Split spotlights this issue concentrate on the newest versions of Firestorm and Aqualad.
For Firestorm there are new theories proving true as his/their powers are going through a metamorphosis that seem to be carrying the highest stakes possible. While still trying to come to grips with what Professor Stein has told them about their situation, Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch are confronted by the demons not yet exorcised from the events of the Blackest Night series that threw these two together.
The second spotlight falls on Jackson Hyde, the soon-to-be new Aqualad, who has his whole life changed as the man he thinks of as his father tells him the truth about how he came into his life. Before he can even deal with what he’s been told, his biological father comes calling in the form of Black Manta. As Jackson and his dad flee from Manta’s attack, things are looking bad and they’re in need of help. As it turns out, help is what they’re getting when Aquaman turns up to stand in the way of his old foe, ready for the fight.
Team Brightest Day rounds out issue ten with a high spot. As enthusiasm for the series tends to come and go, this issue brought me back around right when it needed to. It’s a very 50/50 issue though; using one cliché that works well and one cliché that didn’t.
In the interest of getting the negative out of the way so we can close on a positive, the cliché used on Firestorm was tried and true but also tired and true.
One of the revelation “bombs” Professor Stein drops on Ronnie and Jason essentially boils down to them being (as Firestorm) the “most dangerous being in the universe”. Now it’s not like Firestorm hasn’t been successful as a comic at all, there have been series runs that have managed to last for years, but labeling him as a “B” league character (or maybe even “C”) is true when going by his inability to draw enough interest to warrant his own book in the past. Now as rumors abound over whether or not DC is getting ready to announce a new Firestorm ongoing series, Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi use a plot device that I’ve never liked: taking a character that readers aren’t as interested in and forcing their relevance by making them either the most powerful or most dangerous being on the planet. Whether or not that was the intent, doing that makes the story reek of writer denial or corporate agenda in the fact that it’s like saying “We don’t care that not a lot of you are as interested in this character as we want you to be because we’re putting him smack dab in the middle of everything and pushing the hell out of him.” That usually makes for a whole lot of yawning down the road, with the inevitable quote from an interview a year or two later saying “Yeah, we don’t know why the series didn’t last. It’s a shame because we really loved the character.”
Sorry, I know that’s super-negative internet comic book opinion stuff, but that plot device just bugs me.
Keeping an open mind though, if anyone can deliver an interesting story from a character you least expected it from, it’s clearly Geoff Johns.
And to prove that point, it’s the second cliché used in the book when Aquaman arrives like the cavalry, saves Jackson’s dad and stares down Black Manta pretty bad-assedly. That’s perfect hero stuff right there, and I loved it!
Needless to say, I’m as geeked out for a Black Manta vs Aquaman throwdown as I possibly could be. Aquaman is a classic character, an icon, that has been great after his resurrection and (for whatever reason) seems to be clicking with me as a reader better than Firestorm.
Call it history, call it nostalgia, call it whatever you want to, Aquaman is the clear hit to come out of this book and I’m glad to see it coming together in this way. Aquaman is proving to be quite the bad-ass and the way he’s leveraged at the end of this book is proof of that.
Even though the Firestorm section didn’t do a lot for me, it was still written well and the art was fine, but the selling point is the Aqualad story. The artwork is better on those pages (which look to be Ivan Reis) and it’s definitely got the action of the issue. Great lead towards issue #11 (and some cool surprises as well) means I’m giving this one a B-.