development and personality. This was the straw that broke the camel's back, here – he has been acting like a Mary Sue since he first appeared, and I found it distasteful but I tolerated it. Now, he is bringing other characters down so that he can look better than them.
Most recently, in Red Lanterns #16, Bleez utterly subjugates herself before him, willing to desperately peddle herself to him in order to get some of Rankorr's blood, which will magically give her the ability to make the constructs she could already make before the reboot.
This was a moment I was waiting for as Jack Moore became a more and more insufferable author avatar who was perfect at everything. The moment when Milligan uses one of my favorite characters to become Rankorr's personal sex-pet.
It was worse than I had even expected.
I was waiting for Bleez and Rankorr to bump uglies --- it was an absolute inevitability that I knew was coming. But it was worse. So much worse. Bleez tries to buddy up to Jack, saying she knows he wants "what she's selling" and doing a few sexy poses to entice him.
A little history on Bleez first, for those who are unfamiliar with her. Bleez's backstory involves being savagely (and really creepily) gangraped, tortured, and permanently mutilated. Before that, she refused to take a suitor, being too proud to be itemized purely for her beauty. After becoming a Red Lantern, she was sensual – but not sexual. The mask she uses is to hide her face, and her sensuality is more closely tied with her intense, sadistic bloodlust. The closest she has come to a meaningful relationship was with the Star Sapphire Fatality, who offered to convert her to the Violet Corps and show her the way of Love. Despite being close to Fatality, Bleez ultimately declined in a violent fashion, showing that she is still tormented after her subjugation by the Sinestro Corps. She is an interesting character because she is both cold and fiery at once – this inaccessibility is part of her charm.
However, it did nothing to prevent her from trying to spread her legs for Rankorr.
Instead of taking her up on the deal, however, Rankorr says he "can't trust her with constructs" and flies off in disgust, leaving her screaming out in spite like a spoiled child.
This entire affair is nauseatingly out of character for her, and cements firmly in my mind that the writer of this title is willing to do anything – anything – to make Rankorr the best ever, even if it means destroying the characters Milligan didn't create.
And the more he does it, the more I hate Rankorr.
I'll keep reading until #18, which the solicits claim will have a "fight to the death between Bleez and Rankorr." After that, we'll see if I keep reading this, now that my favorite character has become a spoiled sex-doll with no shame. I'm sure Rankorr will be leading the Red Lantern Corps by #20 at this rate.
Unless either Milligan gets a clue, or we get a new writer on the Red Lanterns title.
Chapter Two – I've Had Enough
So now, Bleez has been reduced to arm-candy levels by DC, when she isn't being outright evil. Yeah, that's right -- since #16, #17-#18 have been giving Bleez about a single panel per issue. What is she using those panels to do? Threaten the lives of innocent people out of spite.
Yeah, that's right. The vengeance-driven, bloodthirsty, but generally decent Red Lantern and rape victim isn't doing anything helpful to the plot. All she's doing is terrorizing Rankorr by stalking him and hunting down a defenseless woman.
Yeah. A defenseless, innocent woman.
So far, this will sound like I don't like Bleez. I don't want to give that impression.
I HATE HER. I can't stand her! Or more specifically, I can't stand the hateful doppleganger that has taken the place of one of my very favorite characters, who, while previously very angry and hurt, had a sense of pride and dignity, and served the cause of the Corps by hunting down the guilty and keeping the other Red Lanterns in order.
Not by terrorizing innocent humans in an attempt to seduce Rankorr into giving her the powers that she always had before the reboot took them away.
So, I've been constantly on the fence with this. Hoping that the genuinely enjoyable and satisfying story that was taking place within Red Lanterns #0-12 would someday return, I held out, suffered through the Third Army. Now I've been suffering through the First Lantern, and good God it's been absolutely terrible in every respect.
But look! A light in the distance! Could it be... a new writer? Taking over the project at #20? Why, it's everything I've always asked for, always hoped for since Milligan suddenly went bonkers and started making the entire title a big Rankorr shrine in addition to some suddenly horribly-written Atrocitus (yay for tired plot points – yes, his planet was destroyed!).
I was excited. I was so excited. Some rumors of Guy Gardner joining (or, from the sounds of it, usurping) the corps had me a little bit uneasy but I kept high hopes.
Until this morning, when I saw this.
Ladies and gentlemen, the solicit for Red Lanterns #22:
"Guy Gardner has suddenly found himself at the top of the Red Lantern food chain—but in a pack of bloodthirsty animals like these, everyone’s a predator! If he wants their respect, he’s gonna need the nastiest piece of work in the Corps on his side… but Bleez has her own ideas about what Guy Gardner’s got coming to him!"
Where do I begin?
Let's start with constructs. Bleez has had a major hard-on for Rankorr's constructs (which she always had before they were taken away, and given only to Rankorr), and was more than willing to spread her legs to get them (Which is stupid, and out of character! It says horrible things about rape victims and women in general, it's crude and awful and distasteful and just... just... terrible!). From that cover, considering by the oh-so-creative hardlight combat knife in her hand (that's the brutal combat tactician I've come to love! A knife!), it looks like, whether by hook, crook, or orifice, she's managed to get them.
Despite having always had them in the past.
How about the fact that now she's kissing Guy Gardner? Now, they actually kissed once before, in Emerald Warriors – sort of. They mashed lips so that he could drink some of her blood-vomit and therefore go full-Red so he could save the day. That's story-telling, I have no problem with that. None at all.
This, on the other hand, is stupid.
The solicit clearly states that he needs to "get her on his side" (by having sex with her, apparently -- I know that always works for me), and yet she has "her own ideas." Not that it's stopping her from going for a frenchie on the cover. Yay, yet another instance of a badass female character being nothing more than arm candy for the male hero, and/or using sex to get what she wants.
Because that's the only power women actually have, right? Screw power rings, they have vaginas and can make (much stronger and more efficient) men do whatever they want for them, so they don't need to do anything.
Yeah, Bleez has always been a cold-hearted, ambitious, and capricious character. It's what I loved about her. But part of that cold-heartedness includes her not going down like an asthmatic 12-year-old at a Black Friday sale. She's better than that. She turned down a chance to join the Star Sapphires because, and I quote, "stick your love."
So, stick your love, literally? What does she even want in this scenario?
I'm done with this title, possibly forever. I held out hope for a new writer and this is what DC gave me, after a continuous stream of rapid, unending kicks to my shins, baby-toes, and other sensitive areas. So I'm out. They can take their character-ruining and misogynistic ways and keep them. Unless things seriously change with the title and DC in general, I will never buy another issue of this book.
Chapter Three– Really, Really Angry
Well, I did technically keep my word on that last thing. I didn't buy another issue of the title but, when I started hearing an increasing amount of talk about how "amazing" the new run on the title was, I decided to...otherwise acquire them. A straight injection of four issues directly into my veins created a very, very large amount of rage, and I keenly await the Red Ring that is assuredly rocketing through space towards me as I type this. When I get it, I'm going straight to Milligan's and Soule's houses to exact my righteous vengeance, and use them to feed the power battery.
Since #18, there have been a number of... developments. Big developments. I'll do my best to calmly list them.
Bleez Offers the Red Lantern Corps to Rankorr
Remember how much Bleez wanted to be the leader of the RLC? And y'know how she basically leads and acts in the Kilowog/Arkillo role whenever Atros isn't around? The way she torments and drills the lesser members, causing them to be terrified of her? And leading to scenes like this one?
Well, that corps that she was willing to fight to the death with Atrocitus over? Skallox offers it to her when Atros seems to be totally off the rails. It leads to this scene.
"Tempting, but I'm not the only candidate. Rankorr has shown himself to possess the cunning that humans are renowned for. What do you say, Rankorr? Would you wish to wear the red crown?"
Now I could be a little confused here, but is she talking about that Rankorr, the one who stole Sweet Tooth's hairstyle? The one who's been a lantern for like... a week? The one who has accomplished absolutely nothing of note? The one whose only impressive ability is the power to make constructs that everyone else could make before the reboot -- that ability that he was given for absolutely no reason?
Surely she doesn't mean that Rankorr.
Nope, she does. She offers it to him and he says there's nothing he'd want less, and she doesn't step up to lead the corps. As soon as Atros actually returns, we get to see this.
Mhm. Happy to serve. As always.
Because Bleez has always been happy to serve in the past and definitely didn't try to murder Atrocitus and steal the corps out from under him. Nope, that wasn't Bleez.
Who the hell is writing this?!
Why Peter Milligan of course, the same guy who's been writing it since #1. He just apparently totally forgot anything he had ever written prior to this.
"No, Lord Atrocitus."
I'll let one scan speak for this entire section.
That. Just. Happened.
Rankorr Solos the Corps -- Including Atrocitus
First I want to point out that Atrocitus already defeated the entire RLC, sans Rankorr and Bleez. In addition, Bleez is (was) a feared leader and officer of the corps, and as stated above, the other reds fear her.
Well, when Atrocitus decides that, in order to become stronger, the RL's will have to drink Rankorr's blood, he's not impressed with the idea. In fact, he decides that he and he alone should be allowed to have constructs (wow, Milligan and Soule agree on something, that's odd). So, despite the fact that in one scene we can restore the Red Corps to its glory days when everyone that was actually lucid could use constructs, we, instead... get this scene.
Sooo, yeah. Apparently the fact that Rankorr, who has been a Lantern for like twenty minutes in-universe and has done nothing of note, is able to easily solo the entire Red Lantern Corps.
Because of, y'know, the constructs.
I think it's kind of funny, however, that those constructs give him such a gigantic advantage... seeing as Red Lanterns have always had an enormous advantage against, and in fact specialize in killing, construct-users. Much like Rankorr.
But nope. The ability to create constructs obviously means that he can defeat anyone, including the man who one-shotted Abin Sur.
Guy Gardner Kills Atrocitus
Most of you have already heard about this. He kills Atros and is immediately elected leader of the Corps. Just in case you haven't heard about it already, here's the scan where he does the deed... enjoy.
Yeah. Atrocitus. The guy who nearly destroyed both the green and yellow corps. The guy who had his heart ripped out of his chest and didn't stop fighting. The guy who held his own against Larfleeze. That exact same Atrocitus was killed by the guy who got decked by Hal Jordan's statutory rape victim.
Bleez Comes On To Guy
If you've read the past two chapters you understand what's wrong with this already. But here's the scan, have fun.
Bleez Backs Down to Rankorr
We've already come so far, why stop now? While the Corps tries to decide what to do with a Red-ified Guy Gardner, Rankorr holds him in a construct above the blood ocean.
Then, making up his mind without the Corps having come to a real decision, he just drops him in, causing Guy to regain his intelligence and therefore become a serious threat once again. After this, Guy is pretty much instantly elected the new leader (since he killed Atrocitus, after all).
So yeah, what you're seeing in this scan is Bleez getting pissed off (hah, that's funny, because she's fueled by rage), shouting at Rankorr, and Rankorr going "hahaha whatever, I've already owned you before because I'm the most powerful creature on earth and could easily defeat the Justice League if I felt like it," and proceeding to dominate her and make her look like an idiot. More later on why this should absolutely never ever ever have happened.
But it still happened.
Bleez Submits to Guy Gardner
Ready for more?! Well you're about to get it, so have fun.
Yup. Guy grabs her wing and makes her submit with it, with the addition of the world's most childish taunt ("You wanna keep this?"). She submits fully and doesn't cause any more problems.
Beside the obvious, here are some problems with this:
1. Bleez's bone-wings are not actual bone. They're constructs, and they always have been. If either of the writers ever actually bothered to read her origin story (written by a much better person than they), they would see that Bleez's wings were completely removed by the Sinestro Corps, before she became a Red Lantern. She used constructs to recreate the bone wings we know now -- and yeah, I realize that their constructs were retconned. But it's still stupid. Because it's still not a real wing. Note the fact that it's red and glows.
2. Bleez has killed hordes of Green Lanterns and has slaughtered so many Sinestro Corpsmen she had to stand atop piles of them. In addition, she is (was, before Rankorr) by far the most powerful Red Lantern besides Atrocitus. "But Guy has a green ring too!" you shout. "That makes him doubly powerful!"
No, I'm afraid he doesn't. His green ring is empty. He is a full Red Lantern, and doesn't have constructs like Rankorr.
3. Bleez has beaten Guy before. She's shown that she's more powerful, more durable, and even more intelligent/efficient than he is (and this was before her Blood Ocean dip).
So this entire scene is just a blend of sick power fantasy and terrible, terrible, terrible writing.
Just like this entire series has been ever since Milligan stopped taking his meds, somewhere around #13.
Chapter Four – I Can't Even
Alright, I'm through evening. No more evens to be had here. I'm done with the pretty fonts and the links and the pictures because by now you know that all the ridiculous #$%@ing @#$% in this title is actually happening. Just read #23 and #24 because apparently I am a masochist and I love suffering.
Here are some highlights.
- It sucks really bad.
- Bleez catches Guy spying, threatens to expose him. He says some stuff that doesn't make any sense and calls her a dumb bitch and she's all like okay. Then he taunts and teases her and she just backs off because why not, Bleez is not good for anything at all except existing and she isn't any good at that either.
- Guy states clearly that Green > Red even though they're not.
- Skallox uses a gun because guns.
- Zilius Zox turned gray because brown is stupid.
- Ratchet increased to eight times his original size because clearly he should be a Hanar instead of whatever Ratchet already is.
- Guy confirms the events of Emerald Warriors even though the new continuity has made it abundantly clear that nothing in that arc could have actually ever happened, since in Emerald Warriors Bleez is tougher than a group of high-tier green lanterns and could use constructs and now she is a coward with no special abilities.
- Reds vs. Greens yay. A single green shield can block a full stream of red plasma from multiple lanterns without cracking. Back in the day one Red was worth multiple Greens.
- Dex-Starr has constructs and woo-hoo, it makes sense because hasty flashback.
- Atrocitus gets the Butcher only so Kyle can come take it and leave.
- Atros without a ring can barely function and is not badass at all, despite being > Abin Sur with no ring at all.
- Guy mentions that the Blood Ocean keeps the Red Central Battery alive even though it doesn't.
Okay that's it. Bye. Gonna go get my guillotine so that I can remove my head. Seeya next time.
P.S. Everyone who writes novel-length blogs about how Superior Spider-Man is the worst thing any human being has ever done in all of history should be forced to shut up, sit down, and read Red Lanterns from #1 to #24. Then they can decide what the worst thing ever done in all of history actually is.
So there you have it folks. Just read all of that. Look at the scans. I want you to fully comprehend why this is wrong.