5 months of comics arrived at the weekend, so I am catching up on my Blackest Night
(not to be confused with Final Night,
from off of the 90's).
It is genuinely creepy and disturbing
at points, and Geoff Johns' writing is pretty much above and beyond the very high standard I've come to expect from him - not just as a piece in itself but as a tapestry of interlocking sequential fiction. The core "EVENT" series seems to stand by itself, even though key events and developments appear to take place in the main Green Lantern (and the supporting tie-in spin-offs) - those events are summarised and expanded on at various points, the two series enriching and informing each other while not at any point becoming either dependent or redundant. There is, I will allow, the occasional moment where you think "Hmm, that sequence lifts right out" - for example, the issue of GL covering a fight scene which begins in BN and isn't resolved until the next BN - but even then the rich detail of the art and environs makes you glad you read it anyway. To continue the example above, during the fight the Bat-Signal is seen shining in the sky in the background; at the start of the following BN issue Hal crashes into said Signal. You don't need
to see the fight (you're brought very quickly up to speed on who's involved and how badly it's going) but it interlocks so nicely that it's very satisfying.
I've always liked the way Johns takes disparate elements of history and weaves them together into a whole that seems not only plausible but natural - almost logically inescapable -
and yet I'm still kind of wary of what he's doing with the Hawks (Hawkman and Hawkgirl, not Hawk and Hawk and Dove). I am pleased that I did
see the secret of the Violet Power Battery coming, but I'm not sure if that means I'm getting better at spotting his curve balls or if he's just moving from "obvious in hindsight" to just plain "obvious". Maybe you just have to know that Johns has a massive hardon for the Hawks. Whatever the case, it's starting to feel like a slightly smaller universe when everything
The big disappointment, though, is the number of people who are dying. It's starting to be Johns' calling card at the moment - the massacre of second-string and/or obscure characters - and it is rather contradictory given his obvious love for the material. I know the series is supposed to be about death - it's about making death in comics serious
again, and perhaps to some degree permament
, though Lord knows the sheer number of dead characters that were already available to form a Black Lantern Corps puts the lie to the notion that death never
sticks in comics. And yes, some of the murders - in contrast to the offhand backhand from Superboy Prime that saw to a few old favourites - are spectaculary executed (har) to the greatest emotional impact. It's a horror story, and as horror goes, the notion of watching helplessly as your dead hero uses science pillaged from your own mind to kill your one true love is pretty much up there. But still, I have always of the opinion that you shouldn't kill a character until they are more useful (narratively) dead than alive, and if your characters get to that point then you have failed. Alive is always
more interesting. (And anyway, why did it have to be the girlfriend?