Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blackest Night #6: My Fears Were Unwarranted

I've mentioned this before, but the way the CBR review team selects comics to review is in a kind of "draft" format. We each pick a comic to review, pick another one for round two, and then since some of us review more than others, we pick whatever's left as a "free-for-all," naming the books we'll write about. We try to mix it up so the same people aren't always reviewing the same comics, but a lot of it depends on what's available, whose local shop gets which comics, what's available via preview pdfs, and what people are willing to shell out money for. Because I had to pay for that terrible Scott Ian/Sam Kieth "Lobo" comic, I didn't end up making much money from the review, for example.

I mention all this because even though there was only a single new release this week to "draft," and even though CBR commissioned two reviews for it, I decided to pass on reviewing "Blackest Night" #6.

In the past month or two, I've reviewed a couple of Geoff Johns comics, and I've given them some of the most negative reviews I've ever given a Johns comic. Anyone who reads this blog, or my CBR columns, knows that I'm a supporter of Johns's work. I like his straightforward, forward-thinking plot structures. I like his pacing. I like the way he knows how to bring in the superhero spectacle.

But the last arc in "Adventure Comics" was a disaster. "Flash: Rebirth" has stumbled. And the most recent "Green Lantern" issue was the worst one so far.

And between all of that and my increasing Blackest Night fatigue -- (Really? Just more zombies and more punching of zombies? That's it?) -- I decided that I wouldn't be the right guy to review the newest issue of "Blackest Night." I just wasn't in tune with what Johns was doing lately. It was a case where a review of "Blackest Night" from me at this point would just be setting the comic up for a negative review. I have no interest in continually attacking a comic or a creator.

But I was wrong about this. "Blackest Night" #6 is event comics done right. It wasn't that I was finding Geoff Johns comics annoyingly shallow. It wasn't that I had Blackest Night fatigue, it was that these other comics just weren't very good.

In this issue of "Blackest Night," John Stewart flies up with an entire planet of Black Lanterns chasing after him. That single image by Ivan Reis is much more effective that the entire plot of the recent "Green Lantern" issue where he's fighting them off. And "Blackest Night" #6 doesn't even have a lot of plot, but it has dramatic moments -- the heroes assembling, the "deputies" rising into action, with rainbow spendor.

Yeah, "Blackest Night" is goofy, melodramatic fun. But this issue proves that it is fun. And this is the kind of stuff Geoff Johns does right. Big-time superhero spectacle. Cosmic insanity. Comics.


Rebis said...

NIce post, Tim. You have renewed my faith you (a faith recently shaken by your stubborn insistence on the high quality of Dark Knight Strikes Again).

I liked the Superboy Prime arc in Adventure well enough (it was its own kind of silly fun), but I completely agree that the latest ish of GL was horrible. I couldn't imagine how Johns had stumbled so badly after a run of five or six kick-ass issues. (And Mahnke was sorely missed!) Meanwhile, BN #4-5 weren't firing me up as much as the first three chapters. Thank Rao for the last two issues of Tomasi and Gleason's GLC, which have kept up my enthusiasm with fun plotting, smart pacing and high drama.

But then, Blackest Night #6 arrives. While ridiculously thin in page count, finally the story steps up to an exciting new level, and an unexpected one (by me at least). Good stuff there. I look forward to seeing how the deputies handle their new gigs. To that end, until the next BN arrives in February, I'm suddenly more enthused about the Wonder Woman mini (with the ever-reliable Rucka and Nicola Scott's sweet art) and the Atom & Hawkman one-shot (Ryan Sook, hurray!).

Jim McD said...

I second your comments wholeheartedly. After the last 2 issues of Flash, BN 5 and then the most recent GL, I had really begun to wonder whether Johns is able to "finish" strong. (I have to say, as much as I love Tomasi's GLC, the last issue there was equally confidence shaking.) And the jury's still out overall, but I thought BN 6 was a good, fun step forward. I love his ideas, but I'm with you -- punching zombies has gotten old.

Great work!