A relative newcomer to the DC Universe, J.T. Krul steps right into one of the most challenged brands in the DC Universe and delivers a great read. Of course that great read is a direct tie-in to the well-orchestrated "Blackest Night" event currently highlighting DC's summer release lists. After writing one issue of Titans (the varsity squad book) Krul jumps in with both feet for the "Blackest Night: Titans" series. If you don't know the basic premise of "Blackest Night" yet, it's this: the dead shall rise. What franchise has more dead characters than the Titans? No one. Therefore, this series -– limited to three issues -- is going to be challenged by the sheer numbers of once-dead-but-revived-as-evil Titans, or so I thought.
Krul gives us just enough to really get involved in the story this issue. Hank Hall shows up as a Black Lantern Hawk and he's none too keen that there's a new bird in town. Terra comes to collect Gar's heart –- literally. Lilith makes an appearance, and Donna Troy's family is primed to show up next issue. The living characters are well-written and Krul finds the voices for the characters rather quickly, giving us one of the best "Hawk & Dove" stories since the double-Kesel-penned adventures of the late 1980s/early 1990s. As a matter of fact, this story has me wondering if Kestrel is around somewhere in this "Blackest Night."
The mix of Titans featured here (I'm writing about the living ones only) is fresh and fun, and Benes' art is just about as perfect as it has been in a long, long while. A platoon of inkers cover Benes here, but his style shines through as all three inkers augment Benes' work quite nicely. The scene that establishes Black Lantern Hawk is killer. The fight between Hawk and Dove and Black Lantern Hawk is incredible, with one small problem. The establishing shot of BL Hawk has the Black Lantern ring on his left hand, but during the fight it's on his right. A minor quibble to be sure, but worth mentioning.
This issue, like all of "Blackest Night" to this point, leaves the reader hanging, but we also get a new mystery thrown in just for fun. As has been established in the "Blackest Night" comics, the Black Lanterns can see auras of characters as they relate to the emotional spectrum. Hawk, naturally, appears as "Rage." When Beast Boy thinks he's holding Terra, his aura appears as "Love". Dove's aura opens a whole new can of question worms, and for some strange reason, I think it might hold the key to solving "Blackest Night."
One thing is for certain: with Krul, Benes, Hunter/Sibal/Mayer and crew, I'll be back for the rest of this series and hoping that this team graduates to one of the regular "Titans" titles.