Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review: Blackest Night #6


Blackest Night #6 (of 8)

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inkers: Oclair Albert & Joe Prado
DC
Released: December 30, 2009





I have a strong feeling that when all of this is dead and buried, finding a cheap apartment or home in Coast City is going to be quite the easy task. After suffering the brunt of the ravages of the Sinestro Corps War, and now being the absolute epicenter for the ultimate zombie takeover of Earth, I can't imagine that anyone would ever feel safe in Coast City again. Oh, and did everyone remember that the entire city at one time had been completely annihilated by a monstrous and indestructible cyborg? Gotham City is a paradise by comparison.

Perhaps I'm missing the point to focus on something such as housing futures in the midst of total Earth decimation, but I don't think so. The sky crackles with the war of multi-colored light, shafts and beams of red, green, purple, and blue shear through the darkness, cutting through the slimy muck of the flying undead, sending the ghastly entrails spilling out onto the streets of what was once a coastal paradise. How can all of this possibly end well, even if it ends in heroic success? Even if the assorted Lantern Corps band together towards ultimate victory over the villainy of complete darkness, how can anything ever be sunshine again? How can a city survive such as this?

From it's first issue on, Blackest Night has been absolute comic book excess; the opening panels showing The Black Hand lasciviously licking the exhumed skull of Bruce Wayne; the undead Aquaman using his telepathic powers to summon a bloody shark attack; an endless succession of sharply-clawed hands held aloft with a still-beating human heart, freshly ripped from out a poor innocent by-stander, clenched in their grasps; this is a book drenched in the wet stuff of eviscerated life. It's excessive in the way comics can be excessive, in bold vivid colors, in a safe, neat, saddle-stapled package. Nestled in its bag-and-board, laying across the desk, an issue of Blackest Night looks so harmless, so innocent, like a thin perfect rectangle of inky joy. Then, inside, each page reeks with gore, violence, tears, the cries of pain, the throes of death, and the mayhem of unbridled chaos, all above the streets of the "city without fear". It's epic in it's excess, a throwback to horror comics of the 1950's and 60's. The only thing missing, really, are the covers featuring headless women and bloody ax-blades.

There is hope left for our heroes, and this issue provides one of the best moments of the whole series, as the duplicated rings of the various lantern corps seek out and find new recruits to "deputize" for the cause. We are treated to a vision of Blue Lantern Flash and Star Sapphire Wonder Woman, along with a Red Lantern Mera and Orange Lantern Lex Luthor. These are surprisingly powerful and joyful re-imaginings of these characters; iconic figures played with like toys, but with the built-in fail-safe of having these changes last only 24-hours, like Superhero-Cinderellas at a macabre fancy-dress ball. It's excess in the opposite extreme of all the gore; this is fantasy played out to it's most awe-shucks conclusion. I found myself unable to take my eyes off of the final double-page reveal of the new recruits. It's an utterly ridiculous moment, completely ludicrous, and yet so gleefully perfect and made even more so because of its ridiculousness.

For now, the task in front of these costumed heroes seems to be in stopping death itself; all-powerful, all-consuming death; the one thing that will take us all, the one thing that comes for everyone. Except, it doesn't. Superman has cheated death, as has Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and Barry Allen, and Wonder Woman, and Oliver Queen, and a seemingly endless list of A and B-list characters scattered throughout DCU continuity. For them, death was merely a temporary plot point on the road to re-boot. Even Bruce Wayne lives on, lost somewhere in time, scratching bat-symbols into cave walls. Just like Coast City, these men and women are completely destroyed, run through by the sword of editorial experimentation, or simply thrown away onto the fiery heap of couldn't-care-less. Then, their 24-hour purgatory ends, the clock strikes midnight, the carriages and horses return to pumpkins and mice, and providence shines from high above, from an office in Manhattan; lo and behold, they rise again. Superman lives! Green Lantern and Flash are "rebirthed"! Coast City is open for business! Call our agent for details on this amazing property!
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