Part 2 of the 3 part Green Lantern blog series

It seems that you can’t be a DC fan and not see Green Lantern. He (the he in this case being Air Force pilot Hal Jordan) and the many others who share the name are at the forefront of the DC Universe. Even with Bruce Wayne’s death, Superman leaving the Earth and the return of Barry Allen, the “original” Flash, all eyes are on the Green. But this is not without good reason. Its a good time to be a Green Lantern.

Wait. Scratch that. Its a terrible time to be a Green Lantern.

There is a mini-series that has recently started in the DC universe titled “Blackest Night.” This title has actually been a long time in the making. It is derived from the oath of the Green Lantern. The ring that gives the Green Lanterns their power originally needed to be recharged every 24 hours by placing it into an actual green lantern. Jordan would recite the oath of the Green Lantern before every recharge.

In brightest day

In blackest night

No evil shall escape my sight

Let those who worship evil’s might

Beware my power

Green Lantern’s Light

 

The story’s first links goes all the way back to 1986, in a story written by Alan Moore in “Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2.” The story, entitled “Tygers,” told of a prophecy of the final days of the Green Lantern Corps, with the greatest lantern, a Superman-esque alien named Sodom Yat, being the last to fall. It was originally just taken as a tale of the moments that led to the death of Abin Sur, Hal Jordan’s successor and the one who gave Jordan his ring, but has since become the ground work of this series. Writer Geoff Johns has said that he has been planning this story since he hopped on “Green Lantern” with the 2004/05 mini-series “Green Lantern: Rebirth,” which brought Jordan back from his own death. So that puts this story at being around roughly 23 years, with about 5 years of planning and groundwork. That is really quite the feat with the heavy rotation of creative teams on book in comics nowadays. Through the course of the five years, he has introduced several pieces from “Tygers” into his own stories, including the introduction of a new Green Lantern named Sodom Yat.

But now that all the leg work is done, the series is ready to go. First teased in the final part of another Green Lantern epic titled “The Sinestro Corps War,” it seems that every subsequent issue has brought another clue along with it, whether in the Hal Jordan solo book or the other Green Lantern book titled “Green Lantern Corps.”

Here are a few bullet points that need to be known as the series begins:

  • Anyone who is dead can come back. Super powers is not a pre-requisite
  • The remains of the Anti-Monitor (the villain of DC’s first cross-over series “Crisis on Infinite Earths”) are trapped in the Black Power Battery, the source of power for the Black Rings
  • There are now seven ring corps, all with a different color and emotion:
      • Red = Rage
      • Orange = Greed
      • Yellow = Fear
      • Green = Willpower
      • Blue = Hope
      • Indigo = Compassion
      • Violet = Love
  • One of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the immortal leaders of the Green Lanterns, after being burned by the Anti-Moniter in the “Sinestro Corps War” and taking the friendly name of Scar, has gone rogue and is pulling the strings of the Black Lanterns
  • Former washed-up Green Lantern villain, Black Hand, is apparently a conduit of the power of death. Yet, he is not the supreme leader of the Black Lanterns

blackest_night_by_sinccolor1

I’ve never been so stressed out reading a comic book. After the death seen in the first issue, it is hard to think of anyone that is safe in this. The only people on my list are those who have already died once, so the thought of them dying twice seems so redundant. This truly is a mainstream horror book and people die gruesomely. The power source of these black rings is the heart of those alive and the only motivation of Black Hand and Scar (and their yet unseen master) is just to put an end to all of existence. The interesting thing about that though is thought process behind the plan. The Black (as I am going to refer to the master) wants to bring order to the universe, but believes that life gets in the way of order, thus life must be eradicated to bring order.

Geoff Johns is really on the top of his game. He rose to stardom from a lengthy run on “The Flash,” which too had a long build-up to story points. It’s hard to think of someone who has continually put out great work hitting his stride, but Johns is really at home with Green Lantern. On top of that, all of the new introductions to the Green Lantern mythos (the new lanterns and the re-telling of Black Hand’s origin) don’t feel forced on the reader. He has a knack of making something old seem fresh, on top of putting his own spin on it. Johns is writing the main mini-series on top of staying with the ongoing Green Lantern series. He is joined by Peter Tomasi, who is the writer for “Green Lantern Corps” as well as a Blackest Night mini-series starring Batman. Tomasi hopped onto my radar after the well done “Final Crisis: Requiem” and a year long run on “Nightwing.” He is a strong writer and it is a great compliment to Johns’ visions. And to top it off, the art team is phenomenal with Ivan Reis on the main mini-series, veteran Doug Mahnke on “GL” and newcomer (and office mate with Mahnke as the newest issue of Wizard Magazine informed me) Patrick Gleason on “GL Corps.”

And that brings us to the story. In the land of comics, death has become a revolving door. In fact, Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s sidekick from World War II, and Barry Allen, the Flash who died in “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, two of the few characters who appeared to be on the don’t touch list of dead characters (a list that now is basically Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy from Spider-Man), came back to life in the past few years. But never has something on this scale been done, so many popular character coming back in such a horrible manner as basically zombies. (SPOILER) The extent of this is shown in the closing pages of issue one, where DC’s most beloved couple, Sue and Ralph (The Elongated Man) Dibny, rip out the hearts of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, laughing and bantering the entire time.

The zombie aesthetic is a wise choice, but is not adhered to that strictly. They may look like zombies, the undead are fully coherent, only now, they are wickedly evil. The main fight in issue two (which came out today) between Aquaman and his loved ones is particularly heart wrenching, with Aquaman continually bringing up the death of his child to his wife, Mera and Garth, his former sidekick, having to fight off two former (and dead) lovers, now Black Lanterns as well.

“Blackest Night” is the kind of summer mini-series that has it all. Plenty of established characters fighting an existence-threatening villain and the danger is very real, with several characters already dead two issues in. The writing is gripping, the art is crisp and the story will definitely have a lasting impact. I highly recommend picking it up, at least before everyone dies.

blackest-night

Images copyright DC Comics