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on 13 July 2013
Zombie superheroes vs. non-zombie superheroes - that's basically what Blackest Night is. The storyline entails both sides punching one another until - guess what? - the superheroes win!
This is a 300+ page book that really doesn't explore further than this basic this premise and therefore could've been far, far shorter than it was. From the moment the Black Lanterns show up at the start, resurrecting dead superheroes to fight the ones who're alive, nothing much changes until the book ends. It's such a tedious read. Green Lantern and Flash battle Black Lanterns... 100 pages later, more Black Lanterns show up and more superheroes show up to fight them... 100 pages later, same thing as 100 pages ago... 100 pages later... same thing as 100 pages ago. The end.
Don't expect character development or nuanced storytelling, it's just big brash superhero Event nonsense where one boring fight scene follows another with so many characters crammed on the page that you can barely make out what's happening. Blackest Night is the comics equivalent of a Transformers movie and, like Michael Bay's big budget stinkers, is unfathomably popular.
Geoff Johns throws in what seems to be an interesting idea in the final act where he makes non-Lantern DC characters into Lanterns - Lex becomes an Orange Lantern, Flash becomes a Blue Lantern, Mera becomes a Red Lantern, and Scarecrow (Batman villain) becomes a Yellow Lantern, Atom becomes a Purple Lantern - but this inclusion doesn't change the trajectory of the story one iota. More pointless fighting ensues.
There was one scene that made me laugh - on one of the numerous splash pages, a Lantern from each colour of the spectrum raises their ring and chants their oaths and it made me think that if only the Power Rangers took Poetry 101, this could be their book. Those rhyming couplets are so lame - except for the Red Lanterns, every stanza ends in a variation of "might" (light, bright, etc.). And the way they solemnly stand there looking like the weirdest rainbow ever, saying these moronic lines... thanks Geoff Johns for that moment of levity, even though I'm sure it was supposed to be serious and whatever.
Ivan Reis' artwork is just ok. It's detailed but is too much of the DC house style to be considered beautiful or distinctive. And it's just so busy - some splash pages literally feature hundreds of characters punching one another! I can't say it's particularly good, despite the skill and effort obviously on show.
I realise there are numerous other books that tie in to this one - that I definitely won't be reading - but you can just read this one and still understand what's going on. It's a really straightforward story: bad guys show up to kill everything, good guys stop them. Given that the entire book is one extra-long fight sequence, it's not complicated to follow.
Johns also makes Earth the centre of the universe which I thought was a stupid concept and a bit too egotistical. The villains suck - Black Hand and Necron. Could they have more obvious villain names? Dark Evil Menace maybe or Pestilent Death Villain? The only thing frightening about the bad guys in this book is the bad dialogue Johns has them spout every time they appear. Their "characters" make Punch and Judy shows look like realist performances in comparison.
Blackest Night is representative of the worst excesses that superhero comics, particularly Event comics, are guilty of: it's dumb, loud, far too long, and boring. If bad comics are what you're after, look no further than Blackest Night.