Grand Finale: Blackest Night in Review

Today saw the release of the final entry in the eight-part Blackest Night crossover, DC’s epic tale of emotion and space zombies.

Perhaps not so surprising for a book that gives a fair bit of attention to an army of hideous anger-powered aliens that battle their enemies primarily by VOMITING BLOOD, it was pretty messy.

Yep.

Some background first: Blackest Night, a spin-off of the “Green Lantern” series, is about various “corps” of space rangers that use emotion to power colorful rings that blast their foes with magnificent light. There’s the old ‘n faithful Green Lantern Corps, powered by the emotion (?) of willpower; the Sinestro Corps, which runs on the yellow light of fear; the aforementioned Red Lantern Corps that are fueled by rage and intergalactic bulimia; the Star Sapphires, a troop of females that combat evil with the power of love and their luscious breasts; the Blue Lanterns that aid the other corps with the power of hope (and frequently shout things like ALL WILL BE WELL and HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL); the Indigo Tribe, which runs on compassion; and, finally, the Orange Lantern Corps, comprised singularly of a greedy space aardvark.

Phew.

Sometimes corps mix and match, creating, like, willful individuals that hope so damn hard, and so forth. The entire premise begs for fanboys to imagine new combinations of super hero accessorization and say things like “oh man what would happen if ______ got the power of ______ and ______?” This, presumably, leads to an increase in action figure sales.

Or, more specifically, it leads to a promotion wherein DC incentivizes retailers to purchase a surplus of floundering titles so that they can rip customers off for XXL-sized plastic rings. Either way, Blackest Night has essentially been a fantastic financial success for DC Comics, closing the market share between it and Disney-owned juggernaut Marvel and reinvigorating DC’s creative executives to such a degree that the next big event will start IMMEDIATELY and be called “Brightest Day.”

I mean, that is a lot of stock to put in a single series. Final Crisis, DC’s previous crossover event, was all but swept under the rug after it proved to be a bit more complex. Blackest Night is simpler. Things are exploding on every page, there is totally a moment when AN EVIL CLONE BATMAN RISES FROM THE DEAD AND TURNS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE INTO SPACE ZOMBIES (!!!!!!!), and so forth. If nothing else, there are dozens of moments in this book that someone, somewhere guffawed Cheetos over. It is very straightforward and “fun.”

It has been put forth, by some on the Internet, that Geoff Johns probably wrote Blackest Night while high one evening, dreaming up BADASS moment after BADASS moment, an unyielding litany of razzle dazzle wish fulfillment, assuming you, as a comics reader, have ever wished to see the Elongated Man rise from the dead to brutally murder lovebirds Hawkman and Hawkgirl.

Here’s the main problem with Blackest Night: it is a crock of shit. There is not a shred of logic governing one sentence of the absurd storyline. After laboring to do much other than breathe for the first seven issues, gettin’ whooped by big bad Nekron, the heroes finally decide to just win in the last chapter by – here it comes – BELIEVING IN THE POWER OF LIFE while nefarious twerp Black Hand snarls “Life was an accident… It has no meaning. It has no purpose.” And by becoming white lanterns. You know, because those dead bastards were black lanterns.

I have been a longtime DC reader. I have survived the likes of the universally reviled Identity Crisis, Amazons Attack, and Countdown. Blackest Night is probably worse than all of those because it became so popular, popular enough to govern the direction that most of DC’s line will be taking for the coming months. Had it not, Blackest Night would almost certainly have been one of those cute crossovers that you smile about when you look through longboxes at Comic Con years later, a Superman #123 scenario where the ridiculousness of the concept is fun in retrospect. “Heh,” you’d think to yourself, “Blue Lantern Flash. Now that was crazy.”

It’s not ridiculous, though. It’s what DC Comics has been for nearly a year now, and what it will continue to be for months. This is, as far as comics go, a concrete, serious, transformative idea.

And it’s why I’ll pretty much be dropping DC – save for the generally excellent Batman line – in favor of Marvel’s upcoming books, which are looking good. My allegiance, after all, is to the medium, not to a publisher.

It’s a shame, too. Tie-in heavy, retcon-crazed, overlong superhero crossover event based on the premise, “what if a bunch of our favorite characters died and came back to life for no reason whatsoever?” Why didn’t that work?

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3 Responses to “Grand Finale: Blackest Night in Review”

  1. Charles Connery Says:

    Refuse to read those. Thank you for saying it. My dream of becoming a Green Lantern has been shattered.

  2. Holy Shit, Damon. What is this? Good thing I don’t read graphic novels…

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