The interwebs are abuzz with reviews praising the colorful conclusion of Blackest Night #8. The art in this book is what really swept me away. That damn fold-out splash page is off-the-charts awesome. Ivan Reis, YOU are a rock star! Heartfelt moments, foreshadowing, resolutions and resurrections abound!
J’onn J’onzz: Yippee-mothafuckin’-ki-yay! His death in Final Crisis was so wicked that his return from the dead seems only fair. My excitement is compounded by my newfound admiration for the character and his Martian method of affection. I am certain the DCU will be a much better place with him in it. He also has the best line of the whole book:
Max Lord: UGH! I hate that guy. Really, really hate that guy. Of course, he chose to come back, and I suspect he is going to be a huge pain in the ass. The silver lining is that I no longer have to tolerate the wholly incorrect portrayal of Diana as a remorseful warrior. She can now be free of her editor-induced guilt for killing him. And finally, Bruce can get off his judgmental high horse and get with that. Go, Batwondy, Go!
Deadman: Why isn’t he supposed to be here? Do you know? I haven’t a clue.
Osiris: This means I’m going to get more Black Adam. Hot damn! They better do it right. The Black Marvels have the potential to be cool characters as long as DC doesn’t make them one-dimensional baddies. Sprinkle a little anti-hero on my beefcake-y Adam and let Isis stay all evil so he can be the one to rein her in. That would be ironic … and interesting. Do it.
Firestorm: This makes Shag happy, and does absolutely nothing for me.
Aquaman: Okay. Yeah. Whatever. We all knew Geoff Johns was going to do this. Yet, I’m still left with questions about the vague, Arthur-centric conversation between Diana and Mera in Blackest Night Wonder Woman #3. I really thought there would be some kind of explanation. Did I miss something?
Hawk: Applause for our homie Chocotaco, who figured this out early on. Now we can fill in the blacked-out figures on the Birds of Prey #1 cover. How cute! They have bird names.
Reverse-Flash: Ummmm … yeah. I got nothing.
Captain Boomerang: Still nothing.
Jade: She immediately jumps on a stunned Kyle, and kisses him while Soranik watches from the sideline. How much does this suck for Soranik!? I mean the whole scene on Oa when Kyle dies, and Soranik revives his heart with the help of the Star Sapphire; that CAN’T be for naught. Soranik Natu is my second-favorite Lantern, and Kyle better choose her. That aside, her moment of heartbreak was made tolerable by Kilowog’s sympathetic expression.
Hawkman & Hawkgirl: From their gruesome, violent death to an intensely romantic reunion — what a well-deserved and satisfying resolution. And holy friggin’ cow, she brought Carter to tears. Carter Hall cried, you guys! The reunion kiss was one for the history books, literally. I loved Reis’ detail of Shiera grabbing his hair. This was by far the most monumental of the resurrections. One question though: What about the power source for the Star Sapphires?
Black Hand: The remorseless, serial-killing, psychopath is now enslaved by the Indigo Tribe of compassion. Irony. Justice. Word.
Did anybody else notice how huge the Indigo Tribe was? I’m so gonna miss the Atom in his tribal outfit. It was festive. Speaking of outfits, Wonder Woman’s white lantern getup was pretty hot, and a step up from that Star Sapphire nonsense.
I feel obliged to give our boy Sinestro a few sentences since he was foiled yet again. Old boy was forced to take a back seat and one-upped by Hal, as usual. I had hoped he would have a sort of “come to Jesus” moment with the white light and all. Instead, he was sent back to his character corner, where he’ll have to make do as an arrogant prick. I guess he kinda deserves it.
Thanks, DC, for entertaining me this go ’round. Final Crisis was so dense, and the end was so depressing. Blackest Night provided some much-needed cheesecake, but it was rich, tasty cheesecake. And once again, I gotta give it up to Reis for the art: In the last two panels, Hal and Barry are channeling Adonis. I would like to order one Hal & Barry sammich to go, please.
Alright. I’m done.
Phantom Stranger #42
Script: Peter Tomasi
Pencils: Ardian Syaf
Inks: Vincente Cifuentes
Colors: Ulises Arreola
January 20, 2010
We open with the Stranger and Blue Devil in a confrontation with the Black Lantern Spectre. Their goal: to draw the real Spectre out, and to prevent the BL Spectre from going after Hal Jordan. Why? Who knows? Our stoic Stranger does, but it seems all will be revealed in due time. The Stranger’s esoteric clue-dropping drew me in, but I was highly irritated by Blue Devil’s rude one-liners. I mean, the Stranger doesn’t show up all the time, so can you just shut your pie hole and do what he says?! Please, and thank you.
The art in the first section of the book is detailed — sometimes too detailed. In certain panels, the Spectre’s muscles are so overly defined that it looks like he doesn’t even have skin, let alone clothes. I know the characters are ripped, but this was a bit much. In the panel where BL Spectre has a “Squirrel!” moment and abruptly leaves to find Hal, the proportions are all off. He looks like a giant with midget arms who’s burying himself — backward.
From there, our odd duo goes looking for Deadman. Where? Nanda Parbat. “How perfectly obvious,” muses the Stranger. Since I love me some Nanda Parbat and think it’s a super-cool concept, it was exciting to see it incorporated into the story. The Phantom Stranger tells Deadman he has a great destiny to be fulfilled, but he must reconcile his spirit with his body and get his remains safely inside the city walls. With the help of the Stranger, Deadman battles to possess his corpse. Here we get to see some interesting panels, especially when BL Boston Brand tries to invade the body of The Phantom Stranger. It really gives you a feeling for how vast the Stranger is as a character. Deadman finally manages to get that nasty black ring off his corpse and safely stores his body. Then he flies off to warn Hal of what he learned from the Black Lanterns while fighting for his body.
The art in the second half of the book really worked in each scene, perhaps because Syaf didn’t have a giant Black Lantern to draw. It seems like he does better with fine detail than grander images. The color palette — a lot of blues and grays with extra shadowing — worked great for the characters and the mood of the story.
Apparently, Deadman was featured in Phantom Stranger #41 back in 1976. Being that Deadman has played his part in Blackest Night up to this point, his being in this issue was rather perfect. DC’s concept of raising certain titles from the dead is a good one, and it meshes well with who the Phantom Stranger is. “The Stranger comes when the Stranger is needed.” I get the impression that the Stranger has done what he felt he needed to do, as did this issue.
This wasn’t a typical read for me, but I’m a fan of Tomasi’s writing and have always been intrigued by the Phantom Stranger. The story was interesting and succinct, and it piqued my curiosity about all the things the Stranger alluded to.