The Blackest Night was one of the best books DC’s has published in the last 10 years. When it finished, twelve dead heroes and villains were brought back by a mysterious force. A white power battery appeared in the last scene, promising the dawn of the Brightest Day. Before the conclusion of the series, the sequel was announced. Now, we are twelve issues into the maxi-series, counting the obligatory “0” issue. How does it compare to the Blackest Night?
Well, I hate to admit it, but it doesn’t quite measure up. One of the major problems is the format of the series. It’s a bi-weekly, which could be a wonderful thing. The series is focused on many of the heroes who were brought back by the “white light of creation.” Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, Deadman, Hawk and Dove, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter headline the series. Unfortunately, though, this causes a major problem. With basically five stories being told in this series, none of the stories get much attention in any of the issues. And just when it feels like a story is going somewhere, it gets sidelined for several issues. Still, let’s look at what has happened so far.
The Aquaman story feels a little clichéd and forced to me. Suddenly, Mera feels the need to let Arthur in on a deep dark secret. Apparently, years ago, she was sent to kill him, but fell instantly in love with him. Then, we get an evil sister, that I had never heard of (not to say she had never been in it) who gets to complete the job. She apparently has a connection to Black Manta, who killed Arthur and Mera’s son year s ago. And right after Aquaman told Mera that he could deal with the secret, he insists on going off on his own to work through it. He then bumps into Black Manta, who has found his long lost son. Apparently the kid is about to become the new Aqualad, who sadly was killed in Blackest Night, just when he was getting interested.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl are finally reunited emotionally. I am thrilled at this development, although I must confess I kind of miss Kendra. It would be nice if “she” still occasionally talked like Kendra, but I can live with it. As they are playing “Name that Life,” they are led by an ancient device on a quest. Apparently, their original bodies (long story if you don’t know) were being stolen, by their immortal foe. When they finally catch up with him, he has created a “stargate” using their many dead bodies. When they enter the gate after him, they are transplanted to Hawkworld, which used to be the name of Katar Hol’s series. Some secrets are revealed about the nature of Nth metal, the mysterious element that gives them the power to fly, and several other abilities. My problem with this is that the origin of it was established in the last JSA series, in the Return of Hawkman arc which Geoff Johns co-wrote.
Martian Manhunter, the last of the characters I really love, also has a story that seems to be relying far too much on clichés. Jonn was brought to Earth almost sixty years ago, in the comics, by a scientist who accidentally or intentionally (depending on who wrote the story) found a way to teleport, and then suddenly died. Now, though, he brought an evil Martian first, and brought Jonn along to try and stop the evil lady Martian. I could kind of live with this, I guess. However, Jonn’s desire to restore Mars to life looks like it will end in failure, because he has been led back home to burn down what he planted.
Firestorm’s story could be interesting. Ronnie Raymond though is being treated like a pothead, who cares for nothing at all. I must confess his heyday was way back when I was a little tyke. I do remember being impressed with him in Super-friends though, and he never seemed to be a complete waste of breath. Still, the story here deals with the nature of the “Firestorm Matrix,” the origin of Ronnie and Jason’s power. Apparently, it was tied to the Big Bang, somehow, and the “Deathstorm” (aka Black Lantern Firestorm) has come to destroy them and thus end all life.
Hawk and Dove’s story has merged with Deadman’s. Deadman, who now is very much alive, apparently was given the power to bring the dead back to life (see the baby bird in issue 0) is approached by Hawk, the avatar of war, who wants to bring back his brother, the original Dove, which is the avatar of peace. Meanwhile, the new Dove seems interested in Deadman, which sucks because it seemed like she was finally going to be able to develop a relationship with Hawk. Granted he killed her (REALLY long story), but this is now. She is also suddenly connected to the “white light of creation,” which bothers me because I am rather fond of the origin of Hawk and Dove. One is an agent of the Lords of Chaos and the other works for the Lords of Order (the same beings who empower Dr. Fate). Where this will all lead, we do not know for now.
The series still has 13 issues to come together. I have a lot of problems with each of the individual stories, although I have only scratched the surface here. My biggest problem though is the fact that the stories seem to have no ties to them. Sooner or later, these characters need to be brought together to deal with the issue of their return and to end the threat of the Black Lanterns once and for all. This just seems to be all over the place. And at the risk of sounding overly simplistic, this is the sequel to a major Green Lantern story. The name of the story comes from the Green Lantern oath, and yet, Green Lantern seems to have little impact on this major series. I want to like this series, as I love Johns’ and Tomasi’s work normally. Right now, though, I can’t recommend this follow up to the highly successful Blackest Night unless you have followed DC for years, and don’t mind big changes to established continuity. I plan on following the rest of the story, but really hope it comes together soon.