Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blackest Night #2 Review

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert

Blackest Night #1 was allowed to focus heavily on the Black Lanterns, both introducing them to the reader and focusing on the wanton killings and gore factor to shock readers and kick off the event with a bang. Issue two, on the other hand, should have given us some plot or propelled the story forward in some tangible way. What it ended up being was an issue filled with little more than shock killings, gore on a Marvel Zombies level and little else.

Yes, yes, yes, a story about Black Lanterns that come back from the dead and which is focused entirely on the dead returning to life probably should clue me into the gorier parts of this story, but I was expecting some depth and reason behind it as well. It's only two issues into the eight part story, so I can forgive it for it for it's excess early on.

Another problem with the story is that it's becoming very Secret Invasion-esque in that it's a very wide view of the event in the main title with several ancillary titles either giving different perspectives or picking up strands of the story that do or do not deserve to be in the main book. For instance, the Green Lantern & Flash vs Martian Manhunter fight that continued into last month's Green Lantern "ends" here. If you didn't read Green Lantern, that fight is pretty oddly scripted, jumping from Hal and Barry meeting their undead Martian friend to the duo struggling to eek out a victory of sorts.

Reading it from a Blackest Night #1 to #2 standpoint, that's a weak subplot that left a lot of gaps for people to pick up in the tie-ins. On the other hand, it's not a major plot point, much like everything we've seen so far, which amounts to just fighting, reviving of dead heroes and those dead heroes killing other heroes.

The final problem I have with the book is the entire lack of a War of Light. What happened to the Blue Lantern homeworld being invaded by Larfleeze's constructs? Where's the attack on Zamaron by the Sinestro Corps? Where's the Green Lanterns vs Red Lanterns on Ysmault? All of these are supposedly going on while the dead are rising and were some of the things I was most excited about seeing, yet they've yet to be shown on anything other than random throwaway, one panel scenes or splashpages. In my opinion, these should have all been played up early on with the Black Lanterns as a menacing threat building up in cameos for the epic conclusion to the event. Just feels like everything the Green Lantern titles have been building to was kicked to the curb for DC's version of Marvel Zombies, which isn't a bad thing, but disappointing for a long time Green Lantern reader.

However, despite how over the top and focused on the excess violence this issue was, I actually found myself still enjoying it. It's beautifully rendered by Ivan Reis and, similar to how Martian Manhunter's been portrayed since returning as a Black Lantern, I've never seen an Aquaman as imposing and interesting as he was portrayed in this issue. They should have killed these characters off long ago if they were going to make them this interesting in undeath.

Other points of interest include the attempts of a Black Lantern ring to raise Don Hall, better known as Dove, who died in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The rings could not raise him due to the fact he was "at peace". He died saving a child if I recall, so maybe the way someone dies determines if they can be raised? I imagine it will have something to do with the emotional state of the character at death, too.

Similarly, there was a prose section in the back of the book that detailed some personal writings of Black Hand. It was written by Geoff Johns, but there were several simple mistakes in the writing that I hope are supposed to be attributed to the first person Black Hand narrative and not bad editing. Getting back to the content of the writing, it was mostly about how he had killed the two Hawks and how death could not claim their eternal love due to the constant resurrections. It ended by saying love was almost dead and that rage was next. Does this mean that certain characters are being targeted, such as the Hawks for their love, and that the mass resurrections and deaths are just to hide this agenda? Is Atrocitus next to die, being the leader of the rage filled Red Lanterns?

Verdict - Check It. Very little progression in terms of plot and a tad excessive in the violence and gore department, but an otherwise entertaining issue.

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