Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blackest Night #4

So Copperhead gets the cover of DC's biggest crossover for this month? Really?

As I feared, this middle issue of Blackest Night does suffer from a bit of the mid-series doldrums. Geoff Johns has a few neat happenings, my favorite is that Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch are battling for control of Firestorm. I'll go on record with the prediction that these two will be sharing the Firestorm body after Blackest Night.
The Flash, Atom, and Mera are the leads here, with Flash anointing them as the current JLA. I like the idea that these guys have to carry the load (of both the world and this issue). There are short bits checking in with other characters. We see Lex Luthor and the Calculator discussing the death of Dr. Polaris II. There is a fun bit with Azrael facing down a fearless Scarecrow (I guess there is no doubt Jean Paul is dead, then). The JSA is fighting off their dead friends and enemies too. The shocking death for this issue is Damage, who has his heart ripped out by Jean Loring. The body count is staying low enough that it certainly could stick after Blackest Night, but I've got to think a lot of these folks will be coming back.

Nekron makes his big debut as the Black Lantern corps reaches 100% of their quota for hearts. That must be a lot of dead heroes (I didn't think there were that many 90s characters left!) Nekron's face is a bit too shadowed, but he looks a lot like all the other gross-out zombies from Blackest Night. I think if we hadn't been seeing so many dead faces, he'd have a more striking visual, but for right now he seems a bit generic. I am impressed he's resurrecting all of Coast City though. I like that the Flash is the only hero to witness his rise. Removing Hal from the story does make it clear that the core GL book is required reading for this crossover.

Ivan Reis is killing on this book. His detail is almost Perez-esque. Everyone looks exactly right in their costumes The inking seems a shade darker than normal, there are a lot of faces covered in darkness throughout the issue.



josh said...

"...this middle issue of Blackest Night does suffer from a bit of the mid-series doldrums..."

not so sure i agree, though i could be looking through rose-colored glasses that happen to say "Coast City, RISE!" on them.

Newmie Newmz said...

I disagree, too. There was a lot of action here and it all advanced the plot. Each issue of BN has so far enhanced the feeling that the heroes have been taken completely unaware, forced into reacting to a crisis with little to no information or communication. Put simply, they are not in control. They are overpowered, outnumbered, isolated, and vulnerable. But here we begin to see the start of organized resistance. It’s still reactionary and chaotic, but the seeds for a rally of heroes have been planted.

Another thing I like is that this issue dovetailed with the end of Blackest Night: Titans. We saw this overlap in the beginning of Blackest Night: Batman as well. The authors have made the supporting books a part of the larger story, but they still stand on their own. That’s commendable storytelling. Although admittedly I didn’t see this in Blackest Night: Superman.

William Hand's diary entries at the ends of these issues are good. I think they give a lot of insight into what is going on now and do a great job of setting us up for what happens next. It also gives the Black Hand more of character development and allows him to play a bigger part in the story. But I would be remiss if I just commented on the content and not the actual writing. Johns nails the voice of the Black Hand dead on. These diary entries are 100% creepy and menacing.

As for Nekron being generic; I guess that is the challenge when dealing with the undead or zombies. You can only show them in varying degrees of decay. The only thing that makes these standout are their costumes. Which have been changed to black with the Black Lantern symbol replacing the insignias they wore while they were alive. But is that any different than having the GLC, Sinestro Corp or any other Corp all sport their respective colors? I don't think so. So, I am fne with that. And if Nekron is the DCU's newest anthropomorphic manifestation of death itself why wouldn't he look skeletal, and be draped in black. It’s classic. However, I found Reis still does manage to make him stand out from the rest of the legions of the undead. How bad ass is it that he has a scythe for a black lantern? None of the other Black Lanterns have that.

Another revelation I liked was that the villains of the DCU are being attacked by the Black Lanterns as well. It makes sense. This isn’t about heroes versus villains. It’s about the living versus the dead.

How impressive is Luthor's arrogance and sense of self-entitlement? Judgment Day has come, but he seems to be more irritated by the fact that the other villains address him too familiarly and assume that he is one of them. Dealing with the revenge of the undead is just another issue that is interfering with his busy schedule and will have to be dealt with. A great character byte.

I wonder if we will see more of Scarecrow. It was a neat idea having someone so completely emotionless that they aren't registering anywhere on the spectrum. Not even the static we see with Dove. Could there be others like him? What part could they play further in the story?

Finally the last kudo; so far they are keeping the body count low (unlike Ultimatum), but the victim list makes me believe no one is safe. So, the suspense is still tangible.

All things considered I am really enjoying Blackest Night.

Timbotron said...

I still liked it, I was just a tad annoyed that the real forward movement happened in GL, not Blackest Night. If you look at the series overall, it is going to be hard to collect for a trade unless you include GL.