Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1 of 3
Written by Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Jerry Ordway, Chris Samnee, Rags Morales, and Doug Mahnke
Published by DC Comics
There are a number of ways to look at the first issue of Tales of the Corps. If you a re looking for a story to cost value, it doesn’t even live up to the standards that DC Comics’ Executive Editor has set in other titles with co-features. Tales of the Corps includes twenty-four pages of original story plus another five pages that highlight four of the corps, and these are reproduced from Blackest Night #0 that was given away on Free Comic Book Day. In comparison, the latest issue of Booster Gold provided thirty pages of never-before published material. Heck, updating the five pages of Corps overviews to include Mongul’s recent history with the Sinestro Corps or expanding the Indigo Tribe’s page in order to reflect the events that took place in Tales of the Corps #1 might have been a good idea.
In all, I may not have noticed the briefness of the issue if the three stories had been up to snuff. Working backwards through the issue, the tale of the Indigo Tribe provided a lackluster introduction to the only Corps of light that is still unfamiliar to readers of Green Lantern and the Green Lantern Corps monthly books. The story clocks in at a short six pages, and while that is plenty of time to tell a story, it doesn’t work here. While I understand the intention of keeping one mystery in place while Blackest Night and the War of Light ramps up, more clarity should have been provided here in regards to whether the leader of the Indigo Tribe was providing mercy, hostility, or a challenge of worthiness to the Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps member. Another page or two could have allowed the art to more clearly detail the events of the story, but the desire for obscurity seems to have won out over the opportunity to provide a good tale.
Of course, the untranslatable language of the Indigo Lanterns doesn’t help the narrative and leaves the reader not knowing whether the Indigo Tribe is so new that the Guardians have never encountered them before or whether this is yet another piece of information that the Guardians are withholding from their Green Lanterns. All that said, Rags Morales's art is the best of the issue and fits well with the art of Doug Mahnke and Ivan Reis that is highlighted in Green Lantern and Blackest Night, respectively.
With only three issues to provide insights into the eight Corps of light and darkness, it would seem that there would be better stories to tell than the youthful days of Mongul II. For a character with which most readers will be already familiar, this seems a wasted opportunity. With that said, Tomasi’s sole entry in this issue actually works. Mongul’s affection for his father and his ambition are clearly on display in a manner that is reader-friendly. Beyond the lack of necessity, the problem with this look into Mongul’s past is the artwork that feels cartoony and lifts the weight off of the story. Highlighting concepts of tyranny, enslavement, and ruthlessness . . . the story would have worked better if the art carried those emotions.
The final entry, the origin of Saint Walker, provided the best combination of art and story. This is obviously a character that resonates for Johns and he is enthusiastic to share with the readers. The plot is not groundbreaking, but it works for the first of Ganthet and Sayd’s Blue Lanterns.
Ordway provides an experienced hand on the art and it shows as his layouts accommodate the narrative and pull the reader into the story. Taken in context with Rage of the Red Lanterns, the rejuvenation of Astonia’s sun happens prior to Walker receiving his ring. So who is focusing the hope of others to rejuvenate the sun? Even with that unexplained phenomenon, the opening story in Tales of the Corps #1 provides a relevant chapter in depicting the War of Light on its first and last pages, which depict Larfleeze’s assault on Odym. This is the story in the issue that pulls readers in and makes them ask, “What happens next?”, since the resolution of the Orange Lantern attack promises to be interesting wherever it is resolved.