Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Reader's Diary #1292- Geoff Johns (artist), Ivan Reis (artist): Blackest Night

I've been sitting on my thoughts for Geoff Johns' and Ivan Reis's Blackest Night for a while now. I thought perhaps I'd come around on it, or at the very least, understand why I really didn't enjoy it. I've enjoyed other works by both creators, and this is supposed to be one of the better Green Lantern tales, but I found it all to be a bit silly.

And, not having been very familiar with the character before, that's an especially big problem because I'm starting to think I can never come around on him. I suspend my belief for superhero stories all the time, but this one pushes my limits.

In the Blackest Night, the universal protectors, the Lantern Corps have to unite against the Black Lanterns, zombified versions of the dead risen with the sole purpose to destroy all life.

Starting by acknowledging a premise that has weakened superhero storytelling time and time again, i.e., that no one ever stays dead in such comics, I was ready to get on board. I'm okay with such flaws if the writers have a way to drag it out into the open and give me a satisfactorily creative way of accepting it. Alas, Johns did not do that here. Instead, it became just one more nonsensical detail amongst many, also painted over with a thin veneer of quasi-religious overtones.

The idea of a rainbow-spectrum league of protectors reminded me of John Michael Higgins and Jane Lynch talking about their ridiculously bizarre colour-based faith in A Mighty Wind:
This is not an occult science. This is not one of those crazy systems of divination and astrology. That stuff's hooey, and you've got to have a screw loose to go in for that sort of thing. Our beliefs are fairly commonplace and simple to understand. Humankind is simply materialized color operating on the 49th vibration. You would make that conclusion walking down the street or going to the store.

Why exactly is a league of universal beings limited to the colour-spectrum visible to the human race? (Even worse, each colour has been given a personality trait akin the equally stupid Allegiant series.) Speaking of humans, it was nice that Reis attempted some alien races that weren't exactly humanoid, but they did all have to a finger in order to wear a ring. See what I mean? The whole concept is hard to get behind.

But I think it bothered me the most because I found myself thinking of Scott Snyder's Swamp Thing. He, too, took ideas about death and colour and spiritualism but for some reason it worked. And it's that that vague notion of "some reason" that's eating at me. The only thing I can think of is that Blackest Night felt too bloated; too many characters, too much going on. I didn't come to care much about Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern at the center, and the colour-based life and death thing also had less time to germinate. At least I think that's why.

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