Since the two are closely linked, I’ll start by covering Green Lantern #48 which finishes filling in the story of how the Corps leaders get together, as Atrocitus and Larfleeze are saved from the Black Lanterns on Okaraa by the timely arrival of Hal, Sinestro, Carol, Indigo-1 and Saint Walker (with Ganthet and Sayd along for the ride). There’s some interesting ground covered in this issue, which focuses entirely on the group getting together. Particularly interesting is the idea that the Guardians are actually responsible for the War of Light. Of course, we know that Scar pushed them into challenging Larfleeze directly, although it was the Guardians themselves who were willing to sell out Ganthet and his Blue Lanterns. When Hal hears this he’s none-too-impressed, vowing that once the Blackest Night is over, he’ll never work for the Guardians again. How Johns plans on tackling this post-Blackest Night will be interesting indeed.
I also enjoyed the way Larfleeze was convinced to join up with the group. Seeing Ganthet and Sayd, he automatically gets jealous about how the other Corps have Guardians and his doesn’t. This leads to Sayd making a deal whereby she’ll be the Orange Guardian if he helps them out. Again it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the long term and whether Sayd will have to uphold her side of the deal (I can see her potentially getting out of it, as Larfleeze tends to be easily distracted by anything else new that turns up).
And with the leaders of the various Corps all together, they’re in place for the start of Blackest Night #5…
With last issue being focused on the Flash and co trying to keep their heads above water while Hal assembled the various Corps together, this issue brings all the Lanterns together in a big way. Starting out straight away with a role call of all the main Lanterns reciting their oathes, the Lanterns are quickly teleported to Coast City having discovered the Black Battery is no longer on Ryut.
And its just in time to help the various assembled heroes. I have to say, there’s some great dialogue in this issue. The interactions between Hal and the various Corps (with Hal’s dialogue revelling in the inherent silliness of the multi-coloured Lanterns) and with the Flashes was great. Line of the issue for me was undoubtedly Barry and Kid Flash’s exchange regarding Bart calling Barry “Grandpa”. Although the Captain Planet wink to the readers from Carol comes very close.
It was nice to see Wally turn up in this issue having previously only been referred to in the series. And in his new costume no less. With the delays to Flash: Rebirth I have to wonder what would’ve happened to Blackest Night had Rebirth #5 had slipped any further. Would Blackest Night also have slipped, or would DC just have accepted Wally’s new costume premiering in Blackest Night? Also, I notice than Ivan Reis has also picked up Ethan’s version of Bart’s Kid Flash costume and is drawing the boots as the simplified Flash-style boots as opposed to Bart’s more stylised pair. I wonder if this is another running change that will stick. On one hand I hope not as they were part of what made Bart’s outfit distinctive, although realistically they’d probably be a pain to run in.
With all the players in place, Geoff then successfully turns everything on its head, as the Corps combine their rings to create the white light of life, only to find it actually makes Nekron more powerful, not destroying him as they’d thought. And its here that the plot revelations start hitting, with Black Lantern Batman making a brief appearance, and Nekron’s use of “Bruce Wayne” in quotes adding fire to the theory that the skeleton isn’t actually Bruce’s (although the fact the heroes believe it to be is obviously enough for it to act as the emotional tether for the Black Lanterns).
Nekron then explains exactly why there’s been a revolving door to death in the DCU, as its actually been him preventing the heroes from moving on fully, and setting them up to be resurrected, and further along his preparation for the Blackest Night.
There’s a lot been made of how this series would address death and resurrection in the DCU and lay out the rules going forward, and this is obviously the start of that. I must admit, I really like the idea that there’s been a wider explanation behind all the DCU resurrections. Okay, so its being retrofitted in, but it does make all the resurrections easier to swallow. The only thing I’m not entirely sure about is how this actually works. For example, Ollie was clearly seen in heaven, having passed into the afterlife in the Quiver storyline. Although so was Barry and we know he was also in the Speedforce (clearly there must be some overlap between the Speedforce and Heaven in the DCU, both are versions of the afterlife, so I think it kinda works if you squint at it for long enough). How Ollie being happy in Heaven works alongside Nekron’s revelation that he was preventing the deceased characters being judged I’m not quite sure. Although I guess there’s always the fact that Quiver was pre-New Earth as well.
That’s fanboy nitpicking though, and ignoring it, this explanation feels right. With Nekron’s comments about souls being judged and moving on beyond his grasp as well, we’re perhaps seeing the wider hints for how death/resurrection will work post-Blackest Night.
And then the kicker. As Nekron was the one who prevented them passing over, he still holds power over all the resurrected heroes, as he proves by sending the Black Rings to convert them fully into Black Lanterns. Clearly Donna’s infection over in the Titans special was a tease that the resurrected heroes were still bound to Nekron, and the payoff here, with Diana, Donna, Clark etc all instantly turned into Black Lanterns is chilling. The only two left trying to escape the Black Rings are Barry and Hal.
And that to me is something really nice about this mini series. Its not about the “Trinity” of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. This is a Hal and Barry story that everyone else has just happened to get caught up in, and this cliff hanger positions the series to continue building on that partnership the way the first three issues did. It does make sense, since this is the first big event since both Hal and Barry have been re-established in the DCU to put the focus on them working together again. Of course it helps that they’re written so well by Geoff Johns, who’s clearly having the time of his life working with them both.
The next issue looks to be a real corker. With the majority of the DCU’s heavy hitters now Black Lanterns, and Barry and Hal desperately trying to escape the same fate there’s a real “how will they get out of this one” been built up. Interesting should be the development with Atom and Mera, who’ve been dragged into Black Lantern Damage’s ring by Black Lantern Jean Loring. With Atom and Mera being the other significant pairing of this series, I can’t help but think that being shrunk down inside one of the rings is going to put them in a key position to help out in the next issue or two.