Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Green Lantern #44 – Blackest Night – A Review

Green Lantern #44

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Geoff Johns

Pencils Doug Mahnke

Inks Christian Almay, Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen & Rodney Ramos

Colors Randy Mayor

So I have read that you only need to read Blackest Night to get the entire story but reading Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps gives you the entirety of the story. The other series are just additional background or individual stories of different heroes dealing with the risen dead. Instead of being a bunch of bull, so far this is working out as advertised which a nice change of pace. Also, unlike World War Hulk, where the actual series Incredible Hulk was total garbage this issue of Green Lantern was well done and a very good read. If you sense my enthusiasm for this issue is less then it was for Blackest Night #1, you would be correct. Blackest Night set the bar incredibly high and this issue while an excellent comic had a more narrow focus and therefore did not have the epic feel Blackest Night #1 had.

We start with a three page sequence of a Black Lantern ring reaching J’onn J’onzz on Mars and we see another one of the dead coming back to life. I have read that Geoff Johns is playing with the whole concept of death in the DCU and I have to say that I’m enjoying what he is doing with this. The dead are the friends and comrades of the heroes and the various remarks being made show you that the line between being alive and dead is a thin one in the DCU.

Next we switch to seeing Hal and Barry in costume hanging around Bruce Wayne’s grave and wondering why someone stole the skull of Bruce’s skeleton. Hal mentions that he and Barry are both cops of a sort and just seeing the two together again was great as these guys were the first two heroes in the DCU that were made into buddies. Knowing Johns love of the material from that time, it is great to see him bring it back in a more subtle manner and at the same time keeping it modern. You can sense the friendship between the two and you can feel the mileage that has grown between them.

Then we get a battle royal between a Black Lantern Martian Manhunter versus the Flash and Green Lantern. This is where Mahnke really struts his stuff. This section of the story is really carried by the art and Doug is one of the best. Doug has a great double page spread in here and has one page where he shows just how powerful J’onn J’onzz is. What was done so well is as the battle is happening we have some dialogue which is emphasizing a couple of things. One is that both Barry and Hal have been dead and are now back. The second is that it appears the Black Lanterns see people in their emotional spectrums as the Manhunter see Hal as green (willpower) and Barry as blue (hope) and later sees Barry as yellow (fear) when they are fighting. Johns is interweaving his story of the emotional spectrum and the power that emotions give. Johns is also putting in the idea of how many of the DCU have been both dead and alive at times. This is all being done as we witness a great action/battle scene and being interwoven so as not to come across like things did years ago, when exposition and plotlines where espoused as they fought. This is done as part of the flow of the story and the reader is expected to pick up on it.

That’s not even the entire story, yet at the same time the focus remains relatively small. We are treated to a page about the Guardians and we get a great scene with John Stewart to end this chapter, but I can see at this point how the structure of Blackest Night is such that reading Blackest Night gives you a story, adding GL and GL Corps apparently widens the story and fills in more details. The other series that are attached appear to be just fluff unless you want to see how this is impacting other DCU heroes. Between War of Kings from Marvel and Blackest Night from DC we are finally starting to see how events can be done right. A fan can collect the core book and get a good story and expand into more books as their budgets allow. After decades of events, it is nice to see it being done right.

Overall Grade A – I hate giving plus and minuses but this was an A- or B+ more then a pure A, but it was well written, great art and a cool story, but I think my problem with the A is I’m comparing it to Blackest Night #1.

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