Or – “They’re Coming To GET You, Barbara Gordon…Â They’re COMING!”
It’s all been building up to this…Â 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.Â The question is:Â 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.Â Their first police force, 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.”Â Moreover, the heroes of Earth have had to branch out into UNIVERSAL protection as well, picking up where the blue midgets drop the ball.Â 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.Â In the last issue of Green Lantern, the final piece was brought into place as Black Hand,Â former three-time loser, became the first recruit of the Black Lantern Corps by murdering his entire family, then committing suicide.Â On panel.Â With a facing advertisement that said “mind-blowing.”Â Heh.Â All of the pieces are finally in place, and the Guardians most feared prophecy, that of the Blackest Night, has arrived.Â I wouldn’t expect everyone to make it out in one piece.
Gotham City.Â The dead of night.Â The newly minted cosmic zombie knownÂ as Black Hand stands over an exhumed grave, holding in his hand a skull.Â Alas, poor Batman…Â We knew him, Rodrigo.Â Black HandÂ takes a disgusting moment toÂ savor his upcoming triumph, lickingÂ the skull as a brackish ooze slimes out of his mouth.Â “You are connected to them all,” he coos to the headbone of the Bat, and atÂ 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.Â Meanwhile, in Metropolis, whatÂ used to beÂ a day of mourning (the day Doomsday killed Superman)Â has become a day of quiet honor and memorial.Â Everyone celebrates “Dead Superman” day differently, but the Earth-based Green Lanterns (in chronological order:Â Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner) doÂ with a group flyby ofÂ aÂ festival in the rebuilt Coast City.Â 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.Â Clark, Martha and Connor Kent visit the grave of their fallen pater familias.Â Martin Stein, Jason Rusch and Gehenna visit the tomb of Ronnie Raymond.Â 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.Â 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.Â The unmarked, wide-open, obviously-recently-robbed, grave of Bruce Wayne…
Meanwhile,Â at the Hall of Justice…Â (Heh.Â Ted Knight.)Â Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, both having escapedÂ 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.Â Barry insists on knowing who has died, and Hall shows him, with a two-page spread of lots of dead folk.Â 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.Â 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.Â Hawkgirl tries to reason with him, and their conversation comes back to the elephant in the room:Â Is she is, or is she ain’t his baby?Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â As Kendra dies, Hawkman swears that he’ll kill the Elongated Corpse, only to be told, “You can’t.”Â Ralph rips out Carter’s heart, and two more rings arrive.Â “Carter Hall of Earth.Â Kendra Saunders of Earth.Â RISE.”
Well, that was creepy as all hell.Â Given all the previews and build-up, I didn’t honestly expect to be surprised by this issue, but it mostly worked.Â 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.Â There were some continuity issues for me, especially as relates the Hawks.Â Originally slated to die during Final Crisis, they were saved through editorial caveat, only to be murdered again ON-PANEL here.Â It’s almost as if one editor didn’t know what the other editor was doing.Â 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.Â On of the the unspoken comics is that nobody is really dead forever, but this series at least admits thatÂ 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.Â The rule used to be that nobody died in comics except the Immortal Man (and he died three times an issue, provingÂ 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.Â It’s a good story, creating a sense of foreboding and dread that makes the inevitable two-page spread of the dead Green Lantern hordeÂ worth the wait.Â 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…Â well, dead.Â Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention one other thing:
The promotional Black Lantern ring that came with this issue, depending on your location and availability.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â Most of all, it’s a tough little piece of plastic, unlikely to break immediately like so many comic premiums.Â 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.Â Blackest Night #1 (andÂ it’s accompanyingÂ collectible Black Lantern ring) earn a composite 4 out of 5 stars,Â making for a decent start to this summer’s giant crossover whooziwhatsis.Â It’s creepy, it’s effective, and most of all, it’sÂ entertaining.Â What more can you ask from a zombie comic?