Okay, it’s time for me to lay down some thoughts now that this thing has been going on for a while. Why isn’t Blackest Night kicking my ass like it should be? I am enjoying it enough to keep buying it, but it’s definitely not my most anticipated comic of the week. Some theories:
1. The Anticipation Factor: I call this “The Matrix 2 Effect” because that’s when I first noticed it. Remember how hard The Matrix rocked us? And how long we waited, our little faces scrunched up, for the next episode? And how it was then decried as THE WORST MOVIE OF ALL TIME? Bushwah. It was an okay movie. The problem was that it wasn’t as good as the original, while in our head it was going to be exponentially better. Similarly, we’ve been waiting for Blackest Night for, what, a year? Year and a half? Coupled with the fact that the Green Lantern stories leading into the whole thing were pretty solid fun, Blackest Night is almost guaranteed to have a hard time being as awesome as I, personally, was hoping for.
FIRST CONCLUSION: One Year Of Hype Is Too Much Hype.
2. The Trouble With Black Lanterns, Part 1: I started thinking about Blackest Night earlier this week after reading Chris Bird's thoughts on the current state of comics (here they are), among which was the fact that the Black Lanterns are very poorly written (edit: oh dang, he's quoting someone else, isn't he. Well, I still read the quote there). Far from being cunning emotional manipulators who wring every last drop of succulent emotion from their prey, the Black Lanterns (and here I’m going to lift
the Mighty God King’s Jim Smith's analogy, because it’s the very best one to use here) sound like fourteen year olds on a message board complaining about a character that they don’t like. It’s just cheap, easy shot after cheap, easy shot. Really, the most effective Black Lanterns so far have been the resurrected villains, because they have the option of a personality and some of them actually have legitimate beefs with the heroes that they are fighting. You know what would be cool? Basically any other villainous archetype, that's what. Like, what if the Black Lanterns retained their old personalities but were compelled to attack their friends - that would be a potentially compelling roller coaster of emotion. Or hell: monosyllabic or completely silent engines of undead destruction. Just shut up Zombie Elongated Man.
SECOND CONCLUSION: Fourteen Year Olds On Message Boards Aren’t Evil, Just Annoying.
3. Let’s Make it a Company-Wide Event!: Remember Sinestro Corps War? Green Lantern event, lasted maybe three months, took place in two regular series and a handful of specials? What a nice little event, yes? Wouldn’t it be nice if Blackest Night had gotten the same treatment instead of sprawling all over space and time? I mean, I'm grateful that DC has stopped the old policy of having events intrude on every single ongoing series, but we don't need to see how every single super-hero deals with the return of his or her dead in excruciating detail.
THIRD CONCLUSION: If You Beat The Horse Before It’s Dead, You Might Just Kill It.
4. The Trouble With Black Lanterns, Part 2: Zombies with power rings should be cooler than these guys are. I mean, I can understand undead super-humans using their old powers, but why the hell is Sue Dibny just slouching around in the background rather than flying around and slinging death beams? Basically the only Black Lantern to do anything remotely interesting is The Ventriloquist, who has been floating along surrounded by a cloud of heavily-armed Scarfaces. GAH!
FOURTH CONCLUSION: Power Rings Ain’t Just Jewelry, Dammit.
5. That Damned Black Lantern Costume: The costume design for the Black Lanterns looks pretty good on paper (uh, I mean writing paper, not comic book paper): the character’s regular costume done up in black, grey and silver with elements of Black Hand’s costume superimposed over top. And sometimes it works, as in Sue Dibny’s simple dress-with-a-logo. Most of the time, though, it’s a recipe for extraordinarily dull and confusing fight scenes. And did you know that Batman has about three hundred dead villains who are basically generic dudes with long hair and knives? I didn’t, until I spent half an hour trying to figure out who the hell they all were.
FIFTH CONCLUSION: Maybe The Black Lantern Corps Needs Nametags, I’m Just Sayin’.
6. What, no Avarice? In Blackest Night: Batman No. 2, up on the roof of the Gotham City Police Department, one of the Generic Long-Haired Undead Batman Villains (dramatically silhouetted for extra identification challenge!) says that they will eat Gotham’s inhabitants, “… savoring the distinct subtleties of the fear, rage, love, compassion and willpower coursing through their souls!” and I’m all like “What, no love for the orange light of avarice?” but then I realized that no, inciting avarice would require some subtlety on the zombies’ part, and they don’t have time for that. All the other emotions could probably be evoked through beating people up and trolling them, after all. But when Black Lantern Jade tried to sex Kyle Raynor up, that worked! That was much more interesting than if she’d moaned at him about how she died instead of him and told him that he was a sucky replacement for Hal! Nuanced behavior on the Black Lanterns’ part might actually make them interesting opponents for a company-wide event! And they have power rings! They have the capacity to create energy constructs! THEY COULD BE FANTASTICALLY EFFECTIVE TEMPTERS AND MANIPULATORS! I think that this might have just become a mashup of points 2 and 4. I don't care, though, because i just pictured a comic in which every beloved dead character in the DCU came back to life at once and everyone was really happy but peril lurked behind their eyes. Oh imagination, thanks for all your help.
SIXTH CONCLUSION: Oh hell, I don't know. Something about not living up to potential or the like. More Larfleeze needed.
Ah well. I'm still enjoying myself, though I can't be sure how much of that is just my enduring love for Where's Waldo attaching itself to my little games of Spot the Zombie. But my joy should be from more than just going "Heh heh, undead Ch'p."
Of course, Geoff Johns has showed a facility for turning a weak story around with a very satisfying ending - see Flash: Rebirth, which hasn't quite ended yet, I guess, but still counts because I want it to - but, well... that doesn't make the story as a whole good. Even if the 80-90% likely victory by Hal Jordan wearing all the different Corps rings is coupled with Sodam Yat returning from the Daxamite sun all supercharged and a possible appearance by benign "at peace" undead like Dove and it's a completely fun, nail-biting, fist-pumping, senses-shattering phantasmagoric thrill-ride, well, that's not going to make the issues that preceded it any better.
So what's the solution? I guess that the only thing that I can do is to stop anticipating anything ever, which might require me to pay even less attention to comics news than I already do. And we could petition Geoff Johns to retire his "irritating fanboy" character now that Superboy Prime has been locked away. That would be nice.
Anyway, thanks for hanging out with me while I vented my spleen. Go read something that will bring you joy - that's what I'm going to do (if I can find my damn copy of Tales Designed to Thrizzle, that is)