The Blackest Night #0
From: DC Comics
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Ivan Reis with Oclair Albert and Rob Hunter
Color: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Pin-Ups: Doug Mahnke (with inks by Christian Alamy & Tom Nguyen; colors by Nei Ruffino and Randy Mayor)
So, it’s like this. You either enjoy what Geoff Johns and company have been doing with Green Lantern, or you don’t. If you don’t, there’s probably not much that I’m going to say that’s going to change your mind. If you HAVE been reading and enjoying the book for the bracing, super-hero kick that it is . . . you can’t miss this.
For one thing, it’s free. This is an extremely smart move by DC, electing to make this the Free Comic Book Day offering. It sets up the year’s big event, lets you know that it’s going to be more than just a Green Lantern thing, and even provides something of a scorecard for the new rainbow of Corps flavors.
With that in mind, you should know that it’s actually a great set-up issue. At the fresh, unmarked grave for Batman, Hal Jordan brings Barry Allen up to speed (groan) on the recent deaths of Batman, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter. In a tightly woven tapestry of flashbacks (often a single panel), Hall recalls his contentious relationship with Bruce Wayne. Johns offers some meta-commentary on the nature of heroic resurrections, using Barry as a foil to Hal; Barry holds out the hope that if he and Hal could return from the void, so could their friends. As the “story” portion moves to a close, we begin to see some cuts scenes (one involving the Hawks and the Atom, some simply showing some very particular tombstones) that almost certainly take us up to the opening moments of July’s Blackest Night #1. The final two pages also kick in the confirmation of a fact that many have believed for months regarding a facet of the threat, and the revelation of the Black Lantern oath.
What’s so great about all of this is that Johns manages to simultaneously a) nail the personalities of several characters, b) give even the uninitiated a solid recap, c) provide foundation for the event, d) establish a couple of themes to be developed, and e) establish the threat. That’s some pretty deft, economical writing. It helps that it’s drawn by Ivan Reis (with strong support by his pair of inkers); Reis captures the solemn nature of the proceedings in the present while handling the need to segue between quiet and action-oriented scenes from the past (and elsewhere) with fluidity and obvious skill.
A fine capper is a series of pin-ups by Dough Mahnke and others that gives us a look at all seven of the Corps off-shoots. Key players are tagged in each shot, and Mahnke’s strong style provides a nice sense of uniformity. The two-page GL spread doesn’t attempt to name all of the characters (Stel, for instance, isn’t labeled), but it’s a nice quick-look primer for those that would pick up the two GL ongoings or the mini. The Red and Orange shots are appropriately scary, the Sinestro page omits Mongul (foreshadowing?), the Blue Corps reveals two previously unseen members, the Indigo tribe gets their first page space of any kind, and the Star Sapphires will inspire some blog posts. The Black Lantern page, featuring the leader and Guardian that we knew they’d have, doesn’t quite tell us exactly who will rise in toto, but there are more than enough familiar hands bursting through the Earth on that page to give us a good idea. This one is going to be A RIDE.
For the money-minded, there’s a checklist for tie-ins for the first four months of the story (July-October). No surprises there, considering that the titular mini, the two GL titles, and the four previously announced three-issue minis (Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps, Blackest Night: Batman, Blackest Night: Superman, and Blackest Night: Titans) are all accounted for. It’s interesting to see that the Batman, Superman, and Titans minis will all wrap up by mid-point.
I enjoyed this issue, just as I’ve been enjoying Green Lantern these many months. And frankly, I expect to enjoy Blackest Night too. We’ve got the inevitable rise of a dark army of super-zombies, an amazing array of alien designs, war in space rendered by some spectacular artists, and a Blue Lantern that’s basically Ganesh. Readers, that’s a good time.