Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Blackest Night Primer - The Road to Blackest Night

Our Blackest Night primer officially kicks off with the Road to Blackest Night, a summary of all the major events that have led us to this much anticipated event. This post serves as a refresher course for longtime readers and informs new readers about everything they will need to know going into the event.

Please note that these summaries gloss over major aspects of stories in favour of Blackest Night related plot points only. It is not a summary of each storyline or event. It merely cherry picks what you should know from those stories and lays them out for you. Also, while most summaries stick primarily to a single event or story arc, some are broken into corps specific summaries, such as one covering all Blue Lantern happenings. Each section lists the issues of the comics discussed and a reading order for the more important arcs has been provided.

Finally, I've tried to be as thorough and all encompassing as possible, but there are probably some things I missed or deemed unnecessary that you may not agree with. Feel free to add any of your own required moments in the comments below.

Road to Blackest Night

Reading Order: Green Lantern: Rebirth -> Green Lantern Corps: Recharge -> Mystery of the Star Sapphire -> Sinestro Corps War -> Secret Origin -> Alpha Lanterns -> Sins of the Star Sapphire -> Rage of the Red Lanterns -> Emerald Eclipse -> Agent Orange -> The Blackest Night




Green Lantern: Rebirth

Comics Discussed: Green Lantern: Rebirth #1-6, Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1-5

The origins of the Blackest Night event can be traced back to Green Lantern: Rebirth, which saw, quite literally, the rebirth of Hal Jordan, the Guardians of the Universe and the Green Lantern Corps.

Along with the revival and rebooting of the Green Lanterns, Rebirth also saw the fleshing out of the Green Lantern mythos. While willpower had always been associated with the use of a Green Lantern ring, as was the weakness to anything of the colour yellow, Rebirth fleshed out these concepts by introducing the emotional spectrum. Green represented willpower while yellow was fear.

Furthermore, Hal Jordan's time as Parallax was explained away by making Parallax an incredibly powerful and possessive entity that was essentially the embodiment of all fear. It was also explained that Parallax was imprisoned in the Central Power Battery on Oa and was the source of the yellow weakness inherent in the Green Lantern rings for so long. Similar to Parallax, Kyle Rayner's recent power up as Ion was later explained as Ion being the willpower based entity.

The other major change coming out of Green Lantern: Rebirth, which was actually seen in the Green Lantern Corps: Recharge follow-up, was the return of the Green Lantern Corps as we know it today. In Recharge, the Guardians introduced the new, two corps members per sector policy, which effectively doubled the size of the corps compared to previous incarnations. It also saw Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner promoted to Honour Guard status within the Corps, allowing for all four Earth based Green Lanterns to be active at one time.

Sinestro Corps War

Comics Discussed: Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War Special, Green Lantern #21-25, Green Lantern Corps #14-18, Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parallax #1, Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime #1, Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Cyborg-Superman #1

As soon as Green Lantern: Rebirth ended, the Green Lantern titles relaunched and began building towards the critically acclaimed Sinestro Corps War storyline. Blackest Night builds off of much of the groundwork laid in that story, particularly from the final issue of the event.

For instance, the Sinestro Corps was the first new corps beyond the Green Lanterns and was our introduction to the yellow part of the emotional spectrum. However, as good as the Sinestro Corps War story was, there were only four major events to occur in it that are important to the upcoming Blackest Night:
  • 1) The Guardians of the Universe rewrote the Book of Oa and added several new laws to the book, most notably the ability for Green Lanterns to use lethal force to kill their enemies. There are four laws currently introduced going into Blackest Night and we were told there are ten laws in total. That leaves six laws for Blackest Night to reveal.
  • 2) In a battle with the Anti-Monitor, a female Guardian was badly injured and left with a scar on her face. Post-Sinestro Corps War, she has adopted the name, Scar, and has been shown to be undermining the other Guardians at every opportunity to further the unknown goals of the Black Lantern Corps, which she now serves.
  • 3) When Superboy-Prime threw the dying body of the Anti-Monitor into space, it was found and imprisoned inside a giant black lantern to serve as a power battery for the Black Lantern Corps, which was also our first introduction to the Black Lanterns. Who was powerful enough to do this to the Anti-Monitor has yet to be revealed.
  • 4) Ganthet and Sayd were banished from the Guardians of the Universe and, at the end of the Sinestro Corps War, they formed the Blue Lantern Corps.

Secret Origin

Comics Discussed: Green Lantern #29-35

While Secret Origin was mostly a retelling of Hal Jordan's early days and origin as a Green Lantern, it served as an introduction to the eventual leader of the Red Lanterns, Atrocitus, and added some much needed backstory to Black Hand, who has become the face of the Black Lantern Corps. This is probably the least essential story discussed here in regards to Blackest Night and only serves as an introduction or refresher course for new and old readers of Green Lantern and his origin and basically a prelude to Rage of the Red Lanterns.

Sins of the Star Sapphire

Comics Discussed: Green Lantern #18-20, Green Lantern Corps #27-32

While only briefly shown, the birth of the Star Sapphires as a corps actually took place just prior to the Sinestro Corps War in the Mystery of the Star Sapphire storyline. Realizing the shortcomings of the Star Sapphire, the Zamarons decided to embrace the violet part of the emotional spectrum, which represents love, and formed their own corps. It was shown at the end of that storyline that the Zamarons were attempting to collect all of the different rings and lanterns from the different corps.

The Zamarons and Star Sapphires do not appear again until Sins of the Star Sapphire, which takes place several months after the conclusion to the Sinestro Corps War. The Zamarons, honing their power over the violet light, attracted the attention of the Guardians, who, with some prodding from the Black Lantern corrupted Guardian, Scar, quickly mobilized a diplomatic mission to Zamaron to dissuade them from their use of the violet light.

On Zamaron, they observed that the Star Sapphires had created their own Central Power Battery and were recruiting both new recruits as well as capturing Sinestro Corps members and rehabilitating them, effectively forcing them to become Star Sapphires. The Zamarons refused the Guardians' request to stop using the violet light and, in a knee jerk reaction to this rejection, the Guardians quickly made a new law forbidding love between Green Lanterns, which resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of Green Lantern lovers quitting the corps, their rings returning to Oa in pairs.

Most notable among those Sinestro Corps members being rehabilitated was Fatality, who would go on to save John Stewert from the Orange Lantern constructs in Agent Orange. The Sinestro Corps member, Kryb, was later captured and was last seen crying in her rehabilitation crystal with the Zamarons commenting on how the process was supposedly working.

Most likely due to the capture and rehabilitation of Sinestro Corps members, Sinestro, himself, has taken a personal interest in the Star Sapphires and has initiated an attack on their home planet, Zamaron, which is set to take place during the Blackest Night event.

Rage of the Red Lanterns

Comics Discussed: Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1, Green Lantern #26-28, 36-38

The Red Lanterns made their debut in a one-shot during Final Crisis which was followed up on in the Rage of the Red Lanterns storyline. Coupled with his introduction in Secret Origin, Atrocitus had formed a new Red Lantern Corps that was fueled by rage.

Seeking revenge against Sinestro and the Guardians for the massacre of the entire population of Sector 666, along with his own millenia long imprisonment, Atrocitus led his corps on a raid against the Green Lanterns, who were in the process of transporting Sinestro to Kurugar for his execution. The Red Lanterns captured Sinestro for themselves and returned him to their homeplanet where Atrocitus intended to execute him himself.

Aided by the new Blue Lantern Corps, Hal Jordan mounted a rescue operation and extracted Sinestro. However, during the conflict, Jordan was overcome with rage over the death of a former Green Lantern, Laira, at Sinestro's hands and was, for a time, forced to become a member of the Red Lanterns. He was saved from servititude to the red light by the Blue Lantern, Saint Walker.

At the conclusion to the Rage of the Red Lanterns storyline, Atrocitus had been injured by Hal Jordan and was last seen using his blood rituals to divine the location of the Blue Lantern homeworld. The only Red Lantern seen since then was Vice during the riot on Oa in the Emerald Eclipse storyline. With Larfleeze currently attacking the Blue Lanterns at the end of the most recent Green Lantern issue, it is speculated that the Red Lanterns will also show up for their revenge.

Hope Springs Eternal

Comics Discussed: Green Lantern #36-42

The Blue Lantern Corps was created at the conclusion to the Sinestro Corps War. Unable to stand by and watch their fellow Guardians ignore the other emotional spectrums any longer and disagreeing with many of their new laws, Ganthet and Sayd left to form their own corps. The Blue Lanterns have since then played pivotal roles in several storylines, such as Rage of the Red Lanterns and Agent Orange.

In Rage of the Red Lanterns, the first Blue Lantern, Saint Walker, saved Hal Jordan's life several times and even gave Hal a blue ring of his own, effectively making him both a Blue and Green Lantern at the same time. In Agent Orange, they continued their recruitment drive, but Hal Jordan managed to finally remove his blue ring during his battle with Larfleeze, ending his time as a Blue Lantern. The ring promptly left in search of a replacement.

However, in both cases, the Blue Lanterns did not make any new friends. The Guardians of the Universe view the blue light as an abomination and gladly gave Larfleeze the location of their homeworld in exchange for his renewing the pact they once shared that would keep him confined to the Vega system. Larfleeze was last seen using this information to attack the Blue Lantern homeworld. Meanwhile, Atrocitus was last seen divining the location of the Blue Lantern homeworld and it can be expected he will seek revenge on them during Blackest Night.

Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself

Comics Discussed: Green Lantern #26-28, 36-38, Green Lantern Corps #19-38

After the Sinestro Corps War, the Sinestro Corps was left leaderless and in disarray, but remained a constant threat with several members showing up in various storylines, such as being integral parts of the Alpha Lanterns, Rage of the Red Lanterns, Sins of the Star Sapphire and Emerald Eclipse arcs.

The primary subplot for the Sinestro Corps dealt with Mongul's attempts at taking control of the corps now that Sinestro was a captive of the Green Lanterns. Mongul had several run ins with the Green Lanterns before consolidating his power base within the Sinestro Corps on the planet Daxam, where he gathered his forces and enslaved the native Daxam population. The only challenger to Mongul's rule was the Sinestro drill sergent, Arkillo, who fought Mongul for control of the corps and suffered a humiliating defeat as Mongul ripped his tongue out, leaving him alive as a reminder to the other Sinestro Corpsmen.

This occupation of Daxam led to conflict with the Green Lanterns, specifically with the Daxamite Green Lantern, Sodam Yat, better known as Ion. He died using his Ion powers to change the Daxam star from red to yellow. The Daxamites, being genetic cousins of the Kryptonians, were energized by the yellow star and gained Superman-like powers and forced the Mongul led faction to withdraw from the planet. Expect this Sinestro Corps faction to clash with the Sinestro led one at some point or another.

Sinestro's Daughter

Comics Discussed: Green Lantern #36-38, Green Lantern Corps #33-38

After being freed from the Green Lanterns during the Rage of the Red Lantern arc, Sinestro became aware that Atrocitus knew about his hidden daughter and immediately set off to his homeworld, Korugar, to ensure her safety. It was later revealed that his daughter was none other than his current Green Lantern replacement, Soranik Natu, who's identity as his daughter he had kept hidden for all these years. The subplot concluded with Sinestro revealing himself to Natu as her father. Sinestro then put out an order for those Sinestro Corps members still loyal to him to head for Zamaron for an attack on the Star Sapphires.

Emerald Eclipse

Comics Discussed: Green Lantern Corps #33-38

Emerald Eclipse was made up of three running subplots dealing with the Sinestro Corps occupation of Daxam, the search for Sinestro's daughter and a riot in the sciencells on Oa. The first two were covered in the previous two sections, so this summary will deal primarily with the riot on Oa, which saw the recently captured Red Lantern, Vice, break free of his restraints, thanks in part to the aid of the corrupted Guardian, Scar.

The riot saw nearly every prisoner of the Green Lanterns freed, high casualties for the Green Lantern guards and ended with Scar destroying the green lantern shaped force field that had been protecting Oa, leaving it vulnerable to attack, most likely to be exploited by the Black Lanterns or some other corps come Blackest Night.

With the riot finally contained, the Guardians ordered the executions of all prisoners recaptured during the riot, which was to be carried out by the Alpha Lanterns. Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner objected to the executions and were left as the lone dissenting voices and were punished by the Guardians for speaking out against them by being put on temporary reassignment to Earth until the Guardians could decide how to properly punish them.

Agent Orange

Comics Discussed: Green Lantern #39-42

The Agent Orange storyline introduced readers to the orange light of avarice and the sole member of the Orange Lanterns - Larfleeze. The storyline mostly explained the backstory of the orange light, how Larfleeze aquired it and the deal the Guardians made with him once they realized they could not simply take it from him, all of which will be covered in more detail in the Agent Orange part of the primer later this week. The key point to take away from this storyline was that the Guardians made a new deal with Larfleeze which saw them give him the location of the Blue Lantern homeworld in exchange for him maintaining peace with the Green Lanterns and staying confined to the Vega sector. Larfleeze promptly took this knowledge and set out to attack and claim the Blue Lantern power as his own.

The Blackest Night

Comics Discussed: Blackest Night #0

Little is known about the Blackest Night other than we will see a War of Light engulf the various corps and the birth of the undead Black Lanterns bringing darkness to the universe.

However, as the above summaries tell you, many plots have converged to this point, such as the Red and Orange Lanterns both advancing on the Blue Lantern homeworld and the coming conflict between the Star Sapphires and Sinestro Corps. We mustn't forget Blackest Night #0 either, which saw Black Hand invading a super hero graveyard and plundering Batman's skull, possibly as a conduit for his powers or maybe even to revive the dead hero as a future Black Lantern.

There was also the subplot running throughout Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps concerning the search for the Anti-Monitor's corpse. Scar had sent two Green Lanterns to separately find the corpse. Both met up with each other just as they discovered the Black Lantern homeworld and power battery where they were met by the hungering calls for flesh of a freshly awoken entity of some sort, either a Black Lantern or maybe even the one that imprisoned the Anti-Monitor in the power battery way back in Green Lantern #25.

All we really know for sure is that the dead shall rise come July 15th and the DC Universe will never be the same.

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Kevin said...

Great post Kirk. It is a great summary of all things Green Lantern leading up to Blackest Night.

Matt Ampersand said...

Wow, this came out great Kirk. Even I am more pumped for Blackest Night!

Wierddemon said...

Great read! Thanks a million!

Max said...

Making waves, Kirk:

Kirk Warren said...

@Kevin & Wierddemon - Thanks for the kind words. Glad you all liked it.

@Max - Ya, the guys at Robot 6 are great and always seem to throw out some link love to us. Great blog and one of my favourites to read. Always amazed when we get linked to by them.

Sebastian said...

Awesome. Congrats on the Robot 6 nod, guys.

I like how you divided it into separate plotlines instead of just sticking to the denoted arcs. Most of the storylines weave in and out of different arcs and books. It really clears up all of the new Lantern continuity for first-time readers.

I also highly reccommend the first six issues of Green Lantern by Johns. The story is pretty Black Hand-heavy and is rife with teasers for Blackest Night.

ryan said...

Thanks! This was a great reminder of some stuff I'd forgotten.

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