Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blackest Night #1 Review

I wasn’t expecting to be posting reviews probably until the weekend where I would be lucky if I could get my hands on Blackest Night #1. Though I was lucky enough to get to the shop, 10 minutes before closing, and get my hands on Blackest Night #1. Sadly there was no Black Lantern ring craving flesh waiting for me.

Now a SPOILER WARNING to all who are planning on reading DC’s big event but haven’t been able to get to the shop yet. Even if you don’t mind spoilers I highly recommend you not read still as I would really hate to spoil this incredible debut issue.

Blackest Night #1

Written: Geoff Johns

Art: Ivan Reis

Opening Comments: Blackest Night #1 is a jam packed issue with so much content for the price of 3.99 that it’s one of the few books I can say is well worth the price of admission. While it may start out slow, by the end you can hear the roar of the undead as the whole universe is at stake.

Story Comments: the opening with Black Hand digging up Bruce Wayne’s unmarked grave sets a creepy and eerie tone for the entire book. We see him talk to his evil master and the Black Rings burst into space. Johns does a good job of setting an eerie tone both for Black Hand and the entire setting for the Black Lanterns.

We pick up from there with Hal Jordan narrating on the national day of celebrating fallen heroes. Now if this day has been a trend in the DCU or if it’s something new jut for Blackest Night I don’t know but I really enjoyed it. It was so great getting to see the perspective from all these regular people along with heroes reminiscing on their fallen friends and loved ones.

Johns uses this holiday as a real way for the readers to connect to the characters and make us feel for them as they’ve all lost someone important. It’s really great and some of the best scenes came from characters that have nothing to do at all with Green Lantern or the cosmic side of DC.

Hal Jordan’s narration is nicely done, but I admit it does tend to get a little tiring after a while. He can only so much before he needs to see a therapist for talking to himself. It was rather annoying after a while.

Hal’s narration does do a good job of recapping important things like loved ones lost to the other Green Lanterns. Similar to what Ed Brubaker did in Captain America: Reborn #1 a good amount of this issue is recapping/restating as much as they can without spelling it out to their fans. Johns does a good job at trying to keep new readers up to speed and make Blackest Night #1 as new reader friendly as possible.

Sadly as someone who hasn’t followed DC except for the Dark Knight’s adventures and whatever

Wikipedia/online spoilers I can get of other books I was a little lost at some moments. Atom Smasher for one had me confused, as did the entire discussion between Hawkman and Hawkgirl. I wasn’t completely lost really but still I felt that as someone who hasn’t followed these character the discussion didn’t make total sense to me.

All the characters here are great, especially Barry Allen who has a hard time dealing with how many heroes have died since he was lost to the speed force. I especially liked how Johns highlights all 4 of the Green Lanterns of earth. I definitely was glad Guy Gardner got a moment in, as he’s my favorite of them all.

Johns makes every character matter and every moment important and interesting for the reader. Even when we start out slow he still gives us something to read and enjoy.

Though I cannot deny that this issue definitely starts out slow it gets at a more wild pace by the end of the first issue. By the first issue’s end, everything is in play, the war is in full swing and the Black Lanterns have their army and are storming the universe.

One moment that I enjoyed was when Scar finally lets loose and attacks the other Guardians. She kills one and has the others bound by the odd black goo she vomits. It was a great scene and it looks like the guardians are either going to die or at least be thinned out greatly by Blackest Night’s end.

When all the Black Lanterns begin rising is when the issue really kicks off for me though. I at first thought we would only have a hand full of Black Lanterns by the first issue but we have a literal army of the undead. Most of them are undead Green Lanterns mind you but we still have the more familiar faces such as Martian Manhunter and Ralph and Sue Dibny.

The Black Lanterns are absolutely brutal as we see in the final scene as Hawkman and Hawkgirl are brutally killed by the Dibny’s. It really was a heart wrenching moment both for it’s over excessive violence and Hawkgirl’s touching final words to Hawkman before she dies.

As I just mentioned, the violence is a bit over the top. I don’t mind violence, but in a super hero comic I think there’s a certain level you can reach before you pushing it into dumb violence and Blackest Night #1 was really pushing it’s over the line. Hopefully the series won’t rely on violence for its shock value though.

Johns turns in a great debut issue here. Every page from start to finish is worth a read and every bit of dialogue helps the story and develops the debut issue of Blackest Night into an excellent beginning to what is looking to be an absolutely amazing event.

Art Comments: I’ve never been the biggest fan of Reis’ art and Blackest Night doesn’t change that. I don’t find it to be bad in anyway or lazy work at all. If anything he’s one of the best artist DC has but his biggest problem is how he fits too much in with the simple image of DC’s artistic style. He doesn’t really stand out in his own of a crowd of other DC artists as far as his style is concerned.That and I never found the typical art style of DC all that appealing.

Still he does a great job here I cannot deny that. He especially excels with the really big splash page images such as when Hal is showing Barry all the fallen heroes. It’s some really impressive stuff and it’s great. Really great. From all his work over the last few years this is definitely his best yet.

Final Comments: Blackest Night may not be for everyone, but for what it is it’s something really great. Johns has shown us why this should be more than a Green Lantern event and that this is truly a massive event that should not be missed out by anyone who loves Super Hero Comics.

Writing: 5 out of 5

Art: 5 out of 5

Overall: 5 out of 5

Must Have

This review brought to you by Kirby Krackle’s great song Ring Capacity.

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