Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review #11: Lantern Rainbow All the Way

Blackest Night

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Doug Mahnke

Published: DC, 2010

The last review dealt with space cowboys and space cops and other space jobs. This review is about space cops of a different sort: THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS!

For those of you unfamiliar with the GL mythos, the Corps was founded millenia ago by powerful aliens called the Guardians with the intention of bringing order to the universe. The Guardians created the Green Power Rings, which harness the willpower of their bearer and are able to create “green solid-light constructs” of anything the bearer can imagine, and actually “no hard upper limit to the ring's capabilities has yet been demonstrated”. Members are chosen based on their ability to overcome fear. Earthman Hal Jordan was given one such ring and became … GREEN LANTERN, EARTH SECTOR 2814. The GL Corps has jurisdiction over most of the known universe, dividing it into 3600 sectors patrolled by over 7000 GLs. That's quite a few insanely powerful space cops, don't you think?

Although never a huge Green Lantern fan, I do like the concept of a tool that allows the bearer to basically create anything that comes to mind. I can only imagine what I would do with such a ring! Har har. Anyway, I've always enjoyed his appearances in the few JLA comics that I have in my possession.

There is a bit of back-story for this one... please, ring-bear with me.

In recent DC history, , a high-profile GL, rebelled against the Guardians and embraced the power of fear, creating his own “Sinestro Corps” [real original]. This new Corps uses Yellow Power Rings, as yellow is the colour of fear. Also, if your name is, Sinestro, you are pretty much destined to become a villain.

Following this , other Corps started popping up, including Orange, Blue, Red, Violet and Indigo. A different emotion powers each of these different Power Rings: orange is avarice, blue is hope, red is rage, violet is love and indigo is compassion.

Just had a funny thought: it would be hilarious if one of the Corps was powered by sadness. I picture a bunch of depressed space cops laying in bed all day.

Anyway, a war of sorts starts among these factions. This is when the Blackest Night story arc and this trade paperback begin.

So, we are introduced to a fellow called Willam Hand, AKA the Black Hand. Besides sharing that name with a Serbian secret military society, he is an old GL villain who has recently been re-jigged for a lead role in this story arc. He describes his childhood and the origin of his morbid fascination with death [his family owned a funeral home], which led to a life of supervillany. In the first pages, we see Hand return to his family home and kill them, then himself. He is promptly resurrected by the rogue Guardian, Scar, who was killed and resurrected recently herself. They are both now serving a new master.... DEATH!

Mr. Hand, mid-suicide

So, following this, mysterious Black Power Rings start showing up all over the universe, resurrecting the dead and investing them with power greater than that of any other Lantern. On Earth, Hal and are confronted by their dead fellow JLA-member J'onn J'onnz, now a Black Lantern, who proceeds to beat them senseless.

Meanwhile, somewhere in space, John Stewart, co-Earth Sector 2814 GL, is witness to an entire dead planet being reborn as a sort of “home base” for the BLs. He is attacked and retreats only to discover that the planet is approaching Earth and bringing an army of BLs with it.

It is discovered that the BLs can only be defeated by a GL working in tandem with a Lantern of any other colour. Hal and Sinestro put aside their differences [sort of] and collect a veritable rainbow coalition of Lanterns to stop the scourge of BLs that have descended upon Earth.

The climactic final battle is unfortunately cut short and I am told it will be concluded in the next issue. Huh? I thought the point of these trade paperbacks was to put story arcs into easily buy-able and digestible form. And along those lines, there are definitely chunks of the story missing between each issue that is included. Why aren't they including the whole thing? Greedy corporate bastards, I tell ya! #occupyDCcomics

So, overall I like this story. The artwork is super-detailed and imaginative [this is required, given the nature of the rings' abilities] and the colours are awesome. Whenever a BLs POV is shown, There is this really cool effect of whoever they are looking at being coloured with the emotions they are feeling. Also, the last issue features a ton of sweet splash pages.


We all know the “comic book death” cliché: as Otto from the Simpsons once sang, “Radioactive Man is dead / but he'll be back next week” [see review #4]. It's almost become a given that a superhero will die at least once in their career. Even my beloved Batman has “died” recently, only to have it revealed that he was instead “lost in time”, so they can have some hokey caveman-era Bruce Wayne dressed in prehistoric batskins cracking skulls with a hatchet. It's a little much.

So, I thought it was clever how they worked that in to the whole Black Lantern modus operandi. The Black Lantern rings seek out heroes who have died, but they also seek out heroes who have cheated death [AKA a shitload of them]. It's a funny little bit of acknowledgment, kind of like last season's South Park story arc that acknowledged Kenny's endless cycle of [literal] rebirth.

There is another “self-aware” moment near the beginning when the Flash and Hal are discussing how Hal maintains his secret identity when his mask is so tiny and they bring up Superman's “obvious” secret alter-ego as Clark Kent and we are treated to this hilarious exchange:

I'm all for darkness in comics, but that doesn't mean they don't have to be fun either, and this one has good doses of both.

There is a part near the end when it is revealed that when the Black Lanterns rise, individuals can be “deputized” as Lanterns because of some prophecy blah blah blah. I thought that was a bit lame and kind of just an excuse for some fancy costume redesigning. Also, Flash in a blue outfit looks surprisingly similar to Captain America.

Oh, and by the way, the Blue Lanterns have the LAMEST BATTLE CRY OF ALL TIME: “All will be well!” Shoot me now.

I have a wee hunch that part of the inspiration behind this was that DC was a little jealous of Marvel's success with Marvel Zombies and they wanted a piece of zombie pie. At least they managed to make their take on zombies work into their world as it existed, rather than create yet another goddam alternate reality.

So, this gets the Thor Blondal stamp of approval [hey, I should actually design a Thor Blondal Stamp of Approval], with an asterisk about the excluded plot points/cliffhanger ending.

No comments:

Post a Comment