Welcome back to Read/RANT, everyone – I hope you enjoyed your week off. I know I did! And while I traveled far and wide for my pre-Thanksgiving Break break, I’m back now and ready to review. And what better place to start than everyone’s favorite book to see us read…
Blackest Night #5
Blackest Night #5 was, for my money, easily the strongest issue of the series to date. Two major weak spots hurt it, but otherwise, it was a relatively exciting, action-packed issue that finally realized that Johns has no skill whatsoever with horror. Instead, despite the grim tone and overly dark art, Blackest Night #5 was almost campy fun, and while the sudden tonal shift of the book from action-horror to action-dark camp may throw some readers off, it was a welcome, if strange, shift.
Johns had me seriously worried as the book opened, suddenly shifting to an introduction featuring characters we haven’t seen on a quest we knew nothing about. While that’s just about always a bad narrative choice, and one that added nothing whatsoever to the book here, the extended introduction at least had the courtesy to be as cheesy and brightly colored as it could be. The other problem moment is harder to mention without spoiling a major twist, so consider the remainder of this paragraph to be a spoiler: Batman’s sudden, bizarre, momentary resurrection, in which everyone was super surprised and called him by his real name before he vomited up a few Black Lantern rings with batwings that killed Superman, Wonder Woman (whose golden lasso immediately turns black, apropos of nothing at all) and pretty much everyone else except Hal and Barry before he promptly re-died.
Reis continues to do fine work on art, though the book’s relentless darkness hurts his art far more than it helps. His crisp illustrations often come off as muddied as everything that isn’t surrounded by an omnipresent black goo is instead coated in neon bright light. Despite that, however, he is still doing a fine job, and the contrast between the lanterns’ lights and the muddy dark further aids the book in achieving its bizarrely over-the-top tone.
Blackest Night is still deeply flawed, but at least it’s become fun, a relatively enjoyable issue of so-bad-it’s-good storytelling with a slew of color-themed one-liners and minor art blips that cause Bart Allen to, despite standing only a foot or so away, only come up to Wonder Woman’s knees. It also featured what was very probably the book’s strongest action segments and a few more hints to set up the upcoming big finale. While it’s hardly A-list storytelling, at least it isn’t taking itself quite so seriously anymore.
– Cal Cleary