Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blackest Night #1

I do love comics! Once again, I find myself all riled up and excited about a new comics event, this time with the Green Lantern-themed Blackest Night. Geoff Johns and company have done a masterful job manipulating expectations and timing in order to maximize this debut and with the first issue we have a nice flashback to those summer crossover feelings.

Johns starts the story with a neat idea, that the anniversary of Superman's death has become a day of celebration for all fallen heroes. We get a quick tour of the DCU, seeing bits with the JLI and Ted Kord, Mera and Aquaman, the GLC and the hall of fallen GLs, the Rogues and more. Barry Allen and Hal also visit the vault containing the fallen villains of the DCU that Peter Tomasi presented back in Nightwing a couple years ago. At this point, there are plenty of Black Lanterns to threaten the living. This feels a lot more like a DCU crossover rather than a GL-specific one since so much time is spent on the Earth-based heroes and so little on the emotion corps. Scar does finally upgrade from shadowy manipulation as she savagely attacks (and eats!) another Guardian. This book is not for the squemish!

Johns gets in plenty of trademark ultra-violence. The gruesome murder of two heroes is as savage as anything he's written, and the book actually opens with Black Hand eating some flesh off of Batman's skull. Keep it classy Geoff! Speaking of the fallen heroes, their murder is worse because it comes from a friend. This particular black lantern was one a lot of folks hoped would be exempt from coming back evil, but this is a clear signal that everyone who comes back is totally corrupted. Another bad thing for our heroes? The fallen immediately rise as black lanterns. I was laughing to myself that with these two coming back evil, I think I have more favorites amongst the dead than the living in the DCU. Maybe I'll cheer for Black Hand! Although it is hard not to side with Guy Gardner when he reacts with "You gotta be kidding me" when he sees a mass of dead GLs (including Ch'p!) assembled against him.

Ivan Reis' work is clear and classic looking. His work on the icons is so solid that this first issue instantly felt like a DCU crossover classic. Of course, the gore and viscera factor is much higher than we're used to, but we're used to that with Johns, right?



Mayor McCheeseSteak said...

Surprised to see nothing in your review about the "undoing" of the Hawks death from Final Crisis, only so that they could be killed off a few months (has it already been months?) later in Blackest Night. I feel like I was much more gung-ho about this storyline a few years ago when the build up started, but all in all it was a pretty decent, albeit not phenomenal, issue.

I don't think Johns has the best track record when it comes to resolving storylines with multiple focal characters. While he's done a great job with Flash and Green Lantern, a lot of his JSA run was marred by great set ups for stories that kind of petered out towards the end. Infinite Crisis was very similar, where he did a great job setting up a great story but then the ending felt somewhat flat. Hoping things don't repeat here.

Timbotron said...

I agree 100% about Infinite Crisis. Issue 1 was great and it crashed and burned after that. I'm hoping this has a more clearly defined bad than a reality altering doofus from an alternate Earth.

I didn't mention the Hawks because it was all so pointless. Almost every death or premiere Morrison made in Final Crisis has been retconned (see Mr. Bones in JSA). I think the Hawks will be back after BN anyway!