Brightest Day is now coming to a close. With only two issues left, issue #22 finally got going with Firestorm vs. the Anti-Monitor. In one issue, we have Firestorm, Deathstorm, a cadre of Black Lanterns and the Anti-Monitor all battling it out to see who will get the White Lantern. To be 100% honest, before this issue, I had kind of given up on Brightest Day and was only continuing to read it out of habit (kind of like watching the last season of Heroes).
Of all the various storylines from Brightest Day, Firestorm’s has been the best (followed closely by Deadman’s). Ronnie Raymond is back from the dead and once again has taken up the mantel of Firestorm, except this time without his trusted teacher/friend/father figure Professor Stein. Now, the Firestorm Matrix has chosen to bond Ronnie with the most recent Firestorm Jason Rusch, but rather than have Jason in driver seat, it is Ronnie as the brawn to Jason’s brains.
Here is what makes this such a compelling story. During the Blackest Night event, Black Lantern Ronnie bonded with Jason to complete the Firestorm Matrix creating Deathstorm. While in the not-so-cute and cuddly Deathstorm mode, Jason’s girlfriend was killed as she was turned to salt by Ronnie. Of course it was Ronnie’s freshly risen corpse with a Black Lantern Ring pulling the strings, but Jason didn’t see the difference. With all that bad blood after Ronnie was given a second chance at life via the White Lantern, he and Jason were forced to team up once again. The big problem is that Jason hates Ronnie for what happened (even though he knows it wasn’t really Ronnie). And Ronnie just wants to hit the bottle and be anything but a hero. On top of all that, they have to try and keep cool when they are together, because if they fight too much and push the needle past the redline all of existence will be destroyed. Nice Problem to have huh?
So in this issue, Firestorm has to take on the Anti-Monitor, a universe ender and some Black Lanterns, one of which is Deathstorm. Ronnie previously battled the Anti-Monitor back in the original Crisis Event when he first tried to destroy the Multi-verse. Of course at that time he had help from heroes from the remaining worlds, including Superman. This time he and Jason are on their own. Oh and did I mention Deathstorm has kidnapped Professor Stein and Jason’s Father? It’s kind of important, because while they are being used to hold Deathstorm together, Firestorm can not kill him.
Out manned, out gunned and chock full of self doubt (since Ronnie is afraid to cut loose with all his power), Firestorm must battle everyone all at once. While Firestorm was able to hold his own against the Anti-Monitor for a short, short time he was split into his two parts, Jason and Ronnie. When this happened Deathstorm leapt at the chance to knock out one or both of them. The only problem was that Professor Stein was freed from his control. Just as Deathstorm took his shot, trying to turn Ronnie Raymond into salt (one trick pony much Deathstorm?), Professor Stein sacrificed himself and took the hit. As he turned to a pile of salt, he had a touching goodbye with Ronnie. Just as all seemed lost, the White Lantern finally jumped into action, destroying all of the Black Lanterns and freeing Mr. Rusch sending him home safely. Then depositing Firestorm in the Star City Forrest having completed his mission and directing him to a White Lantern-ed out Deadman looking for the life-giving White Lantern.
With only two issues to go, the story has come to a head and it’s time for this story to end. I feel for the most part, Brightest Day was a pretty big disappointment. Following the Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night, it would be difficult to match the story and intensity of those two events. I think the problem I’ve had all along was that there were too many characters in Brightest Day. Rather than focusing on Deadman and Firestorm, they included Martian Manhunter, Aquaman and the Hawks (man and woman). Now at this point, all of their stories have come to an end, except for Deadman and Firestorm.
I loved this particular story with all of the references to the original Crisis, the touching and sad ending to Professor Stein while Firestorm finally completed part of his journey. And now, he and Deadman are being dragged kicking and screaming to the end. So make sure to check out the final two issues to find out how this massive story event will finally come to an end.