REVIEW: Blackest Night #1 (of 8)

001 Blackest Night #1

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Ivan Reis

Hot fucking damn! That was awesome! I mean, you all know that I’ve been all up and excited about this for forever, but this hit every last expectation and then some. I mean, this was cover to cover non-stop goodness, and it’s very clear that Johns has learned a thing or two from his previous events.

Right off the bat I need to say that this review is going to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but some things are going to seep in. For instance I wont tell you that ******** and ********* died this issue. Nor will I tell you that the killers were ******** and *********. Nor will I tell you that ********* ******* **** ********* ** ****** **** ********** *********.

Now that that’s over with, Johns did a great job with the first issue. He used the space to his advantage and kept the story tight and focused. The story picks up with a holiday for remembering fallen heroes, which is handled very nicely and not like some sort of crutch to list off a bunch of corpses. In fact, remembering the fallen is a big theme to this issue and leads to the only true non-spoiler I plan on giving you guys. Throughout the issue various heroes converse about death and it’s meanings, about their fallen comrades, and the entire beginning is Hal narrating about how death is more regular in the lives of people like them then anyone else. About how death just sorta lets itself in the front door.

There are super heroes visiting Valhalla, the graveyard in Metropolis where heroes are buried. There are private visits by friends and loved ones to graves of confirmed Black Lanterns Aquaman and Firestorm, and this being Johns, there’s also a nice little scene where the Rogues mourn their fallen. Leave it to Geoff to give the Rogues some love, you know? At this point the book is just building up emotional attachments for the readers, reminding those who may not have followed, been fond, or even remember some of the deceased, and it’s handled very well. And this of course leads to the highlight of the memories, when Hal and Barry discuss a private graveyard and Barry asks for the full list of who has died since he has been gone. The gorgeous spread by Ivan Reis does a magnificent job of covering over twenty years of death in the DC universe, but truly it’s the looks on the faces of Barry and Hal during the scene that truly make it. And it’s during this scene that we get a nice little realization as to just how long Barry’s been back. Nobody had told him about Ralph and Sue, and I swear, that panel made me tear up. I could feel the breaking in his heart.

That’s masterful writing.

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Of course, this book is called Blackest Night, and what we know about Black Lanterns is that they are, essentially, zombies. Now zombies are supposed to be scary, and Johns said this book was going to be part horror.

He. Did. Not. Lie.

It’s not that the book gets scary to the point where it’s clear cut horror, but it does definitely have some very well defined horror elements well inserted into the course of the story. Both through the writing, as well as through the art by Ivan Reis. His faces are uncanny, they just radiate emotion and feeling in a way that I wish more artists did. Very fitting with this title, and let’s be honest, it really does set the mood for the entire issue. There are several panels where the facial work alone makes the scene. Very awesome.

This is a really hard book to talk about without spoiling, but Johns did a good job of just giving us a giant bang to start with, leaving us on a cliffhanger we can’t wait to see the followup to. Sure, two cliff hanging threads of this book are going to be getting picked up in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps instead of Blackest Night (if the solicits are accurate), but that takes nothing away. The space is being used wisely, and the pacing is much tighter then Infinite Crisis.

In fact, I’d say the pacing is on par with….Green Lantern.

9/10

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