It's been a while since I picked up an issue of Red Lanterns as I felt the series and recent Green Lantern events strayed away from the more villain-approach of Atrocitus and more into the popular anti-hero aspects of bad guys gone good, which I think has been a problem with the character and book from day one of the reboot.
However, I decided to give Red Lanterns #21 a try because of the new creative team of Charles Soule and Alessandro Vitti.
Right off the bat I sensed that Charles Soule tended to agree with me as we are witness to Atrocitus killing his own, discovering a literal Green Lantern "bug," and talk of how they shouldn't have been involved in Green Lantern battles.
Seems Soule might be setting up Atrocitus and his Red Lantern Corps as some major cosmic villains and against the GLC, but sadly that doesn't appear to be the case, at least with Atrocitus at the lead.
Soule gives Atrocitus a lot of build up, I thought, as the blood red leader barks out orders telling his cohorts how they are going to reform the team. Then Atrocitus orders Rankorr to sacrifice himself so the Red Lanterns can share in his construct-wielding powers.
Okay, we are off to a great start as Atrocitus is made out to be an evil SOB, but as we build up to the climax with the RLC taking on Rankorr, from this point on the issue takes a nosedive.
In a rather odd turn of events, Rankorr ends up fending off the Red Lantern assault, and Atrocitus stops the fight and is okay with it? That was a major let down as the issue seemed to be building up to Atrocitus ripping the guy's head off so the RLs could steal his power, become stronger than they were, and off to take on the GLC in the future in one heck of a bloody battle.
But we shortly learn why that never happens as the issue is a set up to make it more appealing to Green Lantern fans with Guy Gardner taking over the Red Lantern Corps.
Hal asks Guy to infiltrate the Red Lantern Corps, which is a rather intriguing concept, but it comes off as being sort of forced as the first half of the book builds up Atrocitus and then Atrocitus is just made to look like a really crappy character.
I actually like the appeal of Guy being a double-lantern agent than Atrocitus discovering the bug, Guy attempting to join the Reds, and then having to humiliate Atrocitus, steal his ring and become the leader.
I suppose it's more of a question of whom do you prefer: Atrocitus or Guy Gardner? If it's the latter, and DC just wants more GL Guy Gardner fans reading the issue, why not just give Guy his own book and a bonus #1 issue to boot?
Because what is going to happen, is that Guy is going to be a Red Lantern for a while, but will "see the light" (blue), and be back to the GLC sooner than you can say "bring on the next GLC event."
And then Dex-starr can bring back Atrocitus to lead the Red Lantern Corps, and we are back to square one.
I hope DC learns from Red Lanterns in that an anti-hero series won't work for a popular group of villains when they launch the Sinestro Corps ongoing.