Blackest Night: Superman #1 was handily the best thing to come out of Blackest Night thus far. An excellent blend of superheroics and horror, it managed to do more with a few off-panel deaths and the color yellow than any ten gore-splattered comic corpses could. Though Robinson carries over some of the semi-horror traditions – the idyllic small town, especially – to Blackest Night: Superman #2, this issue is much more of a straight-up superheroic battle.
Clark and Conner continue to battle zombie Superman in the skies above Smallville while zombie Lois Lane holds Martha (and the corpse of Jonathan) Kent hostage on the streets below. The tension this issue, however, comes from the sudden arrival of a new player: Psycho Pirate. As he incites all sorts of colorful emotions on the unsuspecting populace of Smallville, the idyllic town descends into utter chaos… and becomes the perfect food for the Black Lanterns.
Barrows is on more solid ground than he was last issue – he’s far more capable at showing bad-ass superpeople fighting than he is at creating a pervasive atmosphere, and this issue is far more about the fight than it is about the horror. Along with Ruy Jose, he also manages to wring a lot out of the Black Lantern emotional spectrum schtick, giving us snapshot reactions of the characters without looking ridiculous.
Psycho Pirate is a natural villain for Blackest Night. In fact, there’s absolutely no reason he should be here rather than in the main mini, where his ability to manipulate emotion could bring the book down to the personal level it very much needs to reach. Though he has some fine scenes as he terrorizes Smallville and forces people to become the perfect food for his companions, he serves no real purpose in the narrative. Normally, I wouldn’t mind a loosely connected side-plot, even in a three-issue mini… but Blackest Night: Superman already has a loosely connected side-plot in the form of Supergirl’s plight on Krypton. With one issue to go, can Robinson bring those stories to a meaningful resolution?
We’ll find out in a month. Regardless of the side-plot issue, however, Blackest Night: Superman #2 remains a decent read. It lacks the grace of the mini’s opener, but it’s replaced it with some solid action scenes, a tongue-in-cheek tone that doesn’t break the drama, and the set-up to what promises to be the fight of the century. After all, what mother hasn’t wanted to beat up her daughter-in-law at some point?
- Cal Cleary