Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2

"Unnecessary" has never been so entertaining.

"Unnecessary" has never been so entertaining.

Authors: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi & Ethan Van Sciver
Artists: Eddy Barrows, Gene Ha & Tom Mandrake
Inkers: Ruy José
Colorists: Nei Ruffino & Pete Pantazis
Cover Artists: Ed Benes, Rob Hunter & Nei Ruffino
Variant Cover Artist: Rodolfo Migliari
Letterers: Steve Wands & Sal Cipriano
Editor: Adam Schlagman

Once again, I have to disagree with this book’s detractors.  Tales of the Corps #2, like the first issue, is an entertaining read, and while its connection to Blackest Night proper may not be readily apparent, it fleshes out the players in this War of Light.  The emotional spectrum is an interesting concept in itself, and though the seeds were planted from the very beginning of Geoff Johns’ stellar Green Lantern run, it’s clear that not all avenues have been explored in the rush to get to Blackest Night.  Perhaps it was editorial pressure; perhaps it was fan demand; I don’t know – but if this book affords Johns and his cohort the opportunity to explore this War of Light in greater detail, then I’m all for it.  And if you’re a Green Lantern fan, you’ll be all for it too.

Like the first issue, the opening story is by far the strongest.  “Fly Away” tells the tale of angelic beauty, Princess Bleez, and how she comes to embrace the rage of the Red Lantern Corps.  I wasn’t being flowery when I used the word ‘angelic’ either, Bleez has wings – with feathers – and Johns uses these as a simple narrative device to tell a story of freedom yearned for and ultimately, lost.  Eddy Barrows’ pencils are breathtaking, especially in depicting Bleez and her home planet, Havania.  It just goes to show that when given a full story to work with, Barrows absolutely shines (not that that was ever in doubt in the first place).  It’s not just the beautiful vistas he excels in either; his penchant for gritty, horror-inspired visuals is also on display here.  Credit must also go to Nei Ruffino, whose colours went a long way toward evoking the beauty of Bleez and her planet homeland.  All of this beauty – Bleez’s soft, metallic skin and Havania’s crystalline waterfalls – lends the story a great deal of its power when the Sinestro Corps come to strip it all away.  It’s interesting that Bleez’s turn as a Red Lantern owes more to the Sinestro Corps than it does the Red Lanterns themselves.

The second story, also penned by Johns, centres on Carol Ferris, and how she came to be a Star Sapphire.  “Lost Love” is beautifully drawn by Top 10 artist and co-creator, Gene Ha.  As much as I love any opportunity to enjoy Ha’s artwork, I’m going to have to side with the naysayers here and say that, yes, this story is entirely unnecessary.  We have seen most of this before.  The entire story essentially takes place within the confines of Carol’s cockpit, as she converses with the violet ring.  On comes a series of violet-filtered flashbacks concerning Carol and Hal Jordan’s on-and-off love relationship.  Now that the Star Sapphires have refined their crystals into rings for recruitment purposes, acceptance of the ring is voluntary.  This doesn’t ring true to me – the situation and the conversation itself seem to be a contrivance on Johns’ part to separate this particular instance from the earlier ones – it attempts to rationalise something that isn’t at all rational, and that is Love.  The conversation between Carol and the violet ring is a thinly veiled internal monologue, and it comes off as being rather stilted in the end.

The third and final tale in this collection chronicles the journey of the all-conquering, alien floating head, known as Blume.  Peter Tomasi excels at these kinds of dark, quirky tales, and “Godhead” is no exception.  The malevolent head prowls the universe, hungry for anything of value.  Amidst these flagrant displays of greed and cruelty, Tomasi achieves rare moments of poignancy, as Blume learns the true subjectivity of value and sheer breadth of what is valuable to people.  Blume’s fate as an Orange Lantern construct is a foregone conclusion, but that doesn’t rob this story of its value.

The issue finishes with a two-page featurette from Green Lantern: Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver, titled “The Symbols of the Spectrum: How They Came to Be, and What They Represent”, which documents the genesis of the seven symbols we’ve seen in the War of Light.  This is great for Green Lantern fans who want an insight into the creative process that goes into the making of their favourite comic book.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too.  Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps is a great supplementary book to the core Green Lantern series and Blackest Night itself.  You don’t need to read it to understand the events of those two books, but it’s a great read nonetheless.  If it was ‘necessary’ or ‘important’, fans and critics alike would be complaining about how they have to follow yet another book to gain an appreciation of the overall story.  As it stands, though, Tales of the Corps represents the very best kind of tie-in to a comic book event – wholly unnecessary to the progression of the main story, and yet an interesting and entertaining read in its own right.

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