Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blackest Night in 60 Seconds

Blackest Night has been an overwhelming success for DC and many of the tie-ins associated with the book to the point that Marvel is doing everything in its power to rain on their parade.  However, there have been concerns raised by many that the main event book is, well, light on content, especially when compared to Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps.  To illustrate this point and in light of the skip month, I've put together a series of images showing all of the important bits culled from the Blackest Night title that can act as a refresher of sorts to make up for the skip month in its publishing schedule and to illustrate my point on the nature of the main event title's lack of meaty content.

Blackest Night #1

Nekron: Rings and necrophilia for everyone!
Black Hand & Friends: Booooo!
Nekron: Okay, rings for some, necrophilia for others.
Black Hand & Friends: YAAAAYYYYYYY!

Rings bring back dead people, in case you didn't know.

Blackest Night #2

Be afraid, even your dead friends can come back to life!  These Black Lantern JLA members are never seen again (okay, that's a lie.  They showed up briefly in the most recent Justice League issue).

Similarly, the Spectre was turned into a Black Lantern at some point six or seven months ago and this is the last and only time we saw him in the main title.  He went looking for Hal Jordan in Green Lantern #50, so I figured it was best to include this to remind people he's actually in this story as he might (and I stress might) be featured in the next issue of Blackest Night.

Blackest Night #3

The Indigo Tribe finally makes an appearance and recaps everything about the various corps for us!

And Indigo even tells us how to kill Black Lanterns. 

Blackest Night #4

Nekron returns. We see him once or twice more and that's it.  I think he might play a role in these last few issues, but who knows.

Blackest Night #5

Nekron turns anyone that ever came back to life prior to Blackest Night into a Black Lantern.  These guys appear on one or two pages in the next issue, but otherwise seem to only exist so DC can make toys and so this issue could have a cool splashpage.

Blackest Night #6

Ganthet deputizes several DC heroes and villains as members of the various corps.  


And there you have it!  Everything you need to know from Blackest Night #1-6.  While I've enjoyed the series and still recommend it, it's pretty light on content for an event book and seems to only pick up random threads from Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps while only inching the plot forward with the odd nugget, as seen above.  It's the kind of macro event format, which let's the tie-ins do the heavy lifting and fleshing out of details, that has caught on lately and one I'm having trouble wrapping my head around.

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ThePinkPeril said...

You forgot Blackest Night #0. Otherwise, excellent recap. I can't believe this event has been going since May. Where does the time go? I know where the money goes, but the time...the time.

Kevin said...

Perfect recap of Blackest Night. This is why I have been so critical about Blackest Night as it has really been Ivan Reis that has carried the event. This event should have really only been 5 or 6 issues max since it is clear that is how much content Johns had to fill the story but needlessly increased the issue count to 8.

Great post Kirk.

Ivan said...

I actually feel like I don't have to buy those issues now. :P

Phillyradiogeek said...

I'm not a big DC guy, and I'm not buying any tie-ins, so this may explain why the event, while not terrible, just isn't lighting a fire under me. I'm not even going to bother buying issues 6 through 8. I'm done. There are still many others that enjoy it very much, so to each his own.

brandon said...

Nice recap.

This was the first DC event book I've read since Zero Hour. As a decades long reader of Green Lantern titles I figured I had to pick up the main series to follow the real story. I have found it to be fairly pointless and frustrating.

The main mini series assumes the reader knows an awful lot about the DCU making it almost impossible to follow without reference material.

My point isnt that I will have wasted about $30 on the main mini but that someone who is such a long time GL fan can barely enjoy a GL event because it's submerged in a mess of other character's continuity.

The only other DC book I read is Batman and Robin and this event makes me think I should sit out the return for Bruce Wayne event later this year after this mess.

brandon said...

As a side note I'm curious about the Brightest Night series. Is it more GLs in the DCU or just regular DCU characters. The solicits arent very telling.

Bill said...

"it's pretty light on content for an event book"

Aren't all event books just sort of a collection of splash pages with a story framed around them? Secret invasion felt that way to me anyway.

smkedtky said...

My enjoyment of BLACKEST NIGHT is definitely in the event itself. GREEN LANTERN CORPS isn't essential but the main GREEN LANTERN book has derfinitely served as a BIG part of the main story. Without them, I could understand someone being lost in the main series. BLACKEST NIGHT and GREEN LANTERN run into one another so tightly that GREEN LANTERN may as well be BLACKEST NIGHT 1 and 1/2, and so on, for the duration of the series.

Kirk Warren said...

@Bill - Secret Invasion was one of the first I can recall to use this widescreen/macro event format that saw snapshots of events, zoomed out, splashpages of fights (but no actual details, just a witty one liner or cool images) and then the actual details fleshed out in tie-ins. Civil War did this to a lesser extent.

Typically, the event can be read on its own for a full story or the event is the story while the tie-ins just show affects on unrelated characters. Take WWH for an example. Read WWH and you have the story. Check out other titles to see how this is impacted their worlds, but none were really essential to the whole. House of M is another good one. All the tie-ins showed the rest of the universe in the House of M alternate reality. Some tied back into the main event, but, for the most part, they were just fun or unrelated storeis set in this world, like following Spider-Man's new life or seeing Hulk rule Australia.

With Blackest Night, Secret Invasion and now Siege, we're getting these sort of zoomed out views of the event. It's easy to understand, appeals to many people and is best described as the popcorn summer movie (think Michael Bay's Transformers or what have you) of comics. Big explosions, lots of action, witty one-liners, simple concepts, but light on story.

To me, Blackest Night reads likea tie-in/supplement to Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, both of which are absolutely amazing and firing on all cylnders throughout this event. The only thing missing from them are the above splashpages/reveals from Blackest Night. The rest of Blackest Night reads like a Blackest Night: DCU tie-in not unlike the other tie-ins (BN: Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, etc), which isn't how I think an event book should read.

Matthew said...

I think the saddest part of the whole thing to me is that 'anyone that ever came back to life prior to Blackest Night' can translate into 'most of the biggest names in the DCU'.

Anonymous said...

It's not about the plot. The plot was always made to be simple, so it makes since that you can sum it up in the way you did, but you miss the core of the books. It's about the characters and the emotions and that is completely missing from this recap (which is why it does it no justice). Blackest Night #1 was amazing, and your recap of it doesn't even lightly touch on why that is.

This is just a cheap ploy to try and downplay the success of a very well done event.

Kirk Warren said...

@Anonymous - Issue #1 was a great read. I even gave ita Must Read verdict for the review of it. It was as low burn that played up the creepier aspects of the Black Lanterns and introduced us to them with the promise of so many great things. But nothing has happened since then. Issue 2, 3, 4 and 5 were almost identical to #1 in every way save the splashpage at the end. "Black lantern says mean things, heroes go 'noooo, your dead', Black Lantern kills someone, Green Lantern cameos in his own event and then a big splash page with the promise of changing everything taht is only ever followed up on in a tie-in" is how every issue went.

Nekron came back in issue 4. He turned our heroes on one page of the next issue. He didnt even appear in the last issue (maybe a cameo on one panel or something). Black Hand hasnt done anything outside of issue one and appeared for ressing Nekron.

This post isnt trying to tear down Blackest Night and call ita horrible crossover. It's a) a recap of major events from the series to remind everyone about the event since it was on a "skip month" (aka anticipated delays and threw out some filler tie-ins to fill the gap), b) show off exactly what I mean by a macro/widescreen event format, c) offer upa short critique on Blackest Night and how the tie-ins, GL and GLC, are superior to the event book, which reads like a tie-in and d) have a little fun with it.

A cheap ploy would be if I offered everyone that clicks an ad 25 times in this post a cheap plastic ring. The event is well done from marketing and sales point of view. Story wise, the action and true event takes place in the Green Lantern titles. that's not a very well done event in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

You could always offer them a lame variant cover instead...

Brandon Whaley said...

I feel like if somebody is reading Blackest Night and not reading Green Lantern or GLC, they aren't going to understand a lot. That said, I hope they are smart about the trades like they were with the Final Crisis trade. If they hadn't included the Superman Beyond tie-in, Mandrake would have come out of nowhere and people would've said "Huh?" and called deus ex machina or such. They need to include GL and GLC in the trades in the order of release in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I understand that you want to give your opinion about macro/widescreen event format (or showcase the existence of it anyway...), but doing that while pretending that it is a worthwhile recap of events that have happened thus far in Blackest Night is deceiving.


"Nekron: Rings and necrophilia for everyone!
Black Hand & Friends: Booooo!
Nekron: Okay, rings for some, necrophilia for others.
Black Hand & Friends: YAAAAYYYYYYY!

Rings bring back dead people, in case you didn't know."

is a terrible attempt to recap the first issue.

And you know what? Maybe you are just trying to be funny. Maybe the whole post is a joke and I'm just missing the funny part of it. I think you are trying to make some sort of a real point though and, if that is the case, it's totally lost in a thick layer of sarcasm that doesn't even attempt to create a serious discussion.

That's too bad too. Because I think there may be a decent topic in this post somewhere that might be better served if it wasn't surrounded by all of the lame jokes and sarcasm.

brandon said...

Kirk's post specifically says "Blackest Night in 60 Seconds" which it delivers on well. If anyone was looking for an in-depth analysis I'm sure it can found on wiki or some other site.

Anonymous said...

It's not made to recap anything, it's made to make jokes.

Matthew said...

You make that sound like a bad thing.

Kirk Warren said...

@Anonymous - I'm curious what you would have included to make this a more complete recap while keeping a 'in 60 seconds' type feel to the post (you can flip through this, go 'oh ya, i remember that' in under am inute and be ready to go for the next issue of Blackest Night).

The text between images is merely there to break up the stream of images and add some spacing to it. I made a Simpsons parody out of the first one and just simple descriptions and/or jokes (or snark, depending on perspective) for each sicne they pretty much spell out what they are in the image.

As such, what do you think I left out? Only thing I was considering putting in was the Injustice League splashpage, but they were similar to the JLA comign back and were quickly shuffled off to tie-ins, so left it out. At least the JLA Black Lanterns have a chance of showing up again and having some impact. Just what do you think I left out that will be important to the story in the final two issues?

The first two issues I spotlight spell out the premise for everyone, so were included. The JLA one shows how friends and allies can become enemies. The Spectre, while debuted many months ago, is essential to the curretn GL and might show up in BN. Indigo tells us about the many corps and how to kill the Black Lanterns. And the last few spell out Nekron, his ability to reclaim anyone that has died and Ganthet's last gamble with recruiting more Earthlings to the various corps.

What's missing from this that you think is so essential to the story? I'll gladly add it in if it's pertinent. For example, Scar was a major player going into BN and had a great moment in issue one chomping down and capturing the Guardians. But none of them really appear anymore. Scar was killed off in the first speaking panel she gets after that. Showing that happening doesn't really matter anymore since it's resolved. Sue & Ralph killing the Hawks? Again, theyre kind of covered in the JLA image, but showing the numerous deaths (of which there are dozens at this point) doesnt really tell anyone anything useful. There were plenty of cool or fun sections, like time travelling to get away from rings or what have you, but, again, do not progress the plot and are non essential in my opinion.

So, again, let me know what you think is missing. I'm willing to adjust it if I left out something of importance.

PS: You can log in with your Blogger/Gmail account or simply type a name of your choosing with the Name/URL dropdown menu selection unless you prefer to be anonymous. There's no registration required either.

Anonymous said...

i have decided on green lantern hard cover, but this article makes me think again regarding blackest night collection

Daryll B. said...

What Anonymous fails to realize and, this is the trappings a lot of writers fail into, is that Johns and others on this project reached too far, sacrificing story for "OOOH Fanboyitis" moments...

For instance, Kirk brought up the Scar thing and how quickly she was gotten rid of. Also the lack of a MAJOR villain. Nekron has gotten what? 9 TOTAL pages in this thing? But I know, I know, I will get called a DC hater for all of this but I will drop this if a "true" DC fan could rationally explain this to me:

Why for the love of all that is holy would GANTHET need a GREEN Lantern ring???

Game...Set....MATCH...My snark style wins out Anonymous.

Good Job Kirk!

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