Writer Geoff Johns
Pencils Ivan Reis
Inks Oclair Albert with Julio Ferreira
Colors Alex Sinclair
This is why I still read and love super hero comics. Super heroes are the American mythology or at least as close as we will get to sitting around the campfire and explaining where the thunder and lighting are coming from. All too often we as fans await these events and hope against hope that this one, this time, it will be the one to deliver. Well we are only at issue #2, but wow did this freaking book deliver. Johns and Reis are two for two with both a great story and breath taking art. I can even live with just 24 new pages of story and art for $4.
The Green Lantern book leading up to this and the Flash Rebirth series have been solid and entertaining, but they have not been knock your socks off type of work, I think Geoff was just anxious to get to this story. It starts small (pun intended) as the Atom (Ray Palmer) is calling Carter Hall and pouring his heart out to him how he still misses Jean Loring regardless of what she did. The newly dead and Black Lantern Hawkman is shown speaking into the phone inviting Ray over.
We switch to Gotham City and not only do we get a great scene of Hal being knocked into the Bat signal we get Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, Barry Allen and the Black Lantern Martian Manhunter. As good as their word you did not need to read Green Lantern to be able to follow the story, but if you had read Green Lantern you knew that Barry and Hal have been fighting the undead J’onn J’ozz.
The scenes keep moving as we also see Tempest and Mera coming to Aquaman’s grave and being attacked by the Black Lantern Aquaman, Dolphin and Tula. We see Deadman’s body rise up as a Black Lantern, Hank (Hawk) Hall rise up and yet Don (Dove) Hall manages to stay dead. One of my favorite scenes is in the graveyard when the Phantom Stranger, Blue Devil and Zatanna see the Spectre turned into a Black Lantern and cry out he wants Hal Jordan back.
Until you read this series you forget how many heroes have died in the DCU and how many people are touched by death or are related to death in some ways. We also get great action and fighting scenes as Hal and Barry fight against the Martian Manhunter and at first think they have defeated him. We see Tempest and Mera fighting and Tempest being killed and converted into a Black Lantern. We see the cliff hanger with a group of dead super heroes coming after Hal and Barry. The amount of death is astonishing when you see all of these dead heroes and you start to realize how many heroes have died. With an almost casual ease we have added some long standing characters into the ranks of the dead with Tempest this issue and Hawkman and Hawkgirl last issue. Johns said this series would examine what death means in the DCU and we are certainly seeing some early plot points being laid out. I’m sure it is no accident that Hal and Barry, two heroes back from the dead, are at the center of this story so far.
At the same time we realize that Hal does not have a clue as to why all of this is happening, how wide spread it is and what the heck is causing it. In fact after reading issue #2 I wondering why the heck DC did not just let these events take over the whole line. We have a lot of story to be told and I’m not sure another six issues will be enough, but I’m glad that it is enough also as if it became too big it would interfere with some other great story lines going in inside the DCU.
Now as wonderful as this story is and as great as all the little scenes between the various characters have been done, none of it would be so magnificent if it was not for the artwork. Ivan Reis is setting himself up as the new standard that other super hero artists will be measured against. Instead of me comparing his work favorably to Neal Adams, if he keeps this up I’ll be comparing everyone else to Ivan Reis and wondering if they can measure up. Seriously, right now Bryan Hitch was the gold standard from the Neal Adams type of style (which is a cross of Kirby and photorealism), but with this work Reis is the new gold standard. Granted inkers and colorists add a lot, but compare this work to Hitch’s Captain America Reborn work and tell me who you think is better. Ivan has great layouts, great page design, strong expressions and dynamic fight scenes and can do the wide screen type shots when called for. This is a beautiful book and deserves the Absolute treatment when this series is completed.
The one negative is that by reading this book first I’m afraid I have already read the best book of the week and everything else will be something less than this book.
Overall Grade A – Johns and Reis have set the bar very high for themselves, but this series is an absolute smash hit. It evokes the mythology of the DCU and is full of power, action and tragedy. Glorious.