January has been quite the busy month for these Damn Dirty Zombies so far. We have TEN (10!) tie-ins of varying importance. Let's skip the small talk and dive right into the Blackest Night recaps, shall we?
Oh, and if you're unaware, this as a recap, or summary column. That means, SPOILERS ARE ON IN FULL FORCE from here on out.
Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2: Are you all ready? Ready for a harrowing tale. A tale of... the costume change heard 'round the world?
This issue, like the prior issue of this mini, takes place between the pages of Blackest Night. Here we witness Wonder Woman's mental battle against the black ring, while watching her physical battle against Mera, queen of the oceans. Diana pummels Mera quite a bit while also taunting her at all of the death in her life. Mera fights back just enough to get through to Diana for a split second, just before the Princess of Themiscyra is about to dine on some fish heart.
Wonder Woman, still Black Lanternified, flies off to try to struggle on her own. She's soon joined by Cassie, Wonder Girl, and Donna Troy, Wonder Girl Troia Darkstar Wonder Woman, who is also of the zombie persuasion. Wonder Woman promptly tears Cassie's heart out, killing her on the spot. The two Black Lanterns then fight... or well, BL Wonder Woman cuts up Donna, after telling her to shut up. The fight next becomes Wonder Woman versus her dear mother, and doesn't last long, with WW using her axe to nearly turn Hippolyta into a more... classic Amazon. As she's about to deal the death blow, she gets smacked upside the head by... a batarang!
Looking at the scowl and the belt, it's clear this is in fact Bruce Wayne, Batman. Diana moves to attack, but then comes in close for a kiss that brings her back from the dead. Hot "you're-both-supposed-to-be-dead" action. A violet power ring and the Goddess of Love herself both show up then, and Aphrodite explains that everything that just happened was a figment of Diana's imagination; a false place for her to work her way out of the Black. She accepts the Violet ring, instantly destroying the black one, loses her midriff from her costume, gains an awesome 70s collar, and flies off surrounded by the light of love.
Suicide Squad #67: Suicide Squad of DC Comics...RISE! In one of the first issues to have a special comeback, not a lot is directly related to Blackest Night. At the very start, we see The Fiddler, amongst several other Black Lanterns, rising from below the Hall of Justice. We then go back in time by 3 days. A Suicide Squad mission is trucking along, on the back of Deadshot's replacement, Yasemin. Unfortunately, as we proceed to hear repeatedly, she's no Deadshot, and fails the mission. King Faraday and Amanda "The Wall" Waller are not amused, and want to find and reacquire the deadly assassin.
The Secret Six get called away to a mission to break someone out of Belle Reeve, the prison from which many Suicide Squad members are frequently taken. The mission, unfortunately was merely to get them away from their house of secrets, leaving Scandal Savage alone to fend off an attack on her own. Two sets of Suicide Squad agents attack each location, and Deadshot kills Yasemin with ease, just as a group of Black Lanterns show up at Belle Reeve, leading to...
Secret Six #17: ...Yasemin getting a black ring right off the bat. Meanwhile, Waller and Multiplex (all...50 or so of him) are burning down the hous-OHMYGOD GARGOYLE! Yeah, Scandal definitely had something up her sleeve, as she unleashes a gigantic gargoyle on the Multiplexes (Multiplices?)
Bane is getting the crap kicked out of him by a giiiiirl. Nightshade and Count Vertigo take down the big man, until Black Alice steals the sorceress's powers, and slams them both into a wall (though, she notes, she was trying to teleport them INTO the wall). The Black Lanterns attack inside the prison, tearing out hearts, making more zombies, while Catman and Bronze Tiger throwdown (not that you could see that fight as inevitable or anything). Their skills turn out to be just about as equal as their motifs, and they effectively take each other out.
At another location in the prison, Virtuosa (basically The Fiddler 2) is tussling with Ragdoll and Jeannette when BL Fiddler comes a callin'. He begins torturing all three of them, while Deadshot and Rick Flag take on Black Lantern Yasemin, finding that her zombie version is not quite as easy to kill. Bane and Black Alice are last to get confronted by the BLs, as they find themselves surrounded by a lot of ex-Squad members, and a friendly "to be concluded" next month.
Catwoman #83: Remember when Catwoman shot and killed Black Mask (no, not the new one, the old one)? Well, that decision conveniently sets up the return of her series for one month only in this tie-in. This issue really doesn't have much bearing, if any at all, really, on the greater crossover, but it does read like a nice extra issue of Gotham City Sirens. After a quick tussle between BL Black Mask and Catwoman, the zombie mobster goes after Selina's sister, who is locked in a mental institution. Harley and Ivy trade blows with BLBM, but he gets away and finds Selina and Maggie. Just as he's going to attack the sisters, Poison Ivy has a gigantic Venus Fly Trap eat him, trapping him in an endless cycle of degeneration and regeneration.
Power of Shazam #48: Long-cancelled series . . . RISE! Power of Shazam ends up being one of the odder BN one-shots, as the stars of the series as it once ran don’t make more than a token depowered appearance. In some respects, it made me long for other opportunities. Where were Blackest Night Lobo, Blackest Night Young Heroes in Love, Blackest Night Major Bummer, Blackest Night Prez, Blackest Night Scare Tactics, Blackest Night Firestorm, Blackest Night Secret Society of Super-Villains, or Blackest Night Welcome Back, Kotter? That last would have been particularly awesome: “I’m here for YOU, Vinnie Barbarino! Signed, Epstein’s DEAD Mother! Heh heh heh!”
That aside, this one was offbeat even for BN one-shot standards. It actually treats Black Lantern Osiris like he WAS Black Lantern Osiris rather than a construct. That he would come into conflict with Black Lantern Sobek was fairly predictable, but it seemed like much of the issue was devoted to redeeming a character (Osiris) that didn’t really need much redeeming. Yes, he was starting to freak out in “52” after accidentally killing the Persuader, but that was kind of mitigated because he got punked and EATEN by his buddy Sobek. So, really, if the other BLs are constructs and this one WAS Osiris, why was it? At any rate, BL Osiris manages to reject the connection and takes out both himself and Sobek.
Starman #81: Life has gone on in Opal City, and we realize how much we missed it. The Shade and Hope O’Dare have hooked up, Mason O’Dare is predictably startled, and Short-Timer Starman David Knight becomes Black Lantern Starman. Quite frankly, it’s not WHAT happens here, so much as HOW it happens. Of all the one-issue resurrections so far, this one felt the most like the original book. It was like going home. It was--sniff—dammit. Pepose! We need tissues!! And ice cream.
The Phantom Stranger #42: The Phantom Stranger is one of those bizarre characters. He's sometimes very Watcher-like, all "no interference" but then sometimes he can magically brawl with the best of them. Plus, he's one of those rare characters that simultaneously exists in both the DCU and the worlds of Vertigo. The Stranger's travels in the Blackest Night have him trying to help several of the "hovering between life-and-death" characters. He almost helps Spectre break free, but the Black Ring wins out and he gets away. Too bad Batman wasn't around to kiss the Spirit of Vengeance, maybe he would've been able to help out. Meanwhile, a contingency of BLs attack the mystical city of Nanda Parbat, and Deadman fights unDeadman. The Stranger helps sever that connection, and return Boston Brand's Bones to safety.
Blackest Night: Flash #2: Clearly, this one was important because it was written by Johns (though it’s also worth mentioning, even in our humorous column here, that Kolins draws the hell out of it). It’s living Rogues versus dead Rogues, and damn, that means that there are plenty of people on both sides. Throw in Blue Lantern Barry, Saint Walker, Wally, possessed Bart, and more, and this is one jam-packed but (say it, say it) fast-moving (sigh) issue. Frankly, we kinda like “All Will Be Well” as a battle cry. You point the ring, say “All Will Be Well”, and s#!+ blows up. It’s kind of like when you tell your S.O., “Hey, you’ll get over being mad in the morning”, and then all your s#!+ is magically transported to the front yard when you get home from work. Things end with Intrigue Level on High as Captain Boomerang Jr. arrives with, apparently, a plan to save his dad. No matter what happens, it would excellent if, in the next issue, the living and dead Rogues decide, “Aw, hell with it”, and team up to rob a bank. Then they tie Barry to a giant boomerang made out of bones. Ah, nostalgia.
Green Lantern Corps #44: This probably bears repeating: Do. Not. F@#%. With. Mogo. While many subconflicts swirl about in this issue, it really comes back to that larger theme. The socially-inept planet Green Lantern makes his move, and basically saves the GLCs bacon by sucking up all of the Black Lanterns like a giant vacuum cleaner and drowning their dead asses in his planetary core. You have to admit, that’s awesomely crazy.
The emotional heart, though, is that Guy Gardner became a Red Lantern a couple of issues back when he lost it after seeing Kyle Rayner apparently die. Kyle’s better, and he’s trying to talk down Guy (still wielding both rings; hmmmm), but Guy’s not having it. In fact, after the disposal of the Black Lanterns, Guy is ready to attack everyone of every ring allegiance that remains.
Hey, wait! Way back in Booster Gold’s early issues, they mentioned that Guy would be really important to Blackest Night. There are theories about a White Lantern that uses all the rings. Guy has two, and there are Sinestro Corps, Star Sapphire, and Indigo Tribe on-scene. Hmmmm again.
Weird Western Tales #71: Yep. That was weird.