Since today marks the release of Blackest Night #1, we pulled together a simple list – well, as simple as humanly possible in the world of comics – to help you prepare.
It's not necessarily a complete list, as there is always more to know about the vast cosmic universe of the Green Lanterns – not to mention the rest of the DCU affected by Blackest Night – but it should get you started.
1) The Green Lantern Corps is an intergalactic police force. And these Earth men were chosen to be a part of it. According to writer Geoff Johns, this is all you really need to know. You can stop here. But if you're one of those completists who loves researching all the details, read on.
2) The Guardians of the Universe are not necessarily the good guys. Although they lead the Green Lantern Corps, who usually fight as a force for good, the little blue powerful guys called the Guardians have been more than a little misguided lately. For example, their homeworld, Oa, was ravaged by a group of rioting prisoners, so they decided to just start brutally killing the prisoners. And they've done a bunch of other stupid stuff that would make an ethics commission explode in fury. They claim they're trying to prevent war, but like the actions of any power-hungry idiots in an epic story, all the Guardians' decisions seem to only fan the flames, and Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner are starting to notice.
3) Black Hand is one creepy mofo. If you didn't pick up Green Lantern #43 yet, we'll avoid spoilers here, but the specific origin of the Black Hand is contained within. And while his few appearances in past issues of Green Lantern haven't showcased much that is remarkable about the character, he's now been established as a disturbing villain who's been obsessed with death from an early age, sleeping among corpses. After he is revived by Scar (see #4 below) with a black ring, he's told that he's the embodiment of the black power, and he starts digging up Batman's body, beginning the road to Blackest Night.
4) Scar and the Anti-Monitor have what Hollywood would call an "interesting relationship." Scar is one of the Guardians. The Anti-Monitor is among the biggest, baddest villains in the DCU. In Sinestro Corps, he smacked her around. Now she serves somebody who locked him up and is drawing power from him. Sound complicated? Not really. The simple version is that the Anti-Montior's body powers the big black lantern for the Black Lantern Corps. And the first ring for the Black Lanterns was regurgitated by Scar. The two of them serve the dark power that drives the Black Lanterns. What role they play in Blackest Night, and whether they live happily ever after, remains to be seen. But Scar's been a key player as she manipulated her fellow Guardians to take actions that would spiral the universe toward war.
5) Anyone who's dead can be a black lantern. Yes, that refers to your long-gone favorites, Titans fans. Or Dibny fans. Or even Green Lantern fans who have been yearning for a return of characters like Ch'p and Jade. You could see anyone.
To give you an idea of the scope, here's an at least partial list of a few of the formerly dead characters who have either shown up on Blackest Night covers, in solicitations, in teases, or in interviews with the folks at DC as suspected Black Lanterns, besides the already established members Scar and Black Hand:
Ronnie Raymond (Firestorm)
Boston Brand (Deadman)
Arthur Curry (Aquaman)
George Harkness (Captain Boomerang)
Ralph Dibny (Elongated Man)
The Flying Graysons (John & Mary)
Hank Hall (Hawk)
Arthur Light (Dr. Light)
Jack T. Chance
Roy Lincoln (Human Bomb)
Wesley Dodds (Sandman)
Air Wave (Larry Jordan)
Notice one of your favorites? As you can see, it looks like ANY dead character could rise from the dead, wearing a black ring, and become a living zombie serving as a Black Lantern.
6) It's about your emotions, baby. As Geoff Johns told us earlier this month, "The real central theme in this series is emotion. This entire series is about emotion. It's about conflicting emotion, and changing emotion, and dealing with emotion. What emotion means, what it is."
With any other series, the writer's statement would merely refer to the emotions his characters will experience, but with Green Lantern it goes one step further. The Green Lantern corps, which uses willpower to wield the energy of its green rings, is not the only corps in the cosmic neighborhood. There are seven corps who use some type of emotion to fire energy from their rings, and there are seven corresponding colors:
Red = Hate
Orange = Avarice
Yellow = Fear
Green = Willpower
Blue = Hope
Indigo = Compassion
Violet = Love
Each of the seven emotions has an "embodiment" of their power, and each has a corps of at least one being wearing the colored ring. It should be noted, Willpower isn't an "emotion" but rather what remains when emotion has been cast aside, as was the original goal of the Guardians.
7) The leaders of each of the corps are:
Hate = Atrocitus - A big, mean red dude who has it out for the Green Lantern Corps for once imprisoning him, and hates Sinestro in particular.
Avarice = Larfleeze, or "Agent Orange" - A grotesque, whiny, long isolated creature who wants everything and more, but now wants a blue ring in particular.
Fear = Sinestro, a well-established Green Lantern villain - While technically, Sinestro has to fight Mongul for control of the Sinestro Corps of fear, come on... the corps has his name, so we're calling him the leader. He once had a mentoring relationship with Hal Jordan, and his daughter is a Green Lantern named Soranik Natu who is a love interest of Kyle Rayner.
Willpower = Guardians of the Universe. (See #2.)
Hope = Ganthet and Sayd - Two former Guardians of the Universe members that got sick and tired of their brethren and decided to take matters into their own hands to save the universe, creating a blue-color corps of hope. As a side note, the hope rings can't fire energy on their own, but act in conjunction with the green rings of willpower.
Compassion = Indigo-1 - A character we know absolutely nothing about, but her staff-carrying, primitive-looking corps of compassion is said to be a lot different and more powerful than we expect.
Love = Zamarons - Once Oans like the Guardians of the Universe, this group left the planet due to the decision to suppress their emotions. The Zamorans decided to instead embrace emotions and later were the driving force behind the Star Sapphires who wield the power of love.
8) Green Lantern John Stewart and Star Sapphire Yrra Cynril have a history. He failed to save a planet called Xanshi, and at one time, the guilt almost destroyed him. Xanshi was also the homeworld of the young Yrra Cynril, who was luckily off-planet when it was destroyed, but lost everyone she loved. After a stint as a villain named Fatality on earth and a Sinestro Corps member, the character has now decided to turn over a new leaf and become a lantern of love, wearing a skimpy little Star Sapphire costume and kissing John Stewart, encouraging him to forgive himself because she already has.
9) Green Lantern Hal Jordan and sometimes-Star Sapphire Carol Ferris have a history. A long one, actually, tracing all the way back to their childhoods together. When Hal Jordan returned from the dead, Carol was married to someone else. Hal started a relationship with a fellow pilot, Cowgirl. But Carol has recently gotten a divorce, so things may get interesting. Whether she becomes a Star Sapphire again remains to be seen, but Johns has indicated she's involved in this story.
10) Yes, there are tie-ins. But according to Johns, it is possible to only read Blackest Night and understand what is happening. That said, this entire article is a list for completists, so you're going to get everything anyway. Here's your checklist through October, and click here for the cost report so far:
* July 2009
Green Lantern #43
Blackest Night #1
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #3
Green Lantern #44
* August 2009
Blackest Night #2
Green Lantern #45
Green Lantern Corps #39
Blackest Night: Batman #1 (of 3)
Blackest Night: Superman #1 (of 3)
Blackest Night: Titans #1 (of 3)
* September 2009
Blackest Night #3
Green Lantern #46
Green Lantern Corps #40
Blackest Night: Batman #2 (of 3)
Blackest Night: Superman #2 (of 3)
Blackest Night: Titans #2 (of 3)
* October 2009
Blackest Night #4
Green Lantern #47
Green Lantern Corps #41
Blackest Night: Batman #3 (of 3)
Blackest Night: Superman #3 (of 3)
Blackest Night: Titans #3 (of 3)
It's been announced that November will start three new mini-series, each three parts: Blackest Night: Wonder Woman, Blackest Night: JSA and Blackest Night: The Flash. While announcements of those titles are still pending, it's expected they'll start in November and run through January. Blackest Night itself is an eight-issue mini-series, so expect the epic to last in both Green Lantern titles until February 2010.
So what say you, readers? Have anything else to add to the list? More Black Lantern possibilities? Post below any other things to add to the list for new readers to have on hand as they begin today down the road to Blackest Night.