Blackest Night is finally over. Like a lot of super-comics readers, I spent a lot of time and a lot of money following the event/storyline over the past year. I believe it “officially” ran about nine months (not counting a few years or foreshadowing and build-up in writer Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern), and although I missed large swathes of the mega-story—only reading the main series, Green Lantern and the tie-ins featuring characters I was interested in and creators I liked—I’m afraid to add up how many pages that is and how much money I spent on it.
I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m just noting that I spent a pretty significant amount of my superhero comics reading life over the past year with Blackest Night.
Just to get it out of the way here, I thought the main parts of the series constituted a fairly successful story. I was pleased that they managed to get the whole thing out on time with a single art team (even if it meant over-relying on splash pages), and that it managed to surprise me despite all the time I spend hanging around Newsarama and reading interviews, Twitter accounts and press releases on the Internet in general.
The Johns-written portions at least made for probably the best DC story of this type since DC One Million, although I wouldn’t call Blackest Night great comics or anything. Much of the dialogue was flinch-inducing, like most stories of this sort there was no conclusion and I thought the last issue was extremely disappointing.
But hey, I’m hard to please. To get a better sense of Blackest Night itself, the eight-issue miniseries itself, devoid of all the tie-ins, I sat down and read all eight of them cover to cover and back to back yesterday. While doing so, I found myself with some questions: Some big, some small; some nitpicks, some matters of personal curiosity.
In fact, I had seven questions. Wanna try and help me answer them?
1.) When and where did Dolphin die? Of all the Black Lanterns that showed up at the beginning of the book, the one that surprised me the most was Dolphin, but only because I thought she was still alive.
2.) I’m not sure I understood how Dove’s peace powers worked to stop the Black Lantern system. In an early issue, multiple black rings descended toward Dove I Don Hall’s grave, and would start to say “Don Hall of Earth rise,” but would be cut off and skip like a record over to “Don Hall of Earth at Peace,” and the rings would seemingly disappear.
Did that mean that only the dead who were not at peace, who were somehow still restless in death, could be resurrected as Black Lanterns? If so, that would seem odd, since it was later pointed out that the Black Lanterns weren’t actually the dead people returned to life, but were copies of their personalities downloaded into the rings and animating their corpses.
Later, Dove II is zapping Black Lanterns like a bug light, and Barry Allen says she’s somehow tapped into the white light of creation.
As I understood Hawk and Dove, and God knows this might have changed 50 times since I was up on them, their powers came from the Lords of Order and Chaos, with Hawk representing Chaos and Dove Order.
Isn’t life chaotic, while a universe without life perfectly ordered? Nekron even mentions returning the universe to “a place of quite, dark order.”
I suppose that’s one of the many things that will be explored during various “Brightest Day” branded stories, but I couldn’t wrap my head around anything having to do with the Doves in Blackest Night.
3.) Why did the whole Black Lantern program seem so computer-like? I’m not sure how it all worked scientifically I guess, and it’s probably one of those things that one shouldn’t think too much about, but on the second read-through it really stuck out that it the whole Black Lantern system was replicated a computer program of some sort.
In Blackest Night #3, The Atom Ray Palmer takes a stab at explaining the Black Lanterns, saying, “Maybe the dead aren’t wearing the rings. Maybe the rings are wearing the dead. Maybe the rings are some sort of advanced organic computer that download their bodies becoming some sort of..of simulator program to attack us…”
Okay, I guess. Whose voice is it that says “Rise” and “Connection severed” and all that stuff? Nekron’s? Black Hand’s? Messages Scar recorded? And…Okay, I’ll stop now. I’ll drive myself crazy thinking too much about this.
4.) When is Wonder Woman gets taken by a Black Lantern ring, why is she called “Diana Prince of Earth” instead of just “Diana of Earth?” Diana Prince isn’t her real name; it’s just a made-up scret identity, like “Clark Kent.” And when Superman gets taken by a ring in the very next panel, he’s called “Kal-El of Krypton?”
Fix it in the trade, DC!
5.) I know this has been asked elsewhere, but why is it that Flash Barry Allen got a Blue Lantern ring instead of, say, Superman? Was he just closer? Was it easier for the ring to get on Flash’s finger because it was unoccupied by a black ring at the moment? Because of all the superheroes gathered there, Barry Allen—back from the dead or not—doesn’t seem like a character that would inspire more hope in anyone than Superman (Or Wonder Woman, for that matter).
Well, I think I know the reason. Johns made a very conscious decision to focus the event on perpetual B-Listers (or lower), and Superman was barely even in the series, whereas Flash was front and center throughout. Still, it seems unlikely that Flash is the most hope-inspiring candidate, doesn’t it?
6.) Hey, I didn’t notice until the second time through, But Batman Dick Grayson and Red Robin Tim Drake never show up, even to cameo in a big splash page at the end. That’s a little weird, isn’t it? Were they too busy to help save the world this crossover?
I found their absence pretty amusing given how Blackest Night: Batman ended. They froze themselves in blocks of ice long enough to trick the Black Lanterns into thinking they were dead/emotion-less and the Lanterns wandered off. So what did they do after that? Decide that this Black Lantern business was way too hard for them and hide out in the cave the rest of the crossover?
Man up, guys! If Green Arrow can go to Coast City to shoot arrows at Black Lanterns, surely you could have flown out there to throw batarangs!
7.) On the subject of who didn’t cameo, where were the Milestone characters throughout all this? If the Milestone Universe is really and truly integrated into the DCU now, then, at the very least, Icon and Hardware should have shown up in Coast City, right? Those two are at least on speaking terms with the Justice League now, and, it sure seems like something Icon might want to get involved with when he heard millions of undead were congregating in an American City for a battle royale with many of Earth’s superheroes.
From a business perspective, a three-issue Blackest Night: Icon or Blackest Night: Milestone miniseries would have made a lot of sense for DC, wouldn’t it? It would have sold a decent number of copies, as all Blackest Night-branded books did, and introduced the character or characters quite effectively to a lot of folks who otherwise wouldn’t have ever picked up anything featuring them.
Same goes for the Red Circle characters, whether it would have made more sense to focus on, say, The Shield in a Blackest Night: The Shield miniseries, or the whole group of characters in a Blackest Night: Red Circle mini.