Funnybook Babylon

July 29, 2009

FBBP #106 – Blackest Night Reviewed

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , — Chris Eckert @ 10:01 pm

The Dead Shall Rise!When there is no more room in Hell, the Summer Crossover will walk the Earth! DC’s Blackest Night has begun, the culmination of Geoff John’s multi-year run on Green Lantern. It’s everyone who’s alive fighting everyone who’s dead! Plus some people with different colored rings fighting too! Does it deserve a less reductive description? Listen and learn!


  1. Thanks for the new podcasts this week! Glad to see you guys aren’t “podfading” as once rumored. Sad to not hear Green Lantern Corpse during the podcast. Keep up the great work Ambivelant Lanterns!

    Comment by Vince — July 30, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

  2. Nice podcast. I gotta say I agree with a lot of the comments on Blackest Night, but some of the judgement calls I’d say with only 1 issue out it might have been too quick to make about the nature of the zombie black lanterns and whatnot.

    The only other thing I’d probably disagree with were the comments stating that there wasn’t much time spent on the whole war of light that was supposed to be such a big deal in the prophecy and the blackest night is already here. As someone who’s been reading both GL books since Rebirth, I gotta say I thought the war of light business was being dragged out too long. I had thought the whole Sinestro Corps war was the first battle in the war of light and that they’ve been fighting it since then with all that’s been going on with the other rings in the books. To me it’s felt like they’ve been dragging it out untill there was a summer where they didn’t already have a major crossover planned so they could use this blackest night story, but that’s just how I saw it. Other than that, another excellent podcast.

    Comment by Fearing — July 30, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

  3. Actually, the Black Hand was gluing Bruce’s skull back together when he was licking it. It’s the same stuff that Scar used to trap the Guardians. Bruce’s skull also spits up two Black Lantern rings at the end of the issue as well.

    Comment by Eric Rupe — July 30, 2009 @ 2:19 pm

  4. Hmm, I actually liked Blackest Night, but I can certainly understand the hatred for it. I do, however, agree on the Geoff Johns assessment.

    Something that has always left me curious is how everyone at FBBP seems to hate Ed Benes. Anyone care to enlighten me?

    Comment by euthanatos — July 31, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

  5. … don’t ever post a Martin Lawrence movie poster again. Please.

    Comment by Nathan — July 31, 2009 @ 5:31 pm

  6. also FYI, Reis is from Brazil, so I’d personally go with pronouncing it like “6” but with an R

    Comment by Nathan — July 31, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

  7. Violet are the Star Sapphires, which are actually pink not blue (blame whoever wrote it back in the 60’s)

    Comment by Nathan — July 31, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

  8. also just kind of odd that so many of the complaints I’ve heard were for the exposition and it not helping new readers.

    at my LCS, I’m pretty much the only guy who reads DC, but the owner decided to push BN on people (event, money, etc.) and they all pretty much got it and understood it (and these are people whose first question were pretty much universally “I thought Green Lantern was black/young/dead” when they heard about BN)


    Comment by Nathan — July 31, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

  9. Euthanatos – I personally enjoyed parts of the main Green Lantern Blackest night tie-in. My issues with Ed Benes are with his need to draw an ass shot in a sequence regardless of whether or not it fits with the storytelling. On his issue with Judd Winnick’s Batman, there were few female characters, so this wasn’t obvious, but if you look at some of his Melzer issues of JLA, it’s intolerable.

    Nathan –

    Sometimes with Johns, I feel like knowing nothing or everything is really helpful but when you know just a little bit about the DCU, his explanation for things become contradictory.

    Fearing – Geoff Johns isn’t a subtle writer, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all. When he puts something out there, it usually means what it appears to mean. I don’t think he’s going to change what he’s established with the Dibnys’ at all. Other writers may do so, but I think it would be conflicting from Geoff’s overall vision.

    Even though Sinestro ended December 2007, it was followed up with Sinestro epilogue, the Alpha Lanterns and Secret Origins. The Black and Red Lanterns were established in Secret Origins, but we didn’t even see them until December of 2008. The Star Sapphires show up in GLC around the same time. So the war of lights is serious 7 months old, and most of that was just introducing concepts that appeared in the back of GL #25

    Eric: Thanks, that makes sense.

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — August 1, 2009 @ 9:57 am

  10. Was looking forward to hearing what you guys had to say about “BN.” I didn’t think you’d love it, but was mildly disappointed to hear a lot of snark (mostly from Chris) for 27 minutes. Some of the criticisms seem simply premature, given that we’re only one issue in. (Although the very next week followed up with a super-strong issue of “Green Lantern,” but it doesn’t sound like you guys read that since I didn’t hear it mentioned. It featured some hints to what the Black might hold, but more than that, it gave us a very entertaining superhero brawl. And I’m not a guy who reads comics just for the brawls; I’m more than happy with well-done “day in the life” stories.)

    I’m also not a zombie fan — never even seen any Romero zombie classics. But I do like that these zombies aren’t mindless; it’s much creepier that they somehow maintain their personalities, using the old emotional connections to unnerve their prey.

    I dig Johns’ decision to mine Moore’s “Tygers” story. It’s not like he made up the prophecy to suit his own storytelling — it’s been lying in wait for, what? 20-odd years. And Moore, obviously, was engaging in a little continuity clean-up (just like Johns does today) when he wrote “Tygers,” which explained why Abin Sur would use a spaceship and tapped the decades-old GL oath to give a name to Qull’s dark prophecy. Seems to me that, although continuity can become an albatross, one thing comics can do with such a great payoff is build on what came before. That is, after all, a huge part of the charm of serial storytelling.

    Still, I fully appreciate that Geoff Johns is not everyone’s cup of tea. (He’s not even always mine, though I did very much enjoy his “Flash” run a few years back. Aside from his “GL” revival, I’d say that’s the best thing he’s done. “Infinite Crisis” was, obviously, a bloody train-wreck.)

    The one thing I agree with you on: The War of Light seems to have gotten short shrift. Clearly it’s happening concurrently, but (unlike Fearing above) I would’ve enjoyed more build-up before the dead rise. It’s not entirely just Scar making it all happen; though she’s been busy pulling strings, the other Guardians are already haughty mofos who’ve made some bad decisions. (For example, we’ve recently learned that the Orange Light was always out there, but the Guardians’ questionable call to recently violate their old agreement with Larfleeze has led to even more misery.)

    What I wish is that they’d moved the “Secret Origins” arc out of “GL” proper — it could’ve been its own series, really — which would’ve given Johns six or seven months more to build up the War of Light. He could’ve introduced the Red Lanterns sooner, and that would’ve bought Tomasi more time too to show the different Corps interacting, either peaceably or not. (The sequence Tomasi wrote when GLs visit the Zamarons, in an act of failed diplomacy, was highly entertaining.) I’d like to actually see the GLs’ return to Ysmault to fight for Laira’s body. And Larfleeze’s imminent attack on the Blue Lanterns would’ve packed more punch if it hadn’t happened two pages after Johns presaged it, but one or two months later. So it seems the storyline got a bit rushed … but that’s not (as someone on the podcast — sorry, don’t remember who — suggested) because DC got greedy to push this event up. They advertised at the end of Sinestro Corps War that this would happen in summer 2009. And here we are.

    Anyway, I’ll enjoy “Blackest Night” (for now at least) and hope the end doesn’t disappoint.

    Comment by Rebis — August 1, 2009 @ 11:51 am

  11. Yeah, I gotta agree on the Ed Benes stuff. There was a creator’s commetary thing in somewhere (I forget where) for the first issue, or an early issue of Meltzer’s JLA where he mentioned he had to ask Benes to redraw Wonder Woman’s boobs (multiple times for the same shot in some instances) to not make them so ridiculously large. Ugh, something like that is at least somewhat understandable in a book like Birds of Prey where he used to be, but most other places it gets pretty annoying.

    Comment by Fearing — August 1, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

  12. I was really surprised to hear so much harping on the notion of prophecy and forcing the story to follow through to a prophecy or whatever, considering that the so-called prophecy is mentioned all of once, in passing, in the issue itself. Heck, in the original Alan Moore prophecy, there is no mention whatsoever of any “War of Light” at all. If there’s any catalyst for the Blackest Night that the issue particularly focused on, it’s that death has become very volatile and “broken” in the DCU. I mean, no offense, you guys spend ten minutes talking about a prophecy that gets one throwaway line in the issue, it just seems as if you’ve gotten some weird preconceptions of what the series is supposed to be about, and is wondering why it isn’t about that.

    Comment by BrianWilly — August 3, 2009 @ 8:23 am

  13. way I see it, willpower’s place in the center of the spectrum has to do with you being able to control your emotions. If you are strong willing you can choose to give in to anger or control it and not lose hope or whatnot.

    Comment by Nathan — August 3, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  14. @Nathan: Put that way, that kinda makes sense. The death as an emotion thing is another story. If they treat it like a lack of emotion I suppose that makes sense (except when used in “secret files” style form sheets for listing the emotion of each corp. :)) I wonder what the inevitable White Lantern will represent? Happy? Life(as being an amalgam of all emotions?).

    Comment by Fearing — August 3, 2009 @ 6:50 pm

  15. Nathan’s sense of green/willpower’s place on the spectrum jibes with what Geoff Johns has also said. (Fun side note: The Black Lanterns can apparently “read” the auras of their prey — define their predominant emotion at the moment. Hawkman was anger; Hawkgirl, love. In “GL” #44, Barry went from hope to fear as J’onn attacked … and Hal stayed green with will. That’s what makes a Green Lantern: Their ability to stay centered and focused, to not lose their willpower/courage regardless of the situation.)

    However, DC did pull a boner (in the parlance of 1950s Joker) when they listed “death” as an emotion, as Fearing notes (and Chris did too in the podcast). That was just dumb.

    Comment by Rebis — August 4, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  16. Regarding the War of Light: the concept was introduced about a year and a half ago, and sounded like it was going to be A Thing. Since then, the two GL books have gone ahead and introduced the other Color Corps, but it didn’t seem to go much beyond “Hey Now There are Red Lanterns, watch out!” All those stories seemed like foreshadowing and setting the stage for an actual War of Lights, as shown in Sinestro Corps. But instead, we leap right into the Zombie Story. It’s entirely possible that the War was just what we saw in the stories I thought we leading into it, but if that’s the case it wasn’t much of a War.

    Regarding Prophecies: My problem with them is that they’re too often used lazily. I know Johns didn’t create the prophecy, nor did he create Kingdom Come. But in both cases, things are happening where the only real explanation given is “oh, well things are lining up with this prophecy!” I admit all the Kingdom Come stuff was more blatant and annoying than anything to come out of Johns’s Green Lantern run thus far, but I’m tired of the trope in general.

    I suppose that’s more a problem with me than with the stories themselves, but these sort of “everything is lining up, as it was foretold!” plot devices, whether used in Terminator Salvation, Blackest Night, Justice Society, Battlestar Galactica or elsewhere, often seem like their own justification for plot advancement rather than letting anything happen logically or organically.

    They’re why we have the Red Robin comic. That alone should be grounds for condemnation.

    Comment by Chris Eckert — August 4, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

  17. Personally I just read RR for the twisted joy of seeing Tim fall down the elevator shaft of sanity. But that’s just me.

    Comment by Nathan — August 6, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  18. “The death as an emotion thing is another story. If they treat it like a lack of emotion I suppose that makes sense (except when used in “secret files” style form sheets for listing the emotion of each corp. :))”

    Pretty much what I think happened. needed a one word “emotion” and just slapped on Death

    Comment by Nathan — August 8, 2009 @ 4:51 pm

  19. Wow. You guys REALLY didn’t get this book at all did you? It has been mentioned constantly that the Black Lantern characters are NOT zombies. It is NOT a zombie story. Johns and countless others have stated this several times. Did none of you ever hear this? Also, you are disappointed that the characters don’t act like zombies are supposed to act, then recite all the typical cliches about zombies.

    I have a feeling you guys aren’t only not the target audience for John’s books. I get the feeling that you guys have a serious zombie fixation, brought on by years of Marvel zombie-hood. It’s either that, or you just don’t have a lot of experience reading comics, as many of your problems with the book sound like you just don’t understand story telling or plot development.

    Seriously, this whole podcast sounded like people who didn’t like a book and it’s writing because it didn’t rely on the typical storytelling cliches and basic plot development and set-up.

    For the last time, they aren’t zombies. Ralph and Sue, act like Ralph and Sue (well, Ralph acted like Ralph, Sue didn’t actually say anything.) because they are Ralph and Sue, NOT Zombies.

    Comment by Steven — August 11, 2009 @ 2:07 am

  20. Steven:

    Your argument is all over the place.

    Our issues with Blackest Night are because we don’t know how to read comics and don’t understand basic plot progression but in the next paragraph, we didn’t like the book because it didn’t rely on the basic plot development and set-up.

    It almost sounds like as much as paradox as Ralph and Sue being blood thirsty homicidal, genocidal, and suicidal but retaining the warmth of love between them that defined them as characters.

    I think Chris’s Wimpy comparison was fucking on point. You really can’t have it both ways, since Ralph and Sue were never down for ripping out hearts and eating them.

    Nathan –

    They should have just put None or NULL. I personally would have loved NULL.

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — August 11, 2009 @ 6:54 am

  21. Steven: no, I actually did not hear that, although I admit I was jumping to the conclusion of “zombie” since they are characters who were dead who have been reanimated and are going around while undead and rotting to feast on the living and convert them into Not Zombies.

    The personality thing would bother me if they were “Black Lanterns” “Zombies” “Possessed by Satan” or any other term you want to make up. Taking someone’s core character traits and just layering PURE EVIL on top doesn’t really work on any emotional or dramatic level.

    Even if they’re not “Zombies”.

    Could you go into more detail about how we don’t understand plotting or storytelling? Is it because we misused the term zombie? Because I am pretty sure the book WAS a pile of cliches, but we got angry at it because it was not?

    Comment by Chris Eckert — August 11, 2009 @ 12:07 pm

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