Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blackest Night #6 Review *Spoilers*

Blackest Night #6 was the only major comic released this week (technically a hold over shipped last week that made the rounds on torrent sites for the past week) and it was a doozy that made the trip to the shop worthwhile.  As it's the only comic to review this week, I've given it the ol' image and spoiler filled review treatment, so ample warning before anyone hits the jump - spoilers this way be!

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis

Blackest Night #6 seems to be the poster child for recent linewide events.  It takes a concept designed for a family of titles - Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps in this instance - and bloats  the character centered story to encompass the entire line.  The main event title then becomes a showcase for big moments and action while the main story is followed in the original family titles.  It causes certain scenes to be picked up at random in the main event title and gives a very light feel to the event book.  Sure, the masses will enjoy the big moments and constant action of the event book, but it weakens the experience on the whole when you see repeated scenes and get a general feeling that nothing of importance, outside of the odd cliffhanger or splashpage reveal at the end of the issue, is happening.

 Spoiler - Superman doesn't die.

In the case of Blackest Night #6, this is all the more true.  The first page or two consists of characters verbalizing a recap for readers.  Seriously.  An event book, where the first four issues consisted of the same basic plot and where the last issue gave us our first bit of plot progression since the first issue, spent the first page or two recapping the current story for readers.  If you are six issues into an event, you don't need a recap in the main event title.  I shouldn't feel like skipping ANY pages - especially so shortly after opening the book - in a comic I paid for, let alone a major event title who's previous issue ended with the embodiment of death manifesting itself, "killing" all of the big guns in the DC Universe and turning them into Black Lanterns. 

Flash Fact - Time Travel FTW

In fact, that "OH SH--!" ending to last issue as Superman, Wonder Woman, et al were "killed" and became Black Lanterns felt like it didn't even happen.  The only time we saw those characters was a brief cameo of one or two of them, mostly as background pieces to fill up space in chaotic scenes.  There was no feeling of dread or confrontation between the remaining living heroes and the newly become Black Lanterns.  We quickly shift gears and have Barry Allen and Hal Jordan outrun the black rings chasing them down in a, I must say, nicely executed sequence where Barry runs them two seconds into the future to break the emotional connection the rings chasing them has to each of them.

However, that doesn't change the fact they completely glossed over one of the biggest moments in the series and never even really address it for the entire issue.  Hell, Nekron shows up in maybe one panel in the entire issue.  This is the main event.  He just made his became manifest and killed all our big guns and then we get put on hold for a lot of fluff and filler.


So, if Nekron, the Black Lanterns and major killings from last issue weren't addressed in this issue, what happened?  Glad you asked.  In light of moving the plot forward, we take some sidesteps and catch up with the numerous non-Green Lantern characters that have filled space throughout Blackest Night, such as Mera and Atom.

The duo were seen last week in Green Lantern #49 dealing with Jean Lorring.  We pretty much recap (yes, another recap) what they were doing in GL #49.  It's actually a really jarring scene taken on its own without the knowledge of that GL issue.  It has a Deadman possessed Jean speaking to our heroes, some generalizations of what they were doing in GL and then the scene quickly resolves itself.  Deadman's useage, in particular, is odd in that he just shows up as a floating head entering Jean and then fills in readers before exiting Jean's body.  

Thanks Sinestro, nice to see you, too!

Thankfully, that sequence with Atom and Mera ended a rather disappointing first half of an issue.  I was actually ready to give up on the issue, which amounted to little more than filler up until that point, until Ganthet stepped up and dragged the story kicking and screaming forward. 

Party on Earth-0, tell your friends. 

Ganthet did this by taking a cue from just about every internet forum and playing a game of "which DC character should join which corps?"  It was explained as a dormant Guardian protocol that allows him to "clone" a ring from the various corps leaders and send it off to find worthy Earth-based recruits to deputize for 24 hours.  I'm not sure why there's a 24 hour limit or why there is a limit of one "cloned" ring or anything else, but this was a fun sequence that actually worked.

Takes my Saint Barry joke to new levels...

In all honesty, every time I try to rationalize the absurdity of this deputizing of Earth-based heroes and villains, I can't find the heart to point out how it's simply pandering or how it doesn't really add anything to the story or how these don't seem to serve any purpose other than to make new toys.

In the end, I just get this stupid grin on my face and start contemplating new choices for various corps or thinking about how perfect some of these choices were, such as Scarecrow, who we've all been hoping would get a Sinestro Corps ring since John Stewart and Hal Jordan prevented Amon Sur's from claiming him earlier this year. 

The only complaint I really have about the last half of this issue is that it's a little on the long side, spending several pages per character showing how the cloned rings find them and building up to the splashpage you see above.  If they hadn't spent so long recapping and treading water for the first half of the issue, I wouldn't really complain, but it just added to the sense that nothing happened in this issue - a feeling that most of the Blackest Night series has had.  We literally could have cut three quarters of this issue and it would have read just as well and progressed the story just as much.

Verdict - Check It. The deputizing of multiple Earth-based heroes and villains was pure pandering and I loved it, but it doesn't really make up for the first half of this issue, which ignored everything from last issue and just recapped the previous issues for us.  In fact, I'm left wondering if we'll just ignore these deputized heroes like the "dead" heroes from last issue or Nekron from the reveal in the issue before that.  However, with a skip month in place for this event, I'm left wanting more after this issue, which is a good thing I think.

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Flip The Page said...

Say it with me - RAY PALMER THE INDIGO LANTERN IS AWESOME. wish I had his ring instead of a blue one (not that saint barry is bad but RAY PALMER!)

in fact outside of Wonder Woman and her faulty ring I'm incredibly pleased with all of these and moreso with the covers in the issue for the skip month. I'm picking up two of those now just from this issue and those covers in fact!

awesome review and more than fair rating, I must say

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about the issue. They better have a good conclusion in issues 7 and 8 or this whole series was a waste of time and money.

RunItDown said...

Yeah, I haven't been feeling this event too much. The main action in GLC has been the best. Someone needs to create a roadmap of the big GL related action, cutting out all the non GL stuff.

Anonymous said...

I was afraid Blackest Night would turn into this after watching it become a DC-wide event. It was a good issue, and I'll read the next one, but I was expecting a lot more from the series. It's definitely not living up to Sinestro Corps by any means.

The choice of Saint Barry having the blue ring was a bit strange. I mean, I know it's a bit of a fanboy debate about which character should get which ring, but I always saw Superman more as the epitome of hope than Barry Allen. Hell, wasn't he doubting himself and wanting to die in Flash: Rebirth?

Anonymous said...

People seem to be reviewing event comics differently to regular comics.
We've had plot threads introduced and then forgotten (something like Black Lantern Spectre shouldn't be introduced in issue 2(?) and then addressed in a tie-in 4 months later)
incredibly bloated cast (Hal, Indigo, Barry, Atom, Mera, 2 firestorm people, two Hawks, Lex, Scarecrow, Damage, Black Hand, Nekron. And thats leaving out specific black lanterns and the rest of the rainbow parade)
An incredibly simple plot (Imma kill everyone you guys)
That has completely bizarre twists that come out of nowhere (emotional tether lets Nekron take control of the resurrected, where the hell did that come from?!)

If this happened in an issue of Supergirl or Invicible Ironman people who be annoyed, but everyone is just letting it slide here. Hmmmm....

Daryll B. said... we have an award to hand to Matt and Kirk who FREAKIN CALLED some of these choices before the event started...especially the blue ring on Barry and the orange ring on Luthor?

To the 2nd Anonymous yep that would have eliminated Barry except look back at Saint Walker's origin of how he got his ring. He had a whole lot more despair than Barry has. So unfortunately it makes freakin sense.

Issue felt uneven...pace was off and what should have been a series of cool moments linked together in story progression felt like isolated islands. It looked good though but Issues 7 and 8 really need to be awesome.

DoctorMarmalade said...

Hey guys
Get it?

Daryll B. said...

and here's another thing..after seeing the effects of the RED Ring previously on various entities, how does any of the 'favorable' lanterns allow that to find someone????

(LOL I know what the prose called for but I being abstract here...yet again...and yes I know what I have to do. *goes to get Mylanta for Kirk's future headache and indigestion now*) =)

Monch said...

@ Kirk: great review and very accurate description on what happened

I don't understand how Ganthet just took a Hal's ring, duplicate it and made the OTHER rings do the same thing: create duplicate

And no, I don't buy the whole "the other rings are based on Oan tech so I can make them do things" speach. If that were true, why doesn't he control the BLACK rings and make them stop. Just the Black rings arents based on Oan tech? I don't buy this

This event is more and more making me wish it was a GL only mini event. As stated by many, the GL books are handling this much better than the main event. I do understand the thiniing behind this, as DC is a company and it's looking at making more money, but BN shouldnt be 8 issues if most of it is going to be filler (I felt the same way with Secret Invasion, too long for so little plot).

Hope it gets better, but it amazes me how John is portraing the rings powers, Black Lantern powers and motivation so differently on the books he is writting. I mean, it's the same writer who came up with the idea, how is he not following his own rules?

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