Comics

TR Review: Blackest Night #1

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blackest night 1.jpg

I’m likely the nerdosphere’s most comics-ignorant blogger, but that didn’t stop me from opening an envelope from DC which contained picking up Blackest Night #1, DC’s new ’09 big event comic, to give it a looksee. Why? Well, mostly because I’ve approved so much of what (I know of) Geoff Johns has been doing to Green Lantern’s mythology, and because I love the premise of Blackest Night, which is pretty much DC with zombies. This is going to have a few spoilers, so here’s the short version: pretty good and pretty damn grisly. Now, spoilers ahoy.

Now, I picked up BN#1 having not read a DC comic in years, but knowing the gist of the big events of the last few years. While there were several characters I had no idea who they were — mostly new recruits to the Black Lantern Corps. — and a few scenes whose significance was utterly lost on me, it still did a great job of catching me, a newbie, up into where the DC universe is at and what’s going on. This is mostly because Hal Jordan is catching up the newly resurrected Flash (I forget which one — Barry Allen?) on the same stuff. The panel where he shows Flash everyone who’s died since he died is genuinely powerful and jarring. I also like the ideas of Superman’s death becoming a memorial day for superheroes, which is when the comic begins. But then, I also like the crazy zombie shit.

People have complained this is just DC’s version of Marvel Zombies, three years too late, but it doesn’t bug me. Mostly because I love zombies. But also because the stakes are clearly so much higher; while Marvel Zombies was always a crazy What If? story, this zombie attack is happening in the DC Universe proper. When Aquaman, Firestorm, Martian Manhunter and the rest come back to eat some superheroic flesh, it has more weight. Admittedly, the whole issue feels like more of a zombie movie than a major event comic, which I could see pissing some fans off, but I loved it. There’s a hilariously awkward scene between Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and of course Hawkgirl is killed by zombies — zombie Ralph and Sue Dibny, actually — right as she’s trying to tell Hawkman she loves him for the first time. The Guardians of Oa get eaten but good. About the worst zombie scene was the main villain the Black Hand sucking the flesh off Bruce Wayne’s skull, which looked goofier than it sounds. Overall, I still dug it.

But I think the best part is that in-between the zombie mayhem, Johns is addressing what death really means to the DC universe, both to itself and fans. Johns goes out of his way to show how death has affected these characters (mostly the Green Lanterns), and how they cope with it. But in a universe where characters are constantly being resurrected, when that exists as a genuine hope both to comic readers and the superheroes themselves, having their comrades resurrected as evil flesh-eating super-zombies is genuinely devastating. It really seems like Blackest Night is going to explore the ramifications of all this comic book resurrection of recent years, and it definitely starts on that track well. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it plays out. And seeing more superheroes get eaten by their zombie friends.