Geoff Johns has an unfair advantage in that he conceived of the Blackest Night crossover, and therefore the tenets of the story are nearest to his imagination. It remains, however, that his Flash story rules the second volume of Black Lantern Corps; it achieves what I feel most Blackest Night stories (including Johns's own) have been lacking, letting alone that it includes fantastic art by Scott Kolins. I was rather hard on the first Black Lantern volume, and the Wonder Woman and JSA stories here are only slightly better, but the Flash story alone makes this book worth it.
The Black Lanterns, it's been established elsewhere, are not the loved ones of the DC Universe's heroes, they just look like them. This makes the Black Lanterns one-dimensional; once the hero figures out the trick, it's no different than fighting any other shapeshifter. What I've hoped for in Blackest Night are instances of real emotional resonance, where the fact that an entity arrives with all the deceased's memories actually has some bearing beyond a superficial fight scene -- something that actually builds upon the relationship between the living and dead characters. Batman fighting the Black Lantern Ventriloquist had no such resonance, while Mera revealing to the Black Lantern Aquaman that she never wanted children did.
The Blackest Night: Flash chapters of this book also had that resonance. Even suspecting that the Black Lanterns are constructs, Captain Cold and the Rogues set out to find Cold's deceased sister and eliminate the Black Lantern Rogues because, of course, the Rogues take care of their own. At the same time, the new Captain Boomerang supplies his Black Lantern father with victims in an effort to bring him back to life.
Johns bucks the typical Blackest Night tropes in two ways here: Cold hunts the Black Lanterns (instead of vice-versa) even though he knows they're constructs, and Boomerang falls under the thrall of a Black Lantern rather than just meeting and fighting it. What follows is another of Johns's trademark deep stories about the Rogues, as Cold must re-acknowledge that abandoning his sister predicated her death; though Cold pretends to be emotionless, we learn this isn't entirely the case. Cold's path crosses with Boomerang at the end of the night and in a horrifying scene, Boomerang's desperation to save his father costs him his life.
The Flash Barry Allen is present, too. I'm enjoying Johns's take on him, though his part is less interesting mainly because it's mostly covered in Blackest Night itself. I did like experiencing the Blue Lantern "hope" ring from Barry's perspective, and experiencing Black Lantern possession through Wonder Woman's eyes later on.
What's notable is that Johns explains Barry's character here perhaps better than in Flash: Rebirth (Barry's mom died, he was emotionless; he became the Flash, met his wife, and had emotions again; he died, came back, started out without emotions but then regained them) -- and that in this, Johns finds a way to make Cold and Barry foils much like Cold and Flash Wally West were; Barry's constant struggle is to express his emotions and "be in touch," while Cold's struggle is to bury his emotions and remain aloof.
(Though why Johns avoided having Barry meet his resurrected Black Lantern mother, I don't know.)
Regarding the other stories:
As a fan of Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman run, I had high hopes for his Blackest Night: Wonder Woman. Yet, even with the promise of a face-off between Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord, whom she killed, the story was surprisingly bland. The Black Lantern Lord is a laughing devil, far more like Dr. Psycho than Lord, and appears mainly in the first chapter; in the second and third, Wonder Woman fights Mera both as a Black Lantern and as a Star Sapphire.
Ragnell can articulate far better than me why Wonder Woman as a Star Sapphire is a questionable choice; I was more puzzled by Rucka's proposal that Wonder Woman holds unrequited love for both Batman and Superman, which seems rather easy territory already well-mined by other writers. While again, Rucka's portrayal of Black Lantern possession from Wonder Woman's perspective is nicely terrifying, this story is for most part a fight scene, without the politics or moral ambiguity of Rucka's Wonder Woman work. Though Wonder Woman affirms her decision to have killed Maxwell Lord, there was none of the revisiting or re-examining of the event that I expected.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that James Robinson's Blackest Night: JSA picks up from the end of his Blackest Night: Superman story; neither of these add much to the Blackest Night mythos, but the stories gain scope in duplicate. Even as we know all Black Lanterns are evil, Robinson turns this well in having the Black Lantern Damage do good for a bad purpose, and indeed Robinson had me half-believing he'd changed the rules before the story ended. Liberty Belle/Jesse Quick's emotion over the Black Lantern Damage and Johnny Quick is convincingly moving.
This almost makes up for Blackest Night: JSA's end, where the Black Lantern-killing super-weapon that Mr. Terrific created, in a bit of comic book ridiculousness, can only have worked that one single time. In addition, whereas Robison follows in great detail the life and deaths of the Golden Age Sandman, Mr. Terrific, and Dr. Mid-Nite at the beginning of the story, none of them ever really fight or interact with their counterparts; again, it's an instance of the Black Lanterns looking like familiar figures, but there being nothing to the story beyond the resemblance.
[Contains full and variant covers, Black Lantern sketchbook]
Still, inasmuch as I liked Francis Manapul's work on Superboy and I'm looking forward to Flash, I believe I'll always think of Scott Kolins as the definitive artist drawing Geoff Johns's Rogues, and that -- along with the demonstration of what a Blackest Night tie-in could be -- makes this volume worth it for me. With the seemingly more personal "cancelled issues" in Rise of the Black Lanterns coming up next, I hope that's more what I was looking for.