Blackest Night #6
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert and Joe Prado
Colors by Alex Sinclair
Lettering by Nick J. Napolitano
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
With the latest issue of Geoff Johns' magnum opus, it seems things get a little bit brighter -- that is, before everything goes pitch black. Focusing on the supporting characters of this series a bit, Blackest Night #6 really injects the Lantern Corps mythology into the DCU proper, with a twist that will likely make the message boards flare up with just about every emotion under the rainbow.
Love the issue or hate it, it's cool to see the little nuances in Johns' writing that shows how experienced he's become over the past few years. For example, when he introduces the Black Lantern threat within DC's large stable of "resurrected" heroes, the exposition goes down smooth, setting the stakes within three short pages. And the book really crackles when our returned heroes team up once more, as Johns puts the explanations aside and gives us a short but sweet action sequence that shows the Flash is more than just a guy who runs fast.
Something else that Johns really promotes in this book has to be the supporting characters of the Atom and Queen Mera of Atlantis. In this issue Johns really showers them with some (deserved) love. Mera in particular really starts building some mainstream street cred as a viable heroine, and even Johns' abbreviated take on Wonder Woman has the sort of spot-on, nail-on-the-head characterization that makes his writing so compelling.
In terms of the art, Ivan Reis is a machine, packing in Geoff Johns' dense plotting without muddling anything. The more unorthodox the layout, the better Reis works -- when he has room to breathe, the composition just looks really great. Reis' real strength, however, isn't his clarity, but his expressiveness -- the best panels in this book aren't splash pages, but the looks of determination on the heroes' faces when they're lashing out against the Black Lantern threat. (He and Johns also get serious points for the depictions of the characters on the last page. Rock. On.)
That said, despite the visceral fist-pumping effect you get on the last page, this isn't a perfect issue. Johns does a lot to pack in as much story, action, and explanation as he can in 22 pages, but even with Reis' clear storytelling, the sheer number of five- and six-similarly-sized-panel pages makes the second half of this issue feel a bit cramped. Additionally, there will be those who find Johns' big twist a bit more goofy than epic -- I would argue that while Johns' choices made sense, it would have been nice to see just a little bit more set-up, especially in the case of characters like Wonder Woman.
To me, however, the issue that will make or break this series is this: with its melding of the disparate forces and figures in the DCU, Blackest Night doesn't seem to incorporate the scary, apocalyptic tone of Alan Moore that seemed to be built up during Johns' previous event, the Sinestro Corps War. Gone are the drums made of Guardians' skins, gone is the ultimate destruction of the Green Lanterns and the universe they protect. In other words, the long set-up stakes still don't feel as heavy or as real as in earlier epics. But if you look at Blackest Night #6 as what it is -- a popcorn blockbuster featuring some of the best and the brightest of the DCU coming together in the face of overwhelming odds -- this is a densely-packed labor of love that looks at Earth's heroes in a brand-new light.
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