Friday, July 17, 2009

Blackest Night #1

To put it simply, Blackest Night #1 was awesome.

Now before I go into more detail I would like to quickly address these were less than pleased by Blackest Night #1. Yes, most reviews I've seen have been overwhelmingly positive. But there are a few people who -- for whatever reason -- have taken a contrary opinion. I don't understand these people.

It's not that I don't recognize that some people have different tastes in comic books. I just can't see why some people can't accept Blackest Night for what it is: a fun super-hero story. Is the "Rainbow Corps" concept a little silly? Maybe so. But no more silly than anything else in comics.

Some of the detractors, I think, just don't like Geoff Johns. They don't like how he uses continuity or some such thing. Fine. Say that. Some people can't enjoy a comic unless reading it makes them feel smarter than other people. That's not cool, but whatever. Still others are upset about an imagined "rise in violence" and "overuse of death." I've addressed that before. Super-hero comics have always been that way.

For whatever reasons a few people haven't liked it. But it seems pretty clear that they're going to be in the minority. In my eyes Blackest Night is shaping up to be a far better event that Final Crisis ever was. Blackest Night contains the three most important elements of a good super-hero event. It's got emotion. It's got interesting characters. And it's got really nasty villains.

Is the conept of characters rising up as zombies to take revenge on the living unique? Not really. But there aren't really any new stories under the sun. Only how those stories play out. And there are shocks and surprises galore in the pages of Blackest Night.

I think the most succesful thing about Blackest Night (aside from Ivan Reis' art, which is stellar) is that it leaves you wanting more there are a few questions answered in Blackest Night. But there are even more questions to ask. What is the significance of the skull from Batman's grave? Who is Black Hand's mysterious master? What happens when the Black Lanterns' collective power levels hit 100%?

We'll get these answers as the story goes on, even as we're posed further questions. And all the while there will be fantastic fights, brutal acts of villainy, and heroism of the highest level. And if you don't want that, why are you reading super-hero comics at all?



At 12:58 PM, Blogger SallyP said...

Thank you. You've summed it up VERY neatly. I loved it too, and I am a bit dumbfounded by the number of people that don't like it. Yes, it's a little on the gory side, but it's main topic is DEATH, for cryin' out loud!

I don't know HOW the Green Lanterns are going to get themselves out of this pickle, and I'm looking forward to finding out.

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Sea-of-Green said...

It's ZOMBIES, for crying out loud! How can it NOT be gory?

At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Spectrum Bear said...

Mainly, despite some bumps, I'm enjoying Blackest Night - certainly a LOT more than Final Crisis. Larfleeze - best retroactive explanation ever!

But I think you're being awfully rough on people who are not enjoying it. It's true, for example, that most superhero comics contain some silly aspects - but some are more silly than others, and some readers prefer the less silly to the more silly. Saying that the Rainbow Corps are "no more silly than anything else in comics" doesn't make it so. Some people may, for very good reasons, consider them more silly than most.

My biggest problem reading DC comics these days is that I feel like I'm supposed to know the characters, but I don't really. I certainly don't know their backstories - there's so many to choose from, and which one is "official" is currently in an official state of flux. (There is not a single reader today who could tell you Donna Troy's current backstory. It is undefined.) As a consequence, I don't know really their relationships, their motivations, their supposed limits. These are important things in suspense/adventure stories - even more so because the stories are being written as if the characters' tangled history is important. Geoff John's use of continuity can grate abrasively (for some readers) against the DC's lack of well-defined continuity.

One of the places this hits for me in BN has to do with the Star Sapphires. Up until now, the Star Sapphires and the Zamarons had a lengthy, detailed history with the GLC and the Oans. And BN and its precursors are written as if some version of this history at least EXISTS and impacts the characters. But the things that have been done with the Star Sapphires and the Zamarons over the last two years or so make it impossible for me to grok what that history is now supposed to be. I won't go into the many possible and/or conflicting details, as this is all long enough. But I will mention that it was, I think, less than two years ago when were given a new description of the Star Sapphires: they would seduce Green Lanterns, kill them, and put their planets into stasis in order to "protect" them. (This combines the Succubus/Black Widow/Smothering Mother stereotypes, a rare misogynistic trifecta!) How does this mesh with anything we know about the relationship between the Zamarons and the Oans? How does it affect how the GLC sees them now?

I don't feel that, as a reader, I should have to apologize about the fact that I like origins, I like continuity, I like backstory and character relationships that affect the characters' motives, and I don't like all of this being (a) somehow important and (b) a big fuzzy tangled mess. All comics, of course, have some aspects of this, just as all comics have some silliness. But there's nothing wrong with a reader having some taste for just how much or how little of these aspects he most enjoys.

Love your blog. Read it often. Black Lanterns Ralph and Sue creeped me out - as well they should!

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Diamondrock said...

Spectrum Bear: to be quite honest I think I am being to hard on some of the people who haven't liked it. In a lot of ways this post was my way of responding to one specific person's criticisms -- criticisms that I didn't particularly find fair.

Now, it's probably not fair of me to do things in this way. If I want to call said blogger out I should have just done so. But I don't really like being all that confronatational...

There certainly are valid reasons for not enjoying Blackest Night and you've elucidated some of them very clearly. Thanks for keeping me from getting to full of myself... :-)


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