This prologue to Blackest Night actually feels much like Geoff Johns' old Flash issues that he would spend getting to know the Rogues. This is all Black Hand, all the time, with no Bruce Wayne gravestones actually involved. And while the whole issue spends more time with one villain than on the greater Blackest Night threat, the parts we do get are quite creepy and excellent.
Johns seems to be able to get into the dark minds of his villains in unique ways, and he does it again here. Black Hand is the middle son of a mortician, and he's been fascinated with death his whole life. In fact, we find out here that the first Black Hand suit is actually one of his family's body bags. Death or whatever entity is behind the Black Lantern rings starts speaking to BH, and gives him a flash of all those heroes and villains who have died recently, including some of my faves like Ted Kord, J'onn J'onzz, Maxwell Lord, and Ronnie Raymond. What I found fascinating was that Johns chose to list these characters by their "real" identities, not their more recognizable super-hero IDs. The entity then shows BH those who have escaped death, like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Ice. When Black Hand assumes "death" wants them back, death corrects him "No, I want them all." It's a spooky scene setting up the crossover nicely. After a grisly murder-suicide, BH is set up to be the avatar of death, much like Parallax and Ion. Blackest Night is going to be good folks, Johns is bringing his A game.
Doug Mahnke is a great penciller on whatever he does, but when the subject matter lends itself to his moody and dark pencils, he excels. This book looks so creepy and dark I actually found myself a little concerned at the mental health of the creative team. That's the sign of a well-done scary comic!