Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert with Julio Ferreira
Colors by Alex Sinclair
Lettering Nick J. Napolitano
Published by DC Comics
Review by THE Rev. O.J. Flow
"The sky seems so much darker tonight." -- Commissioner Jim Gordon
Many are the comic books that can knock people out in the debut issue. Not to say instant, runaway success is a given, but I'm sure the batting average on premiere offerings is favorable, if not enviable. I myself was hard-pressed to find anyone last month who wasn't enthralled with issue #1 of DC's crossover epic du jour, Blackest Night. Though, where longer lasting success can be truly be found is how a book holds up in the next issue (and, of course, if it's a limited series, how the whole collected piece holds up). Blackest Night #2 can safely put itself in that winner's category. If I was to pin it down to one thing that I felt made this second issue so rockin,' it's that, despite sort of lacking that one "Aww no, they didn't!" moment that concluded the last issue (maybe because of the Black Lantern's now-proven ability to expand their ranks not just by robbing graves), I found myself immediately craving another chapter. That's saying a lot considering that I told myself that I would follow Blackest Night strictly through this series and Green Lantern, and now I'm starting to rethink that.
While the story bounces around to some various settings, most Earthbound, the focal point of Johns & Co.'s work in this second chapter (kind of wish each issue had a distinctive title, but alas...) is Aquaman and his immediate family, by blood, marriage and otherwise. If you're a fan of the oft-maligned character, and I like to think that I qualify, there's an excellent chance that every page of this issue is a white-knuckled affair. Despite the malicious intent found in the Sea King risen from the dead, Johns displays a clear-cut respect for the character. And I don't know that in the "hook for a hand" era mostly navigated by writer Peter David ever showed just how devastating Aquaman's power can be if it was to be used for evil over good. And for the comic book production to provide a sampling of sound effects for his powers to control sea creatures, not heard since the days of the Super Friends, well that's just milk in the Cap'n Crunch for this Saturday morning aficionado.
Those following the story with Barry Allen (the Flash) and Hal Jordan with their wayward JLA comrade, the Martian Manhunter, will find that things pick up almost immediately after we last saw them, and we get a moving appearance by some more Batman supporting cast in the process. How these characters run into Green Lantern, or vice versa, borders on classic. Elsewhere the magical representatives of the DC Universe (Zatanna, Blue Devil, Phantom Stranger, the Spectre) make their prerequisite appearance on the scene, but to find out how far the reach of the Black Lantern truly is, and this early on in Blackest Night, goes to show that there are no easy outs for our heroes. At all. As evidenced in a 3-page backup feature that serves as a journal for Black Hand, there is little gray area when the mission is simply death to all.
You've probably deduced by now that I am very down with the story being fleshed out, literally and figuratively, by Geoff Johns. But it wouldn't be even half as effective without the supreme graphics of Ivan Reis, whose penciled work is sharpened, but never muddied despite the frequently bleak surroundings, by Oclair Albert and Julio Ferreira. Shortcuts are never taken, and Johns has lucked out in the last year alone with artists who have brought great detail to a universe filled with an amazing variety of characters and landscapes (George Perez on Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, and Doug Mahnke currently drawing Green Lantern).
On a quick side note, I've found that some quality Doom/Black/Death, what have you, heavy metal makes for a effective soundtrack to the extreme nature of this tale. I recommend the latest from Nachtmystium, Wolves in the Throne Room or Krallice to set the mood. Or Slayer for the easy-listeners out there. Whatever helps instill a feeling of dread, despair and malice, if that's your sort of thing. Though regardless of soundtrack, Blackest Night #2 succeeds in maintaining the strong momentum found in the debut. This series is VERY much my sort of thing.
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