Blackest Night #0
Author: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis & Doug Mahnke
Now I’m all agitated. Moving in my seat. Blackest Night #0, is a real tease, so mission accomplished. It’s probably the most cleverly disguised ad since DC Universe #0. Oh, and it’s free, so I can pretty much recommend it to you straight away. For one solitary day in the year, it’s costing DC money for you to read a comic, so make the most of it.
The cover art’s pretty nice – it’s just a pity they had to put that garish ‘FREE COMIC BOOK DAY’ at the top, and the ugly blank white rectangle in the bottom right corner reminding us that yes, again, it is free. Not all the free comics today were uglified in this manner, but all the DC ones were. It even has a barcode – I don’t quite understand that. Why take stock of a free item? Anyway, it’s free.
This issue consists of a story snippet with art by Ivan Reis, a letter from Geoff Johns, and some profile pages with art by Doug Mahnke. The story is deftly scribed by Geoff Johns as always, and Ivan Reis’ art is (somewhat) spectacular as always. It’s a little bit subdued (hence the ‘somewhat’), because obviously it’s a prologue and no real action. The story opens as always with a narrative caption from Hal Jordan telling us that he’s an officer of the Green Lantern Corps and that Space Sector 2814 is his space-cop beat. (Hey Johns, can you quit doing that? I know you’ve got a lot of new readers picking this up because it’s Blackest Night and it’s free and all, but I also know that you’ll do it again, and I’ve read that damn caption on a monthly basis for the last four years! We KNOW who he is, we KNOW he’s Green Lantern – that’s why he’s GLOWING GREEN in a GREEN UNIFORM with a GREEN RING, and that’s why we bought a comic with ‘GREEN LANTERN’ on the cover!) From here, it becomes pretty clear who Johns intends to resurrect for this mega-event. I’ll give you a hint: the entire issue plays out in Gotham Cemetery. How doubly appropriate.
(I also figured out a couple of weeks ago that Earth-2 Superman would be a resurrect-ee, thanks to the tactless ad for the Blackest Night action figures, which also features in this issue. This begs the (loaded) question, with all these superheroes rising from the dead all zombie-like, will they be full-blown villains, and if so, is that desecration? I can’t imagine Geoff Johns desecrating any superhero, much less the likes of Batman, Aquaman, or even Martian Manhunter. Tell you what, I’ll just assume there’s more to it and we’ll move on, ‘kay?)
Hal Jordan and Barry Allen (the second Flash) have a pleasant little chat over a gravestone, discussing their respective deaths, which is all very strange to this mortal reader. (Is there any major DC superhero that hasn’t died? I think Wonder Woman may be the only one, and she’s kind of…arbitrarily major.) Something sinister is going on in the background (literally), though, of course. It’s a cemetery at night, what did you expect? The ending is pretty te[ase]rrific.
A letter from the man himself follows explaining how he wanted to tell this story from the get-go and it wasn’t really intended to be an ‘event’ as such, and you know what? I believe him – I’m just not sure DC does. I re-read his Lantern run a few months back, and there’s plenty of foreshadowing going on back there (one could argue it goes back as far as Alan Moore). It sounds like Geoff’s trying to assure people that this thing won’t run away from him, that it’s still his story, and still under his control. And I *sort of* believe him. The checklist on the back page kind of contradicts this a little – 6 titles a month – but still, it’s not exactly Tie-in City.
The profile pages are nice and pretty, and serve as little fact files on each of the Corps. Does anyone honestly believe that indigo is a legitimate colour, much less an important stripe of the rainbow? Between the Blue Lanterns’ hope and the Star Sapphires’ love, I can’t even begin to imagine how Johns will squeeze this Indigo Tribe (compassion) between the two and give them an actual purpose. (It’s the only group in this war of light that hasn’t been revealed yet, so I guess I’ll just assume again, shall I?) Each Corps’ profile details their represented emotion, homeworld, history, powers and weaknesses. I wonder if this is the kind of thing Johns used to pitch the idea to DC originally. Probably they just handed him the keys to the city after Rebirth and he didn’t need to pitch it at all. Nerds will have fun trying to recognise all of the arms reaching out of the ground on the Black Lantern page.
Anyway, very informative, but there were a couple of niggling things. One being the omission of Mongul from the Sinestro Corps page. I wonder what that means, or was I not paying attention somewhere? Well, Mongul’s cool and he should be in the Corps. The other thing being how damn mathematical all the weaknesses are. They have ‘rules’ that remind me of schoolyard fare: ‘the orange rings can’t drain the blue rings, and the blue rings beat the red rings, but the blue rings don’t work unless they’re with the green rings, and the yellow rings beat the green rings, but not the blue rings.’ And I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal.
Like I said, though, I assume there’s more to it. Did I mention it’s free?