Rant: Blackest Night #3


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.”

Blackest Night #3 002

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:

Blackest Night #3 003-04

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:

Blackest Night #3 007

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:

Blackest Night #3 011

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.

Blackest Night #3 013

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:

Blackest Night #3 017-18

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:

Blackest Night #3 020

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:

Blackest Night #3 025

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.


14 thoughts on “Rant: Blackest Night #3

  1. Pingback: Rant: Blackest Night #3 | Pulplit Magazine

  2. Not as ill and sad as this bady written review makes me. Your comments about the dead characters’ dialogues especially proves you didnt really read this, just skipped through most of it. Otherwise you would be aware why they were talking like that but hey why bother with the facts?

    • Andrew, are you really surprised? This site stays stagnant until every issue of Blackest Night comes out and then a negative review is up THAT DAY.

      Sure there’s some faint praise, but these pretentious haters know it’s the Johns bashing that gets them the attention (Two reviews of the same comic? Real subtle)

      Even quoting dudes that quote them It’s pathetic.

      • Hey, Mike.

        First, thanks for reading. Even if you disagree with this rant, it seems like you’ve been following the site. And that’s awesome!

        Gotta admit, we haven’t been posting as much lately as we were during the summer. One of our contributors, Bruce Castle, is MIA. Life has apparently pulled him away. Though he comments from time to time and I have no doubt he’ll be back in posting form sooner or later.

        The same thing happened to me on a smaller scale. I didn’t get much of anything up for the first couple weeks of September. We have a new baby at home and sometimes that keeps me from getting to the blog as soon or as often as I would like. You know how these things are.

        But Seventh Soldier’s been posting regularily throughout. And frankly, you couldn’t ask for a more fair-minded reviewer. I certainly hope that my admittedly biased rants don’t tarnish his good name. While he’s not gushing about Blackest Night, he’s posted mostly positive reviews of two of the tie-ins. And all but the biggest Johns-apologists have to admit his luke-warm review of Blackest Night 3 was certainly fair.

        (Oh, and I posted the link to the Groovy Age of Horror because I like what he’s doing over there. And he’s not bashing Blackest Night. He’s doing the most thorough coverage of the event I’ve seen – both good and bad. If you’re a fan of Blackest Night (or horror) , you owe it to yourself to check out GAoH. It’s cool. The fact that Curt quoted Cal’s review is really only significant in that it lead me to discover his blog in the first place.)

        Anyway, just wanted to let you know that there is no anti-Johns agenda here. In fact, I’ve posted quite a few pro-Johns reviews. (The first review I ever wrote for the site was a glowing account of his run on Action Comics.) The writers are all independent contributors. Sometimes we disagree. Certianly no one said, “Let’s start bashing Johns to increase are hit count.”

        By the way, if we were going to do that, we’d post the phrase “Starfire naked” or “Catwoman gets jealous” in every article. For some reason, these are the two most common phrases used on search engines to drive trafic to our site. I won’t even mention some of the other things people search for. There’s a bunch of sickos out there, let me tell ya!

        This is longer than it has any reason to be. But thanks again for reading. I hope you find something on the site you like – or that you at least enjoy hating on us.

        Take care!

      • I find this attitude… strange. Of course we post the Blackest Night reviews the day they come out – they’re the best-selling titles on the shelves. They’re what people want to know about most.

        If the only thing you look for in a review is that it agrees with the opinion you’ve already formed, why do you even read reviews? Is it for validation? Are you not confident enough in your taste that you cannot enjoy a book unless you’ve dragged down those who disagree?

        And I’m not exactly sure what you mean by ‘stays stagnant’. We generally post between 4-8 reviews a week, and 8-12 when all three of us are contributing. Admittedly, we can’t compete with places like Newsarama or CBR when it comes to the amount of content generated, but then, they’re getting paid… and quite probably, they’re also getting review copies ahead of time. We work off what we can afford, and we get it done in the time between our other commitments, be they to family, friends, or co-workers.

        I’d also point out that lebeau’s post makes no ‘pretensions’ at being a review. It is rightly titled a rant, something this blog has a rather long history of indulging in. The point of a rant is NOT to offer an evenhanded critique of a piece as a whole, but to target specific, glaring weaknesses in the material that are severely detrimental to the reader’s enjoyment.

        Call us haters all you want, but the fact of the matter is that this is a labor of love. All genuine criticism is. You don’t criticize something because you hate it and want to gloat; you do it because you love it and want to see it improve.

  3. You rock for using scans!

    But you suck hard for disliking a Geoff Johns comic.

    He’s the bestest writer ever, almost as cool as Hal Jordan.

    C’mon, a reanimated Firestorm making a Ghostbusters reference?

    Jack “Stupid” Kirby would never think of that.

  4. Honestly, I intentionally skipped past a lot of the minor criticisms in the first half of the book. I was mostly just goofing around with the first half of the book. It’s not that it’s bad. Just pointing out that it’s not great and certainly not a “masterpiece.” I can’t understand the way the fan boys are drooling over this book. It’s slow paced and predictable at every turn.

    The meat of the article was meant to be the discussion of Gen’s death. I was completely serious about that. So I didn’t bother mentioning the unbelievably stupid Ghostbusters line. But man, that line was awful. Let anyone but Geoff Johns write something like that and see how fans react!

    I thought about breaking the article up into two separate sections since the first half is mostly goofing around and the second half is a serious discussion of what I consider the most offensive comic book of the year. But obviously I just let it all flow as one article. Same book, same rant.

    Dumas, I really did read the book. In fact, I read over it several times. Perhaps you could provide the facts about why the Black Lanterns’ dialogue was so bad. I get that they were trying to provoke emotional reactions. But that doesn’t explain why they rambled on incessantly. Or why they used such lame taunts that were more likely to elicit laughter than anything else.

    Please, feel free to enlighten me. I look forward to it.

    BC! Long time no see! Missed ya man!

  5. The more I look at Gen’s death scene, the less it seems to be about horror, and the more it seems to be about a kind of snuff-porny wallowing in seeing her cry and hearing her beg. When I looked her up on wikipedia, I was taken aback at her age–or lack thereof–which made this scene seem all the less appropriate in any number of ways. Finally, there’s been some debate over whether raising a character as a Black Lantern sullies/degrades them, but the fact that she doesn’t rise as one after this murder was kind of a shocking “snub,” I thought, as if she’s not even worth that much. It does leave a bad taste in my mouth, and not in the way effective horror sometimes does.

  6. “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.”


  7. Pingback: December 2009 DC Solicits + Commentary « read/RANT!

  8. It just seems like every comic that has Hal Jordan in it stands a higher percentage chance of getting a “rant” from dclebeau, especially if Geoff Johns is involved.

    Perhaps your articles should carry a simple disclaimer: “If this comic features copious amounts of Hal Jordan, odds are I have a problem with it. Especially if it’s written by Geoff Johns.”

    • That is an excellent idea.

      If it makes you feel better, I’ll be the first to admit that the way Johns writes Hal often annoys me. That’s my cross to bear.

  9. is it wrong that Gen’s death provoked little reaction from me? i guess the first half of the book bored me into some kind of unconscious trance state.

    Care Bear Stare = WIN!

    also, can i make a request? i’d love to see a rant on the zombie super hero genre and how DC is about 3 years late to the party. thanks.

    • It didn’t provoke any kind of emotional reaction from me either. At least, not in the way Johns intended.

      But the more I thought about the presentation of it, the more it rankled. Especially considering Gen’s age. I remembered that Gen was young, but I had to check wiki to remember her age.

      She’s a 5-year-old in a teenager’s body. Yuck on so many levels.

      I’ve already ranted quite a bit on BN and I’m sure I’m not done yet. Having never read Marvel Zombies, I’m not sure I’d be the guy to write about the zombie/super hero genre. But there’s no denying DC got to the party long after it started.

      However, should you find the time to go on a rant, I’ll be the first in line to read it!

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