Blackest Night

Blackest Night

In news there’s a saying that goes “Don’t bury the lead”, so the rest of this pre-amble is flavour, here’s the meat of this review:

Despite DC Comics telling us otherwise, Blackest Night is not JUST a Green Lantern event.  It is a DC Universe event that spans Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, and Final Crisis, and everything from the Death of Superman to the death of Batman.  If it’s got death in it, it’s in here, and when you think of the prominent superhero deaths that have occurred in the last decade…this could be a doozy.

On Thursday at lunch I did something that I haven’t done in several years.  I decided I couldn’t wait to get my comics next week, and I actually walked into a comic store to buy one of this week’s comics.  As the web guru behind All New Comics, I usually wait until Pete (the comic guru behind our organization) ships out my comics every couple of weeks to read the new releases.  I couldn’t wait with this though.  This is a comic that was first teased two years ago when the undead blackened hand of the Anti-Monitor rose at the end of The Sinestro Corps War and the caption proclaimed “The Dead Shall Rise.  The Blackest Night coming in 2009”.

Since then Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps have been my favourite comics being published today.

So it was this anticipation that I walked down to the local store on my lunch break and picked up a copy of Blackest Night #1 as well as Blackest Night: Tales from the Corps #1.

There’s a parking lot behind the shop that I bought my comics from, and I sat down on a curb, tore open Blackest Night #1, and read it with the same breathless anticipation that I remember having when I eagerly opened up the Ellis Stormwatch comics, or early Millar Ultimates stuff.  This was going to be good comics, and I couldn’t wait to get into it.

From the opening pages to the final reveal, Geoff Johns proves that he’s not only a master storyteller, but also has a fanboyish love affair with the DC Universe.  He simultaneously provides colour and character to the world, while paying fanboy homage to comic book history.

We are told that on the anniversary of the day that Superman died (way back in the popular “Death of Superman” storyline from the 90’s), people from all over the planet both powered and not, gather to pay their respects to the fallen.  They mourn the heroes who died and they mourn the people who were casualties of those battles (like the 7 million citizens of Coast City).

These scenes provide both emotional resonance and a nice bit of expository back story.  It’s good stuff.

Particularly wrenching is when The Flash a.k.a. Barry Allen, a hero who’s been away from the DCU for two decades, who asks his best friend to show him everyone who died while he was away.  He’s most moved by J’onn J’ozz, Firestorm, and husband-wife Sue and Ralph Dibney.

Johns writes “I see Barry do something he hasn’t done since he returned.  He sits.”, so cool showing this character who since his return has been shown in perpetual motion to suddenly sit still.

From there the action picks up, there are reveals, and foreshadowing, and the drama is ratcheted up all the way to 11.  We see the first calls go out to the Black Lanterns, and we’re left with some great questions.

The art by Ivan Reis is top notch, and when he shows the assembled legion of undead Green Lanterns, it’s chilling.

The last page leaves you with so many questions as two more heroes are told to rise by Black Hand (the leader of the Black Lantern Corps), and 30 days seems like forever again.

Blackest Night Tales of the Corps isn’t as thrilling as Blackest Night #1 was, this feels like it should have been back-up stories in the various Green Lantern books for the last several months, but for whatever reasons wasn’t.  The Blue Lantern tale is one of hope, Mongul’s tale is one of power, and the Indigo Lanterns tale is one of…mystery?  Leaving us with even more questions about this force than before.

After the first issues of both series, I’d rate them as must buy’s for any fans of not just the Green Lantern Corps, but fans of DC Comics in general.