Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Is Blackest Night For All I Care #41

Blackest Night #0
Blackest Night #1

Blackest Night #2
Blackest Night #3
Blackest Night: Titans #1
Green Lantern #44

The great thing about lallygagging is that your totally late reviews become reflective "theme weeks." So I've got links to the old Blackest Night #0 and Blackest Night #1 reviews, plus #3 just came out today, to help balance things out.

Blackest Night #2 (DC, 2009, $3.99)
I initially had a fairly negative reaction to this series, but this one issue worked so well for me, I was sold on the rest of the series through its potential. It opens with the Atom walking into a trap that could, given his semi-redundancy in the DCU and last issue's big deaths, truly be "permanently" fatal. By gosh, actual tension?!? Next there's a tie-in to Green Lantern's title, but that's over soon enough. Then, the real gem: the arrival of Black Lantern Aquaman, touching on raw nerves left by his decades of mishandling and the ongoing torture of his supporting cast. Even if he intentionally blurs the living hell out of the various lines of Aquaman continuity, its clear he knows it, and has more important things to say with the iconic character than "what a loser/I'm tough, dammit!" There's a vein of genuine horror mined here. There are also some grim parodies of crises past and cute twists, using humor and shocking bursts of violence to heighten the stakes. There's a lot of death here, and it manages to remain just this side of believable, taking out characters major enough to matter without crossing the credibility line. The closing splash made my man-nipples hard, a damned fine read from start to finish. Now, if it can only sustain...

Blackest Night #3 (DC, 2009, $3.99)
Just as I was starting to get serious about this book, crossoveritis resurges. Jason Rusch and Gehenna have a major moment at the start of the book. Gee, wonder if that's a set-up. The Black Lantern Justice League are still going at Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the Flash, treating the team like such ineffectual second-stringers you might as well kill them... off... in... an event book. Poor bitches. All the worse for BL Elongated Man, who inherited Plastic Man's dated-as-fuck Jim Carrey impersonation in the afterlife. BL Firestorm/Ronnie Raymond also suffers from a damning post-mortem critique-through-cheap-characterization by the writer. Geoff Johns starts channeling Marv Wolfman in Crisis mode, vomiting exposition for pages, dressed up with characters doing random shit just to offer something more visual than talking heads. More Wolfmanesque is the irritating, cypherous characters created solely to make a grand entrance in a crossover, then hand the heroes unearned information. There's a horrible page drowning in text where Barry and Hal psychoanalyze each other for the benefit of the subtext impaired that could have stayed in one of their solo books. Finally, we get to savor a nice long WiR moment, as if the corpse of Sue Dibney running around weren't metatextually nauseating enough.

On the plus side, one of my favorite super-heroes makes a strong comeback this issue, offering essential enlightenment along with grace under fire. Non-zombie cameos by three Detroit-era Leaguers and Mera under Ivan Reis' talented pen are a ginchy. Twenty-six pages of a single story for $4 isn't so bad either, even if they do feel drawn out.

I guess I'm still glad I started collecting this monthly, as this type of scenario and the reasonable execution of it are up my alley. I just hope I don't start feeling Infinite/Final Crisis buyer's remorse as things progress.

Blackest Night: Titans #1 (DC, 2009, $2.99)
This wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting. I guess Ed Benes' assignment on art should have tipped me off, as he's one of DC's stars, despite being incapable of rendering mood and characters who seem referenced from Playboy/girl. It's written by Aspen Studios' J.T. Krul, which set off alarms, but he's actually perfectly adequate. Rather than an Image T&A book, it reads like a generic Titans comics from years gone by, but with T&A. Compared to the gut-wrenching crapacities Judd Winick showcased when the latest series launched, it's pretty painless. Sure, Beast Boy/Changeling remains the perpetual runner-up to Aqualad as biggest bleeding twat of all time for still pining for the evil Terra a quarter century after her death, and a benevolent God will grant us a similar resolution to the revisitation in BN #2, but we knew that was coming from the cover. Donna Troy's dilemma has potential. Now, the only heroes likely in real peril are the latest stillborn Hawk & Dove revival, this is the second exploitation of a 14-year-old's body in two reviews, and the whole thing is a cash-in-- but it didn't completely suck. I damn you with faint praise.

Green Lantern #44 (DC, 2009, $3.99)
The dead we were promised months ago rose, the whole issue is an extended fight scene, and this could have easily been condensed into much-needed meat for BN#3. That having been said, Black Lantern Martian Manhunter kicks ass all issue, even if this is the umpteenth and never earned reference to his supposedly being "as powerful as Superman." He's really not, and I don't know that the lip service ever did him any real favors. No, what favors him is the achingly gorgeous art of Doug Mahnke, proving how incredible his steady improvement over decades has been by showing little concern for the four different inkers finishing him up. DC repeatedly misplaced faith in Mahnke's old, idiosyncratic style, which seemed more often than not to be tepidly received. Now that he's bringing Van Sciver-level game, and his still slightly creepy look would better suit the horror of Blackest Night than the often too-pretty Ivan Reis, he's stuck on side stories. He makes this one, and I expect, more to come.


mathematicscore said...

I loved the Superman line, as it really speaks to the character's also-status. I'm just sad that he's not going to win this fight.

mathematicscore said...

Shite, that was supposed to say "also-ran"

wiec? said...

i know how you feel about Hal but i'm glad to see you gave The Blackest Night story a try. it's not perfect by any stretch but so far so good i suppose.

agreed about the over wordy ish but so far this has been waay better than Final Crisis. we'll see how it pans out.


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