Or – “Corpses, Corpses, Everywhere, And Not A Brain To Think…”


I had intended to review an entirely different book today, but upon visiting the comic store, I realized I had missed the latest issue of DC’s most impressive summer crossover in years.  A space story that’s also a horror story that’s also a superhero story that’s also a story about loss and death, the first two issues of Blackest Night were both shocking and entertaining, and took full advantage of our emotional attachment to DC’s characters (mostly by brutally killing them.)  Issue #3 promises more skull-faces, more monstrous perversions of lost friends, and even a little bit in the way of explanations, along with a much-anticipated debut.  What are you waiting for?  Push the button, Frank!



Previously, on Blackest Night:  The DC Universe is under siege from beeeeeyond the graaaaave.  Friends, family, and fallen heroes are rising from the dead wearing ebony power rings, from the dead seas of Ysmault to the Lantern tombs of Oa.  Across the galaxy, Korugar, Zamaron, and even Earth is caught unawares as those they have lost have returned to eat their hearts.  It’s a pretty icky scene…  The various heroes have been caught mostly flat-footed, and several (Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Tempest ((the former Aqualad,)) and others) have already been themselves killed and raised as Black Lanterns.  Still, the specific focus seems to be keeping those with the requisite power offguard, as seen by the raising of the parents of Tim Drake, Clark Kent, Dick Grayson and others.  Even the Justice League is not immune, as a host of their fallen members, led by the Martian Manhunter, has arrived to deal with Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, both of whom only recently left the ranks of the dead themselves.  The power of the Black Lanterns is nothing compared to their ruthlessness and savagery, and the seven-on-two attack leaves the living Leaguers in the lurch.  Also among the unasked questions:  What happened to the original Atom?

There’s some nice setup at the beginning of this issue, as Jason Rusch and Gehenna have an awkward discussion about future, family, marriage and kids.  Talk like that during a zombie movie is never a good sign, folks…  The sudden beep of their JLA communicator ends the discussion, as the duo is forced to merge into Firestorm.  At the same time, in Gotham City, the Flash and Green Lantern are quickly overwhelmed by the Black Lantern Justice League, including Ronnie Raymond, the original Firestorm.  Ronnie’s callous disregard for life and his unpleasant words about former partner Professor Stein give Flash the first clue that things arent’ what they seem.  He tries to rip the ring from Ronnie’s hand, but finds that it has grown tendrils into his dessicated flesh…  It’s a well-handled sequence, resurrecting the ‘Flash as Firestorm’s teacher’ subplot from 30 year old JLA issues.  Hal and Barry are seconds from destruction when, out of Hawkman’s ring comes a red-and-blue savior in the form of Ray Palmer, The Atom!  As the fight gets slightly less lopsided, Firestorm arrives at JLA headquarters, to an emergency signal using Aquaman’s inactive code.  The viewscreens show the dead rising around the globe, with Black Adam (Correction: Osiris), The Spectre, squadrons of dead Rogues and Titans, and even the Unknown Soldier walking again.  Turns out the signal was triggered by Mera, who only narrowly escaped death at her husband’s hands last time.  An ominous panel reminds us of the morgue in the Hall of Justice basement, filled with the bodies of villains who’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.

Flash, Atom and Green Lantern continue a losing battle, until out of the sky comes an unlikely savior: The Indigo Tribe!  It takes only seconds for them to sing a few choruses of ‘Closer To Fine’ attack the dead by somehow channeling the power of the Green Lanterns.  Ralph and Sue Dibny’s Black Lantern bodies are annihilated by their attack, and the tribe then teleports the Leaguers to JLA headquarters, bringing the A and B plots together.  The leader of the tribe (she allows them to call her Indigo-1, as they have given up singular identities) explains the truth about what has happened, explaining the emotional spectrum and it’s current wielders, and FINALLY explaining that, yes, the Black Lanterns are specifically targeting the heroes of Earth to take them out of action.  Indigo-1 tells Hal that he is key to the defeat of the darkness, as he is tied to Atrocitus, to Sinestro, to Larfleeze, and even to Star Sapphire Carol Ferris.  Hal tries to leap into action without thinking, but Barry insists that they slow down and formulate a real plan.  I love this interaction, showing the deep friendship between the heroes without even trying.  It’s one of the few moments that have made me think that Barry’s resurrection might be a good thing…  The BLJLA suddenly busts in, and Jason quickly counteracts Dead Ronnie’s transmutation powers.  Ronnie separates Jason and Gehenna, then absorbs Jason into his own Firestorm matrix, forcing the new kid to watch powerlesslyas Ronnie tortures Gehenna.  Jason tries to tell her that he loves her, but she can’t hear him, as Firestorm turns her body to sodium chloride and rips out her heart.  Ronnie laughs as Jason rages at him from inside the matrix, as dozens of rings crash through the ceiling, and the morgue drawers begin to open…

I’ve never been a fan of the big giant crossover, but once again, I am surprised at how well this one sticks together.  The official debut of the last color of the emotional spectrum comes at the perfect dramatic moment, and their revelations about the weaknesses and the origins of the Black Lanterns are obviously at the heart of the Blackest Night saga.  The characterization throughout this issue is note-perfect, including a creepy turn by the Hawks and the Dibnys, whose corrupt Black Lantern essences make every word out of their mouth a skin-crawling moment of disgust.  Hal Jordan is forced to play it safe, Barry Allen is forced to slow it down, and Jason Rusch gets a character-defining moment that makes me look forward to a real showdown between him and Ronnie Raymond.  Even the seemingly-silly concept of the super-morgue in the basement of the Hall of Justice delivers a moment of true horror, as the bodies of Max Lord, Alexander Luthor, Killer Frost, Copperhead and others lurch and shamble forth to further screw up the JLA’s afternoon.  This is the best issue yet, reminding me of how strong, how GAME-CHANGING, crossovers used to be back in the era of Crisis of Infinite Earths.  Blackest Night #3 is the real deal, the full monty, the total package, the main event, as well as many other cliches, and earns a very impressive 5 out of 5 stars.  There’s obviously more to come, as next issue promises to show us what happens when the rings hit 100% power, and I’m definitely onboard for the revelations to come.  In twelve words or less: Gardner Fox meets George Romero, and the reading public is the winner.



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.

Previous post

Art Appreciation Moment of the Day: Dave Perillo

Next post

MSP#136: Altered States


  1. Ricco
    September 18, 2009 at 8:23 pm — Reply

    Was it Black Adam? I thought it was Osiris, I mean Adam isn’t dead…

    It was creepy as Hell how Gehenna was totured and killed thanks to Jason’s mind.

    I would like to note that so far no big name heroes have been killed (the hawks will just reincarnate), so they might not pull a “everyone lives again” at the end.

    The Indigo tribe was last seen killing a Green Lantern and a Sinestro Corp in tales with their own lights, why did they do that?

    The moment with the Uknown Soldier was actually funny, at least the way I read it. Guy comes out of his grave to say to people “you know, I have a name!”

  2. Navarre
    September 18, 2009 at 8:30 pm — Reply

    I have nothing I can add to such an excellent review but would like to applaud and say “Well done, DC. Well done.”

  3. September 18, 2009 at 9:29 pm — Reply

    “I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
    I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain…”

    Everybody sing!!!

    Liked the ish — hated that they killed the girlfriend/sidekick, but given that they also killed Carter, Kendra and Garth (and half of Smallville and Gotham), I guess it’s an honor for Gen….

  4. September 18, 2009 at 10:07 pm — Reply

    Was it Black Adam? I thought it was Osiris, I mean Adam isn’t dead…

    He’s not? I thought he died in a recent arc of JSA? *Checks backissues.*

    Apparently, you’re right…

  5. September 18, 2009 at 10:08 pm — Reply

    The Indigo tribe was last seen killing a Green Lantern and a Sinestro Corp in tales with their own lights, why did they do that?

    Apparently, we don’t quite understand their definition of compassion…

  6. d_Ranged
    September 18, 2009 at 10:54 pm — Reply

    If I had to guess, the Indigo tribe killed the GL to spare him any suffering from his mortal wounds. Not sure how killing the Sinestro Corps member showed compassion, though.

  7. Dan Hunter
    September 19, 2009 at 12:11 am — Reply

    I was blown away by the latest installment and after several months (years?) of disappointment with what DC have been doing but I’m pleased to say this series has me wanting more. I may even branch into some of the BN sub issues away from the main book.

    • Navarre
      September 19, 2009 at 7:27 am — Reply

      I’ve only read BN: Titans #1 (of 3). It was excellent and also introduced me to some interesting DC characters I didn’t know.

      So if it’s this kind of quality across the board, reading the BN sub-titles would be a good time for you.

  8. Brother129
    September 19, 2009 at 12:36 am — Reply

    I never cared about Gehenna and Jason until this issue…and now I totally want Firestorm II to kick Ronnie Raymond’s dead decrepit ass. By the way, I thought Firestorm’s powers didn’t work on organic matter, or was that Saturday morning cartoon bs?

  9. Frank
    September 19, 2009 at 9:39 am — Reply

    Here is a quote from Wikipedia regarding the original Firestorm’s power.

    “He cannot, however, affect organic matter. If he does there may be painful, even lethal, feedback.”

    I don’t think BL Firestorm is really worried about pain or death.

  10. oraclebop
    September 20, 2009 at 1:57 am — Reply

    This is where Geoff belongs, big corssovers. :)

  11. ~wyntermute~
    September 20, 2009 at 4:10 pm — Reply

    This is what happens when you have a plan for a crossover, and you let all the other artists and authors know what your plan is. As opposed to CERTAIN writers who have fantastic ideas, won’t tell anybody but a few, and then insist that nobody use certain characters. I dunno, this one seems to be the method that works cuz I hate zombies and horror and gross-disgustingness, and I’m on-board for this thrill ride.

  12. Katzedecimal
    September 21, 2009 at 11:22 am — Reply

    I’m enjoying this wayyyyyyyyyy more than I enjoyed Final (Ha! – Fooled Ya!) Crisis. For one thing, it makes a lot more sense, in terms of “why are we doing this in the first place” and “what do we hope to accomplish with this.” And of course, now we know the *real* reason why they tried to kill off Bart Allen: With him having ‘grown up’ in VR video games, he’s the only person who truly knows how to deal with a zombie apocalypse!

  13. Nightwing720
    November 12, 2009 at 6:33 pm — Reply

    Man I read this issue of the Blackest Night and previous issues but this one is the the best so far I have read. I come to make a prediction that what if when the zombies consumed the hearts the of the heroes their spirits are in a parallel universe because I read a page when the Atom notice that the black rings have microscopic wormholes in them and turn out that the the zombies are not the heroes that are killed but copies of them. Also not only that Indigo 1 told Hal that the only way to defeat the Black Lanterns is to join force with the other Latern Corps ( not including Black Lanterns) to form the White light of Creation but Hal is thinks that wont be easy because I thought that If he has to join forces it won’t be easy beacuse the War of Light has started. Also Hal has to deal with Sinestro,Atrocitus,and Larfleeze. Thats why Hal had to think of another plan and has to stay on earth to deal with the Black Laterns with the help of the Indigo Tribe. Hope I didn’t say to much

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section