You’ve probably memorized the oath as a child – “in brightest day, in blackest night.” It is part of the pledge that unites the Green Lantern corps – before they were splintered and blackest night came upon the other colors of the Lantern corps. The Blackest Night trade written by Geoff Johns with artwork by Ivan Reiss has once again risen a 70-year old character into relevancy.
There’s something eerily wrong about reanimating the dead. It is the inherent humanity in us that realizes everything in life has a cycle. It’s as Hal Jordan (the best of the Green Lanterns) through his talks with other costumed heroes and what he’s iterated in his thoughts has always believed; you get into a pair of tights and automatically you’ve got the grim reaper on your tail. But the threat in this trade is heartbreaking and brings along revelations that will shake the foundations of those around the DC Universe. It also seems that Coast City (Jordan’s hometown) can’t catch a break. While they’re beginning to recover from the Sinestro Corps War now comes this deadly darkness.
It’s the day of the dead where instead of mourning the death of Superman, the nation decides to honor those “super-beings…and innocents” who lost their lives. In the DC Universe death isn’t mocked the way it seems to be in Marvel. There’s no perennial back from the dead Jean Grey storyline every time the X-Men have a lull. That painful lesson was learned when they “killed” Superman in the ‘90s. Here Johns reveals the repercussions of Identity Crisis as The Atom can’t visit his girlfriend’s grave. We are reminded of Aquaman’s origin told in the Atlantis Chronicles and worse yet with the return of Barry Allen (The Flash) Jordan reveals all who have perished while he was trapped in the Speed Force. The impact has a devastating impact that leaves him struck dumb by the sheer loss of life.
Ironically the Blackest Night plot deals with “The war of light” (the battle between the Lanterns that represent the colors of the rainbow). Then something wickedly-sick that you never see coming occurs. From there it becomes a thrill ride for survival. In fact there are several face-smacking moments that will have you rereading just to see what you’ve missed and relive certain moments again.
More than that this collected set of comic book issues causes you to do what the best of literature does – teach without being patronizing while simultaneously entertain you. Johns is an expert at this where he can take you from an oh-my-god-did-that-just-happen moment to tears at times punctuated in the same panel by Reiss and his team.
Speaking of Reiss you’ll never be as fearful as seeing a black ring drawn by Reiss. A frightening set of entities that feed on the dead, inhabit them and make them do the most heinous of acts against their former comrades are the most terrifying and compelling artwork that complements the complexity of what Johns accomplishes in his storytelling.
One thing is for sure no matter what happens at the end of this saga no one will be left unscathed, since Johns not only draws from DC’s rich past. He includes nearly everyone and sometimes gives the minor characters the best scene stealing lines.
When the Flash says that “the only one of us who didn’t worry about fitting in was Hal. He let the rest of the world fit in around him” he might as well be talking about this miniseries. That’s just what Johns does and makes you crave for more. After all who else can give you a Latin lesson and make you like it?