Books Of Oa: Blackest Night Black Lantern Corps Volume One

Blackest Night Black Lantern Corps Volume One (DC)
Written by Peter J. Tomasi, James Robinson & J.T.Krul, drawn by Ardian Syaf, Eddy Barrows, Allan Goldman & Ed Benes
Collects Blackest Night: Batman #1-3, Blackest Night: Superman #1-3 & Blackest Night: Titans #1-3

After putting quite a distance between re-reading the three main Blackest Night collections, I finally went back to check out the Blackest Night miniseries’ collected in the pages of this trade. The reason I skipped it back then was because, first off, I had just read a TON of Green Lantern comics and wanted a break, but I also didn’t really have fond memories of these tie-ins from when they originally came out.

I was less critical this time around, but I think a big part of that is that I got this trade in a Swap. I think there’s a big factor that comes in to play when you pay for something and how you wind up feeling about it. I’m more forgiving when I get something for free or super cheap.

Anyway, this book collects three BN minis that basically zero in on specific groups of characters as they experience the Black Lanterns using their dead loved ones against them basically instead of doing in-series tie-ins. This makes sense when you remember that Grant Morrison was doing his Batman thing, the whole New Krypton thing was happening in the many, many Superman books and, well, I have no recollection of what was going on with Titans, that book got BAD.

I don’t want to get too far into the details of the stories. Basically, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake’s parents come back in the Batman one, Superman and Supergirl’s dads return in the Superman one and pretty much every dead Titan pops up in the last one. The basic idea is the same: how do these heroes deal with the idea that their loved ones are back and wicked mean. Here’s the problem with the series’ though: they are completely unimportant to the larger story and wind up all being, essentially, the same story. Hero’s doing their thing, encounters a Black Lantern, wants to save deceased loved on, realizes they can’t and eventually comes up with some last ditch way of getting rid of them. It would have been fantastic if the methods used in these books wound up being important in the main series but as far as I remember that wasn’t the case.

I understand that you can’t ignore what Superman or Batman were doing during a gigantic event like this, but the real question I have — and it’s a bad one to be left with after reading a trades — is, what’s the point? For some, it’s enough to just see how those characters responded given the situation and from a very specific period of time for each of them. But, from a larger story point of view, there really is no need for any of these three miniseries’ to exist, unless you just want to see Donna Troy feel bad. Speaking of which, I know Krul came under fire for knocking off Red Arrow’s daughter, but the way he throws Donna Troy’s dead husband and baby at her is also pretty cruel. No thanks.

Books Of Oa: Blackest Night, Blackest Night Green Lantern & Blackest Night Green Lantern Corps

BLACKEST NIGHT (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Ivan Reis
Collects Blackest Night #0-8, Blackest Night Director’s Cut #1
Here’s the thing about events. Even when it makes sense for the events of the event to have an effect on the greater universe (zombies infesting the universe, the government wants to register superheros) that doesn’t always mean it works out from a story perspective to tie into the greater universe. For instance, Blackest Night brought the dead back to life in nearly every DC comic book of the time, but that didn’t really mean anything. Even the ones who had a way to get rid of the Black Lanterns didn’t play into the greater story (for the most part) so what’s the point? There were also a ton of tie-in miniseries showing what Blackest Night did to people like Batman or Superman. Some of these stories seemed to be spawned from brief moments in the greater story (like what happens to poor Damage) but others wound up being pointless (Wonder Woman spent time in a stasis field imagining three issues worth of nonsense). The only reason I bring all this is up is to preface this review by saying that I didn’t bother with any of that stuff on this second reading of Blackest Night. I know the tie-ins really bogged the greater story down for a lot of people which is pretty much a rookie move as far as I’m concerned, but what are you gonna do? I was really looking forward to sitting down and reading this story in a pretty short period of time.

I kicked around the idea of reading each of these three books on their own, but I wound up following this list I found online: Green Lantern #43, Blackest Night #0, BN #1, GLC #39, GL #44, BN #2, GL #45, GLC #40, BN #3, GL #46, GLC #41, GL #47, BN #4, GLC #42, GL #48, BN #5, GLC #43, GL #49, BN #6, GLC #44, GL #50, GL #51, GLC #45, BN #7, GLC #46, GL #52, BN #8 and GLC #47. Bouncing around from book to book was kind of a pain in the ass, but I think it really helped with the story. As it turns out the Green Lantern issues tie in very heavily with Blackest Night while Green Lantern Corps deals with the rising of the dead in space (the main story takes place mostly on Earth). While I think the GLC stuff can be read closer together if you feel the need, I’d probably stick to this reading order next time around too.

BLACKEST NIGHT: GREEN LANTERN (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Doug Mahnke, Ed Benes and Marcos Marz
Collects Green Lantern #43-52
So, to run down the basics of the story, the Black Lantern rings spread across the universe attaching themselves to the fingers of dead people, many of whom have a special connection to Earth-bound superheroes and Green Lantern Corps members. As someone puts it at some point in the series (I didn’t take notes, but I remember the deets pretty well, it was either Flash or Atom) the ring wears the corpse instead of the other way around. It can access their memories and use them to make their victims feel one of the emotions on the spectrum. The more they feel the brighter their auras get and once they’re bright or charged enough, the Black Lantern grabs their heart and consumes it. The first time I read all this, I had several questions. Why are they only going after heroes? Why is so much of the story based on Earth? What is the deal with these freaking Black Lanterns? All gets explained by the end.

The story centers around, of course, Hal Jordan and his pal and Johns favorite Barry Allen but also brings all of the other Lantern corps into play in a gigantic war at the very end that results in the deputization of several heroes and a few villains into the different corps. It’s cool on a fan boy level and makes sense on a larger level. Lex Luthor WOULD get a greed-based ring, Scarecrow (who we saw almost get a Sinestro Corps ring earlier in the series) WOULD get a fear-based ring. It’s all great.

As it turns out, the reason all this stuff happens on Earth is because it acts as a shell for something called The Entity which started all life in the universe (which we get treated to during the story, along with the birth of all the emotions on the spectrum). A lot of these details and explanations were hard for me to keep track of when these issues were coming out. Like I’ve said before, I would try and read them so voraciously, that I’m sure I missed elements and even forgot some of the questions I had. I was also distracted by the various deaths throughout the series, many of which were made better by the fact that 12 heroes and villains were able to rise from the dead without the use of the Black Lantern ring.

BLACKEST NIGHT: GREEN LANTERN CORPS (DC)
Written by Peter J. Tomasi, drawn by Patrick Gleason
Collects Green Lantern Corps #39-47
There’s lots of geekiness in these books that I enjoyed as well. John Stewart deals with the death of Xanshi, the planet he was supposed to watch, Flash telling Mera and The Atom they’re the new Wonder Woman and Superman, the fact that some fairly low level characters got to be the major players, that Nekron explained how every resurrected superhero was really a way for him to weaken this reality allowing him to make his move on Earth and the Entity (he basically wants to kill all life) and that kick off issue with Black Hand is creepily amazing. The splash pages in this book are worth writing home about too, especially towards the end. Seeing Hal working with Sinestro, Carol Ferris as a Star Sapphire and Atrocitus was also a really fun dynamic too.

I have friends who had lots of problems with this story, though I’m not sure if they’ve read everything together and still have their complaints. After finishing it this second time around in a much shorter time period than the first go around, I’m really impressed with the greater story, especially how it intertwined itself with Green Lantern. I’m sure you could read Blackest Night without reading Green Lantern, but it would be nowhere near a complete story.

Well, this will be the last Books Of Oa for a while. I’ve got a few other in mind that I’ll get to and have a plan to get some of my Kyle Rayner era comics bound in the near future, so I’m sure I’ll write about those in due time. Right now I’m looking forward to reading some less dense comics, but have had an awesome time going back and reading six years worth of comics.

A Blackest Night Theory

First off, apologies to all of you non-comic readers, but Blackest Night is a pretty big deal story in the DC Universe (that’s Superman and Batman, not Spider-Man and X-Men) focusing on the Green Lantern Corps. The story’s been building for years and the Blackest Night story itself focuses on the Black Lanterns, an evil group of zombies made up of dead characters from the DCU.

Tales of the Green Lantern Corps TPB

Okay, assuming all the non comic fans have probably dozed off, I’m going to get into the nitty gritty. DC recently released a trade called Tales of the Green Lantern Corps that reprints a three issue miniseries of the same name from the 80s (I believe), along with some back-ups starring individual GLs from throughout the cosmos. It also sports a rad re-painted Brian Bolland cover.

Assembled GLC

Well, the main story not only feels like a possible inspiration for Geoff Johns’ wide-sweeping epic, as the entire GLC gets together to face a potentially galaxy shattering event, but elements of it seem like they could potentially play into Blackest Night. I’m not saying that that Johns stole from this story at all, so don’t think that’s the point of this. It’s been clear in Johns’ JSA, GL and Superman books that he’s a big, big fan of DC’s history so I’m guessing he’s at least read this story and might refer back to it. Also, it’s possible that DC put this trade out to get people ready for a story that Johns will be referencing (kind of like when they released that Jimmy Olsen trade around the time of Countdown).

KronaNekron

Anyway, on to my point. The book’s main threats are Krona and Nekron. Krona was a member of the Guardians’ race before they became the Guardians. He was obsessed with seeing the beginning of the universe and actually created the big bang and, I believe unleashed evil into the universe. As punishment he was turned into energy (because he, like the Guardians are immortal, and, in theory, can’t be killed) and sent to travel the universe. After some shenanigans Krona eventually reached the end of the universe where he found himself in Nekron’s death dimension. Nekron’s a pretty powerful dude because, at the end of the universe, everyone’s dead, so he leads everyone.

Guardians vs. Nekron

The thing is, Nekron doesn’t want to only be in charge of the dead, he wants to be in the regular world. So, he gives Krona physical form and some henchmonsters to wage war on the regular universe, focusing on killing Guardians because, when an immortal dies, it opens the rift between dimensions.

Nekron Explains

There’s a battle and all that, and, surprise, the good guys win, but only after the bad guys show some of the GLs images of their dead relatives asking them to join the realm of the dead. Once everything’s cool, they celebrate like true players, drinking from GL goblets! So, this leads me to my theory. I’m guessing that Nekron and or Krona will play some kind of part in Blackest Night. I guess that’s not much of a theory, but there you go. We’ve seen that Scar will probably be/is the Guardian of the Black Lanterns who seem to be lead (at least for now) by Black Hand (as seen in this awesome piece of art by Doug Mahnke from the Free Comic Book Day giveaway Blackest Night #0) and they all have something to do with the Anti-Monitor’s corpse. Obviously already connected to death and considering how Johns brought up the Controllers when it came to Agent Orance, it would not surprise me if Nekron was the driving force behind the Black Lanterns.

Oan Pimp Cups

So, there you have it. I haven’t seen this theory anywhere yet online, but I haven’t looked too too hard. Maybe I’m onto something here. What do you think?

(Sorry for the crummy scans, this is my first big image post in a while. And of course, all the images are copyright and trademarked to DC Comics.)