Comics I Read: Catching Up #16

World’s Finest 1-4: All these team-ups were fun, especially the New Batman/Kal-El story in the last issue (the ending of which hints at a potentially important connection to the “New Krypton” storyline.)

It’s hard to make any comment about the “Blackest Night” books at this point without giving away at least some of the plot. I’ll try not to reveal any huge surprises, but if you’d rather be completely unspoiled then you may want to skip the rest of this entry.

Blackest Night 6: Not a whole lot of plot advancement in this issue, but I did like the choices of the characters for the “New Guardians” and their new, different colored, costumes a lot.

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman 1-2: I’m a big fan of Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman run, and the rematch with Black Lantern Maxwell Lord at Arlington National Cemetery in #1 is as good as any of his regular WW issues. However, #2 is the first Greg Rucka comic in a long time (maybe ever) that I didn’t like. I hated the “it was all a dream” ending, and I think the reveal that Diana needed Aphrodite’s help to break free of the Black Lantern ring diminishes that achievement. I generally like that the BL miniseries are taking place “between pages” of the main book, but this was one case where I would have been happier without the extra scenes.

Blackest Night: Flash 2: I like the stuff with the Rogues way better than the Blue Lantern scenes, but Scott Kolins sure draws the blue costume purty (see the splash on p. 8). The whole book is gorgeous, actually, and the Captain Cold/Golden Glider scenes are especially brutal, as you see the purple (“Love”, in the lantern spectrum) drain from Cold’s face.

Blackest Night: JSA 1-2: There’s a wide variety of dead characters to choose from here, and I think the ones used are well chosen, even though their origin recaps take up a lot of space at the beginning of #1. I thought James Robinson is doing a really good job so far of showing how the JSA (and the reader) can be fooled into being sympathetic to the Black Lantern characters even though intellectually they know they’re fakes.

Power of Shazam 48: This was one of the “resurrected” books I was most looking forward to, as a fan of both the original series and the Marvel Family segments of “52”. However, it reads as if it was made by people who had no idea what “Blackest Night” is about. It would be a decent enough redemption story for Osiris, except that Black Lantern Osiris is treated as the real deal when it’s explicitly clear in all the other books that the Black Lanterns are not the real characters – they’re just extensions of Nekron that he’s using to provoke emotional responses. This is one of the fundamental principles of the whole crossover, so I’m baffled by how this book made it out the door this way.

Weird Western Tales 71: This one-shot is a little better, but it still doesn’t quite get the point that the Black Lanterns are meant to be connected to who they’re going after to best get an emotional response. Which is odd, since it comes from the keyboard of Dan Didio. It’s not terrible, but it’s got Simon Stagg and The Ray (working together!) in it for no reason and a bunch of western characters that have no emotional connection to the main character. By the time Jonah Hex, who is (sort of) connected, shows up it’s a little too late.

Phantom Stranger 44: Good, though I have trouble with the idea that The Spectre is vulnerable to the Black Lantern rings. Some Deadman stuff that will probably be important later is set up, and I liked the explanation of the Stranger’s shifting doctrine – “My definition of “interfering” is quite subjective…as is my choice of being proactive and reactive during the course of my, shall we say, travels.” – a reference to the Vertigo “Madame Xanadu” series, where he appears throughout history.

Starman 81: Easily the best of all of the one-shots I’ve seen so far (I don’t have “Suicide Squad” or “The Question” yet). Robinson slips effortlessly back into the tone of the original series in a story starring The Shade and a lot of the original supporting cast. I respect Robinson’s decision to leave Jack Knight out of it even though that’s a little disappointing. It would have been nice to see Tony Harris do more than the cover, but Fernando Dagnino and Bill Sienkiewicz do a nice job with the art. (Actually it comes out mostly looking like Sienkiewicz.)

Atom and Hawkman 46: This is also quite good, by none other than Geoff Johns himself. It’s a major turning point for Ray Palmer, and Green Lantern fans will also find some information about how the Indigo Lantern rings work that I don’t think was previously revealed. (I wonder why they don’t actually wear their rings?) There’s also a kind of closure on “Identity Crisis” here, for fans of that series. (Though the scene from there that’s re-enacted would have had more impact if Johns hadn’t done something similar in “Booster Gold” a while back.)

Green Lantern Corps 43-44: Well, that was the shortest comics death on record. So much for it predicting the return of all the dead characters at the end of “Blackest Night”. (Though I still believe that will happen, especially after hearing that the followup is called “Brightest Day”.)

Green Lantern 48-50: I liked the wrap-up of the space-based Hal Jordan story in #48 – he and the other colored Lanterns return to Earth after that for BN #5 & #6. The John Stewart solo story in #49 is terrific, and I look forward to seeing a lot more of him after BN. The Nekron “origin” backup in #49 isn’t terribly enlightening, but maybe it’ll make more sense when collected with the rest of the BN issues. Surprisingly, #50 felt a little rushed and hard to understand to me – maybe Johns was stretched a little thin this month – but the ending promises something interesting next month.

Comments

  1. Jeff - - IF you haven't picked up SUICIDE SQUAD: BLACKEST NIGHT yet - - I have it so let me know. I liked it the most out of all the one-shot Blackest Nights that I read - - WEIRD WESTERN TALES, PHANTOM STRANGER, STARMAN - - with Starman finishing #2. I liked the way they portrayed Shade here. I still don't get the Phantom Stranger - - this one-shot just confuses the issue further. WWT lived up to the weird premise, but suffered from jamming in too many characters. I also didn't get why Simon Stagg and bodyguard plus The Ray were thrown in.

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