Checking in on “Blackest Night”

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Once “Final Crisis” and “Secret Invasion” both ended as disappointing and overall, fairly mediocre, I started looking forward to the next big crossover event in comicdom: Blackest Night. The event is now well under way, so I thought I would take brief look at how it’s going so far.

(No spoilers.)

Exploding out of the pages of Green Lantern, Blackest Night certainly had plenty of build-up; DC’s biggest mastermind, Geoff Johns, has building to this for much of his GL run. The miniseries is now three issues in (of 8), crossing over into Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps., naturally, with additional three-issue tie-in miniseries for Batman, Superman, and Titans. The plot? The mysterious black rings are raising practically every dead character in the DC Universe from the grave, and they’re all eager to murder their old friends and family.

The grade? So far, I give it an A-. It started with a huge bang, as two major characters were killed in the first issue. A couple more significant characters have gone down since. When it’s at its best, Blackest Night is the best comic event in years: intense action, emotion, and about as much tension as you can pack into a comic. It has been incredibly violent, which DC used to be reluctant to do outside of Vertigo until a few years ago (the turning point might have been Wonder Woman snapping Max’s neck), but the violence doesn’t feel out of place with the subject matter.

It’s not without its flaws, though. Other than the two GL books, the tie-ins have been nothing special so far. The Batman mini is probably the most entertaining just because of Deadman, a great character, with the Superman mini the most mediocre. Titans is somewhere in between, and I might enjoy it more if I knew those characters better.

The other flaw, so far, is a little bit of repetitiveness. The vast majority of the crossover so far has been the dead characters rising from the dead, and the heroes struggling to stop the nearly indestructable foes. That’s all good, but at some point, you want the story to advance a little more. Issue #3 of the main miniseries gave us more of that this month, and hopefully Johns will continue to pick up the pace.

I’ll more than likely do a big wrap-up when the crossover is finished, but I have a feeling it could be the best in quite some time.

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11 Responses to “Checking in on “Blackest Night””

  1. gokitalo Says:

    Loving Blackest Night. I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely convinced after reading issue #1, but issues #2 and #3 sucked me in. So many good things to say about ’em; I’m especially liking the interaction between Barry and Hal. Something really clicks when Geoff writes those two characters together.

    I’ve only been buying Green Lantern and the Blackest Night mini itself. The tie-ins? Mehh, I’ll trade-wait.

    (well, I might cave in for the Flash and Wonder Woman one-shots. Johns/Kolins back on the Flash? Rucka back on Wonder Woman? Hard to say no to)

    EDIT: oh wait, Blackest Night: Flash is three issues. AWESOME

  2. davidry214 Says:

    Yeah, Johns does do a good Hal and Barry. I think that was also true in Flash: Rebirth, also by Johns, but I couldn’t say for sure because the latter has dragged on to the point where I can’t even remember what’s happening.

    As far as Blackest Night tie-ins, Green Lantern Corps has been pretty good. In general, that title has been growing into its own since the Sinestro Corps War. It’s lost my interest a couple times in the past, but for the most part, it’s an underrated book.

    THe other tie-ins so far haven’t really even been trade worthy. Well, Titans started out pretty good, though the second issue wasn’t as strong. If you like the team or some of its characters, that might be worth it.

    I’ll definitely be getting the Flash tie-in, and more than likely the Wonder Woman one too, despite my ambivalence toward her.

  3. dillonmania Says:

    You better BELIEVE I’m getting BN: Flash. I’m gonna be all over that thing. My fave DC characters all happen to be dead Rogues, and I want my goddamn zombies.

    (I’ll be even happier if they come back to life after BN…)

  4. davidry214 Says:

    How many dead Rogues are there? I’m blanking after two (now that the original Reverse Flash is back), but surely there’s more.

  5. dillonmania Says:

    The Top (see avatar), Golden Glider, Captain Boomerang I, Trickster I, Mirror Master I, and the Rainbow Raider. All appear on the cover of BN: Flash #2, menacing Captain Cold.

  6. davidry214 Says:

    You’re crazy about villains, huh? 😉 I don’t blame you, Flash has one of the best Rogue galleries.

    I don’t even know who Golden Glider and Rainbow Raider are. Is Pied Piper still alive? I know he went good (I believe during Waid’s run), then heard he went bad again, and don’t know his current status.

  7. dillonmania Says:

    Yeah, I loves my villains. One day I’ll unleash my inner villain and destroy the world or something.

    Piper’s still alive. He reformed back during Messner-Loebs’ run, stayed good for a long time, and then was strangely seen helping the Rogues on their caper that ultimately killed Bart Allen. That was something of a clusterfuck that screwed around with all the Rogues (and then Countdown messed with them even further), and Geoff Johns has been doing damage control ever since. Regardless, Piper’s good again and alive.

    You don’t know who Glider and Raider are?!? Admittedly they might be before your time. Glider is Captain Cold’s sister (and was the Top’s girlfriend), but she was killed during Waid’s run. Raider is DC’s colourblind emo artist and drama queen, and was killed during Johns’ run.

    http://www.hyperborea.org/flash/rainbow.html
    http://www.hyperborea.org/flash/glider.html

    We know that zombie Glider will fight her brother in the BN: Flash series, which should be a good one.

  8. davidry214 Says:

    Wow, I read those bios, and Rainbow Raider sounds like one of the worst conceived villains I’ve ever heard of, lol. His dad, an optometrist, tried to invent goggles to cure his son’s color blindness, and accidentally created glasses that gave crazy color-based powers. Awesome.

    Golden Glider actually does sond familiar after looking at her info. I’m glad Piper is good again; I remember reading a couple very good stories with him.

    I thought Abra Kadabra might be dead, but apparently not. It seemed like he’d been used scarcely after Waid tried to make him an elite Flash villain. Apparently he did help “kill” Bart, though.

    Cool site, btw.

  9. dillonmania Says:

    You have to love Raider, because he’s one of the goofiest (and yet oddly powerful) characters ever. He’s one of my favourites. Personally, I think there’s room in the DCU for goofy and fun characters, and I’d much rather have him around to be made fun of than have writers mock usually-dignified villains for laughs.

    You might remember Glider from Cold’s solo spotlight story by Johns that everyone loves.

    Something sinister may have happened to Kadabra during Flash: Rebirth, but it was a very short cryptic scene. We don’t know what occurred.

  10. davidry214 Says:

    Good point on how writers can mess up good villains. In both companies, the biggest of the big bad guys usually don’t have to worry about being mocked, just about being overused. But there are a lot of secondary villains that fans come to love, only to have a writer with only cursory knowledge come in and devalue them or needlessly kill them off.

    That’s one of the reasons I like Johns; he’s kind of a “villains’ writer.” Peter David has also done a great job of humanizing bad guys over the years (which reminds me by the way, I referenced you in a comment on the recent “Projects” post).

    And crap, I need to re-read Flash: Rebirth. It’s taking so long to come out that I literally forget everything in between issues. I know I’ve liked it, but I couldn’t tell someone anything about it, other than Zoom is back.

  11. dillonmania Says:

    I like Johns’ writing of villains, but his retcons to characters (especially the Rogues) drive me crazy. I think he could have done well with them even without the retcons.

    You’re not the only one having that problem with Rebirth. The delays have long since gotten ridiculous.

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