Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blackest Night #6 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inkers: Oclair Albert and Joe Prado
Colorist: Alex Sinclair

Story – The New Guardians

Yeah I know I said earlier that I was not going to be able to get Blackest Night #6 but somehow found myself going to the comic shop after having a very busy morning. In any case I got this 6th issue of DC's big event and like the other five issues of this event Geoff Johns seriously disappoints with another issue. This issue more so than the last five issues relied heavily on Ivan Reis's artwork to deliver the "WOW" moments.

I am going to be honest in saying that the last part of the issue where each one of the leaders of the 7 different Lantern Corps choose seven different heroes of Earth was entertaining more so for the fact it was something I was hoping would happen in Blackest Night than what it means to the story. Johns did a very good job giving the reader a reason why each character was chosen to be a member of their respective Lantern Corps. The only weird one I found was Wonder Woman as I have never seen her as the DC character who symbolizes love but that is more because I have never being a fan of the character and have never actually read her ongoing series.

The one thing I will praise Johns for is his characterization of the various characters he is handling. Each of the leaders of the Lantern Corps was all great. I especially liked how they acted when Ganthet revealed that all of the Lantern rings have the power to clone a ring and give the power of a Lantern to one person. Also I did like the scene with Barry going into the future by two seconds in order for the Black Lantern rings that were chasing him and Hal to stop.

The problem with what Johns wrote, however, is that there is absolutely no plot progression in the first half of the issue. The first half of the issue was just one giant recap of what the reader already knew and all the scenes we got where just recycled scenes from previous issues. And with us being in the latter part of this event and only three issues left in this event I should not feel like I read most of these scenes before. It is just unacceptable for Johns to continue to do this after we already got five issues of the same thing, not counting the Green Lantern tie-in issues.

Also because the first half of the issue felt like a recap what happened in the last issue with the resurrected heroes who were turned into Black Lanterns had absolutely no consequence in this issue. The roles Johns gives the various heroes turned Black Lanterns in this issue could have been taken by any of the Black Lanterns, even the ones without a connection to the heroes on the scene. We never see the Johns play up the emotions that Hal, Barry, Wonder Girl, the Titans, and the JLA that are on the scene actually react to what is happening. The heroes that where turned into Black Lanterns is yet another example of Johns employing flashy cliffhangers and spread pages that don't add anything to following issues as he instead continues to waste page space on scenes we have seen in other Blackest Night issue and in Green Lantern.

Also though I liked the explanations that Johns gave for deputizing the various DC characters as temporary Lanterns I did think that was a waste of pages as well. I probably would not have felt that way if the first half of the issue did not feel like a bunch of recap BS. But after Johns dedicated half the issue of recapping what the reader already knew to waste another 7 pages on just choosing the characters felt like Johns was again wasting time.

Another good example of Johns providing us nothing but filler was the scenes with Atom and Mera in the Black Lantern ring fighting Jean and John Stewart heading to Earth. Those two scenes were just recycled material of what happened in Green Lantern #49, which came out last week. And though I can understand why the scene with John heading to Earth may have been needed the scene with Atom and Mera did not anything to move the story forward and was just felt like Johns was trying to fill the page count.

And honestly the only plot progression we actually got in this issue was Ganthet introducing the fact the leaders of the Lantern rings can clone their rings, which was about two pages, and the last page which gave us a two page splash page of the seven new Lanterns. That is a total of four pages of development if you count the splash page as two pages. That is unacceptable at this point in the event. And the reason that the last page got me excited for the next issue was more to do with Reis's artwork than Johns writing.

The other problem with this issue is the other problem I have had with Blackest Night so far aside from the poor plotting. And that is that there is no sense of the epic scope of this event. Even though I was not a big fan of Grant Morrison's Final Crisis the one thing I thought he did very well with the event was portray how big and devastating what Darkseid was doing had huge ramifications for the entire DC Universe and the Multiverse. For all of its faults at least in Final Crisis I understood why it was such a big event as it had huge ramifications for the DC Universe if the heroes were unable to stop Darkseid.

That is what Johns fails to do here as Blackest Night feels more like an event that only affects the Earth and not the entire DC Universe. Even with the involvement of the other leaders of the various Lantern Corps it feels like they are just there to save the Earth and not the entire universe. If anything Blackest Night feels like a Justice League story and not one deserving of a company-wide event. And what hurts Blackest Night the most is that even though this is supposed to be the main book Johns and Peter Tomasi have done a much better job making this event epic in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps than this main book.

Which makes for another case why this event should have stuck to being in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps and not its own mini-series event. But in the end Blackest Night has just turned into what Secret Invasion turned into over at Marvel last year with the main story being told in what are supposed to be side books while the main mini-series is nothing but popcorn for the brain.

And that brings me to my final point, what the hell happened to Nekron and Black Hand. They did not even appear in this issue. For the two characters that are supposed to be the end bosses of this event they have done very little to make them a true threat. Johns has done nothing with the characters to make them come across as deserving villains for our heroes to band together to fight them. Nekron himself continues to come of as nothing better than a B-List villain at best.

As has been the case with Blackest Night so far the one part that does not disappoint is Ivan Reis gorgeous pencils. Along with his inkers Oclair Albert and Joe Prado and colorist Alex Sinclair they turn in some stunning artwork. For all my complaints about the story what helps Johns snail-like paced story out is Reis's artwork. Without Reis this event would have been even worse.

Reis is near perfect with all of the artwork and with all of the spread pages and action Johns gives him to draw Reis is able to make Blackest Night at least look like a big event. From Barry running two seconds into the future to the choosing of the various DC characters to become Lantern Corps members to the final spread page the issue looks absolutely fantastic.

The only complaint I had against the art of this issue is the uncreative look of Lex Luthor's Orange Lantern costume. It just looked like Sinclair colored Lex's kryptonite suite orange. But that is just a very minor complaint as Reis artwork looked incredible throughout the issue.

Issue Rating
Story: 5.2/10 – Again Johns provides very little in terms of plot progression even though now he only has two issues left in this event. Though I still will give Johns credit for some quality characterization even though it did not equate to making the story any better than the previous installments of this series.
Art: 9.6/10 – Outside of one character design Reis's artwork was incredible yet again. Reis and his inking and colorist crew are really the one's carrying this event. The artwork is just awesome.
Overall: 7.8/10 – Blackest Night #6 was another disappointing issue by Geoff Johns as he continues to stretch out the story to fit the eight issues of this series. The snail like pace that this event has been moving at is just unacceptable. Those who are waiting for the trade paperback of this event made the right choice as this event might read much better in one complete sitting than in single issues. Though because of all this recapping that Johns continues to makes me wonder about how it will read as a trade/hardcover.