I can’t remember a comic event that was hyped more than this since Civil War, and with good reason. Geoff Johns had taken the reigns of Green Lantern a few years ago, returning Hal Jordan to the DCU in “Rebirth.” After a dozen or so ho-hum issues, he completely took everyone by surprise with the Sinestro Corps Wars in 2006 In what would become a hallmark of his writing, he ended the event by showing hints of what was to come, “Blackest Night.”
Johns was a master at mining gems out of old continuity. Many nerdlings know the Lantern Oath by heart, but I’m sure never really gave it much thought. “In brightest day, in blackest night…” Blackest night was first referred to as an event way back in Alan Moore’s “Tygers” story in “Green Lantern Corps Annual” #2 in 1986. Abin Sur, Jordan’s predecessor, visits Ysmault to search a crashed ship, looking for survivors. Instead, he’s given a prophecy of the Blackest Night, how the corps will fall, and that his ring will fail him. Sur, not trusting his ring, uses the ship to fly off before he crashes on Earth and dies. Moore originally intended for this to explain why Sur was in a spaceship when he landed on Earth, as every corps member flies, not requiring a ship. Johns used it for so much more.
The story was originally intended to be printed inline with the main Green Lantern book much like “Sinestro Corps Wars” (SCW). The scope of the story grew, and the story became an 8 issue event book (9 including the short #0 issue). In the three years since the end of SCW, Johns began adding more Corps to the DCU. Every color in the rainbow was represented, each with their own emotion. Red for rage, orange was avarice, yellow fear, green will, blue hope, indigo compassion, and violet love. With the inception/discovery (because they were “always there”) of the different corps, the War of Light began, with each of the different corpse battling. This played into the prophecy. Once the War of Light started, the Blackest Night was inevitable.
The Black Hand, an old Lantern villain, died early in Johns’ run. He was given a black ring, and resurrected as the avatar for the corps. Be began to send black rings across the universe, bringing the dead back to life. They hunt down their living family and friends, envoking different emotions in them, which fuel the black lantern battery. I thought this was an smart idea, continuing to play on the emotions aspect that Johns’ had been working with. Batman”s grave (who was currently dead/lost in time) was desecrated by Black Hand. This act created the emotional response needed in DC’s heroes for them to become susceptible to black rings. Any hero who escaped death was once again claimed by it; Superman, Wonder Woman, Superboy, Green Arrow, Kid Flash, Donna Troy, Ice, and Animal Man.
As the corps fell, only the main characters from each are left to fight. Ganthet (former GL guardian), showed them how their ring can deputize a non-member for 24 hours. Ganthet was green, Barry Allen Blue, Mera Red, Lex Luthor Orange, Scarecrow Yellow, Atom Indigo, and Wonder Woman Compassion, freeing her from the black ring. I wanted to describe the last two parts, the heroes falling and deputizing, as I thought they were brilliant and fun ideas. The latter particularly as it showed a different yet sensible aspect to the characters.
Ethan Van Sciver, who had been working on Lantern for years with Johns’, delivered career defining work. His pencils were sharp, with his imagination shining through in the grotesque and horrifying character designs.
My only complaint with the series is the reliance on the Green Lantern book proper. Reading the event by itself would prove confusing as many important moments took place between issues in the GL book (both written by Johns’). At the time, it was inconceivable that one was not reading both books (though Johns’ had to tweet out the reading order when they both shipped the same week). Now, many of the collections are for Blackest Night only, impacting the reading experience. The Absolute Edition collects the mini along with the GL issues in proper reading order though. Be careful when reading this, you might need to wiki the proper order.
“Blackest Night” was an amazing story that I think delivered on much of the 3 year hype. While SCW was ultimately a better read (mostly because it caught everyone off guard), “Blackest Night” still delivers. Sadly, it was mostly down hill from there.
What was your favorite moment from the series? Any other DCU heroes you wished to see sporting a ring? Comment below!
By mostly downhill I really mean all.