Seventh Soldier has already written and excellent review of this issue for read/RANT right here. His review is far more fair and objective than I am capable of being. So, I’m going to live down to the name of this blog and rant about Blackest Night #3. For a more reasonable write-up, please make sure to read Cal’s review.
I’m going to start with the first page. The minute you see two characters you don’t expect to see in a big line-wide crossover having a deep conversation about their future, you know something bad is about to happen to them. If that cross-over is being written by Geoff Johns, you know that one or both of these characters are going to be killed in a grisly fashion.
It’s like something right out of the movie “Scream”. If you want to survive a Geoff Johns cross-over, never ever say something like “It’s hard not to think about our future.”
The minute you say that, you have no future left to think about. It’s like the cliche of the cop talking about his retirement. That cop is going to die before the movie’s over. Anyone who read this panel and didn’t see the end coming hasn’t read a lot of comics.
Next page, we get Barry and Hal fighting off the Black Lantern members of the Justice League. And during the fight, the Black Lanterns make with the taunts in a big, big way. In the first panel alone, Elongated Man rambles on for three very full word balloons.
The taunting is just embarrassingly bad. It reminded me of the “Evil Dead” movies, but not in a good way. The demons in that movie were always saying over-the-top evil things like “I’ll swallow your soul.” Which was fine for those kinds of movies. Maybe that’s what a demon would say, I don’t know. But if Sam Raimi had stretched “I’ll swallow your soul” into three paragraph, you get the gibberish that passes for bad guy taunting in Blackest Night.
Check out this zinger from Hawkgirl:
I have no idea what Hawkgirl is going for here. What kind of reaction could she possibly be trying to elicit from Hal? That she’s kinda trampy now that she’s dead? I half expected Hal to channel Bruce Cambpell and say, “Baby, you got real ugly.” And poor Hawkman is standing right there! Maybe she’s trying to make him jealous.
Or maybe Geoff Johns just thought that line was cool. God knows he can’t resist an opportunity to show women – even dead ones – throwing themselves at Hal Jordan.
The next page, Black Lantern Firestorm taunts Barry Allen for three consecutive panels! It ends with the sure-to-be-classic, “How about you be my new nerd brain, Flash?” Suddenly, “I’ll swallow your soul” sounds somewhat poetic by comparison.
Barry then pulls off Firestorm’s Black Lantern ring which is a really good idea. It kind of makes you wonder why Barry didn’t think of it much sooner than he did. But oh, well. The reader is teased with a few clues as to the nature of Black Lanterns which is a good thing given how little we know about the Lanterns 3 months into the event. But more importantly, Johns set’s up Ray Palmer’s super-cool entrance:
It’s a pretty cool entrance, I’ll grant you. Except that Johns really forces the dialogue to set up this moment. And why would Ray have stayed in the ring that long while Barry and Hal were fighting for their lives? Was he sitting in there waiting for someone to say something that would set up his dramatic entrance?
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice, Firestorm 2.0 has answered his emergency beeper to find Mera. Just, don’t call her Aquawoman:
I’m showing this panel because a bunch of posters at the DC forum went nuts over Mera’s “not Aquawoman” line. They thought it was really cool. But is it really? It just came across like forced badassery to me. If you’re really trying to fight off zombie super heroes, do you want to take the time to make sure everyone knows you don’t have a super hero name? And even if you did, is this the way you’d say it? I think most people would have said, “Please, call me Mera.” or something to that effect. Please, someone explain to me why people think this line is anything other than stilted dialogue.
After the introductions, Mera goes on to explain more about the Black Lanterns and we get this subtle piece of foreshadowing:
Okay, so I lied. There’s nothing subtle about it. Geoff Johns may as well have put the ending of this book on the first page. I’m not sure if he thinks that telegraphing his every move will build up suspense, but it’s really not working.
Out of no where, the Indigo Lanterns arrive. Good thing too, because if they hadn’t Ray Palmer would have been sporting a new Black Lantern ring. And then we’d have been stuck with legacy hero, Ryan Choi. Only, we all know that isn’t going to happen. So really what we have here is a really tired plot device.
Naturally, the plot device saves the day. but Indigo-1, the leader of the Indigo tribe, is a multi-purpose plot device. Not only did she save the heroes from certain death in a very convenient fashion, she also provides exposition. Lots of it. Look at all these word balloons:
And she’s not even done yet! She drones on and on nonsensically describing the “Care Bear Stare” that will no doubt save the day in Blackest Night #8. And of course, only Hal Jordan can save the day because Geoff Johns wouldn’t have it any other way.
Anyone remember Blackest Night 0? The entire issue was a conversation between Hal and Barry brining readers up to speed on the events leading to Blackest Night. That conversation continued into Blackest Night 1 and 2 and an issue of Green Lantern. And it’s still going:
Thank goodness the Black Lanterns finally arrived to save the day! Please don’t let these two girls start gabbing again in Blackest Night #4!
All kidding aside, what follows is absolutely reprehensible. It really pissed me off. I’m talking about the death of Gen that was telegraphed way back on the first page of this book. I don’t really care that they killed off the character. I never had any attachment to her and I still don’t. But the way in which her death was portrayed was just offensive.
Look, anyone who’s read comics knows about the “Women in Refrigerators” thing. Comics have a long history of gruesome ends for female characters. That’s unfortunate, but it’s nothing new.
However, it seems like DC isn’t satidfied with merely killing off women. Instead, we get pages of women begging for their lives at the hands of a ruthless killer. Not long ago, Teen Titans featured such a sequence and I had hoped not to see another like it in a mainstream super hero comic. Unfortunately, Blackest Night #3 raises the bar in the complete objectification of women.
Check out this panel:
And fans on the forums are lavishing this book with praises. It’s so cool and so “bad ass”. Really, it’s just sad. And this is just one panel out of a death scene that stretches on for over three pages!
Critics have long blasted slasher movies for objectifying women. It’s common that we see their deaths from the killer’s point of view. Comics often come under fire for presenting the deaths of female characters from the point of view of the male heroes who are left behind. The femal character’s death is meaningless except that it drives the male hero on. This death scene is guilty of both.
After three pages of watching a young girl beg for her life, she is turned into a pillar of salt! Posters at the DC forums are hailing this as “biblical.” Who can blame them? The scene is presented in a way that glorifies violence against women. In fact, it’s “bitchin”:
I am seriously amazed by the lack of controversy surrounding this scene. No comic has made my stomach turn quite like this one did. DC should be ashamed of this book.
All kidding aside, I am sickened by Blackest Night. I can’t believe how it is being embraced by fan boys everywhere. It makes me feel like an old fuddy duddy, but this crap ain’t cool. It’s just cheap shocks and exploitation. And it’s got no place in a super hero comic.
This book just made me ill. Ill and sad.