Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blackest Night #1 Review by Ryan Schrodt

Written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi
Art by Various
Letters by Various
Cover by Ed Benes
preRanking: 02

• With the internet comics community at large all a-buzz about the first issue of Blackest Night (more on that later), I feel like this gem of an issue isn’t getting the due it deserves. While certainly not required reading for the event, this issue showcases some of the week’s best characterization and does a great job of adding depth to the larger story.
• The issue is broken down into three stories. In the first, Geoff Johns and Jerry Ordway explore the origin of Blue Lantern Saint Walker, while the second issue teams Peter Tomasi and Chris Samnee in a tale from Mongul’s childhood, and the final story finds Geoff Johns introducing the mysterious Indigo Tribe with art by Rags Morales.
• The first two stories show just how good Johns and Tomasi are at developing characters. Despite being fairly simple tales with very direct execution, they go a long way at helping flesh out Walker and Mongul and developing their motivations.
• The parallels between Walker’s story and the Book of Job from the Old Testament are a bit heavy-handed, but are still effective. Choosing such a widely known tale helps build sympathy for Walker’s plight and enhances the idea that his character is so based upon faith and hope.
• I was not as impressed with Jerry Ordway’s art, which is a bit too busy for my tastes. I’ve never been a huge fan of his work though, so I’m probably a tad biased.
• It’s great to see Chris Samnee lighten up his style for the Mongul story. It’s much looser than his usual output, but that helps with the playfulness of the stories tone.
• The main storyteller in the final story is Rags Morales, especially given that the language of the Indigo Tribe isn’t translated. Thankfully his clean lines and strong expressions are powerful enough to carry the tone—an especially impressive feat considering that none of the characters are human.
• As a bonus, the issue also reprints the “informative pinups” by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke that debuted on DC’s website a few weeks back.

Verdict: Don’t Miss This Issue. The superb character studies and powerful art nearly carried this issue to the top of the Rankings this week. Ordway’s artwork is underwhelming and the main story is a bit heavy-handed, but don’t let that stop you from picking up this issue. Blackest Night #1 may be getting all the attention this week, but this issue is still worth your time and money.

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