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Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern – Blackest Night, Blackest Night: Green Lantern, Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps & Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps (Review/Retrospective)

Wow. This is pretty much the climax of Geoff Johns’ five year run on Green Lantern, dating all the way back to Rebirth – where he reintroduced Hal Jordan, the original Silver Age version of the character. Since the very start of his run, he’s been dropping hints about the upcoming “war of light” and the prophecy first articulated in an Alan Moore short story decades ago – the prophecy of “blackest night”. Throughout his tenure on the title (and indeed his role shaping the DC Universe as a whole, as one of its guiding writers in the last decade), he has hinted again and again about big events looming on the horizon. Blackest Night is that event. And, in a way, it’s just as wild and crazy and huge as it should be.

Green Lantern reaches new heights...

Note: I am aware that the excellent Peter J. Tomasi wrote the Green Lantern Corps tie-in, but I thought it best to include it in the write-up here. I’ll actually be including my review of the tie-ins under the “Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern” banner, even though he didn’t write all of them. If you’re looking for an opinion on Tomasi’s writing, it’s excellent and it’s highly recommended. Indeed, all four of these wonderful hardcovers are. Oops, did I just spoil my review?

Over the past number of years, Johns has moved key plot points into place. With the rather ingenious invention of the colour-themed Corps rising in opposition (or, at least, contrast) to the Green Lantern Corps (Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Indigo, Violet), he’s created a rich tapestry upon which to stage his event, but he’s done much more than that. As the war between the colour-themed corps rages and the dead begin to rise, Johns offers us a truly epic story – with a definite sense of scale (indeed, the conflict staged here dates back to the birth of the universe – “light fighting back darkness by creating the stars and planets”). And although the event is big and epic, it’s also well handled – Johns is a deft hand at shading character even the midst of all this (check out Tales of the Corps, a hardcover which offers insight into members of each of the colour-themed groups).

Superman should really stop carrying Batman around for dramatic effect... he's starting to smell...

Indeed, it’s fascinating to see Johns imbue the story with wonderful subtle biblical imagery. The opening words are “there was darkness”. Many of the emotional corps derive their power from events not in a literal or actual history, but in a spiritual one. The Red Lanterns, the soldiers of rage and vengeance, are the product of the first murder. The Orange Lantern, sole possessor of the orange light of avarice, is a result of the serpent in the garden. The Blue Lanterns draw “hope from prayer” (indeed, the story of Saint Walker told in Tales of the Corps reflects Moses’ pilgrimage up Mount Zion). It’s never overtly emphasised, but it fits well, and adds a sense of timeless to the event.

It’s to Johns’ credit that he wonderfully positions the event, escalating it slowly. Too many big comic book events open with huge, earth-shattering events and find it difficult to up the ante over the course of their seven- or eight-month runtime. Instead, Johns opens softly, with the desecration of Batman’s grave in Gotham (Batman having died in Final Crisis), offering us small-scale encounters with the new threat, before really kicking into high-gear and giving us a story with universal stakes. Johns has always been a skilled writer, and knows that if we don’t buy into the little moments – the character dialogue and reactions and interactions – then there’s no point giving us huge events.

There's some Black Hand at work in this...

I’d by lying if I didn’t concede that I’m skeptical of big events. They typically end up much larger than they need to be – and ultimately pointless. What’s more, they typically derail or invalidate runs on individual characters (for example, Batman’s death in Final Crisis, rather than his own title, or the death of events leading up to the death of Captain America in Civil War rather than Ed Brubaker’s Captain America). To the credit of Johns’ Green Lantern crossovers – this and the earlier Sinestro Corps War – the impact on series not tied into the event (the only two DC series explicitly tied to the event are Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps) is minimal, consigned to specials and one-shots (and, here, miniseries). You could read the on-going Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman books without getting any inkling that this is going on. Which is great, because it gives those authors room to weave their own stories.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a huge event. Although it’s Green Lantern who gets his picture on the cover (and it’s the two Green Lantern books which serve as tie-ins), this is an event which impacts the whole DC Universe of characters. Indeed, one of the smarter things about this whole collection is how smoothly Johns ties these intergalactic characters to established concepts within the greater comic book narrative (cleverly and explicitly tying iconic legacy characters to the various Lantern Corps in The Book of the Black in Tales of the Corps).

Take it as red...

Johns wisely forsakes the big three – Superman, Batman and, to a lesser extent, Wonder Woman have relatively small roles in big event – favouring smaller cult characters. So, while the event has all the trappings of the “Crisis” crossovers for which DC is famous (Crisis of Infinite Earths/Identity Crisis/Infinite Crisis/Final Crisis), it feels different.

This attempt to avoid the big players (Batman shows up for literally two pages, despite the fact that one would assume the recently-dead superhero would be perfect zombie-fodder and Superman only really shows up to be zombified himself) actually works quite well and makes the event feel “fresh”. There’s a wonderful moment when Mera (Aquaman’s wife, in case you were wondering) and Ray Palmer (the Atom, hardly the most iconic of DC heroes) ask Flash when Superman and Wonder Woman are arriving. Flash replies, “Right now you two are Superman and Wonder Woman.” And, for eight issues, they are.

Holy Zombie Batman! Somebody must have said "things can't get any worse..."

One of the great benefits of Johns’ writing has been a diversification of the DC Universe. Over the past five years, he has made the Green Lantern (previously at best a second- or third-tier character) the heart of the DC comic book universe and it looks like he’s about to do the same for the Flash (indeed, in a manner of speaking, this event is a “baton-passing” as Johns begins his work on Barry Allen). There’s a wonderful love of these (almost forgotten) characters in his work. It’s hard not to smile when the Black Lantern Martian Manhunter laments, “I’m as powerful as Superman. Why does everyone forget that?” The answer is, of course, because Geoff Johns isn’t always writing him.

That isn’t to say that event never feels too large or unwieldy. I’m a bit of a nerd, and even I’m not familiar with all the dead characters making cameo appearances or even getting extended cameos. Johns does an efficient job of introducing “key” C-list supporting characters that the audience might not be familiar with, like Firestorm or Damage, setting up emotional beats that will be hit later on with practiced efficiency, but it’s still difficult to keep track of everything and everyone. Still, I had to consult Wikipedia, or on-line annotations, to identify certain minor characters (the Pariah, for example) – although not knowing who they were wouldn’t really have blocked my understanding of the event (I’m just a nerd for things like this).

You know what they say, evil alien zombies are from Mars...

Still, it’s a wildly entertaining ride. Johns is surprisingly efficient with the storytelling. The three volumes here (Blackest Night, Blackest Night: Green Lantern and Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps) are the backbone of the event, and really all three deserve to be read by anyone interested in the Blackest Night event. The central eight-issue arc can stand on its own, focusing on the Black Lantern attack on Earth, but characters tend to drift in and out of the story based on events in the supporting series (for example, we spend a while with the Flash trying desperately to hold the fort after Green Lantern disappears, only to return a few issues later with his “rainbow rodeo”, a development which can seem disconcerting unless you followed his attempts to unit the colours in Green Lantern).

I’d by lying if I said that it was easy to read these events in the order that Johns and Tomasi (the scribe of Green Lantern Corps) intended. I consulted several on-line reading lists in order to effectively follow events, but I’d occasionally catch a glimpse of a character who had been incapacitate a moment ago in action (the peril resolved in an issue I had yet to read). In fairness, packaging the story like this makes sense.

Guy sees red...

Despite the fact that the three stories are tied together, they generally follow different narrative threads (in the same way, for instance that Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps followed linked (but widely different) paths during Sinestro Corps War). Green Lantern offers something of a “Director’s Cut” of the event, restoring wonderful little scenes and adding motivation through a series of vignettes (for example, the negotiations between the different Corps as the universe slowly dies, or the reunion of Parallax and Hal Jordan in Parallax Reborn). Green Lantern Corps goes its own way, only occasionally overlapping, as it follows the battle for Oa and the attempts to keeps galactic order.

Due to the different subject matter, tone (and even sheer distance) between events unfolding, publishing the collection of issues in chronological order would not have been the best idea. It’s difficult to keep track of particular threads when reading the same book consistently, so it becomes infinitely moreso if the reader cycles through Blackest Night, Blackest Night: Green Lantern, Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps. I am quite glad that I made an effort to read them in the “proper order”, but it’s hardly essential. Reading back over the event, it makes sense to store each series in its own hardcover volume.

By Gordon, this is good stuff!

The story is pretty much Geoff Johns’ treatise on “comic book death”, a phenomenon so cheap you can probably buy value packs of it. Over the past decade or so, it’s become fashionable for comic book companies to kill off their successful properties, only to resurrect them later. It’s telling that Johns takes the time here to point out that all of DC’s big five (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern) have been dead at one point or another – it’s become a tired and hackneyed device. So hackneyed you can pretty much assume a character will be back within two years of their death. The idea seems to be that “death” is a grand and important storytelling tool that can be used to instill meaning and emotion with ease. The irony is, of course, that the overuse of it (and constant backflipping over it) undermines its power.

In a way, the cheapness of death was perhaps symptomatic of the approach to the Dark Age of comic book storytelling, an era of gore and creepy sexualisation in a desperate effort to seem “mature”. It’s telling that the Black Lantern resemble the sorts of anti-heroes that became so popular in the nineties (The Punisher or Lobo, for example). It’s also a really neat thing to have the zombies lust after hearts instead of brains. Perhaps Johns is commenting on how these sorts of stories have to be “felt” rather than “analysed”, or maybe it’s a nod towards the writer’s preference for emotional engagement over high concepts – but it’s a nice little touch.

He's no angel...

In many ways, Blackest Night is about the consequences of the darkness that comic books embraced – taking the ideas to their logical extreme. There’s a very clear sense that this is simple death returning to collect what it’s owed (admittedly given the form of Nekron). Referring to the events of Emerald Eclipse, the moment that the Green Lantern Corps embraced the authority to execute prisoners in cold blood, one Lantern remarks, “I think those executions are going to come back to haunt us.” And they do, quite literally.

It’s somewhat telling that it’s light which defeats the Black Lanterns. When advising the heroes on how to combat the overwhelming odds, Barry suggests, “We’re asking all of you able to shine – do it as brightly as you can.” Johns suggests that only a return to the light for the heroes – allowing them to “shine” as bright as they can – will save the superhero genre. As Hal puts it, the comic book heroes must “chose to live again” if they hope to survive this black midnight of the soul.

Sinestro makes the cut...

Johns pitches his story as a sort of a bookend to the “grim and gritty” era of comic books. One last struggle against the light. Perhaps that’s why Barry Allen’s role in the story feels so appropriate, despite the fact that it is technically a “Green Lantern” event. He is the bookend. His death ushered in this era where death as a cheap commodity and his resurrect should hopefully end it.

Everything changed when you disappeared, Barry. The world got more dangerous. Our jobs more deadly.

– Hal explains to Barry what he missed, Blackest Night #0

“Your death was the first, Barry Allen of Earth,” Nekron ominously remarks, “And your rebirth the last.” The entire epilogue is written to hammer home to the reader that the days of cheap death are behind us – there will be a lot less pointless death, but also a moratorium on resurrections. How long will that last? I don’t know.

However, the story feels like more than just a closing chapter to a hazily-defined era of comic book writing. Throughout his run, Johns has skilfully (even beautifully) blended the old with the new, to create the impression of something even grander occurring. He has taken old foes like the Black Hand and Nekron and Sinestro, and tied them to new concepts like “the war of light” – all the while adding little touches to the cosmic mythology. Sure, he’s played with retcons from time to time (Secret Origin is one big one), but he also ties together the little elements of the story. For example, he explained why Abin Sur – Hal’s predecessor – crashed in on Earth a ship when a Green Lantern can fly through space. In a way, this feels like a big conclusion to what began over fifty years ago – a wrapping up of the Green Lantern mythos. To quote Sinestro, who gets to fulfill his destiny, it’s “the end of Abin Sur’s mission”.

As the crow flies...

Part of me wonders if Johns would have done well to depart the title after this event. Apparently, he did initially plan on leaving Green Lantern after finishing Blackest Night (an event he’d been setting up since his first day on the job), but he has apparently decided to remain on the title. Indeed, there are several threads snaking out of Blackest Night for him to follow up on (where did Parallax go? for example), but I can’t help but wonder how he could possibly follow this up. Still, as long as he’s writing it, I will likely be reading it. Let’s just hope he can keep up the excellent standard he has set himself.

It probably feels that way because Blackest Night feels like the perfect hand-over point from one Geoff Johns property to another. Johns has recently returned to The Flash, one of the comics which originally helped make his name, writing the return of Barry Allen – the same way he originally helped Hal Jordan return from the dead. The two have always gone hand-in-hand, birthing the Silver Age together, and the Flash feels like the most important character in this saga who isn’t part of the Green Lantern tapestry. There’s a large section through the middle of the main miniseries where Hal is whisked out of the main storyline and into his own spin-off subplot – at which point Barry is forced to step up and take charge of the situation.

There in a Flash...

It seems that Johns is hoping to follow roughly the same model with Barry that he did with Hal – a “rebirth” miniseries (Flash: Rebirth to go with Green Lantern: Rebirth) followed by an internal event (Flashpoint to Sinestro Corps War), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Flash-centric mega-crossover on the horizon to compliment this miniseries. The two characters go together very well (indeed, the early chapters are just an old-fashioned The Brave and the Bold-style team-up with the two taking on a zombie martian in Gotham. Indeed, the resurrections at the end of the story offer perhaps a concrete indication of things to come – it’s telling that aside from the Brightest Day and Generation Lost resurrections, Barry gets two former rogues revived, while there are no similarly-revived Green Lantern baddies.

Despite this, there is absolutely no doubt that this event, at its core, “belongs” to a particular corner of the DC Universe – the Green Lantern Corps. Though it may set up elements in other series, and hits at the coming change of focus, Johns is primarily here to work with the characters that he’s been writing for half-a-decade now. Part of the magic has been the way that Johns has been able to do something new while tying it to the original mythos so well. As mentioned above, this entire saga came from an obscure reference in the story Tygers, written by Alan Moore, and the notion of an army raised by Nekron consisting of dead heroes was a storytelling device used in a Green Lantern Annual from 1998 (the story was Ghosts). So there’s a lot of backstory here, but Johns isn’t burdened by it. Instead, these are just nice references for the more hardcore fan to spot, rather than explicitly-referenced required reading or continuity lockouts.

Dead space...

Johns has worked wonders with the characters of Green Lantern, and there’s still room for character work, even amid all of this. Of particular note is the Green Lantern story Semper Fi, which offers a wonderfully effective profile of John Stewart. Stewart has, in many ways, been the least developed of the four leads since the franchise was revived. Hal Jordan gets Green Lantern and Guy Gardener and Kyle Raynor are the leads in Green Lantern Corps. At the very best, the character has been a supporting player in the main title. Here, Johns gives him a chapter dedicated to him alone – indicating that even in the midst of all that is unfolding character still remains important.

It’s nice to see the work that Johns has done with the bad guys of the Green Lantern mythos paying off. Because, let’s face it, it isn’t the most awe-inspiring selection of rogues in the history of comic books. However, partially through adding new threats and redefining old ones (Wally West even notes how a former low-tier Green Lantern foe like Nekron “got an upgrade”), Johns has built up an impressive and eclectic selection of supporting players going into this grand finale.

He's got problems, no bones about it...

In particular, it’s nice to see his work with Black Hand paying off. Black Hand began his criminal career as a master of cliché. He was really just a lame version of The Riddler with a different type of wordplay – just without any of the camp charm of the iconic Batman villain. Indeed, his name derived from the not-particularly-insightful observation that he was “the black sheep of the Hand family”, a line echoed here. Johns has managed to wonderfully (and creepily) update the villain, who has been shown to have a pivotal role from the beginning of Johns’ saga (having a cameo in Rebirth, and being retconned back to Hal’s origin in Secret Origin). Here he’s the son of a mortuary owner, who fashioned his lame outfit from a black bodybag (“Something that reminded me of home. Of my family. Of my first kiss.”) and who had a decidedly darker (and more sociopathic) origin (helped no end by his creepy narration in The Book of the Black, collected in Tales of the Corps).

Indeed, given that Hector Hammond has also be revised by John (being reintroduced shortly after Rebirth and also being tied to Hal’s Secret Origin), it’s a bit of a surprise to see the character relegated to a cameo here (tied into Parallax’s disappearance). Part of me wonders if, while Johns was planning to finish on Blackest Night, Hammond originally had a larger role, or if he was just a villain that Johns felt was long-overdue for a makeover for the sake of it – rather than in service of a larger plot.

We all know what he really wants is some hair...

Hell, even Johns’ writing for the supporting (borderline minor) characters is great. I’ve never really been sold on his idea of Lex Luthor, who seems to be “supervillain” first and “business man” second. I actually quite like the more sophisticated and ambiguous portrayals of the character, but that’s really a matter of personal preference. Luthor is clearly in “supervillain” mode here, hiding in a secret bunker and putting on his iconic green and purple armour. It’s a great image as he sits there, waiting for his sins to come back (“Do you know how many people I’ve killed over the years?”). Indeed, he’s the perfect choice to be deputised an Orange Lantern (“You want it all”). As much as the individual trappings might not be to my taste, Johns gets Luthor. There’s a wonderful moment where Luthor confesses, “What I really want — is to be Superman.” To no one’s surprise.

In fairness, perhaps the greatest revision that Johns has made to the Green Lantern mythology – or at least the best – has been his writing of Sinestro. Indeed, the saga is as much a story for Sinestro as it is for anyone else. Here he is again humbled, exiled from his Corps (of course, this time it’s the Mongol Sinestro Corps rather than the Green Lantern Corps) and forced to build himself from the ground again. Blackest Night hammers home the idea of Sinestro as a tragic anti-hero rather than an outright villain. We watch him sacrifice his greatest love for the greater good, something Hal could never do. We see him as a leader of men. His rescue of his captured troops might be an ultimately selfish gesture (in that he’ll need them to take back what’s his) but his men are willing to sacrifice themselves for him and he for them (“Stay down,” he orders a comrade, “let your membraine heal”).

He's said it until he's red in the face...

It’s amazing how far the character has come. Especially considering his defining trait in the Silver Age was he was red big-headed alien with a long mustache whose name was “Sinestro”. He’s been crafted into a noble extremist who still believes he’s on the right side – that he is ultimately doing good. “I have never sought revenge against my former pupil through you, Carol,” he announces to Carol Ferris, as if that’s something to be proud of. It’s nice to see Johns delivering on the character’s potential and fulfilling the “savior of the universe” and “the greatest Lantern of all” prophecies that have that have been whispered about him over the years. Blackest Night is the perfect character beat for Sinestro, and almost feels like a fitting conclusion to his character arc. I think it’s perhaps a reflection on Johns’ work on the comic that Sinestro has emerged as one of the most interesting and complex archenemies of any major superhero.

Perhaps Sinestro’s story arc illustrates what I’ve really enjoyed about Blackest Night. As a comic book reader – particularly one relatively new to the medium – I’ve bemoaned the lack of closure to these perpetual narratives. However, Blackest Night feels in many ways like an epilogue. Character moments hinted at for years come to fruition. Sinestro gets to be the greatest Lantern, Carol and Hal got to fly side-by-side, the Green Lantern Corps is rendered more democratic, balance is achieved. It’s nice to get that kind of closure. And, even though the story kick-starts as many follow-on plots as it resolves, these don’t feel obtrusive.

Pulling a stunt like this, he's got some Nek(ron)...

Far smarter minds than I have commented that Blackest Night seems to be intended as something of a transitional phase in DC’s publishing line, an attempt to declutter their continuity, offer fans and those interested a jumping-on point, and begin to redraft the DC Universe:

Teases aside, Blackest Night #8 really did give me the sense that a page of DC history had been turned, and that readers were free to walk away if they wanted. Considering DC’s recent practices (especially relying on Final Crisis anticipation and 52 goodwill to sell Countdown), that’s a tremendous step in the right direction. Rather than selling plot twists or continuity tweaks, DC sold Geoff Johns, and apparently trusts readers to follow him into Blackest Day. That’s a pretty good strategy, I think: not only does it let him conclude Blackest Night satisfactorily, it lets him evangelize for DC’s superheroes, which clearly he loves, loves doing.  That love comes through pretty clearly in Blackest Night, and if you don’t run screaming from Johns’ emo-spectrum theories and differently-colored avatars, BN gives you a lot to ponder.  That sense of something deeper, something yet to be revealed, is what I think makes BN more than mere process; and the fact that Johns knows how much to dole out makes BN  a tighter story.  The Gospel According To Geoff will no doubt be a vast, intricate work when it is fully realized, and it doesn’t need to be thrust upon an unsuspecting reader all at once.

Such is a discussion which probably deserves to take place outside this (already long and rambling) review. I like what’s been done here. I like that it feels like an ending, without a forceful hook into a continuing story. Although the final image of the main Blackest Night series is a cliffhanger (of sorts), I feel like I could stop reading here without feeling incomplete. But I won’t – because… well, because I like it.

And all of this ignores the fact that the event itself is just great big hokey fun. It’s crazy, bright and colourful, populated with little moments of fried gold and creative genius. It’s hard to suppress a smile as Mogo, the planet that’s  a Green Lantern, rides to the rescue and takes care of the Black Lanterns invading Oa (“They’re drowning in a sea of green”); or as Saleek, the perennial administrator, takes charge of the situation in the absence of his superiors; or even as Sinestro takes back his army from the usurper who is several times his own size (and gets to finally be the hero – “He saved us,” one by-stander observes).

What a man(hunter)...

The event isn’t perfect – I’d argue, for instance, that Sinestro Corps War was a more streamlined and fluid crossover. The plot is slight (to say the least) and the threat straightforward. Although Johns shrewdly uses his narrative to explore themes like the overuse of death and resurrection in comic books or reflection on the proceeding two decades, but there’s nothing quite as challenging as in, say, Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis. I actually think the story’s the better for it. The zombie apocalypse is a well-established idea, but the main focus of the miniseries (as with most of Johns’ work) is character-driven, rather than plot-driven. This can be a bit frustrating if you’re expecting something new or revolutionary, but I think that Johns wisely invests his time in making his event as accessible as such a crossover can be. While I recognise the flaws, I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

In retrospect, I will confess to being a bit confused as to why Nekron – the architect of the event – waited until now to make his move to end life, other than because Johns is now ready to handle him. He strikes me as the supervillain equivalent of that guy in the apartment downstairs, always complaining about the noise those kids upstairs keep making – except instead of shaking his fist and telling them to “keep it down, up there!”, he decides to destroy all life in the universe. Each’s own. I’ll have to reread to be sure, but maybe it was Barry Allen’s return which set him in motion (although he had been lining up the pieces a while), which would add even more importance for the Flash to these events.

Light 'im up...

Sure, there’s a huge fanboy-ish element to it. Huge. I’m fairly sure even I didn’t get all the geeky in-jokes or all the continuity baggage following any number of characters into the event. The series is absolutely dripping with references to all media, exactly the kind of pop culture stew you’d expect. It can be a bit daunting, and it certainly overwhelms at points. The clues to wider DC lore are generally well foreshadowed and explained by Johns, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend reading this without first flicking through Rebirth or Sinestro Corps War.

And there is probably some fat that cold have been trimmed, but that’s only really looking at it with my “logical” hat on. Any of the sequences which could have been trimmed (the Anti-Monitor or the deputised Scarecrow) were actually solidly entertaining and engaging. There seems to be an on-line consensus that the event went on about an issue too long, and I can understand that – still, it reads fairly fluidly in paperback. Significantly more fluidly than any other major “event” I can think of. These are minor complaints, it’s a wonderfully put together epic saga.

A Flash of genius...

Top marks must be given to DC for keeping the creative teams together for the entirety of the runs on the three major books. Ivan Reis does wonderful work on the main Blackest Night title. His style calls to mind those of classic artists (ignoring the temptation to go for a more modern or “photo-realistic” approach), but adding an incredible level of detail. The entire series hinges on its artists to deliver these incredible visuals (as one would imagine for a series based around a “war of light”) – Reis must be some sort of expert in the minor characters of the DCU, illustrating splash page after splash page of crowds, each looking wonderful and unique (there’s no sign of rushing). I’m particularly fond of his style of illustrating Barry Allen, who – even standing still – is moving so fast he gets blurry.

I also love the artwork by Doug Mahke and Patrick Gleason (who does amazing aliens, fittingly enough in the most cosmic of the three). The event simply wouldn’t have worked half as well without a dedicated team of artist who managed to keep everything ticking over and getting everything out on time. There’s no hasty fill-in work here – and the artwork looks astonishingly consistent. These three books look great.

Shine a light on it...

Of course, Geoff Johns should be proud himself. He has single-handedly crafted the most interesting mega-blockbuster-event comic I have ever read. Sure, there are flaws – but a lot of them seem inherent to the notion of a comic book “event”. Johns keeps his plates spinning well and – more importantly – he never loses sight of his characters in all of this. Somehow I doubt that “dead is dead from here on out”, but that’s outside the author’s control. He’s given us a great comic book saga, and a fitting culmination to half-a-decade of reinvention.

Geoff Johns is the real hero here.

Check out our reviews of Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern

If you’re looking for annotations to Blackest Night – which, by the by, aren’t essential to following it (it’s perfectly comprehensible), just might come in handy – you can do a lot worse than these, which go through each issue (and the tie-ins) page-by-page, identifying obscure characters and references for your reading pleasure. They even have a wonderful character map, which follows various characters through the events and the spinoffs (and suggests a somewhat complicated reading order for those interested).

9 Responses

  1. It really is quite frightening how demented Luthor can be in some of these runs.

    • I’m looking forward to Paul Cornell’s take on the character in Action Comics. Apparently he’s making Lex into a hero. Or, at least, anti-hero.

  2. Hey Darren, what’s your opinion on Alan Scott?

    I’m a nerd, and I have little information on the ccharacter other than he’s the Golden Age Green Lantern (and I assume you’re on the same page).

    For me personally, he sticks out like a sore thumb. None of his mythos was reincorporated into Hal Jordans introduction and now that the Silver Age Green Lantern mythos has been made law by Geoff Johns, he doesn’t really make any sense. A character who is a Green Lantern yet has NO connection in any sense to all the other Green Lanterns or their mythology.

    I like to compare him to Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash. Jay Garrick fits perfectly into the Flash mythos as the inspiration for Barry Allen after he gets super speed.

    (I like Alan Scott’s design though. It screams Golden Age. Though it has too much red and purple for a character named GREEN Lantern).

    • Yep.

      Alan Scott is quite odd, isn’t he? I think because the sixties Green Lantern was such a stronger reboot than the sixties Flash, even allowing for the whole “Jay Garrick originally existed in comics” twist. The origin of Barry Allen was loose enough that you could do something like “the Speed Force” with it and create a larger continuity linking the Golden and Silver Ages. I think that the origin of Hal Jordan is so much more detailed (space cops! galactic struggles! space opera!) and so opposed to the framework that existed around Alan Scott that it’s hard to reconcile.

      I actually kinda like the idea that Brubaker suggested in Made of Wood that Alan Scott probably works better as a Grey Ghost type inspiration for Bruce Wayne than anything to do with Hal Jordan, and I think it’s a good idea to keep him (relatively) separate from the Green Lantern mythos. (Unlike Jay, who seems shared between The Flash and JSA, Alan is more firmly a JSA character.)

  3. Great review! I absolutely adore this series and especially the tie-ins, particularly the “resurrected” series ie suicide squad, the question etc., It was a kind of goofy (in a good way) excuse to bring back some classic series again furthering that wonderful point you made of blackest night serving as an epilogue to the DC Universe. I especially liked the question as it is one of my favorite series of all-time.

    • Thanks Ben. I know it’s fashionable to rag on Geoff Johns, but I do genuinely adore his Green Lantern run. Shame that couldn’t translate to the film.

      • Yeah I know a lot of people give Johns a hard time but I don’t buy into it either. I find it ironic that so many people complain about how untrue to the comics a movie might be and yet one of the chief flaws of the green lantern movie is that it tries to be too true to the comics, like the introduction of parallax, the endless debates of the guardians etc. It’s even more ironic because a lot of the best superhero movies don’t follow the plots of the comics to a tee but instead follow the spirit. In general I think the green lantern movie mistook complex mythology for a compelling world

      • Yep. It’s also one of those superhero movies that tries to do far too much in the space provided. And wastes a pretty awesome cast.

      • I think a better approach would have been to either focus on the training day style plot with Hal and Sinestro, a la first flight, or to keep the space stuff in the background, focusing more on Hal’s relationships with Carol and Hector with some brief mention of the larger universe. The more intimate approach would be unique for a comic reader but the Training Day by way of Star Wars would be more unique to the general public and is more interesting probably, so I wish they had committed more than they did.

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