Review: Blackest Night #4

BlackestNight4

We’ve finally hit the halfway point of Blackest Night, and as some of our readers have noted, we here at Read/RANT haven’t been particularly kind to the deeply flawed semi-horror event.  This issue illustrates a marked improvement over the past issues, and it somehow comes as no surprise that the title’s strongest issue is its least Hal-centric.  Yes, the Halwankery still comes on thick and strong in a few portions of the book, particularly when Johns’ other comicrush, the omnipresent Barry Allen, is speaking.  However, the issue also provides a couple of the book’s strongest moments, most notably a Geoff Johns Shock Ending (TM) that actually mostly works within the narrative.

This issue was extremely action heavy.  In fact, this issue was, with the exception of a couple pages of Ray Palmer, Mera and Barry Allen talking, just about every page had some violence on it.  It is perhaps this apocalyptic focus that helps the issue escape the worst of Johns’  tendencies.  Only one major legacy characters get blandly murdered and no women, and for all that Barry can’t seem to help but suggest that the only way to fight this is to ‘be like Hal’, the rest of the characters seem to be taking the apocalypse with the appropriate amount of fear and courage.  He even manages to slip in a few clever character beats largely absent from previous issues, like the Scarecrow wandering around a monochromatic Gotham City, immune to the Black Lanterns because his emotions are so deadened he hardly registers.

Reis continues to turn in strong work.  While the sheer number of Black Lanterns has dampened any terror there might have been at their appearance, he seems to have enjoyed crafting their new look immensely.  The action sequences are large in scale and well-illustrated, though a tad too dark.  Meanwhile, colorist Alex Sinclair is used sparingly to illustrate the emotional spectrum, but when he does, he’s gotten on board with the Blackest Night: Superman idea of allowing the characters to feel more than one thing at any given time.

Blackest Night continues to be deeply flawed.  That said, as the series marches on, it seems to be getting stronger and finding its voice.  This issue dropped almost all of the book’s failed pretensions of horror in favor of a dark, gothic, very traditional superhero story, a tonal shift that can only work in the title’s favor.  With the already-spoiled Nekron reveal, Johns and Co. have moved on to the next stage of their story.  Let’s hope they continue to trend towards a decent story.

Grade: B-

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Blackest Night #3

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9 thoughts on “Review: Blackest Night #4

  1. i feel like DC didn’t learn the lesson of Secret Invasion… ironic since Final Crisis was super-condensed and could have easily supported another 2-3 issues.

    i’m going to say that unless the Scarecrow stuff is a setup for something later, then i don’t give a shit and his scenes are totally wasted. Johns, if you want to write about Scarecrow, then go write a Batman comic.

    Johns broke the cardinal rule of storytelling:

    HE BORED THE AUDIENCE!!!!

  2. Man you 90s fans and your Hal/Barry hate. It’s not a “comicrush” any more than Waid’s Wally, Morrison’s Kyle or Superman, or Peter David’s Supergirl, and so on. I’m guessing you guys lapped that up that stuff like good little fanboys too, and would resent anyone referring to them as comicrushes.

    You may want to consider that writers are caretakers of these characters, and part of their job is to demonstrate the qualities that make them HEROES, both the positive and negative.

    Johns delivers BOTH. You only deride him because you want JUST the negative, and not the former. Ergo, your reveiws suffer in credibility due to bias.

    Still entertaining to see what ways you guys can justify your own mancrushes, and the characters that stand in their way (Hal. Barry. Etc.)

    • One of the first rules of storytelling is “Show, don’t tell.” Johns has a lot of trouble with this – rather than SHOWING us Hal doing something awesome (see JLA: Year One) without commentary and letting us realize that he’s a pretty cool guy, Johns likes to have his characters constantly TALK about how awesome the other characters are. That is lazy storytelling.

      As much as I enjoy the Geoff Johns Mafia coming in here to deride us with no knowledge of us month in and month out, it does get tiresome eventually. I defy you to find a passage in which I talk about preferring Kyle to Hal, Wally to Barry. You won’t find it. Wanna know why? Because I don’t.

      I defy you to find a post in which I claim I want only the negative on Hal or Barry. You won’t find it. Because I don’t. In fact, I enjoy a straightforward superheroic tale… when it’s well-written. The fact is, however, that this isn’t.

      Was my complaint that Hal would help save the world? Nope. My complaint was that Johns not only had his favorite character save the world, but he also dedicates a fair bit of each issue to telling us why, and how, and to telling everyone else they should be more like him.

      Green Lantern saves the world. Fine. You didn’t see me complaining about it in Final Crisis, and that had an even more overblown premise. The problem is that Johns has no subtlety to his work. He wants to punch you in the face with HAL JORDAN SAVING THE WORLD and then remind you every few pages about it.

      Look, it’s cute when you come in here and berate me for wanting to read a good story, but next time, how about finding out if you know what you’re talking about first. There are plenty of people you could’ve accurately tagged as Kyle and Wally fanboys… I’m just not one of ’em. Don’t own a single issue or a single trade of either of their books, and don’t plan to get ’em any time in the near future.

      Yes, someone can point out the weaknesses in Johns writing without any motive other than hoping he’ll improve so there’ll be more good comics to read. Believe it or not.

      • I knew as soon as I read that Hal fellatio that you guys would be here to call Johns out on it. I’d say that that spiel by Barry was one of the most eye-rolling and blatant offense in this category so far (“I don’t stay” elicited a cringe as well).

        I know I mentioned something about the javelin exploding on Supergirl’s rack being in the script and it was taken to the next level with a full script for that issue of Cry For Justice. Any chance one of your contributors could whip up a “Blackest Night Drinking Game”?

        Keep up the good work.

  3. The best issue so far?

    Jeez, four issues in, and what’s happened? Zombies attack! Yeah, I knew that before I read the first issue.

    Johns has been building up those resurrected JLA villains since issue one, with Barry and Hal ominously talking in front of them.

    It takes Johns two issues to finally bring them up, making them last issue’s super-kewl last page. They’re on the cover of this issue, and they have a double-page splash, and then we never see them again! Seriously, look again. Do they even pop up in one panel?

    I think Johns is getting distracted again, similar to how Infinite Crisis devolved into an event about Superboy-Prime whining.

  4. I know it’s just for the money, but Marvel might actually have a good idea, when it comes to this new, 4-issue-event idea.

    Bendis can’t spend 5 issues in the Savage Land with Siege. It’s only four issues. He has to keep it tight.

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

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