Blackest Night #2

DC Comics

 

By Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis

Reader Appeal: Teens to adults

Genre: Superhero comic

 

 

It seems like you can’t throw a stone in a comic book store these days without hitting a major crossover event series. Marvel had its Civil War, Secret Invasion, and Dark Reign. DC had its Countdown and Final Crisis.

 

Now DC has a new major event, one they’ve been building to for some time: Blackest Night. The question is, will it be an epic thriller, or will it be a disappointment. I wasn’t a big fan of Final Crisis, but it seems like DC might have a winner this time. What’s the big draw this time around?

 

The dead are rising.

 

This series does more than just throw the usual group of heroes together from their different books for a big multi-man brawl. It actually changes the tone and takes them in a new direction, a place somewhere between an action movie and a horror flick. The dead are literally rising. Apparently death (Nekron) is tired of the DC heroes constantly evading its grasp and saving the universe from destruction. So, with the help of some black power rings, death sets out to raise an army of deceased heroes and villains to gather the living to its cold bosom.

 

The storyline of Blackest Night is smartly set up to deliver emotion and tension. Several scenes involve heroes visiting the graves of their fallen comrades, as the whole world takes a day to remember all those who have died in the fight against injustice. The melancholy soon turns to suspicion and fear, though, as the mourners find desecrated graves and overturned tombstones. And then you hear the call of the black power rings saying, “Rise.” The only thing possibly scarier than a powerful evil villain is a powerful hero resurrected as a Black Lantern, and the only thing scarier than seeing a hero fall at hands of their former friends is seeing them rise a moment later as another member of the Black Lantern legion.

 

All this makes for a tense and engrossing storyline. There are some really fun and neat moments (Yay, Aquaman is back!) and some fun and scary moments (Oh no! He’s an undead villain!). Sometimes it’s hard to come up with enemies threatening enough to really present a challenge to DC’s super-powered heroes, but the Black Lanterns excel on many levels—because these enemies are their friends. Not only is there the physical threat of powerful heroes becoming villains, they have to face the hidden threat of not knowing who may have been defeated and turned, and the emotional threat that comes from seeing a beloved companion’s grave overturned and then seeing them risen as an enemy of all life. It’s a far more entertaining premise than any of DC’s previous crossovers, in my opinion. The plot of Blackest Night tends to jump around a lot, but it’s all part of showing you the scale and terror of this new threat.

 

I also have to give credit to the artist (Reis) for really doing a great job blending the usual DC hero art with all the scary new motifs in this series. It’s an impressive accomplishment to pack in genuinely creepy graveyard scenes with epic sea battles (I’m thinking of you, evil Aquaman), keeping everything consistent while jumping all over the DC universe. And I really love the way the Black Lanterns look. One look at the cover of this issue will show you what I mean.

 

Parents, of course, might be turned off by the obvious darkness and creepiness of this series, and they would be justified. This isn’t a book for younger kids. It’s half hero book, half horror novel. Whether this makes it objectionable material is something parents and readers are going to have to figure out for themselves. There certainly are some significant themes here, though. Themes of loss and betrayal, and of course, fear of death. It might be dark material, but it’s also a great opportunity for us to remember why, as Christians we don’t fear death, and how different that makes us from the rest of the world. Also, as Christians, we do believe in a climactic battle between good and evil where the dead will rise. But we believe it’s going to go very differently from this battle, and it’s not going to be won by human (or superhuman) hands.

 

To sum it up, this is a very entertaining book with some powerful story elements and great art that make it a lot of fun to read. It’s one of the best things to come out of DC in a while, and it doesn’t disappoint.

 

Let’s Talk About It

If your family members are interested in this book, then encourage discussion about it afterward. You can use these questions to get started:

 

• Have you ever had a friend who later became an enemy? What happened to cause the break between you?

 

• Why are people so afraid of death? How should we view death?

 

--MV

 

Note: All book or comics-related graphics in this column are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

 

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