We had four issues in the last two weeks, as the pace of tie-ins starts to build up to January's massive month. Here, we see how to work a tie-in into a book without disrupting its own flow, how to work a tie-in into a book to try to boost its sales, how to work a tie-in into a book to deal with some longstanding issues (and tease at the future), and how to kill off a fan favorite character in a glorious and heart breaking fashion.
R.E.B.E.L.S. #10: So, you know those times when people complain that there's too much missing backstory to understand what's going on in a book? How about those times when nothing seems to happen? And those times when a tie-in seems ham-fisted and makes little sense? Thankfully, you won't think any of those things about this bad-boy, wherein everything relevant is explained, all the Blackest Night parts are organic, and some MAJOR plot developments happen.
We start off with a convenient recap of the life of Stealth and her relationship with Vril Dox, including the birth and lobotomy of their son Lyrl and her subsequent death. This all happens on panel as her memories are downloaded into a Black Lantern; while it's been implied before that these are shells or copies of their former selves, this is the first overt time that they've been demonstrated to be just that.
Adam Strange and Captain Comet stop by to tell Brainiac 2 all about the amazing technicolor lantern corps, including the new Black Lanterns. Brainiac 2, with his 12th level intelligence, is bemused, saying "ZOMBIES With Power Rings, now THAT I'd like to see."
He pulls a recap montage of his own, briefly telling about the new leader of the Starro race, only to find out the Starros have taken his son and a handful of allies. Lyrl tricks them into freeing the others, allowing himself to be captured, which Brainiac 2 is quick to point out is a disaster on par with a Sgt. Rock movie being made, set in the future (thank goodness THAT could never happen, right?).
Starro unleashes Lyrl's 12th level intelligence, and Starro-Brainiac 3 is born.
Just as Vril and company decide they'll make a run for Earth and join up with the heroes there, Team Starro shows up, followed quickly by Black Lantern Stealth.
A handful of Sinestro Corpsmen show up, followed quickly by Black Lantern Harbinger, who promptly tears the ship of our team in half. The two BLs now swap and go after their intended targets. BL Harbinger kills Sinestro Corpsman Narok, who is apparently related to Ursula from Little Mermaid. His ring goes to search for a replacement, and doesn't need to look far, as it finds someone with the ability to instill great fear just around the proverbial corner, giving Vril Dox all the power he could want as the newest member of the Sinestro Corps.
Doom Patrol #4: You don’t need a Black (Lantern) Belt in DCU Continuity to understand this issue, but it helps. Younger readers may not recall that the original Doom Patrol got blown up. There was a second Doom Patrol that appeared mostly for crossovers. In the mid ‘80s, they got their own book. Invasion! happened, and they lost a couple of members. Then, Grant Morrison happened, and they lost their minds. There was much weirdness, and the title ran a while. The Doom Patrol went away. Then they came back. Then went away. Earlier this decade, they came back again with John Byrne at the helm, although the original members were back pretending that they were new to the DCU. Yeah, I didn’t buy that either. During “Infinite Crisis”, it turned out that EVERYTHING had happened. The Doom Patrol stuck around for a little bit, appearing in Teen Titans and being rude houseguests. That was okay, because their house got f’ed up in Titans #1, which conveniently forgot that two of their then-members were also former Titans. They dropped by an issue of Brave and the Bold, but now they’re here, kinda veteran, kinda new, with all of their history kinda intact.
See? Comics aren’t hard to follow!
The upshot is that the dead members of the second team (Celsius, Tempest, and Negative Woman, though I’ll be damned if I can find exactly where she died) have gotten the “Rise!” treatment. As it was in the day, Celsius is the leader of the group. Tempest, who used to be a basic “blaster”, now has weather powers for some reason. Negative Woman, cleverly, has a mostly white outfit.
Best thing in this issue? There’s a Robotman body parts landfill just outside the headquarters. That’s right. When Robotman breaks or replaces a part, the old pieces basically get tossed in a ditch. The Chief can build robot bodies, but he can’t swing a recycling bin. Stay classy, Niles Caulder!
Actually, the Chief has his own problems. BL Celsius comes for him and takes off pieces of his legs. Rita gets ambushed by Tempest; she, however, isn’t confused by his sudden power change, as she was dead when he joined the team anyway. Negative Woman brings the pain on Robotman and Negative Man, who are also set upon by a BL risen from Robotman’s original human body (note empty brain pan).
And . . . that’s it. Confusing history, really simple crossover entry.
Booster Gold #26: We know that there are going to be A LOT of “Blackest Night” tie-ins. However, this one is going to carry a comparatively larger amount of emotional resonance because we know how guilty Booster still feels that his best buddy, Blue Beetle II, Ted Kord, died at the hands of Dan Didio, er, Maxwell Lord.
A goodly portion of this issue takes place at Ted’s funeral, where a time-tripping Booster has gone on “Heroes Day”. With the Blackest Night coming down and Rip and Skeets trying to find the off-the-grid Booster, they also catch up with Jaime Reyes, the current Blue Beetle III. It’s a clever way to get both features into one story.
Skeets and Jaime head to the Supernova/Rose house and arrive just before Black Lantern Ted Kord does, crashing his Black Lantern Bug into the living (but not for long! Heh heh heh) room. BLBB pauses to kill an annoying neighbor, but that gives Supernova a moment to try to get Rose out of harm’s way. Great plan, but BLBB shoots Supernova in the shoulder, preventing him from getting out.
Booster happens along, and seeing the wreckage and the bug, investigates. He lands just as BLBB is about to pull the old “Ripping the Heart Out” trick. Booster is gobsmacked, BLBB cracks wise. And scene.
Anyone else notice a recurring theme that none of the crossover issues are done in one? I thought you might.
Green Lantern Corps #42: Get ready for a heart breaker, kids. When last we saw our favorite emerald corpsmen, they were in big-big trouble, with, well every dead person buried on Oa back as a Black Lantern, and those oh-so-creepy babies joining the party. Luckily, and Indigo tribesman showed up to help at least slightly even the odds.
We jump right back into the fray, with Indigo channeling an assortment of GLs' Will through his "walking stick." Though they think a hasty retreat is in order, it would use up too much Indigo Light. Suddenly, in the middle of the battle, all the Black Lanterns just stop fighting, as their rings broadcast the message "100% Power Level Exceeded. Devour Will. Devour Will." All over Oa, BLs leave fight abruptly, and Kilowog makes an ominous foreshadowing remark, "Lanterns Die..."
Soranik Natu and Kyle Rayner share a brief moment, while she shows that black lanterns have flexible jaws, until they notice all the Black Lanterns retreating. They're all heading to the Central Power Battery, and no longer hunger for hearts.
The assembled Corps, along with the Deep Purple (er, Indigo) Lantern, starts taking out small handfuls of Black Lanterns, but the overwhelming numbers take over, and make an enormous winged construct to pull the Central Power Battery out.
Kyle and Guy try a desperate gambit, dropping the Red Lantern Vice into the pit of Black Lanterns and letting him rampage. Unfortunately, an overzealous Alpha Lantern, Chaselon, decides he's an escapee, and vaporizes him altogether.
Some of the BLs recognize a smaller power battery inside the Alpha Lantern, indicating their new goal is going to be to devour every power battery they can find. They grievously injure Chaselon and crack his Power Battery within. Salaak fills Rayner in on the situation, and the fact that the battery, once broken, will eventually explode, expelling all it's green light at once.
Kyle grabs the battery, and entices as many Black Lanterns to get close to him as possible, throws up a huge energy dome, and, well, take it away Kyle:
"I love you, Soranik. And you too, Guy. You've been like a brother to"
And with that, the battery explodes, wiping out the construct and seemingly vaporizing every Black Lantern on Oa. Oh, and it killed Kyle, with his ring declaring him deceased.
*sniff* Sorry, there's some dirt in my eyes. Anyway...
So, Kyle Rayner, once the "last" Green Lantern, once Ion, is dead. Of course, death is practically a rite of passage for Green Lanterns. After all, Hal, Guy, Kilowog, Arisia, and Sinestro, just to name a few prominent members, have all died and come back. Some of them multiple times. It seems this death will be the impetus for Guy Gardner giving in to anger and becoming a Sith Lord, er, Red Lantern (since one conveniently just died, right there on Oa, so there's a free ring). It'll be interesting to see Soranik's reaction next issue, as well.