2 Apr 2010

Cover To Cover: BLACKEST NIGHT #8

By Matt C

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Joe Prado
DC $3.99

No matter what your thoughts are on the final product, you can’t deny that Geoff Johns has gone a long way to revitalising the DC Universe in the eyes of the comic-buying public with this series. It wasn’t so long ago that DC looked like they were floundering, with Marvel asserting their dominance in the upper echelons of the sales charts, but Blackest Night has really invigorated their portfolio in a way we haven’t seen in a good few years. Sales figures are one thing though - what about the story itself? Has it really delivered the goods?

I’m going to say “yes”, but with reservations. It came out of the gates with real power and momentum, looking as though it might be unstoppable, but as is often the way with these things, it began to sag under the sheer weight of the number of characters and crossover titles involved. The last couple of months saw a dip in quality, at least in the titles that really count – Blackest Night, Green Lantern – and I was preparing for a disappointing denouement to the whole event. In actual fact, it’s a reasonable conclusion to the story – it’s a little too frenetic to really get a grip on, and I’m not completely sold on the way the reset button’s pressed (that’s all I’m saying without getting into spoilers!) but generally I was satisfied by the way things panned out. It didn’t quite get itself back to the heights the first few issues scaled, but it was a much better final issue than I expected.

The problem I’ve had with Blackest Night, and it’s a problem I’ve had previously with big events that Johns has been involved in, is that the writer likes to throw in a bit too many ingredients into the pot. He’s like a kid with a huge cupboard full of toys, and rather than showing restraint and selecting a few to play with he tips the whole lot out on the floor just because he can. The result is an often-cluttered narrative that is less penetrable and absorbing than it should be, and the smart characterization that is one of Johns’ strengths gets lost in the mix. Fortunately the final issue steers clear of too much overcrowding, going some way to regaining the drive lost over the preceding couple of issues.
While the script may have suffered a few dips, the art has been consistent throughout. Reis’s pencils have been epic, full of dynamic, exciting imagery that’s been solidified by Albert and Prado's firm inking and some dazzling colouring from Alex Sinclair. Every panel is bursting with detail, but it’s the splash pages that really knock you out. One in particular – with the assembled Lantern corps taking the fight directly to Nekron’s hordes – is truly breathtaking (beating the more obvious ‘money’ shot, the fold-out centre page emblazoned with the word “Live”.)

Blackest Night has not been perfect, and I much preferred the Sinestro Corps War arc from a couple of years back, but when you compare it with other high profile events from the Big Two in recent times, it’s a clear winner. It’s shifted the DC Universe into a much better position than it was prior to its launch, and along the way has converted a good many readers into hardcore Green Lantern fans. Judged on that criteria, it’s been a success. 7/10

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