DC’s Blackest Night and Brightest Day

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As Brightest Day, the follow up to DC Comics‘ hit miniseries Blackest Night, officially begins today (issue zero was released last month), ptb and I have taken few moments to reflect on what has come and speculate on what’s ahead.

ptb: The thing that stood out most to me about Blackest Night was the way it made me realize how little I know about the DC Universe. The major players and surface details I get, but as soon as you go a little deeper I’m lost. After reading issue one, we talked a bit about who was who and clarified a lot of civilian/code names. Knowing who people are is one thing, but understanding why they’re important is another. Barry Allen being back is kind of lost on me, but resurrections of guys like Max Lord are a complete mystery. The appearance of the Monitor (or was it the Anti-Monitor?) also didn’t mean much to me although I know it’s a big deal.

KevinMLD: Now you know how I feel when I read about Bastian!

The reason for Barry Allen being back is a mystery to me and so far DC has done very little to demonstrate why he’s something special beyond the fact that he was on the Super Friends when Geoff Johns was a kid.

The Anti-Monitor has played major roles in both Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis as well as the Sinestro Corps War. He single-handedly destroyed the original DC multiverse. That’s literally all you need to know about him. He’s the biggest of the big bads.

Max Lord is a little more complicated and stupid. He kind of ran or financed the Justice League during the 80’s sitcom years from what I know. He has some mind control powers. He was basically ignored as a character for years, but made a comeback just prior to Infinite Crisis. He turned heel in a big way and took over the organization Checkmate, which is a DC universe spy organization similar to Marvel’s SHIELD. He had big evil plans that involved using his mind control powers on Superman to do some supervillainy stuff until Wonder Woman snapped his neck on national television. This led to people distrusting Wonder Woman because no one knew how naughty Max Lord had been.

ptb: A second major issue I had with Blackest Night was the fact that throughout it, I was hearing about what was happening in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps and those seemed to be the books I should have been reading. Blackest Night gave the main story from a DCU-wide perspective, but I’m honestly more interested in the spectrum of Lanterns than how Blackest Night affects the Atom (and he may be a bad example since he became a Lantern).

KevinMLD: The Blackest Night story obviously concluded in the Blackest Night main book, but I definitely think most of the major story beats took place in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. The main War of Light stuff took place in GLC, with the adventures of Hal Jordan and the main allied rainbow corps members taking place in the GL book. In fact, the Blackest Night main series felt like it was a tacked on, money grab on DC’s part until the last two issues.

This also reminds me of how I felt reading Civil War. Why did Spider-man side with Tony Stark again? If these companies are going to run major events like this, they need the information that is most important to the story to take place in the main title.

ptb: I read the whole thing and I definitely liked it, but I know there was a lot that I missed. Brightest Day #0 didn’t really change much of this. The tone and perspective of this issue may have been different from what’s to come in order to set things up since it is a zero issue, but it’s going to have a hard time maintaining my interest if it focuses only on the White Ring resurrected characters. The covers indicate that Hal Jordan is involved so maybe that will help.

Both series look great and that’s a big plus, but I’m definitely unsure of how long I’ll be sticking around from here. How many issues does this series run?

KevinMLD: I like that Aquaman is back, but a lot of the other resurrections aren’t very exciting… Especially Hawkman and Hawkgirl (not to be confused with Hawk who was also resurrected) who were killed twice in the last year and Martian Manhunter who just died during Final Crisis. But I am really excited about the resurrection of Deadman. That’s a brilliant concept. Deadman is a character who was completely content being dead. Being dead has always been his gimmick. This is brand new ground for the character. I’m kind of sad that the now “Aliveman” has powers. I wanted to see him just be human for awhile and come to grips with his new life. I hope there are interesting plans in place for him.

Anyway, even as a big DC fan I’m not totally sold on Brightest Day yet as there has been very little revealed about the story and due to the fact that it’s going to run for 26 issues. I’ll be there for the first few issues though.

More on this series can be found at our Brightest Day hub.


REVIEW: Flash #1

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Death in comics has become an annoyance. Both for the characters and the readers. There used to be this unwritten rule that death in comics was permanent in only three cases: Jason Todd (Robin II), Captain America’s sidekick Bucky, and Barry Allen (the Flash II). These were characters that were dead 20 years ago and that everyone generally agreed would stay dead indefinitely.

DC and Marvel have brought them all back to life in recent years. The end result being when a major character is killed at the end of one of the big two companies’ major events, readers at this point just shrug. Death has no weight in comics today. I’m not sure why we even bother pretending otherwise.

Which brings us to last week’s launch of the Flash #1, which was the debut of recently-back-from-the-dead Barry Allen’s new ongoing series. Barry has been back for awhile now having starred in two mini-series and playing a prominent role in the Blackest Night mega-event. Here’s a secret I’ve learned about him over the last year: he has NO character. He’s a bland guy who used to wear a bow-tie and was always late for everything. That’s it.

The recent Flash: Rebirth miniseries, which was plagued by delays, did nothing to establish his character, nor did the Blackest Night tie-in Flash mini-series. Writer Geoff Johns has done nothing to show us why Barry is so great that DC NEEDED to resurrect him. He had a great death and it should have been left alone.

On top of all of that, I should disclose that I harbor some resentment against this series based on the fact that it stole the creative team behind Adventure Comics after only six issues; a book that was really establishing itself as one of DC’s stronger offerings.

You may ask why I even bothered reading a book that I’m so clearly biased against…? Well DC promised me a little plastic toy Flash ring if I did.

And guess what! My store didn’t even have any. Jerks.

What’s that you ask? No, I’m not six years old.

So what did I think about Flash #1?

It kind of rocked. This book was pitched as superheroes meets CSI. It’s an interesting concept that is barely touched on in issue 1, but you can see the groundwork being laid out.

The real hero behind this book though is artist Francis Manapul. The sequence featuring Barry disassembling a car at super speed to keep it from killing some construction workers and a child is STUNNING. There’s also a page featuring the Rogues that looks like something out of a recent issue of J.H. Williams’ Detective Comics. Really strong stuff.

And the twist at the end, is a nice change of pace from the typical comic book death.

Unfortunately Barry Allen still has no personality, but I’ll give Johns a few more months to try to find it.


Spoilers are Fun: Brightest Day

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No sooner do I criticize Marvel for revealing members of their upcoming Avengers team and as a result cutting the legs off any suspense contained in their current epic story Siege which is basically leading up to the formation of that team than DC decides to get in on the action. DC via their official blog the Source is unveiling their post-Blackest Night plans starting with the return of Aquaman in Brightest Day.

Aquaman is currently one of the major Black Lanterns terrorizing his former friends. Why is it necessary to reveal now that he’ll be back from the dead and no longer a zombie-like thing come Brightest Day #1. This reveal of course suggests that other Black Lanterns will be returning to life as well… Granted this was assumed by most readers to be one of the end results of Blackest Night, but now any questions about an upcoming mass resurrection have been put to rest.

And how does spoiling Aquaman’s return help DC sell more comics? Because that’s the only excuse for the ruining part of the ending of possibly the company’s most popular mega-event of at least the last decade. Time and again, Aquaman has been relaunched and failed to sell books. Almost no one is going to buy Brightest Day on the strength of an Aquaman appearance. In fact, Aquaman and his talking to fish gimmick may drive some readers away.

DC has actually now gone further and announced that the underrated Tony Bedard will be taking over as writer of their Green Lantern Corps title. This is good news in my opinion. The book will follow the adventures of Green Lanterns John Stewart, Kyle Raynor, and Ganthet. Yep. That’s three more main characters that we now know will survive the war of light! And Ganthet is going to remain a Green Lantern? Who saw that coming? Why are you telling us this DC? Why?

This would suggest that the only major Green Lantern character who could face any peril in the final issues of Blackest Night would be the currently rage consumed Red Lantern Guy Gardner. But DC has further announced he’ll be starring in the new monthly Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors title.

And I guess no one should feel stupid continuing to pay $3-$4 an issue to find out how this story concludes? I feel like I’m screaming at a wall, but really it’s why things like HTML Comics exist.

Marvel had it right when they were refusing to release any solicitation information except basically titles and prices for post-Civil War and Secret Invasion books… Captain America 25 which was spoiled by national newspapers aside… But since they’re releasing spoilers now too maybe that policy hurt sales.

Who knows.

More on the series can be found at our Brightest Day hub.


In Brightest Day…

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DC Comics officially announced yesterday that a new series called Brightest Day will follow up their best-selling Blackest Night series in April. While Blackest Night is a more conventional 8-issue miniseries, Brightest Day will be a bi-weekly 26-issue maxi-series beginning with an issue zero. This is similar to DC’s weekly series 52, which launched out of Infinite Crisis, and its follow up Countdown, which led into Final Crisis.  I remember hearing a lot of mixed reactions to 52 and Countdown, so hopefully nothing will spoil or needlessly complicate this series.

Twenty-six issues is a big commitment for me, especially considering I don’t normally read DC’s books. However, given how great Blackest Night has been, I’ll certainly give this a try since Green Lantern/Blackest Night writer Geoff Johns will be writing this as well.

It was also announced that David Finch will be providing covers for the series. Kevin and I were just discussing him over the weekend regarding his new exclusive contract with DC. This is a high profile job and he deserves it as he’s incredibly talented. He’s done some of my favorite covers in recent years, particularly for the X-Men: Messiah Complex crossover and Moon Knight. I’m even planning to purchase a print of his cover art from X-Men #200.

More on Brightest Day can be found at our Brightest Day hub.


Fake Comic Book Day

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Today was supposed to be something the comic buying world had not seen for a long time (if ever), a Wednesday (or Thursday) without new comic books.  Upon first hearing that comics’ central distributor, Diamond Distribution, would not be shipping new books this week, I was admittedly sad and disappointed. That seemed to quickly change to a sense of relief in having a week to catch up and save a few dollars (what can I say it’s a weird hobby).  I’ve come to find out that there will be new books today as some publishers have decided to work around Diamond.

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