I have to say, the first issue of “Blackest Night” had me pretty worried. I had been avidly following Geoff Johns’ “Green Lantern” stories since “Rebirth,” and they’d all been leading up to this. What I ended up reading was a disappointing and radically unfun start to the proceedings. Obviously, that was the point, but the book before this, while dark and violent at times, never really hit the depths that the debut issue of “Blackest Night” did. Luckily, the followup issue of “Green Lantern” was a much needed breath of fresh action and this issue, while still dark and still featuring plenty of de-heartings, shows a lot more traces of the high adventure tone that Johns has spent years refining in his work on the character and his mythology.
We start off right where the first issue left off. Hawkman and Hawkgirl are now Black Lanterns, hungry for more victims. During the course of the issue, actually, we learn that their brutal murder by the corpses of the funlovingest characters in DC history wasn’t just a completely senseless act of horrible violence, but actually the first part of a thought out plan that makes quite a bit of sense when you think about it. The rest of the issue follows the continuing execution of this plan, with increasingly dire results for pretty much everyone still breathing.
We barely spend any time on Oa or with the rest of the multicolored Lantern Corps across the galaxy. This is about the individual heroes in the DC Universe, and that gives it a surprisingly engaging tone, especially compared to the cast-of-thousands spectacle one might have expected from a Geoff Johns Event Book. Some might fault Johns for lingering too much on the Aquaman family but, hey, if you can’t get into a zombie summoning sharks to eat people, then I don’t know what you’re looking for in comics.
Ivan Reis continues his long journey towards comic book art superstardom, drawing countless zombified heroes and any number of locales. He also has some great moments of bravura 70’s style storytelling, like when Deadman is trying to drown out the voices of the rising Black Lanterns, the panel around him a Black Lantern ring, with the Phantom Stranger reflected in it. Cool stuff. His art is also greatly enhanced by the fantastic color work of Alex Sinclair, who adds a palpable level of decay to pretty much every corner of this story.
As I said, the first issue of the series was quite a disappointment. There had been so much lead up in such widescale fashion, that the sudden shift in tone was not at all what I was expecting. Luckily, this issue feels much more like the dozens of issues of “Green Lantern” that came before it. It’s exciting, surprising, and has its fair share of action. It might take a bit longer to get as good as “The Sinestro Corps War” was, right from the start. But at this point it certainly has a chance.