Or – “They’re Coming To GET You, Barbara Gordon…  They’re COMING!”

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It’s all been building up to this…  For months now, Scar has been moving behind the scenes, manipulating events, even tricking her fellow Guardians into doing her secret bidding, all so that she could surprise them with an EIGHTH Lantern Corps, one that owes more than a little bit to the works of George Romero and certain bits of Haitian lore.  The question is:  If every soldier killed joins the other side, what possible way is there to win the war?

Previously, on Blackest Night: The Guardians of the Universe have not been the most aware caretakers of the world.  Their first police BN2.pngforce, The Manhunters, went insane and killed an entire SPACE SECTOR full of people, and the Green Lantern Corp that followed created such moments as the psychotic martinet called Sinestro, the destruction of Xanshi, and the near-destruction of the universe by one heralded as “The Greatest Green Lantern of All.”  Moreover, the heroes of Earth have had to branch out into UNIVERSAL protection as well, picking up where the blue midgets drop the ball.  This has led, over the years, to many, many, MANY deaths, as well as a general thought process in my mind that somebody on Oa isn’t playing with a full emotional spectrum.  In the last issue of Green Lantern, the final piece was brought into place as Black Hand, former three-time loser, became the first recruit of the Black Lantern Corps by murdering his entire family, then committing suicide.  On panel.  With a facing advertisement that said “mind-blowing.”  Heh.  All of the pieces are finally in place, and the Guardians most feared prophecy, that of the Blackest Night, has arrived.  I wouldn’t expect everyone to make it out in one piece.

Gotham City.  The dead of night.  The newly minted cosmic zombie known as Black Hand stands over an exhumed grave, holding in his hand a skull.  Alas, poor Batman…  We knew him, Rodrigo.  Black Hand takes a disgusting moment to savor his upcoming triumph, licking the skull as a brackish ooze slimes out of his mouth.  “You are connected to them all,” he coos to the headbone of the Bat, and at that precise moment, thousands of black rings burst out of an ebony lantern in the long-dead sector 666, fanning out across the universe in an ever-expanding wave of necrosis.  Meanwhile, in Metropolis, what used to be a day of mourning (the day Doomsday killed Superman) has become a day of quiet honor and memorial.  Everyone celebrates “Dead Superman” day differently, but the Earth-based Green Lanterns (in chronological order:  Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner) do with a group flyby of a festival in the rebuilt Coast City.  Each Lantern thinks of those that they’ve lost and the lives that their rings have cost them, while others choose to observe the day differently.  Clark, Martha and Connor Kent visit the grave of their fallen pater familias.  Martin Stein, Jason Rusch and Gehenna visit the tomb of Ronnie Raymond.  The Titans, the Rogue’s Gallery, the Justice League, the Justice Society, even Mera and Tempest use the day to visit the interment sites of their lost loved ones.  The heroes aren’t the only ones who have experienced loss, however, as Alfred Pennyworth takes a moment to visit the graves of the family that he served for so long, and the unmarked grave of Bruce Wayne.  The unmarked, wide-open, obviously-recently-robbed, grave of Bruce Wayne…

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice…  (Heh.  Ted Knight.)  Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, both having escaped their own bleedin’ demises, catch up on old times, and Hal reveals that the League keeps the bodies of their dead enemies in the basement (that seems like a bad idea) to stop the recent wave of metahuman grave robberies.  Barry insists on knowing who has died, and Hall shows him, with a two-page spread of lots of dead folk.  With horror, Barry recoils at the sight of so many dead, and finally has to sit down when he sees his friends Ralph and Sue Dibny.  Not everyone is able to deal with their dead in a straightforward fashion though, as Hawkman angrily informs the Atom that he will NOT be joining Atom at the grave of his murderous dead wife Jean Loring.  Hawkgirl tries to reason with him, and their conversation comes back to the elephant in the room:  Is she is, or is she ain’t his baby?  Thins aren’t any less conflicted on Oa, as the Guardians decide to move and stop the mysterious black rings, only to have Scar leap on one of her fellows, ripping out his throat with her teeth and tearing out his beating emerald heart.  She imprisons the Guardians in her black goop, as the rins arrive at graves around the universe, causing the dead to rise up and confront their mourners.  At JLA headquarters, a voice tells Hal and Barry “You shouldn’t be back,” as the two men face the body of J’onn J’onnz.  Hawkman and Hawkgirl continue their fight, and at the very moment that Hawkgirl decides to admit that she loves him… SHE IS STABBED THROUGH THE HEART.  A rubberized arm with a mace caves in Carter’s skull, and Black Lantern Ralph Dibny explains to him that she always hated Hawkgirl always hated him.  As Kendra dies, Hawkman swears that he’ll kill the Elongated Corpse, only to be told, “You can’t.”  Ralph rips out Carter’s heart, and two more rings arrive.  “Carter Hall of Earth.  Kendra Saunders of Earth.  RISE.”

Well, that was creepy as all hell.  Given all the previews and build-up, I didn’t honestly expect to be surprised by this issue, but it mostly worked.  The use of Barry as exposition was nicely handled, and the little continuity touches (Dead Superman Day becoming a holiday of sorts, Ralph’s empty skull nasal cavity twitching disgustingly) were well handled.  There were some continuity issues for me, especially as relates the Hawks.  Originally slated to die during Final Crisis, they were saved through editorial caveat, only to be murdered again ON-PANEL here.  It’s almost as if one editor didn’t know what the other editor was doing.  I also found the collection of corpses in the basement of the Hall of Justice to be somewhat suspect, a plot point that they’ve tried to wave away, but one that just doesn’t ring true to me.  On of the the unspoken comics is that nobody is really dead forever, but this series at least admits that fact, featuring the Hawks, Superman, Connor Kent, Bart and Barry Allen, Hal Jordan and other revenants front and center and making their resurrections a part of the overall plot.  The rule used to be that nobody died in comics except the Immortal Man (and he died three times an issue, proving he wasn’t all that bright to begin with) but with so many deaths in recent years at DC, it looks like they’ve been building to this for some time.  It’s a good story, creating a sense of foreboding and dread that makes the inevitable two-page spread of the dead Green Lantern horde worth the wait.  Ivan Reis has a nice, clear art style that still has the ability to be grungy and moldy and gross when it needs to be, making the dead folks look…  well, dead.  Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention one other thing:

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The promotional Black Lantern ring that came with this issue, depending on your location and availability.  Even my status as store back-issue monkey didn’t guarantee me one, but manager Jim still had some left when I picked up my comics, and I got the freebie with my issue.  I’m old enough to remember when they gave away Green Lantern rings and Eclipso diamonds back in the day, but this piece is MUCH superior.  First, it’s natural circumference is such that it fits comfortably on even my chunky-style hands, and I can wear it without discomfort (meaning no “plastic pinch”) on the middle finger where such power trinkets belong.  Most of all, it’s a tough little piece of plastic, unlikely to break immediately like so many comic premiums.  Overall, the experience of this issue was a pleasant one, taking me on a decently handled horror thrill-ride and giving me another unique piece to keep in my collection of esoteric junk.  Blackest Night #1 (and it’s accompanying collectible Black Lantern ring) earn a composite 4 out of 5 stars,  making for a decent start to this summer’s giant crossover whooziwhatsis.  It’s creepy, it’s effective, and most of all, it’s entertaining.  What more can you ask from a zombie comic?

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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39 Comments

  1. Poddington
    July 16, 2009 at 2:26 pm — Reply

    i found it to be a bit “Meh”, although i don’t read much DC so my views are coloured, i’m still getting the rest of the series unless it takes a real dive in quality

  2. July 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm — Reply

    I’m sad my LCS didn’t end up with any of the promo rings :(

    That said, I was onboard with this before now, but after reading issue 1 of this… yeah, it’s definiately has be double-very-onboard.

  3. July 16, 2009 at 2:34 pm — Reply

    This was a great issue. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

  4. Discount Lad
    July 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm — Reply

    Dude, they used to give out Eclipso rings? That’s real boss!

    I hope they give out flight rings for Three Worlds #5

  5. July 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm — Reply

    I have like half a dozen flight rings floating around the house.

    HA! Floating!

    Around!

    HA!

  6. Steven
    July 16, 2009 at 3:09 pm — Reply

    I gotta tell you, I”m not a DC fan. The only stuff I’ve ever liked is anything Loeb/Sale did, some Flash runs, and that’s pretty much it. I picked up this issue for the ring alone and having read all the hype with this event. I loved it. I was reading on another site where they were questioning the state of DC overall and if all DC stuff is like this, they got a new customer. I normally don’t do single issues but do graphic novels instead but I think I need to pick this up each month. Plus the ring looks freaking cool.

  7. Rob
    July 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm — Reply

    I have been waiting for this one like so many others. I wasn’t expecting to be wowed because the hype was so high for it. This issue was OK, I think they did something for shock value but I think it cheapened this issue. Last issue we saw Black Hand sleeping and groping corpses, we get it he likes dead things, so was it really necessary having him lick Bruce’s Skull? I will keep reading this series and the tie ins, just a little disappointed with some of the decisions they made. I just hope they don’t show a bunch of stuff on panel just for the “wow” factor.

  8. DrStrangeCubicle
    July 16, 2009 at 4:05 pm — Reply

    ” also found the collection of corpses in the basement of the Hall of Justice to be somewhat suspect, a plot point that they’ve tried to wave away, but one that just doesn’t ring true to me. ”

    I believe that’s referring to a plotline in Nightwing, actually.

  9. Hardman
    July 16, 2009 at 4:19 pm — Reply

    Blackest Night has been a long time coming now. I had high expectations for the first issue and, for me, it delivered. Can’t wait for the next issue! Awesome stuff. The Black Lantern giveaway rings were a nice touch – shame they don’t have the other rings to give out. It would be nice to get a set that wasn’t $250 from DC Direct. ;)

  10. Big Money B.G.
    July 16, 2009 at 4:42 pm — Reply

    Having to wait god-knows-how-long to actually read this (I live in Southeast Alaska…not known for it’s comic book stores), I’m glad you guys reviewed it so quickly. Granted, I read about a dozen or so other reviews on other sites, but this one’s the one I trust the most.

    That said, thanks for telling me what I already knew…or at least really, really hoped: “Blackest Night” kicks all kinds of ass!

    Zombies are a favorite genre of mine, so I was biased going-in, but Johns & Co. have really mastered making their villains creepy, evil, and disturbing. As far as Black Hand’s actions being nothing but a “shock-value”, totally disagree…it’s called “character development”, and not everyone might have picked-up the last GL issue to see the murder of his family, so yeah…licking Wayne’s skull served as an easy reminder/introduction that Black Hand is friggin’ disgusting and evil. People can be very quick to dismiss something as “shock-value” just because THEY might be shocked about it, or disappointed to see it, but they need to keep in mind this is DC’s big summer event, as and you can see from the other comments, not only are fellow DC Fans checking-out “Blackest Night”, but it’s attracting entirely new fans as well, even Marvelites like myself.

    Kick back and enjoy the ride, I say.

  11. Matt
    July 16, 2009 at 5:42 pm — Reply

    At comic con (new york) I asked Geoff Johns about the possibility of white lanterns bringing an end to the black lanterns. He smiled and said, “no comment”.

  12. Salieri
    July 16, 2009 at 5:46 pm — Reply

    1) You’ll hate me for this. It’s a popular theorem that the Bat-Corpse is not that of New Earth’s Bruce Wayne, but another, shunted into place due to the machinations of Darkseid. Now, given that he was obsessed with killing himself…and given that the Monitor of Earth also died in Final Crisis…

    …Could the corpse be that of the Vampire Batman from Red Rain, restored to a human form in his death?

    2) I’m surprised no-one has yet commented on the metaphorical/fictional nature of the story. Death is the BL’s substitute for emotions, right? Well, notice how having Death as your power source sort of makes you far more efficient and competent. Additionally, there’s a double meaning in that implication that the spew of character deaths that haunt recent DC stories are largely due to emotions warring with each other…

  13. Ricco
    July 16, 2009 at 6:50 pm — Reply

    I expected alot and saw many plot points coming a mile away but I was still surprised. I had theorised that the rings would serve as life drainners and the living as power batteries but they made it so it’s emotions they feed on, cool twist, specialy since the black lanterns see in emotional colors. Which also means we haven’t even seen what they can do yet, since none had a powered ring yet.

    I really liked how in the graveyard scenes we see flowers whiter, dead plants or dead fish.

    One thing that bugs me, we still don’t really know how or when Bart and Conner came back, miracle machine? “Insert Brainiac 5 invention here”? Cab? Click heels 3 ties then said: “There is no place like home”?

    As for how the heores can win, when fighting magical zombies you don’t send your forces to fight them head on (your dead will increase it’s ranks) you send a small squad to take out the necromancer which summoned them. The thing is we don’t know who it is yet, we know it’s not the Anti-monitor since he seemed surprised when he was caught in the Black Lantern’s main power battery and it’s not Scar since he/she/shklim tkaes order from someone else.

    P.S.- I hope it’s Bruce’s corpse and not one from a different dimension, it would take away all the emotional drama of the bat-family fighting and re-killing him.

  14. July 16, 2009 at 8:22 pm — Reply

    As for how the heores can win, when fighting magical zombies you don’t send your forces to fight them head on (your dead will increase it’s ranks) you send a small squad to take out the necromancer which summoned them. The thing is we don’t know who it is yet, we know it’s not the Anti-monitor since he seemed surprised when he was caught in the Black Lantern’s main power battery and it’s not Scar since he/she/shklim tkaes order from someone else.

    Think old-school Green Lantern… Saaaay, Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #2 from 1980 or thereabouts?

    What’s the Latin word for Death again?

  15. Lee Goldberg
    July 16, 2009 at 8:34 pm — Reply

    Speaking of the anti-monitor, since he is technically dead, do you think we’ll see (gasp) Black Lantern Anti-Monitor?

  16. Ricco
    July 16, 2009 at 8:59 pm — Reply

    @Matthew: You’re a genius! It does seem it’s Nekron (he can raise the dead with power rings fulled by death), I had no idea he existed, he’s literaly from before my time (I wasn’t born when he first appeared).

  17. eric
    July 16, 2009 at 9:15 pm — Reply

    As most of the time, I will wait for the trade.

  18. July 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm — Reply

    I had no idea he existed, he’s literaly from before my time (I wasn’t born when he first appeared).

    And now, I’m going to go drink.

    A lot.

  19. July 16, 2009 at 9:46 pm — Reply

    Well, that was one way to deal with the Hawk-couples continuity issues. I have to say I was surprised that they used the first issue to kill off two major characters.

    I’m also curious why so much attention has been given to Ronnie Raymond over the past few months — I was under the impression that he hadn’t been a major player between the disbanding of the JLA and his death. I assume that “big plans” are in store for BL Firestorm? (Although, what can he do if Prof. Stein is still alive — or is that what makes his BL character so interesting?)

    Oh, and it surely is interesting that the Guardians, who have been around for billions of years, just happened to number the “death quadrant” 666 — are we to believe that John the Revelator was somehow being inspired not by God but by the Oans? Was Jesus the first Green Lantern? (or was he Indigo or Blue?)

  20. Ricco
    July 16, 2009 at 10:34 pm — Reply

    Ronnie Raymond will likely kill Stein, power his ring with his heart, recruit him into the black lanterns and finaly recreate an undead Firestorm.

    Keep in mind that Firestorm can re-arrange molecules and atoms, so turning all the air in the planet to poison or blowing up the sun is within is power.

    Think angry God with no conscience, I foresee the current Firestorm having to race to undo what BL Firestorm does before he kills everything in sight. Which basically puts one of the most powerfull heroes out of game, solid move for the bad guys!

    @Matthew: you’re not old, you’re wise.

  21. July 17, 2009 at 12:44 am — Reply

    Ok, so when BL Ralph and Sue killed the Hawks, they ripped out their hearts. Then, a Ring Voice announced power levels going up .02 percent. Then Someone’s voice [possibly Black Hand’s] told them to rise.

    So, like the Orange Lanterns, each victim becomes a recruit.

    With each new kill, the Black Lantern’s power levels rise. But which one? Is this the main power battery in Sector 666? And what happens when the level reaches 100? It seems the goal of the Black Lanterns is to kill…everything.

    Finally, do the Black rings have any powers other than reanimation?

    • July 17, 2009 at 9:13 am — Reply

      Finally, do the Black rings have any powers other than reanimation?

      Probably… But given the psychological edge of raising the dead, we may not see them for a while.

  22. Salieri
    July 17, 2009 at 1:28 am — Reply

    When the level reaches 100, the Black Lantern rises.

  23. Sanlear
    July 17, 2009 at 7:13 am — Reply

    I loved it. An event that lives up the hype. Who woulda thunk it? :)

  24. Sanlear
    July 17, 2009 at 8:46 am — Reply

    Y’know what I’d really like to see get resurrected…..more Legion Hero Profiles!! Saturn Girl was 4 months ago!

    Sorry, Matthew. Couldn’t resist. :)

  25. July 17, 2009 at 8:57 am — Reply

    @Sanlear:

    And aren’t they only one profile away from being finished? I think Rokk’s the only one left to cover….

  26. July 17, 2009 at 9:02 am — Reply

    Y’know what I’d really like to see get resurrected…..more Legion Hero Profiles!! Saturn Girl was 4 months ago!

    And aren’t they only one profile away from being finished? I think Rokk’s the only one left to cover….

    Heh. I probably deserved that…

    But, be not afraid, young Jedi, for more of the future is on it’s way, and certain… shall we say… adjustments have had to be made. And by MY count, there are more than 2 Legionnaires left to go, eh?

  27. Brother129
    July 17, 2009 at 9:31 am — Reply

    I thought I posted this question already…but can someone explain to me if I’m right in assuming that we learn the full story of Connor’s and Bart’s resurrections in FC: Legion of Three Worlds?

  28. Katzedecimal
    July 17, 2009 at 11:10 am — Reply

    @Brother129:

    It is correct that we learn how Bart (and I think Conner as well, haven’t got the issues in front of me) is restored to life, in the pages of FC: LOTW. However, we still don’t know how they got back to the 20th Century, because DC started up Flash: Rebirth and Blackest Night before FC: LOTW has finished.

  29. Ricco
    July 17, 2009 at 11:39 am — Reply

    Bart was resurrected bia the classic Legion lighting rod and Conner with the same deviced that regenerated Superman after Doomsday killed him, but since he’s only half Kryptonian it took 1000 years and fresh DNA from Luthor to fully bring him back to life.

  30. July 17, 2009 at 12:14 pm — Reply

    Matthew — I don’t know how many Legionnaires there are left to Hero-Historicize, but it was my understanding that you had saved the 3 founders for last. Hence I believed Rokk was the only one left to do. Unless you’re referring to Tom Welling, for whom I have little interest. (I always preferred the Legion as a stand-alone group, although I’m now starting to realize their importance in making Supes the super-heroiest superhero of the group.)

  31. Hat of Tim
    July 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm — Reply

    After reading GL # 43, just had to pick this issue up…and I wasn’t disappointed. Excellent stuff.

    However, somethings been bugging me about the premise for this series. If DC keep killing & then resurrecting all of their characters, doesn’t this just make death in comics a bit redundant? I mean, shocking that they’d kill off major characters, as evidenced in the Hawks deaths in this issue, but won’t they just get brought back at some later point, thus rendering this a bit pointless? Espcially Hawkman, who just seems to keep coming back, albeit reincarnated rather than resurrected.

    And didn’t this plot get used in the Legion a few years back with Mordru bringing back loads of dead Legionnaires? And also bringing back any that fell in battle against them to join their ranks? In Legion of Super-Heroes #’s 44-48 back in 1993 to be precise…perhaps the Bierbaums should ask for a plot credit!

    Don’t get me wrong…I still liked this issue, both writing & art-wise, but it just seemed to me that I’d seen this all before! Or maybe there’s only so many ways you can re-mix the old dead-heroes-return-as-zombies plot!

  32. Ricco
    July 17, 2009 at 3:58 pm — Reply

    Technicaly speaking every possible storyline has already been done before by somoene else, be it in other comic books, literature or theater. Every story is simply a variation of a theme that’s already been explored, it’s the execution that makes each story “unique” if not original.

  33. Salieri
    July 18, 2009 at 5:44 pm — Reply

    H & T: that’s just it. The whole point of this series as a DCU arc is to put a, aheh, Moratorium on the gratuitous deaths that plague DC comics. Just as DC editorial had Morrison clearly show Bruce Wayne alive at the end of Final Crisis – clearly showing respect for their readers by not presuming they’d take “Batman Is Dead” for granted and allowing them to see where the Bat-franchise went in future – so is there an unspoken gurantee that a large number of people will make it out alive or resurrected when this is over, and there will be very few deaths for the sake of deaths afterwards – after all, the be-all-and-end-all of death stories will have been done by then.

    This is a far more intelligent and reader-friendly way of dealing with things than, say, Marvel’s recent cock-tease approach -“Yeah, Captain America is dead, no question, this is an ULTRA-REALISTIC, mature death…(Holy Crap, DC brought back Barry Allen? And pretend-killed Batman so as to bring him back dramatically and re-stimulate the franchise? And they’re using the words ‘Rebirth’ and ‘Reborn’?)…NOT! Ha, you really expected change and progress? Our magic bullets say different…”

  34. Sanlear
    July 19, 2009 at 10:01 pm — Reply

    “But, be not afraid, young Jedi, for more of the future is on it’s way, and certain… shall we say… adjustments have had to be made. And by MY count, there are more than 2 Legionnaires left to go, eh?””

    Very glad to hear it. Thank you, sir!

  35. Hat of Tim
    July 20, 2009 at 1:35 pm — Reply

    Salieri, it’s just me being an old cynic (emphasis on the old here!)…

    DC, and indeed Marvel, must be running out of “events” to clog up the summer with each year. Maybe next year’s event will be that there won’t be an event! Maybe they’ll leave things the same for awhile…aw, who am I kidding! Where there’s events, there’s dollars (or pounds, being as I’m in the UK)!

    Still, it’ll be interesting to be along for the ride on Blackest Night, purely to see where they go with it…

  36. July 20, 2009 at 9:30 pm — Reply

    It just occurred to me that given the way they have RALPH DIBNY kill Hawkman, we’ve finally got a vehicle in which Marvin and Wendy–the now deceased Wonder Twins–could be serious threats to the heroes of the DCU.

    How long do you think before Herr Black Hand raises the Twins from the dead???

    • July 20, 2009 at 9:38 pm — Reply

      It just occurred to me that given the way they have RALPH DIBNY kill Hawkman, we’ve finally got a vehicle in which Marvin and Wendy–the now deceased Wonder Twins–could be serious threats to the heroes of the DCU.

      Marvin and Wendy weren’t the Wonder Twins. Zann and Jayna, the alien kids, were the Wonder Twins, and they’re extant, if extremely obscure, in the DCU to my knowledge. Marvin died in Teen Titans, but last I heard Wendy was in a coma.

      • July 20, 2009 at 9:40 pm — Reply

        Wendy is no longer in a coma, although Marvin is still dead.

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