Friday, February 13, 2009

The School of Night

Everybody and their uncle knows that Green Lantern: Blackest Night is coming. It's a highly anticipated story and if Sinestro Corps War was any indication it'll be a huge hit.

The conventional thing to do on comic blogs when a big story is coming is to speculate on it. Everyone knows that I have a bit of a habit of doing that. I like to make predictions. Especially about the "secret villain behind it all." Sometimes I get things half right. Other times I miss things by a quite a bit. But a win/loss record like that isn't going to keep me from speculating on Blackest Night as well.

There is someone behind this Blackest Night build up. I think everyone can agree on that, more or less. Black Hand talks to someone in the shadows, the Anti-Monitor is turned into a black power battery by a mysterious force, and Scar speaks of someone hiding in the black. Who could it be?

Perhaps the answers are hidden in 1981's Tales of the Green Lantern Corps. This three issue miniseries was scripted by Len Wein (who attended the NYCC Green Lantern panel) from a plot by Mike Barr. Let's delve in, shall we?

Our story begins with Hal Jordan speeding toward Oa, having been summoned by the Guardians of the Universe. On his way he is intercepted by another Lantern: cosmic jailbait Arisia, who meets Hal Jordan here for the very first time.

Jesus Christ, Hal. Retcon be damned, she's like fifteen. It's obvious.

Anyway, Hal, Arisia, and the entire Green Lantern Corps arrive on Oa where they wait for the inscrutable Guardians to arrive and say whatever it is they want to say. While they wait, Hal regales Arisia with tales of his, er, conquests. Specifically, the time he took on Krona. I wonder why he would choose to tell that story?

The Guardians eventually arrive and tell Hal to shut his flapping pie hole. Unfortunately, Hal's wasted too much time chatting up his new friend, and well...

Gee, I wonder whose ominous mailed hands those are? Could they be... Krona's!?

Boy, it's a damn good thing Hal told Arisia (and by extension the reader) about that time he kicked Krona's ass. We'd all be lost, otherwise.

What's that? I didn't bother to post that page? Ah, well then... Krona -- as seen by his blue skin -- is of the same immortal race as the Guardians. He decided that he wanted to see the birth of the universe, did a lot of nasty stuff, and then was doomed to wander the universe formless for the rest of time. That's the short version.

Luckily, that's all you need to know. Krona, understandably, is still a bit pissed about the whole being doomed to wander the universe formless for the rest of time. I suppose I can understand that. Luckily, he's only a viewscreen. Seemingly a bit shaken by this whole affair, the Green Lanterns decide that maybe now would be a good time to charge up their rings. Maybe.

They move on with that classic oath, but something is not right. The central power battery begins to shake violently. And then it...

The battery blows up and kills a whole lot of Lanterns in the process. With only 24 hours of ring charge left, The Guardians order all the Green Lanterns to get their asses in gear, find Krona, and put a stop to him.

Neither Guardians nor Lanterns are aware that Krona is merely a pawn in the game of a greater evil. One that a group of advance Guardians are soon about to know all too well...

The Guardians discover the gaping wound in the cosmos through which Krona returned to physical form. And there for the first time they come face to face with their true foe:

The Guardians of the Universe realize that they're outmatched. They send one of their number back to call the Corps off of Krona and summon them to the rift. Meanwhile, the GLC is locked in combat with Krona and his minions. They manage to capture one of Krona's creatures, and the pitiful beast reveals to them a terrible secret:

Krona is dead. So is this pitiful informant. They are both of them and more besides dead, and yet they live. You see, when Krona was cast out he drifted through dimensions. Eventually he drifted into the Realm of the Dead. The paradox of an immortal in the Realm of the Dead caused a rift between dimensions. As you can imagine, that piqued the curiosity of the Realm of the Dead's boss. This guy:

Yeah, y'all can see where I'm going with this. That's Nekron, Lord of the Unliving. He rules over the Realm of the Dead and all who dwell therein. He's also powerful enough to bind Krona to his will and kill Guardians.

With each immortal Nekron slays, the rift to the Realm of the Living gets a little wider. And that's Nekron's plan: he wants into our world. I'm sure you can imagine some of the things that a godlike being from the Realm of the Dead might do in the Realm of the Living.

Anyway, back to the story. Krona beats on Hal and the rest of the Corps, then hightails it back to the rift where he starts knocking heads and killing the Guardians that Nekron hasn't already snuffed out. The rift gets bigger and Nekron gets happier and happier.

The Green Lantern Corps arrives and a battle royale ensues between them and Nekron's army of the dead. Nekron pulls out all the stops, summoning the dead loved ones of Corps members to slow them down.

It starts to work, until Hal Jordan decided to do one of the things he does best: something stupid. He flys through the portal into the Realm of the Dead.

But then, Hal's not a complete idiot (I can't believe I said that). You see, he has a plan. Something Nekron said got those rusty wheels in his damaged head turning. Hal realizes that if everyone who has ever died is in Nekron's Realm...

Then it's full of Green Lantnerns.

Hal gets the deceased Lanterns to fight against Nekron. They can't actually hurt him -- he's too powerful and can't be destroyed. But they distract Nekron long enough for the Guardians to strike out at Krona and his army. Without Nekron's powers propping them up, they fall like a house of cards. The Guardians use their vague powers to close the rift, saving the universe from certain destruction. And then everything goes back to normal.

The story of the Green Lantern Corps' battle with Nekron, Lord of the Unliving is probably not well remembered. I only heard about it through some determined research into obscure Green Lantern villains. Because I know that Geoff Johns loves to dig up obscure villains, make them over, and turn them into genuinely frightening and powerful menaces.

Which is why I think he's doing the same thing with Nekron. Geoff Johns is the kind of writer who these days will try to reuse an old concept or character before he creates something out of whole cloth. And the parallels are hard to ignore. Tales of the Green Lantern Corps was the story of a mysterious entity summoning up an army of the dead to destroy the living. And as far as we can tell, Blackest Night is going to be the story of a mysterious entity summoning up an army of the dead to destroy the living.

I won't be at all surprised if Geoff Johns takes Nekron (who's quite frightening, despite his silly name) throws him into a mixer with some fixins and then pulls out a villain that keeps me from sleeping at night.

(As an aside, I'll be away from home and without Internet access until Wednesday. So spend some time ruminating on what I've said here today, would you? Let me know if you think I'm on track -- or wildly off base.)

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42 Comments:

At 10:32 AM, Blogger SallyP said...

Nekron is a very good choice for the man behind the curtain. They've also been playing up Krona a bit lately, at least over in Trinity, so I guess that he's a possibility as well.

Wouldn't it be a hoot, if it was Neil Gaiman's Death who is behind it all? Unlikely of course, but HIGHLY amusing.

 
At 11:55 AM, Blogger Sea_of_Green said...

Yep, I agree with you completely, Diamondrock, especially since in the current series, Johns has already mentioned the war against Krona and Hal's first meeting with Arisia. (I gotta say, though, looking back over those old Corps issues, the scenes between Hal and Arisia are now QUITE on the icky side. It's probably why DC has never reprinted those stories! :-P My favorite scene, though, is when Arkis Chummuck wants to EAT Hal -- and Katma Tui has to stop him!)

Also, as I told Sally, I think it's going to be established that, yes, Sinestro IS the "greatest Green Lantern" of all time -- but HAL is the greatest LANTERN of all time.

 
At 3:51 PM, Blogger Scipio said...

I am totally stealing that picture from you, Ry...!

 
At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nekron occurred to me too... I actually own that series. When I think of the Corps assembled, that's the battle that comes to mind.

-- Jack of Spades

 
At 9:44 AM, Blogger Will Staples said...

You think Nekron is a silly name? I take it you've never player Warhammer. ;)

Seriously though, I think you're on to something. I still wouldn't put it past Johns to pull something totally unexpected just to throw people off, though.

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger Diamondrock said...

Sally: That'd be a kick in the pants. But then, I'm still one of the weirdos who prefer's that the DCU's "death" be a black guy on skis.

Sea: I need to find that eating scene. Sounds fantastic...

Scip: Steal away, my friend. They're not my pictures to begin with... I just scan 'em.

Anonymous: It was a pretty darn cool battle. But it's going to pale in comparison to the Blackest Night, I bet.

Will: I have Tau, Tyranid, and Sisters of Battle armies. :-) Nekron is silly; Necron is badass.

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger Sea_of_Green said...

Well, darn it -- I THOUGHT the scene where Arkis was gonna eat Hal was in this GL trilogy. I went through my issues, though, and I don't see it. :-( So I was thinking about the wrong story. Sorry, Diamondrock! Now I'll have to go back through my old issues to see where the heck that happened ...!

 
At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

I think you're on to something. See what is solicited for next week...?

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