Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Blackest Night #1 of 8
Johns, Reis & Albert
The event kicks off with a gruesome issue. You get forty pages of material for your $4 which is a welcome plus and none it felt like filler at all. The comic introduces all four of the Green Lanterns giving lengthy amounts of background and what motivates them. The issue also watches the apparent meltdown of the inner workings of the Green Lantern Corps and the full birth of the Black Lantern Corps. It’s a very good issue but it is not a great issue due to its reliance on greater DCU knowledge.
It seems the Blackest Night event is taking the following route: the brunt of the DCU Universe characters in the mini series and the other plot threads (like the war of the colors) in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. The opening issue for this mini series takes very careful steps in introducing, establishing and setting a mindset for Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner. This would lead you to believe this mini series is aimed at the reader who may be purchasing other DC titles but not necessarily the Green Lantern titles. If that is the case this introduction is great for them. It calls back events that occurred twenty years ago (in real time) in the character’s lives to give you all the relevant history for the four Earth Green Lanterns. If you happen to have been reading Green Lantern all along then this serves as a refresher with nice artwork at best and boring filler at worst.
The opening is all framed around ceremonies where heroes are honored. Various deceased graves are visited and dressed with flowers. There are a lot of good character interactions here and is done so very well, especially when you consider it encompasses standing around a cemetery.
When the ceremonies end, Hal meets up with one of the Flash’s, Barry Allen. They discuss heroes that have died since Barry himself died some time ago just prior to returning from the presumed dead. While this is going on the Black Lanterns are born as black rings begin to seek out the dead.
The comic ends with some deceased DC heroes wielding black rings going after living heroes. This all happens while the Guardians are shown the error of their way by a traitor among their ranks.
The comic’s strength is in its art. This comic is downright disturbing. When dealing with corpses and raising the dead you need to pull out some stops. This comic does that. The most horrific panel was when a certain someone licks a skull to fuse the detached jaw back on. Well, that, and when another certain someone tears another person’s heart out of their chest. This is not a tame comic and it’s not subtle at all either. Outstanding artwork that presents an incredible story.
The problem I have with this comic is how inaccessible it was to me, a reader of Green Lantern (and satellite titles) for decades. I didn’t read any of the last three DC crisis events and it appears I am at a huge disadvantage because of it. The number of characters I knew nothing about that played huge roles in this comic was downright overwhelming. I can handle the obscure references about Firestorm (s?) and Atom Smasher but the major roles and references of Jean, Ray, Sue, Ralph and the Hawks were completely lost to me. I realize I am in the minority of readers here but any emotional rise I was supposed to get out of the entire ending was absent because I’ve never heard of these characters and/or the events that they speak of.
This was a fun read and if you are totally all into the DC Universe then you will probably love this comic. If you are one of the few people who only read Green Lantern and a hand full of other DC comics then you might find yourself scratching your head or simply not caring about the cliffhanger. It makes me wonder how I can purchase another seven issues if the main plot centers on events that I never followed. I’m hoping this mini series shifts to some more familiar characters or abandons all the continuity baggage. Still, there is some good stuff in here and it has terrific artwork in it, especially if you like some grotesque scenes, which I generally do. The event kicks off pretty nicely.
3.5 out of 5 geek goggles