Review: Blackest Night: Batman #1

BLBat

Spin-off minis to Major Crossover Events are interesting things.  They are often posited as being important to the main story in some way, though the best crossovers know better than to make them vital or trivial and offend fans.  On the one hand, you can have the debacle that was the Final Crisis spin-offs – decent minis that had absolutely nothing to do with the main title or, even worse, which actively contradicted the main title.  On the other hand, you have Secret Invasion, which didn’t even make sense without the vastly more important spin-off titles (most notably Incredible Hercules and Captain Britain and MI:13, which featured the most vital blows against the Skrull threat).  Which type is this?  Spoilers ahead.

Blackest Night: Batman #1 seems to be leaning towards the Secret Invasion way of doing things.  As we saw in Blackest Night #1, Black Hand has Bruce Wayne’s skull, though no one really knows why.  And as Blackest Night #2 revealed, there’s actually a whole lot no one knows.  The Black Lantern Rings have caught everyone off-guard, and while everyone knows by now what they do, no one knows how or why.

This issue changes that.  Tomasi keeps the story moving ahead at a quick pace as he smartly focuses on Boston Brand, better known as Deadman, who we saw tormented briefly in Blackest Night #2.  Here we see why – though Brand’s soul free-floats through the ether, allowing him to possess anyone with whom he comes in contact, his body has been snatched up by a Black Lantern Ring.  When Brand enters the body to try and force it back into the ground, he knows everything it knows… and that means he knows that Black Hand has the skull, that a Guardian has betrayed the others, even that there’s a power battery.  And when he finds Dick Grayson and Damian, they know it to.  Batman & Robin now know more about what’s happening than any other hero in the DC Universe.  Let’s just hope they remember that they know Oracle, and Oracle knows everyone.

Despite all that masterplotting, however, the issue is all set-up.  Tomasi and Syaf fails to deliver the shocks where he needs to as we see some of the dead Batman family begin to rise, and they seem to introduce far more threats than a three-issue mini demands.  Syaf and his art team do well matching the bleak tone of Tomasi’s story, but is a bleak tone and some set-up enough to fill a full third of a mini satisfactorily?

Only time will tell.  As a single issue, however, this one manages to stay just ahead of mediocre thanks to decent art and reasonably well-handled drama.  There’s a lot in it that has the potential to change the game for the Blackest Night mini, but little that suggests that Blackest Night: Batman will be compelling on its own.

Grade: B-

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

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8 thoughts on “Review: Blackest Night: Batman #1

  1. I had no idea you were reading Blackest Night.

    And, to be fair, FC: Submit and FC: Superman Beyond were essential.

  2. I wasn’t planning on it, but after a 1-year hiatus from Johns, I thought I’d give it a shot. If nothing else, it’ll allow me to criticize it from an informed point of view, especially since I’m brainstorming up a post about continuity in shared-universe storytelling.

    Thus far, I think the main series is leagues above most of Johns other work… so far. I also see the potential to fall fast, hard. It’s less scattershot than Infinite Crisis was, and it’s less focused one How Awesome Hal/Barry Is than the rest of his work.

    That said, it is by no means GOOD. I would rate each issue at about a C/C+/B- range. They’re kind of bland.

  3. Ooh, I disagree that BN is some of Johns’ best work.

    But, if you’re going to do a post about continuity, can you use this quote from Matt Fraction?

    “Continuity is the devil; consistency is the watchword. Accessibility balanced with respect for history, with the understanding that readability trumps all.”

    I like that quote.

  4. I can certainly try to use it. Where’s it from?

    And keep in mind, I thought his parts of 52 and his parts of the Sinestro Corps War were notably weaker than the counterparts, Infinite Crisis and Teen Titans were bad, Green Lantern was glorified fan-fiction, and, outside of the relatively solid Rogue War, most of his Flash run that I’ve read was melodramatic and angsty without any offsetting wit or intelligence. Even Booster Gold devolved quickly into a mess after an incredibly promising start.

    Blackest Night has no female leads, so his utter inability to write women can’t hurt it. It is too short for it to collapse under its own weight the way BG did. Though it will be every bit as needlessly angsty as Titans, it’ll have better action and less room to wallow in it before the wrap-up. And the ensemble nature of the story means that, aside from Savior Hal the White Lantern of Omnipotence or whatever it is that’ll happen at the climax, he won’t have TOO much time to jerk off his two pet characters.

    So, we’ll see how it goes. If nothing else, I’m always happy to have reviews to contribute and time to kill reading comics.

  5. Pingback: Review: Blackest Night #3 « read/RANT!

  6. Pingback: Review: Blackest Night: Superman #2 « read/RANT!

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