Or – “What The Corinthian Was Meant To Be…”

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In a memorable passage from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Morpheus remarked that a particular image inspired his creation of the nightmare known as the Corinthian.  “A nightmare created to be the darkness, and the fear of darkness in every human heart. A black mirror, made to reflect everything about itself that humanity will not confront.”  Whoever or whatever is behind this Black Lantern Corps, they obviously have similar intent in mind for the heroes of the DC Universe.  So, how do you defeat a foe who wins a fight to the death regardless of who actually dies?

BN2.jpgPreviously, on Blackest Night: Thanks to the actions of rogue Guardian Scar, and the villainous Black Hand, hundreds of thousands of black power rings are sweeping the universe searching for corpses to animate, the better to torture their surviving loved ones with.  The first wave of the attack revived Elongated Man and his beloved wife Sue, who murdered Hawkman and Hawkgirl to recruit THEM to their Corps.  The fallen Martian Manhunter arrived to confront his former pals Flash and Green Lantern, who were mobilized to the grave of the fallen Batman to find that someone (Black Hand) had stolen his headbone.  Most distressing, however, might be the reanimation of all the fallen Green Lanterns in the Lantern Crypt on Oa, as well as the buzzing swarm of rings in the remains of the dead planet Xanshi.  And, what, exactly, are the Black Lantern rings charging up to?  Better hide in the basement until we’re sure what’s going on, and for Pete’s sake don’t try and shoot the lock off the gas pumps during your escape attempt…

We open in St. Roch, in the home of Carter Hall, the scene of an obvious recent struggle.  Blood and feathers are strewn about, and shattered antiquities litter the floor, as the phone repeatedly rings and tings and rings in the background.  At the other end of the line, Ray Palmer tries desperately to reach his friend.  He is relieved when the phone is answered, and so doesn’t even notice how strange Hawkman sounds.  “Come on over, Ray,” croaks Carter, “Let’s talk.”  That will end badly, mark my words.  In Gotham City, Commissioner Gordon and his daughter Barbara wait on a rooftop, commenting on how dark it seems on this particular night.  Barbara tries to calm her dad down, but their conversation is interrupted  by the arrival of Green Lantern, who is thrown through the Bat-signal, smashing it’s soothing light.  Near a lighthouse in New England, the new king of Atlantis  (Tempest, the former Aqualad) and Queen Mera arrive at the interrment site of Aquaman, preparing to move their king’s remains to Atlantis, only to find said remains walking around and ready to rip out a few hearts.  In the most horrifying moment of the issue (and that’s saying something) Boston Brand, aka Deadman, is lying on his own grave desperately trying to stop his body from rising and animating.  “I don’t WANT to come back,” he says, but his skeletal remains have their own ideas, bursting from the earth and flying away.

At the grave of Hank and Don Hall, a ring hovers, and for the first time we see that not ALL the dead will be coming back.  “Don Hall of Earth at peace,” reports the ring, as Don’s brother’s hand rips forth from the Earth.  “Same old, same old, huh Bro?” comes a voice from the ground.  “Hawk’s gotta do all the dirty work HIMSELF.”  That’s an interesting new wrinkle.  Back at Mercy Reef, Aquaman summons the bodies of Dolphin and Aquagirl to fight Tempest, and brings a squadron of zombie sharks to rip apart the Atlantean troops.  Bad turns to worse, as the Shadowpact investigates the resurrection of Boston Brand with the assistance of the Spectre, when Black Hand arrives and uses a ring to POSSESS THE SPECTRE HIMSELF.  The Spirit of Vengeance suddenly demands that it wants former host Hal Jordan back, and heads off into the world.  Tempest and Mera fight off their lost loves, and an important question gets answered when Dolphin’s head is frozen and shattered in battle:  She grows it right back. Aquagirl tears out her former lovers heart, and Tempest is welcoming into the Black Lantern Corps alongside his mentor and girlfriends.  “Power Levels 3.43%,” announces Black Hand’s ring as the former Aqualad rises.  Mera flees, while Flash and Green Lantern put the clues together and figure that two Justice Leaguers graves being disturbed can’t be coincidence, but their math is off.  “I gave my HEART to the League,” snarls the zombified remains of J’onn Jonzz, accompanied by Firestorm, Elongated Man, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the Black Lantern Justice League.  (I could have sworn there were more dead Leaguers out there…)

This issue is as effective as #1 was in creating an air of menace and horror, and captures the whole “Monkey’s Paw” moment of a dead loved one returning to rip out your heart perfectly.  The scene with the Atom (who, by the way, doesn’t appear with the League at the end, making me wonder if they ate him or something) is skin-crawling, and even the bravado of Green Lantern can’t overcome the feeling of oppression and impending doom created here.  I was slightly less enchanted with the art this issue, but it’s still a good job, and the moment where Black Lantern Aquaman raises the dead sharks is purely shocking.  I wasn’t expecting the body count to continue rising with this issue, and I’m a little concerned over what happens after the series is over.  I hope it’s not one of those “Kill the head vampire” moments where Garth, Hawkman and company just revert to normal because of the Worcestershire sauce helpline.  Either way, this issue is once again an example of event writing done right, using the history of the DC Universe to evoke some real displeasure about the return of beloved characters, and giving us something truly frightening and well-done.  Blackest Night #2 earns 4.5 out of 5 stars overall, and makes me fear for our heroes in this brave new (dead) world.

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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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22 Comments

  1. typhoidhater
    August 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm — Reply

    Nice South Park reference.

  2. Navarre
    August 13, 2009 at 3:03 pm — Reply

    Sure sounds like it’s full of awesome. Too bad I can’t afford any more comics right now.

    I just saw Tempest over in Titans. Hadn’t seen him for a long time…and he died? wow

    Possessing the Spectre?!? Holy crap

    The Deadman scene is deep.

    yes…full of awesome.

  3. Ed
    August 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm — Reply

    I loved it. I am really getting into the series, which I was hoping for after Final Crisis. We are getting the feeling that the good guys might now win. I also read Darkest Night Batman last night, and it was so cool. The Tales of the Corps series, was not great and I was hoping the other minis would be better, and so far they look like they are. I agree with 4.5 out of 5. Lets keep the ball rolling.

  4. Ricco
    August 13, 2009 at 3:16 pm — Reply

    It seems that the classic “aim for the head” will have to change for “aim for the ring finger/hand/arm”
    After seeing the last pic with the BL League, I asked myself: is a microscopic zombie Atom flying around somewhere we can’t see? I think the Spectre will have to take a living host(has he ever?), since it’s Crispus Allen and not the Spectre itself that the ring controls. And just what happened to Gehena, Jason and the doc?

    P.S.- South Park ref? I missed that one, I did get the Night of the Living Dead one thou.

  5. websnap
    August 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm — Reply

    it was a great issue, I really liked WIlliam Hand’s “diary” at the end. The dead man scene is further explored in Blackest night: Batman. Also very good.

  6. Josh P.
    August 13, 2009 at 6:40 pm — Reply

    I have a feeling that all the dead will be resurrected by the end of Blackest Night. What will then probably happen is anyone who dies afterwards stays dead. Blackest Night opens the door one last time and then slams it shut.

    If this doesn’t happen, they really screwed up a lot of characters…

  7. Ricco
    August 13, 2009 at 7:00 pm — Reply

    I think those who die will stay dead after Blackest Night, except the Hawks for obvious reasons, the only real reason I have is that the Blackest Night prophecy includes the death of Mogo and that Mogo is dead in the Legion of 3 Worlds. So if the dead would be brought back he’d still be around in the futur, after all planets don’t really die of old age.

    Plus no one worth mentioning has died so far, except the Hawks for the hundredth time.

  8. August 13, 2009 at 7:53 pm — Reply

    I hope that DC eventually collect the Geoff Johns Green Lantern trilogy into a big compendium edition down the road once Blackest Night is over

  9. Brother129
    August 13, 2009 at 7:53 pm — Reply

    Um…didn’t Aqualad die in this issue? And the first Firestorm was Ronnie Raymond……..

  10. ~wyntermute~
    August 13, 2009 at 8:14 pm — Reply

    Aqualad = Tempest.

  11. eric
    August 13, 2009 at 8:46 pm — Reply

    Will love the trades when they come out.

  12. August 13, 2009 at 10:00 pm — Reply

    Will love the trades when they come out.

    If enough people take this view, there won’t be any trades because the issues will stop selling. :)

  13. eric
    August 13, 2009 at 10:10 pm — Reply

    I dont think that will be an issue of enough people taking that view and the issues stop selling. There are too many people out there that want every issue. I had that attitude about 52 And Countdown and DC burned me. That bad taste left in my mouth makes me realize that I can wait. I also save money by buy trades and enjoy the issues more by being able to read a whole story without having to wait months and months for each issue. The companies need to have more people take this attitude and they will give us better stories, issues, art, and quality without trying to bleed their consumers out of all their money. That is why issues stop selling. If I could get quality like that then I would not have stopped collecting Teen Titans or I would be a Marvel Fan. Who can even be a Batman or Xmen fan and follow a story when one has to get 5-10 titles to keep up with a series. It is too much money. Who has it? TRADES LIVE FOREVER. HELL, the companies still getting moeny out of me. If they made more quality stuff then there would be more readers and they would not have to jack their prices up more all the time. DC has done one thing correct of late and started putting back up stories in their books. They know that a stand alone series is not going to succeed with some of these characters so why not kill two birds with one stone. I give DC their props for that instead of having to make hundreds of series that sell half way and then get a fan base and cancel after 15 issues. LONG LIVE TRADES and I encourage all others to look into them also.

  14. August 13, 2009 at 11:05 pm — Reply

    I was burned by DC and Marvel as well, Eric. Stepped away from comics for over a year primarily after reading the issue where they killed Martian Manhunter. Trades are alright,I buy them often, but as Matthew said, stop buying individual issue and go for only trades and there will be nothing to put the trades out on. Trust me, no one had a mad on at the big two more than I did. Now I am back and testing the water.

    On that note….. ahem…
    (prepares for best ranting Doctor Doom impersonation)
    DAMN YOU MATTHEW PETERSON! DAMN YOU AND YOUR WELL WRITTEN AND INFORMATIVE REVIEWS! I had stayed away from all the Blackest Night stuff, and most of the main stream DCU, I refused to get sucked back in, but NO! I just had to read this review, the first GL review I allowed myself to read in a LONG time!

    I walked out of the shop today with Blackest Night #2, Blackest Night #1 and the Free Comic Day Blackest Night #0. ;-)

    Not spectacular, but once I decided to read it as a horror/zombie flick, it was satisfying. Looking forward to hunting down the prelude stuff soon.

    Thanks Matthew, I salute you for a job well done!

  15. Jim
    August 13, 2009 at 11:11 pm — Reply

    I noticed the golden age Atom (of the JSA) rise, which begs the questions what powers do un-dead heroes have when they didn’t have any powers in the first place?

  16. August 14, 2009 at 12:04 am — Reply

    RE: Jim, It seems they have standard Zombie-Powers i.e invulnerability and standard Ring-powers like flight and force beams.

    So the dead who are at peace are immune to the Black Lantern’s command to rise. I wonder once the Black Lanterns kill or convert the object of their anger/lust, they’ll be at peace and just power down. After all the whole point of the BL Corps is to gather enough hearts to charge up the Battery in Sector 666 and kill…everything.

    And I’m wondering how the different Corps will interact. We’ve seen some battles [blue can neutralize red, green is supercharged by blue] but the one I’m looking forward to is Black vs. Red, because as we’ve seen, the Red Lantern’s hearts are useless, being replaced by their rings. The Black Lanterns require the hearts of the living to power their master.

    Finally, in issue one, a heart increased the battery .01% Does that mean, at 3.43% over three hundred people have already died?

  17. Ricco
    August 14, 2009 at 10:06 am — Reply

    @Mike G: either that or drainning the power from a heart is a really slow process, like drinking an ocean a cup at a time.

    I just realise Black Alice may make her return after being traumtized in Reign in Hell, she’s the only one capable of “beating” the Spectre.

  18. ~wyntermute~
    August 14, 2009 at 7:10 pm — Reply

    Hey! The Old-School Atom had powers, kinda, eventually! I recall something about an “atomic punch”, or him being able to infuse his punches with more oomph than the average guy. I know initially he was just “the mighty mite”, but towards the end of his existence, I thought he got some supermojo of his very own… I could be wrong, that happens from time to time. I’m too lazy to go check the Wikipedia, however, so ignore me if I’m blowin smoke. :)

  19. Carl
    August 15, 2009 at 12:47 am — Reply

    I have something of a problem with these “bodies”. Hank Hall, aka Extant, was killed in an airplane explosion and only the JSA even knew he was on the plane. Aquaman turned into water. Ron Raymond exploded and became part of the Firestorm matrix and later dissipated. How did the end up in these graves?

    I’m also not to keen on yet another takeover of The Spectre. It seems like no one knows how to deal with him.

  20. Scott C.
    August 15, 2009 at 8:10 am — Reply

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom_%28Al_Pratt%29
    Sorry it’s not click-able. I don’t know how reliable Wikipedia is. It seems written for the retcons Roy Thomas wrote for him in All Star Squadron so maybe an old timer knows his real history. Al Pratt the golden age atom originally was more a Batman character who trained to physical perfection. When I started reading All Star he eventually did have super powers which the origin may be a little more varied then Wikipedia again because if I recall correctly when they had the JSA Returns specials by Goyer and Robinson the Atom walked into a radioactive field for some reason or another then he started having superpowers according to that retcon. Take your pick! What is going to be interesting is Damage finally meeting his dad who just so happens want to rip his heart out literally and physically!

  21. Ricco
    August 15, 2009 at 1:17 pm — Reply

    @Carl: I don’t think the rings need an actual body to attach to, just a resting place. The body of evry fallen Green Lanterns is incenerated and a green statue is kept in the crypt as a memorial and it’s those hollowed statues that the BL rings enter to revive the lanterns.

  22. samuel
    August 16, 2009 at 11:19 pm — Reply

    i have a question that i’ll probably just wiki later but deadman comes back but his spirit remains free seperate from his body but the spectre who i thought just had the soul of crispus allen and not his body becomes a black lantern and the same for Don Hall his spirits at rest sure but it seems they’re just bringing back bodies not spirits so why cant he become a black lantern?

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