Whenever playing superheroes with my seven-year-old son, who always chooses to be Batman, I unquestionably choose to team-up with the Dark Knight as the Emerald Warrior. Who wouldn’t want to possess a ring that can create a green version of anything you can possibly imagine? And outside of Arkham, is there any villain as cool to battle as Sinestro? Not in my book. Sometimes, Green Lantern’s powers are so cool, that the seven-year-old Batman will ask if he can trade his utility belt for my power ring.
So, needless to say, I am very excited about the new Green Lantern movie set to debut in June. I decided that in preparation for the film, I would need to catch up with what’s been going on with the Corps. Now I haven’t been so oblivious to the Green Lantern stories to have missed the Sinestro Corps War and the expansion of the power rings to include all the colors of the rainbow (ROYGBIV) in Green Lantern #25. However, I couldn’t read the Brightest Day storylines without having read all of Blackest Night. So I went right to the shelves of graphic novels and bought a pristine, hard-bound copy.
In Blackest Night, written by Geoff Johns and penciled by Ivan Reis, black power rings are seeking out dead heroes and villains to rise from their graves and torment the living, rip out their hearts, and expand the army of the super-undead. This is an incredibly violent series, as any zombie vehicle should be, and for the most part the action keeps it moving right along.
Ivan Reis’s art is visceral and captivating. The series is loaded with remarkable double-page splashes any nerd would be proud to have as a desktop background. By far, the coolest part of the series is seeing zombified versions of your favorites (even Aquaman is cool as a zombie). Later, Reis gives us a Yellow Lantern Scarecrow, a Star Safire Wonder Woman, and a blue Flash – which is also great for action figure sales.
Like a lot of series that span several titles, Blackest Night gets a bit choppy in its storytelling and there are a few too many “what-it-means-to-be-a-superhero” speeches for my taste. While some readers may feel they need to get out a DC Comics character encyclopedia when reading, Geoff Johns really fleshes out some of the lesser known heroes. Overall, he does what a lot of writers struggle to do – portray characters with some depth. Characters deal with guilt, mourning, shame, anger, and confusion. There are some great surprises, like a heroic Sinestro and a murderous Firestorm. Johns even foreshadows what we now know to be the truth about Batman’s death when he never really appears as a Black Lantern. As a whole, this series is very accessible to comic fans.
If you are at all excited about the Green Lantern movie and you can name at least three out of the five Green Lanterns from Earth, then Blackest Night is a great series to get you amped up for the film. If you can’t even tell Green Lantern from the Green Power Ranger, then wait for my next review of Green Lantern: Secret Origin. This way you won’t go into the film thinking Abin Sur is a fancy Middle Eastern dessert.