by Alan M Rogers
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!
- Oath of the Green Lanterns
Across the DC Universe, the dead are rising to slay the living.
It’s all Alan Moore’s fault.
No. Really. It is! I mean, if there’s anyone to blame for zombies invading the DC Universe and wreaking havoc, Alan Moore’s the guy to blame. After all, he wrote the story that created the idea of the Blackest Night in the form of a prophecy. Right around the time he created Mogo, actually.
Geoff Johns just took it to it’s logical conclusion.
For those of you who don’t know, Blackest Night is the third part of the Geoff Johns epic Green Lantern trilogy he began with Rebirth and continued with the Sinestro Corps War. Everything else Johns had written for the Green Lantern universe has been part of those three stories.
Blackest Night is the culimnation of War of Light that began with the Sinestro Corps and has continued through the Green Lantern Corps ‘Sins of the Star Sapphires’ and Green Lantern’s ‘Rage of the Red Lanterns.’
Hal Jordan has already faced the Star Sapphire, the Sinestro Corps, and even Parallax, the embodiment of fear itself. He’s come back from the dead and traveled the cosmos. He’s done battle with demons, gods and supervillains and has sacrificed himself in the name of the greater good more times than once.
He has done battle against Red Lanterns, been tempted by Agent Orange and has possessed the power of Hope. He has seen friends die and be reborn and has stood at the edge of the multiverse, fighting for existence itself.
Now, he fights the legacy of those battles. Black Hand posseses the Black Power Battery, and the dead rise. The teaser proclaimed that “…the armies of fear and must fight together, because the dead shall rise…”
Daxam has fallen and Sinestro is free to confront the usurper Mongul. Is this going to be the redemption of the Green Lanterns and the Guardians, the redemption of Sinestro and his followers, or is the cosmos going to fall into darkness?
Dramatic preludes aside, Blackest Night is the culmination of the Green Lantern story for the past several years, and will affect the entire DC Universe. Originally planned to be a story contained within the Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps titles, Blackest Night has become a galaxy-spanning story tying in to Superman, Batman, Titans, and even Wonder Woman!
The first issue was fantastic. Geoff Johns picked up storylines from Final Crisis, the aftermath of Battle for the Cowl and the recent Justice Society of America storylines and wove them together in a way that was not only accessible to new readers but respectful of the titles the Blackest Night story touched on.
The story starts with Hawkman on the phone with the Atom, Ray Palmer and leads into a heated emotional discussion between Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Geoff Johns is usually known for epic battles and dramatic moments manages to write a touching, bittersweet romantic moment between the estranged warriors.
Johns flashes between scenes as he sets the stage, giving the reader glimpses into the mystery of Bruce Wayne’s missing skull and the ongoing War of Light.
We see the legacy of Aquaman’s death – the arguments over whether or not he should be buried with his fellow heroes or if his remains should be taken to Atlantis. We see the Justice League’s morbid morgue of supervillains – a cyrogenic rogue’s gallery.
It is a moment of painful transition for the DC Universe as the last gasps of the Final Crisis work themselves out, and Johns presents it in a way that leaves the reader no doubt that Earth’s heroes are tired and worn down, just beginning to stand back up.
And we see the black power rings flying through space. They are unstoppable, tearing down every obstacle put in their path, no matter if it’s a Green Lantern of a Guardian of the Universe. The rings are Death, and no one can truly stop death.
For several pages, Johns lets us see the effects of the rings as the dead rise. Ralph and Sue Dibny. Aquaman. Pa Kent. And many, many others – familiar faces we may not even know are familiar yet rise from their graves.
It’s as wonderfully suspenseful, dramatic and epic as we could want, even from Geoff Johns. Ethan van Scriver’s artwork is breathtaking in scope, exquisitie in detail and vibrant in color, and brings the emotional story to life.
But the rest of this comic, already phenomenal, pales in comparison to the last three pages. These last pages are bittersweet, tragic, and some of Johns’ best work to date.
I won’t tell you the end, but I will tell you that if you read nothing else of Blackest Night, read this first issue. I will also tell you that if you read this first issue, you will be waiting for the second issue right along with the rest of us.
~alan m rogers