Sometimes a moment is all it takes to elevate a story from mediocre to memorable, or above average to awesome. So far, Blackest Night is two for two on that front.
There is nothing new in Blackest Night. In fact, there isn’t even anything recent. The novelty of seeing pop culture heroes do horrible things has largely worn off. It’s no longer traumatic for audiences to see their manipulated heroes behaving evilly. We’ve seen a Thugee-controlled Indiana terrorize Short Round, we’ve seen Evil Superman crush Clark Kent in a car compactor, and as recently as Marvel Zombies we’ve seen superheroes dining on superheroes. And really, that’s all Blackest Night is: Marvel Zombies with DC characters and power rings. Therefore, just seeing heroes who have been deprived of their freewill doesn’t have any resonance on its own. There is nothing special about the premise, so it has to be handled very well in order to succeed.
Blackest Night is handled very well.
Johns and Reis are obviously at least competent professionals, so it’s well done from that standpoint, but what elevates this from average to...well,, I’m out of alliterative ways to say good. Look, this is good, and what makes it good more than anything else are the cool “moments.”
In issue #1, we got the horrific timing of Hawkwoman’s death along with evil Ralph saying, “I smell a mystery,” which took a just-another-superhero-death and just-another-superhero-being-evil scene and made it horribly, horribly creepy.
In this issue, not only is the story nothing new in the larger sense – zombie superheroes – it’s nothing new in the series itself. All that happens is a bunch of superheroes fight some evil superheroes and find that they can’t defeat them.
But it’s all about moments. Hawkman’s phone conversation with Atom and Hal giving us a “Flash Fact” are cool moments that have instant resonance with longtime fanboys and make this issue a highly entertaining read.
I don’t know if it would have the same impact for a fan who didn’t know what a “Flash Fact” was, or who wasn’t familiar with Ralph Dibny’s mystery-sensing-proboscis, but if you’ve got a working knowledge and enjoyment of DC history, I strongly recommend picking this series up.
I was not looking forward to yet another zombie story, but my LCS owner persuaded me to give Blackest Night a try. I’m glad he did. As long as they keep coming up with cool moments like they have been, I have no objections to the zombie story being resurrected yet again.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!