Blackest Night wrapped up this week with issue #8 and there are many things to talk about for sure. In my first BN Report, which I did around the time Blackest Night #4 came out, I broke down the three series I was following (Blackest Night, Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps) individually but, since the curtain has now drawn on BN in its entirety and with threads from all three titles culminating in issue #8, I’ll just talk about the crossover in general.
Spoiler territory follows.
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Ivan Reis is goddamn amazing. His work on this book has been nothing less than stellar month in and month out. He’s deftly handled the emotionally driven scenes (the Hawks’ death in issue #1) and he has excelled at the spectacle that is superhero comics (pretty much the entirety of issue #8). No pose looks awkward, no background is left unchecked, no panel flows incorrectly. Ivan Reis is a master draftsman and storyteller. The fact that not a single issue was delayed should serve as a wake up call to comic artists that are incapable of meeting a deadline and are, arguably, not as skilled as Reis is at the craft. He is easily one of the best artists of our generation in every sense of the word.
Now that mention of the brilliant art is out of the way, let’s talk story. Simply put, Blackest Night succeeds as the huge, epic, universe spanning crossover it is. It delivers the wow moments time and again and the story is helped by the fact that a tight focus is kept on a relatively small cast of lead characters. In that sense, Blackest Night itself is almost completely self-contained which makes the ancillary titles of less relevance to the larger tapestry of the tale. Green Lantern has some important story beats during the first half of the crossover but the characters in Green Lantern Corps are off doing their own thing on Oa and, from reading Blackest Night: Flash and reviews of the other Blackest Night minis, most of the stuff that happens outside of the main title has little to no impact in the story. This is good because you’re not forced to buy 20 tie-ins to understand the story but, at the same time, these titles are missing a little weight because of it. There is payoff in places if you follow some of these books (Jade kissing Kyle in front of Soranik Natu at the end of the series is a heartbreaking moment if you’ve been following Green Lantern Corps) but, as I said, nothing that really makes or breaks the story.
I think a bigger issue I had with the series was one of scale. I don’t know if it was the way this book was paced or something else but I felt that Sinestro Corps War managed to stack the odds against our heroes in a bigger and more menacing way. At the end of the very first issue of the Sinestro Corps War we learn that thousands of power ring wielding aliens, Cyborg Superman with his Manhunters, Parallax, Superboy Prime and the freakin’ Anti-Monitor are working together as an army. The threat level of this group is thrown sky high very early on and Blackest Night doesn’t quite have that. Sure, an army of indestructible, undead superheroes and villains sounds menacing enough but it’s not very tangible after all is said and done. Furthermore, the big villain of the story, Nekron, is not revealed until the end of issue #4 and he doesn’t really make his big offensive move until issue #7, just one issue shy of the series’ end. I think more time should’ve been spent to build Nekron up as a true powerhouse and less on the Black Lanterns or even Black Hand who, at the end of the day, just served as a vehicle to allow Nekron’s demise.
On the heroes’ side, the big reveal towards the end of the series is that Sinestro and not Hal Jordan (as we all expected) becomes the White Lantern. Sinestro has repeated his “I’ll be the greatest” speech ad nauseam over the last few years so it was surprising to see him and not Geoff Johns’ baby Jordan, as the first White Lantern at the end of issue #7. It’s a great character moment and it’s really amazing to see Sinestro finally come full circle, from greatest Lantern to most feared enemy in the universe back to the greatest and it’ll be interesting to see how this vindicates him in the eyes of others, if at all. Of course, once Nekron disposes of Sinestro, it is Hal Jordan who eventually leads the final charge against evil but still, it was great to see Sinestro get his due.
It was rumored that Blackest Night would serve as a reset button for a lot character deaths in the DC universe over the last decade or so and when Superman, Wonder Woman and others “died” in issue #5, there was no doubt in my mind that this was true. A time traveling Professor Zoom teased this in The Flash: Rebirth and the theory was given more weight with Black Lantern Professor Zoom during Blackest Night: The Flash (both penned by Geoff Johns). So of course, it was no surprise when the White Lantern Corps (led by Jordan as I mentioned and composed entirely of resurrected heroes) shows up in issue #8, pushing Sinestro aside and defeating Nekron after which a bunch of dead characters come back to life. Among the resurrected are the Hawks (whose death at the beginning of the series we’d barely just gotten over), Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter (with a tweaked version of his original costume) but not Ralph or Sue Dibny. Not Tempest. Not Damage. Not Wesley Dodds or Al Pratt. So fine, not mass resurrections, more like “selective” resurrections. It’s teased that the reasoning behind these selective resurrections will come to play in future storylines but right now? I’m just glad Aquaman and J’onn are back. Even if I liked the latter’s pre-death costume a lot better than this one.
Blackest Night brought a number of things full circle. It started with Green Lantern and Flash being gloomy and melancholic next to Bruce Wayne’s grave at night and ended with Hal and Barry next to that same grave at daylight, hopeful about Bruce’s impending return. It started with a weighty sense of inevitability and loss and ended with a hopeful look forward and bright heroes back in the spotlight. It started with “Rise” and ended with “Live.” With Black and White. Blackest Night didn’t close things just within the confines of itself though, it also closed the book on DC’s heavy emphasis on pointless death over the last couple decades or so. It’s also an in-continuity explanation behind DC’s “revolving door of death” as only Geoff Johns could so flawlessly execute. “Dead is dead,” as Hal Jordan puts it, is a noble intent at giving more relevance to death in comics but, with a medium that is largely at the mercy of editorial whim, something most likely will not stick for more than a decade or two.
Blackest Night has been building up for nearly half a decade and having followed it all up to this point, it’s almost a relief to finally be able to put it down to rest. I have a couple of problems with it but the book did not disappoint and it more than met my expectations. It’s a series wrought with too many great moments to mention and fantastic art. It’s a book that I feel raises the bar on how to do an event comic right, especially in terms of scope and tie-ins, and it’s something publishers should continually look up to in that regard. A couple of threads were left dangling but most was resolved in a satisfying manner.
In short, Blackest Night = badass.Posted on April 04, 2010 in Comics |