"Hideous. No. Hideously unexpected." That's how I answered my lovely wife's interrogatory about "Blackest Night" after she graciously allowed me some time to read this title in order to prepare my review. Sure, we know this has been coming for a few years. Hell, it's been brewing for nearly half a decade, if not longer. Seeds sown in "Identity Crisis" bear fruit here, but the story stretches farther back, to "Crisis on Infinite Earths" as Hal Jordan and Barry Allen share a moment to discuss those fallen heroes since Barry last sped across the globe. Barry's reaction to seeing Firestorm among the throng of fallen comrades is testament to Geoff Johns' passion and understanding of the DC Universe.
This tale occurs on the day set aside for mourning fallen heroes and civilians. Some of the characters being mourned are not going to sit idly by as the Guardian known as Scar and the plague of the Black Lantern launch their collective assault. This story may have started off as a Green Lantern-centric event, but make no mistake, Johns and crew quickly involve the entire DC Universe. Johns revisits old haunts in the form of the Titans Memorial room at Titans Tower, Valhalla Cemetery in Metropolis, the Stonechat Museum in St. Roch among others.
The Universe –- and the inhabitants thereof -- is beautifully rendered by Ivan Reis, inked by Oclair Albert and masterfully colored by Alex Sinclair. The risen dead are chillingly hideous and the living heroes are magnificent and strong. Sinclair completes the shadows of the lamps on the roadside billboards, finishes the scale sheen on Mera's costume and gives a brightness to the War of Light. This story, in this issue, shows us that there will be repercussions.
This title may lack DC's favorite event buzzword (say it with me, "Crisis"), but this event is finally event worthy. I find myself wanting more, not feeling compelled to get more because the story left me off at some points. The stakes of this story increase with each turn of the page. The presumed answers lie in waiting, perhaps buried under by the true story unfolding. Let me assure you, while everything (from the spoilers on the DC Direct action figures set to tie in to this tale to the previews in "Blackest Night" #0 and many issues of "Green Lantern" and "Green Lantern Corps") to this point has been offering a tale about the risen dead, or "DC Zombies," this book appears to have much more waiting for us in the stories yet to be told in the issues to come.
My comrade, Timothy Callahan, is also reviewing this. Of late, the two of us have been more different than alike in our reviews, so I look forward to seeing what he thinks of this issue. I know what I think. This issue is, far and away, the best thing I'm going to read this week. I'm debating not even reading anything else. This is "summer reading" at its very best: high energy adventure, huge stakes, great characters, a dastardly foe, and great creative talent. Add one tall glass of your favorite beverage, a shady hammock of a spot of floor near a fan and you've got a great way to spend some summer free time.