Thursday, July 23, 2009

Buy Pile Report

For any of you fellow old-school comic fans wondering why big event tie-ins just don't work like they used to, you're apparently not going to be disappointed with Geoff Johns' "Blackest Night." In recent years, big events have had one of two problems: 1) The event's main book is almost worthless without tie-ins to fill in the meat of the story or 2) The tie-ins are worthless filler themselves.

Enter Green Lantern #44, the first true tie-in for "Blackest Night." (Sure, the "Tales of the Corps." series is already out, but that's less tie-in than it is a collection of backstories.) This issue picks up with Hal Jordan and Barry Allen right where Johns left off in "Blackest Night #1," alone in a graveyard and confronted by J'onn J'onzz. The story then strives to achieve just two goals -- detail the fight between the three friends and dive into some detailed character work -- all while neatly wrapping up at the end of the fight so as to pick up easily in "Blackest Night #2" next month. There is very little "Blackest Night" critical information shared in these pages, and at the same time, no reader can deny the quality of the book or it's worth as a tie-in. In structure alone, Johns should be applauded.

But, as I said, there is a detailed storyline here to go with all of that structurally-perfect writing, and most of it should make any DC-junkie want to cheer. There are just so many moments here that Johns pulls off. Barry and Hal discussing how Clark Kent pulls off his secret identity, which, of course, leads into a discussion of how Lois Lane could fall for such a geek. J'onn saying "I'm as powerful as Superman. Why does everyone forget that?" And did I mention the fight itself is pretty darned well orchestrated? After watching how Johns utilized J'onn's many powers, I am wondering who this character has been so under-used over the years.

For those of you keeping score, here is what we did learn in the grand scheme of "Blackest Night:" 1) The black goo associated with the Black Lanterns and Scar coagulates like blood (and again, kudos to Johns for having Barry, of all people, to be the one that uncovers this). 2) BL J'onn seemed to try to elicit specific emotions from his prey, presumably to make their hearts more ripe to excavate. 3) Scar says he and the BLs are trying to bring order to the universe -- the original goal of the Guardians in the first place.

This is a must-read comic as far as I am concerned, but not necessarily necessary if you are looking to read "Blackest Night" and still save money. That's the beauty of it.

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2 was far from the same beauty, especially with that $3.99 price tag. Here, we get two very generic stories about two lanterns (Bleez of the Red Lanterns and Blume of the Orange Lanterns) sandwiching a tale featuring Carol Ferris. Of the three, Ferris' story is the only one which comes close to carrying its weight, as we are essentially given a quick flashback of her life, detailing all the many times she has been willing to sacrifice her own happiness for others. Predictably, it all leads to her becoming a Star Sapphire, in fact one which has the potential to become one of their best, but the interesting part is seeing that she is doing so almost souly to help keep Hal Jordan safe. The whole tale was satisfying in the least.

Not to make this an all-Johns Buy Pile Report, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #5, finally the conclusion of the Legion vs. Superboy Prime tale. Frankly, though, while I enjoyed the series up until this point, I think all the delays really took a toll on my reading this final part. I'll likely need to go back and re-read the whole set before I can truly judge this conclusion, because I found myself just trudging through this issue awaiting its climax. Unfortunately, there is a whole lot of Deus Ex going on with the conclusion, and even more of Johns just trying to be cute. While I won't ruin anything in specific, I will say the conclusion bothered me enough that I'm going to have to make a post on its own once I give you all a little more of a chance to read it for yourselves.

That's it for now, though. I am off to bed. Or, maybe to watch "Watchmen" again. Could go either way.

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