Hope you've enjoyed Collected Editions' look at DC Comics's seven collections of the Blackest Night miniseries and tie-ins.
Given the extent to which this crossover event excited both regular and new comics readers; how the symbols and paraphernalia associated with Blackest Night have grown in the comics zeitgeist nearly to dwarf the miniseries itself; and the weight which DC themselves put behind the event's collections especially, releasing seven large hardcovers all in the same month, we felt it worth a detailed look at each of the books in the series.
Along the way, what we found is that we liked some, really liked others, found a couple to be mostly unrelated to the main event and skip-able, and found some others mostly unrelated but worth reading anyway.
What I'd like to do now is offer some loose final thoughts about the Blackest Night event as a whole, and then open the floor to any additional thoughts you had on Blackest Night that might not have fit with the reviews themselves. There are plenty of in-series Blackest Night crossovers still to be reviewed by Collected Editions, so we're not by any means done with the conversation.
Be sure also to vote in our poll of the best Blackest Night collected volume. Results to be released in a future post.
* We see in retrospect, marketing-wise, how the Blackest Night collection program builds from the Final Crisis collections program; we saw a number of Final Crisis collections within months of one another, and we can inuit that was successful enough that DC published all the Blackest Night hardcovers right in the same month. I can't imaging how DC could "go bigger" with their next event, Flashpoint, but I think we should expect a similar number of collections, and most certainly hardcovers -- with almost every major DC title being released first in hardcover these days (not to mention twice-monthly series Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost), I think the days of any part of a major event in paperback first are over.
* The major controversy of the Blackest Night collections has been DC's decision to split Blackest Night, Green Lantern, and Green Lantern Corps into separate volumes. In general ... I think I approve of this. Yes, the Green Lantern book doesn't stand on its own without Blackest Night, and Green Lantern Corps falls apart a bit at the end -- but Blackest Night itself does stand alone fairly well.
We could have used a short scene here and there of Hal Jordan with the multi-color Corps, but Johns is deft in shifting the focus to Barry Allen when Hal isn't there. Blackest Night on its own is by no means perfect, but it's good enough that I think the benefit of having three books each with a uniform art team throughout outweighs the implicit confusion; having the separate books, perhaps, gives the illusion that each is a graphic novel, whereas combined volumes might've seemed like collections of issues. (I do see how this can be argued vice versa.)
Hopefully, what we find is that Johns and DC take Blackest Night as a lesson in more cohesive storytelling that benefits Flashpoint later on.
* I remain intrigued by Blackest Night's thesis, reinforced in Tales of the Corps, that we (you, me, the DC heroes) are invaders in our own world, having crowded out the "darkness" that existed before us. I'm reminded of Zero Hour, where despite her protestations the time anomaly Batgirl had to die because she wasn't from the "original" timeline -- in essence, no one on the DC Earth is now "original," but still they exert their right to live.
And indeed, one wonders why the darkness and light can't just get along (perhaps to be explored in Brightest Day), whether Nekron is the entirety of the darkness or whether the darkness has a sentience outside of him, and whether there will ultimately be some recognition of the irony of it all -- that we're the invaders, we're the quote-unquote bad guys, even as we're not the ones trying to kill the other side. (Even as I type that, I recognize the magnitude of issues for which that could be a metaphor.) In short, Geoff Johns has reduced "good versus bad" to its very basic elements, for the most part, and next I'd like to see him complicate it a little.
* One thing that surprised me about Blackest Night was just how many characters died. In a book about zombies rising from the dead, maybe that shouldn't be so startling, but whereas in Infinite Crisis, I accepted the death of dear Pantha as a necessary demonstration of Superboy-Prime's ironic excesses, and Superboy Kon-El's death as a call-to-arms for DC's big three, I couldn't quite find the same justifications in Blackest Night's deaths.
Hawkgirl Shiera Hall returns, but where was the mourning for Kendra Saunders, a near ten-year-old character gone in an instant? What was the significance of the gory death of Holly Granger, other than to clear the way for the return of Hank Hall? What should we take from the rather blithe death of fan-favorite Damage Grant Emerson, except another horrific notch in Jean Loring's belt? It all seems like so much deck-clearing (and maybe it is).
Ostensibly (though not quite stated in the series itself), Blackest Night was meant to be the end to both deaths-as-impermanent and deaths-just-for-shock-value in the DC Universe. If that's the case, I think Blackest Night is indeed the end of that trend and not the beginning of the solution, because Blackest Night is just as guilty of these things as the books that came before. This is perhaps intentional -- I noted that Geoff Johns seemed to lampoon the ideas of character deaths as meaningful or as meaningless in the Blackest Night Superboy-Prime story -- but strange nonetheless.
* That said, I'm curious to see how the DC Universe is affected by Blackest Night going forward. Infinite Crisis, to be sure, had a tonal quality that resonated through the DCU (kinder, gentler Batman, anyone?); so far, hearing about the carnage in Blackest Night and the recent death of a certain legacy character, it doesn't seem that Blackest Night heralded an era of less death nor less mayhem. For me, what we are meant to take from Blackest Night is less clear, and that's OK -- I don't need a story's lesson plastered on the last page -- but if Blackest Night changes the DCU in some way, I'm still looking to find it.
If you missed any of the Collected Editions Blackest Night reviews, here's a handy list:
- Blackest Night
- Blackest Night: Green Lantern
- Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps
- Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol. 1
- Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol. 2
- Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns
- Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps
We return Monday with a review of Wonder Woman: Warkiller. Thanks for reading!