Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blackest Night: Green Lantern Is A Good Story, But Is Missing Too Much.

The Good: Engaging story, Very interesting characters, Good artwork
The Bad: Missing large chunks of the Blackest Night story.
The Basics: In combination with the volume Blackest Night, Blackest Night: Green Lantern offers readers most of the story of the darkest hour for the DC Universe, focused on its protector, Green Lantern!

Next year, the world will be swamped with reviews of all things Green Lantern. As one of the two most anticipated new film franchises of 2011, Green Lantern, Green Lantern is becoming a hot property and those of us ahead of the curve are doing the prep work now. For me, that means reading some Green Lantern graphic novels – despite this being my Wonder Woman Year – and I did that with Green Lantern: Agent Orange (click here for that review) and Blackest Night: Green Lantern. As I detailed in my review of Blackest Night (click here for that review) and in my article “How To Read The Blackest Night Saga,” the massive DC Universe crossover event Blackest Night is both engaging and annoying. It remains annoying because the story is fractured through so many separate volumes. But, it is essentially a Green Lantern story, so Blackest Night: Green Lantern is an essential volume to understanding both the hype over the Blackest Night Saga and Green Lantern.

That said, Blackest Night: Green Lantern offers a very basic primer in its introduction to Green Lantern, so it is not likely to intimidate new readers the way one might suspect. What Blackest Night: Green Lantern does do that is somewhat unfortunate is make powerful allusions to events in the DC Universe which will otherwise ruin other stories (most notably Identity Crisis). However, because those stories are so old, DC had no problem with including mention of significant deaths in the DC Universe and their consequences. As a Green Lantern story, Blackest Night: Green Lantern puts the focus on Hal Jordan and in this plot, he is given the opportunity to prove that he was the greatest Green Lantern of all and the story moves forward with a speed and sense of menace that is a real pageturner.

When the villain Black Hand rises from the dead, he defiles Bruce Wayne’s grave and begins reanimating the dead through the use of black power rings. While Hal Jordan and the newly-resurrected Flash, Barry Allen, discuss the casualties in their universe among their friends – and their own mortalities – they begin investigating the theft of Bruce Wayne’s skull. They are attacked by a resurrected Black Lantern Martian Manhunter and the two are appalled by their inability to stop him and other Black Lanterns who descend upon them. As the Black Lantern Corps grows with reanimated bodies of their former allies, things appear overwhelming for Green Lantern and the Flash. But just as all hope appears to fade – despite both heroes avoiding becoming Black Lanterns themselves – the Indigo Tribe appears. This reclusive group of power ring-wielders knows how to thwart the Black Lanterns, using their powers of Compassion in conjunction with willpower or other rings.

Abandoning the Flash and Earth, Hal Jordan is charged with gathering powerful leaders of the other Corps, most notably making peace with Sinestro, who rules the fear-based Sinestro Corps. As Green Lantern, Sinestro, and other leaders from the ring-based forces join together to thwart the Black Lanterns, it becomes clear that Hal Jordan, in order to stop Black Hand, Nekron and the Black Lanterns, may have to sacrifice himself to Parallax, the malevolent entity which once before cost him everything!

Blackest Night: Green Lantern is written by Geoff Johns, who also wrote the primary Blackest Night volume. As a result, between chapters, there are frequently notations on basic events that occurred between chapters in this volume. This is somewhat disappointing for readers who simply pick up this one volume, up to and including those hoping there might be some meaningful resolution in this book. Alas, there is not and many readers are likely to feel jerked around by where and how this book ends.

That said, Blackest Night: Green Lantern tells a remarkably good story of heroism that one might expect from a superhero like Green Lantern. Green Lantern is empowered by his willpower and in Blackest Night: Green Lantern, he is arguably near the top of his game. He is persuasive, powerful and his task is to literally save the universe from a villain who wants nothing more that comes from covering the entire universe in silence. Johns smartly creates real character conflicts. So, while some of the book is simply Hal Jordan fighting for his life while trying to not desecrate the apparent bodies of former people he cared about, more of the book focuses on real character conflicts.

The essential conflicts in Blackest Night: Green Lantern for Hal Jordan remain between Jordan and his ex-lover, Carol Ferris, and Jordan and Sinestro. Ferris and Jordan have a limited conflict in Blackest Night: Green Lantern, but the fact that Johns felt he could not ignore the tension between the two of them rings very true and makes the struggle they have together to get the disparate ringbearers together feel very real. Similarly, the conflict between Jordan and Sinestro works because Sinestro is not presented here as a monolithic villain. Instead, Sinestro mus deal with problems of his own, in this case a coup from Mongul for control of the Yellow Lanterns. In putting down that uprising, Sinestro actually comes across with an authority that makes him complex enough to develop over the course of the book in the way that he does.

The artwork in Blackest Night: Green Lantern is strongly above average with penciller Doug Mahnke doing an exceptional job of creating panels that both have recognizable characters and a good sense of movement within them. The volume is well colored and fans are likely to enjoy Blackest Night: Green Lantern, though all that is in this volume would have to be a part of any sort of essential or Absolute Blackest Night that readers have to hope is on the horizon.

For other superhero graphic novels, please check out my reviews of:
Batman R.I.P.
Wonder Woman: Lifelines
Crisis On Infinite Earths


For other book reviews, please visit my index page!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment