This book is what we’ve been waiting for when it comes to this story. It follows the activity from Green Lantern: New Guardians #13 as the leader of the Red Lanterns, Atrocitus, was also present in that book. But now Atrocitus is reunited with his team of Red and the inclusion of this title with the Third Army is about to begin.
The story starts by showing us activity on the planet Arhtky, located in Sector 2967. There is major devastation and various members of the species are being taken as slaves. One young woman sees her sister slain and cries out in anger and rage – drawing the attention of the Red Lanterns. Somehow, Atrocitus and the team pick up on the pain and determine what caused it.
The woman, Taya, escapes from her captors and flees. She encounters an elderly couple who agree to take her in, although her captors are already hunting her. When they encounter the couple, they mention a reward – and the man of the house turns on both Taya and his wife (for no apparent reason other than the reward). Taya is attacked and injured, her blood splaying on the ground, but in the red of her blood she sees a brighter red flash…
Atrocitus takes out Taya’s owner and removes him from the battle. He identifies that the rage has been emanating from Taya, and even comments that if their battery had been in full working order she most likely would have been assigned a ring from it. Atrocitus beheads the captor, and Taya (in her rage) now points the finger at the man who turned in her and the old woman. Another Red Lantern, Skorch, deals with the man who begs for his life. Her touch disintegrates the main in a pool of acid. But no sooner does she do that…
… When the Red Lanterns are attacked by the recruits of the Third Army. They first go for Rankorr, the newest recruit to the team who originates from Earth. It is promptly knocked away by Atrocitus, who uses the captor’s body as a weapon. Usually Atrocitus’ power is enough to fell anyone, but the recruit simply rises and is joined by some other Third Army recruits. None of the power of the Red Lanterns is enough to take on the recruits, however, as they feel no rage – in fact, it appears that the recruits are entirely without emotion. This makes them the antithesis of the Lanterns where each color emobodies an emotional level of the spectrum. This also makes them much more dangerous.
Where the Lanterns are unable to cause damage to the recruits, so, too, are the recruits unable to absorb the Lanterns into their army as they have other individuals. It appears that the rings, which originated also as powers of the Guardians, prevent the bearer from being taken over. The recruits find a solution for that, however – they tear off Skorch’s ring arm altogether, separating her from her ring. This now makes her pliable to be taken over and, as we have seen before, her heart is removed to make the transference complete.
In his rage, though, Atrocitus attacks. A side comment from Rankorr about the recruits’ eyes sticks with him and so he attacks the eyes of a nearby recruit. And by attack, I mean pierce them with this thumbs, removing them. This appears to now be a weakness in the recruits, and by extension all recruits nearby as they all seem to succumb to some of the pain of the attack. So, although powerful, the recruits are not immortal and can fall. And now Atrocitus knows their weakness.
Although Red Lanterns has been my least favorite book from the GL family to date, I will say that this story was great. Not only was there a strong concept in what was going on, but we saw rage being embattled by emotionless creatures and we saw rage both prevail and succumb, proving that the emotion of red is not infallible. Additionally, this is the first major battle we have seen with the Third Army recruits and I am glad we finally got around to it. It was great to see the story arc which has been pitched for some time jump into high energy, whereas in the past we’ve seen the characters only in passing. Writer Peter Milligan and artist Miguel Sepulveda have both done a great job on this issue, so much so that this has been one of the favorite books of this epic to date.