How Black is the Night?

Answer: Black. So very, very black. 

I was particularly thrilled this week because there were not one, not two, but three Blackest Night titles: Blackest Night #2, Blackest Night: Batman #1, and Green Lantern Corps #39. So, after leaving work last night I eagerly sat down on the train with Blackest Night #2. 

Oh. Man. 

This book picks up right where #1 left off, in St. Roch with Hawkman and Hawkgirl freshly dead-- murdered by Black Lantern Sue and Ralph Dibny. Ray Palmer, the Atom,  (who's been a friend to Hawkman since the two were teamed up in a book back in the Silver Age) calls to talk about ex-wife Jean Loring, and how he can't get her out of his head despite the fact that she is the convicted murderer of Sue Dibny. Close up on Hawkman's salivating jaw, already decayed and gray from his new Black Lantern ring. It's a smile, a malicious smile. "Come on over, Ray... Let's talk."  

Now cut to Gotham City and watch Hal Jordan fall on, and shatter, the bat signal. 

That energy, imagery, and fantastic mix of horror and wonder is what makes Blackest Night so damn good. Geoff Johns just delivers one "oh shit, oh my god!" moment right after the other. There were moments in this book that literally made my mouth hang open- like Black Lantern Aquaman. Yeah, were you one of those people who said that Aquaman was pathetic and not at all a bad-ass? Well, Black Lantern Arthur Curry is coming for you, and he's coming with an army of sharks, squids, and other sea creatures that will RIP YOU APART INTO A BLOODY MESS. But the Aquaman scenes are not just awesome because of the crazy fight scenes, but also because the dialogue really brings it to a whole new level. This is something that's true for the entire book.

Johns really plays with the idea that all of these revived people have had their grudges, unfinished business, and emotions blown way out of control, and that is their motivation to destroy everything. They exploit emotions in order to snuff them out. If there's no emotion then they can have "peace," eternal nothingness. So, ultimately it's the way that the Black Lanterns speak that is really unnerving and make them a formidable threat (ya' know, that and they can't die). These are powerful superheroes that the Black Lanterns are going up against and, while a corpse is pretty disconcerting, the DCU has dealt with enough that it wouldn't be enough to throw the characters off their game. So, you can't just rely on epic fight scenes to make this a powerful story. There needs to be emotional conflict and it's just so strong in this book. You can feel the words of the Black Lanterns biting into the living heroes. Aquaman taunting his ex-wife Mera- "Do you still miss him? Do you miss our son?" That was a moment when I just had to flinch. Honestly, if the art was terrible I think the writing in this book would still make it amazing. But, oh wait! The art is amazing too! 

You thought you saw awesome Ivan Reis art in the regular Green Lantern title? Oh baby, you ain't seen nothing yet if you haven't seen Blackest Night. The pencils are tight, detailed, and totally gorgeous. Everything is so dynamic and so terrifying. The Black Lanterns themselves look like they will give you nightmares. They are just so damn detailed and scary! For Reis, it's all about texture and the little details that really bring the book to life and then balancing them with the big dynamic moments. For example, when Hal Jordan is slammed into the bat signal you really feel him falling and slamming into the light. The shattered glass is so realistic and the speed lines really help with the feeling of a harsh impact, not to mention the look on Hal's face. However, Reis doesn't focus on the detail to the point where the motion is lost, which is a pretty easy trap to find yourself in when you're detail oriented. It's a perfect balance. Also, kudos to Oclair Albert and Julio Ferreira (the inkers) as well as Alex Sinclair (the colorist): both the inks and the colors add a serious "oomph!" to the art. 

The other cool thing is that the books fit together perfectly, and that the order of when the books were released create the continuity timeline of the event. For example, Blackest Night #1 leads straight into Green Lantern #44 and Green Lantern #44 leads right into Blackest Night #2. Not to mention Blackest Night: Batman #1 and Green Lantern Corps #39 fit in as well. There is a slight problem with this, which is that if you're only getting the Blackest Night title you may feel like you're missing parts of the story. This is the curse of event books: the tie-ins always matter but you don't always want to sink the money on them. For the most part, Blackest Night can be read on it's own but you're really missing a whole other chunk of the awesomeness. My advice? Put your money on the counter, it's worth it. 

This event is shaping up to be epic, organized, and a real thrill ride. Even if you're not really a DC fan you should pick it up. Johns tries to keep the characters accessible to people who may not know them as well as others and if there's anything you really don't get, then you always have Wikipedia. 

So why are you still sitting here reading this? You should be running to read Blackest Night! 

That's all from me, True Believers. See you tomorrow with a review of a non-major DC title.


  1. Well I wish that the whole series was like the set-up pages of "Blackest Night" #1: Characters talking rationally about their pasts, about their lost comrades, about their feelings... With one or two badass moments of crazy action! Like the rogue guardian Scar biting a chunk out of the other guardian's neck out of nowhere! Incredible!

    This issue felt like action punctuated by action. Green Lantern Aquaman is jumping around making threats for two pages, then-- BOOM! He calls all those sharks out of the ocean and they chomp away at the Atlantian military. That was sweet, but it has less impact when it follows an scene that is already full of action, just somewhat duller action.

    BUT I realize now that I made a big assumption in my reading of all of these zombified dead DC characters. I was reading all of their taunts, like the one you mention Aquaman saying Clare, as pure manipulation of the Black power-rings. But now that you put it in different terms, I totally see that these taunts are a manipulated 'black as night' version of the way those characters felt before they died. THAT'S why the rings have no effect on Dove's corpse. He has no grudge, he's "at peace".

    So there IS a point to the violence, there IS a connection between the sentiments expressed in issue #1 and the malicious taunting in issue #2, and most importantly, these zombies are still real people with real issues to work out. They're just being convinced by the Black rings that the best way to do that is by ripping out the hearts of the people who didn't succeed in helping them solve these issues in life. We all feel that way sometimes...... right?

  2. So, what you're saying is that zombies are people too?