The question: Can you really enjoy Blackest Night if you’re outside the fanbase?
I think so.
While I don’t see myself as part of the base, I feel that I’ve thrown myself into a different orbit than I’m used to and I’m not sure where I’ll end up. I’ll explain and I will offer up some other questions to which you, my friends, are welcome to offer back whatever insight you like.
The first thing that strikes me about Blackest Night #1 is how smooth it is. The story does not feel like it is trying too hard to explain itself which is a blessing if you’re coming to this, shall we say, cold and in the dark.
I felt welcome right from the start. Even more than I did by Green Lantern: Rebirth or The Sinestro Corps War. Maybe that has to do with the sense of urgency coming from all the talent involved, especially Geoff Johns, to finally deliver the goods. And yet it didn’t feel so much like a comics event as it felt like something that was working the way it should.
It didn’t matter to me anymore if I didn’t know every last detail and reference. It can be fun to go into this without any prior knowledge at all. But, I admit, the more you know, the more you’ll enjoy it. Just being able to refer back to the last issue of GL and reread the rise of Black Hand added something. And the same is true for going back to the now famous Free Comic Book Day Blackest Night #0. That special issue offered some interesting clues, I think, about how Bruce Wayne could hold the key to returning back to the light. This isn’t a spoiler, just my guess. Does that sound right?
I have to say that a little of the space opera aspect of GL goes a long way for my taste. I prefer character development, conversation and understanding motives. Growing up, I found the action scenes in Superman and Spider-Man to be cool but understanding what made them tick to be even cooler. Blackest Night is sensitive to this. For instance, I think the scenes with Hawkman are intriguing like when he goes into a rage over the phone with The Atom as he is attempting to shield him from harm. He tries to explain to Kendra why he must refuse The Atom’s wishes as we cut to a panel of a tiny speck of a superhero sitting on the edge of a gigantic desk, relative to his size, waiting by the giant phone. Hawkman saying, “She made The Atom feel small,” is corny and perfect in the spirit of Alan Moore.
Little moments like that add up nicely. But what about little continuity issues and the like? I just wonder what you all think about the many layers to the GL universe. On the one hand, I think it is fun to be challenged to follow the many paths in this narrative. On the other, this goes back to an older way of reading comics when you needed a program to follow the action not to mention a number of tie-in comics. Maybe it’s the best of all possible worlds since the flagship title is so strong you could do just fine to focus on it but, if you’re so inclined, you could also buy all the other related comics too.
So, why isn’t GL more popular? I mean, believe it or not, there are plenty of people inside the comics community who are not even dimly aware of what’s going on in the GL universe. When you have something as special as Blackest Night, people should pay more attention. I wonder if the problem with GL’s overall low profile goes back to its rather creaky origins. It’s only been after decades of development, that we find ourselves with something cool. GL simply does not resonate with people in the same way that Batman and Superman do. That may change. A major motion picture is no guarantee but we’ll have to wait and see.
Ironically, reading the retro version of GL in Wednesday Comics, all New Frontier style, was very refreshing to me. And I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that is what gets presented to the general public when the movie comes out.
Getting back to Blackest Night, the bottom line is that this series moves the ball forward considerably. In fact, if you really want to stir things up, forget about going back to Abin Sur, just make this into a movie and, if it’s done right, this would be your summer blockbuster.