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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Lantern’ sheds light on ‘Blackest Night’

Published: October 15, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

Did you know that there will be a Green Lantern movie coming out this summer? Ryan Reynolds, who has already made a name for himself in such comic movies as Wade Wilson in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” is set to don a “power ring’as Hal Jordan, the titular Green Lantern. If you are interested in delving into some of the comic stories in anticipation of the movie, you should look no further than “Blackest Night” DC Comic’s most recently completed limited series and crossover.

“In brightest day, in blackest night,

No evil shall escape my sight.

Let those who worship evil’s might,

Beware my power …

Green Lantern’s light!”

The well-known Green Lantern oath, recited by intergalactic police as they recharge their rings, takes on a new meaning as the prophesied “Blackest Night” takes the D.C. universe by storm. Chaos runs rampant as war rages between the many corps (corps as in Marine corps) of the emotional spectrum. There are the Red Lantern Corps (Rage), Agent Orange (Avarice, ergo there is only one), The Sinestro Corps (Fear), Green Lantern Corps (Willpower), The Blue Lanterns (Hope), The Star Sapphires (Love) and the mysterious Indigo Tribe (Compassion). Notice the rainbow colors? Yeah, me too. While it might be hard at first to keep track of the many players, it becomes much easier when a new common threat rises with the Black Lanterns (Death).

Rather than delve into the very long backstory let me just say that there is a prophesy that says there will be a time when the corps will war with each other and a black death will sweep the universe and return it to an empty void.

It seems like that time has come as black rings hurtle through space seeking out the corpses of the dead—corpses of the once powerful, such as Aquaman, as well as average joes, and setting events into motion. Unlike the other ring-based corps, in which members wear rings based on their emotional affinity, the black rings “wear” the bodies. The Black Lanterns’ mission is to eliminate all emotion from the universe by extinguishing life.

D.C. may have been a bit behind the wagon in terms of zombie stories but unlike Marvel Comics (which did a zombie universe story in 2006), DC’s story takes place in their main universe rather than an alternate universe.) Additionally, while the story is told from many different perspectives, the main story is focused on the perspective of Hal Jordan, the current main character of “Green Lantern” and the most recently revived DC Hero.

The central theme of the story is emotion. While this may seem cliché (especially with the overuse of emotion in the Green Lantern mythology explained above) it is actually very enjoyable. As heroes fall left and right, Green Arrow becomes a particularly chilling Black Lantern. Others, such as The Flash are “drafted” into the other corps to swell their numbers and counter the threat of the rising dead. Some of these are quite fitting, such as Diana Troy (Wonder Woman) becoming a Star Sapphire. While I was not a huge fan of the Atom joining the Indigo Tribe, I could not imagine anyone other than Lex Luthor as an Orange Lantern.

My only real complaint with the series is a lack of exposition on D.C.’s part for readers just picking up the series. Instruction is needed because there are seven volumes composing the entire “Blackest Night” saga. Some of these cover individual comics’ involvement in the series and some are compilations of many series one-volume crossovers. Reading them can be a little confusing, as you cannot possibly read the entire series in chronological order.

While this sucked as far as needing to regularly start over or read a short story that takes place in the middle of a story I’ve already read, it was useful for really getting the whole plot. I was able to read the “Blackest Night” limited series, and then build on it by reading “Green Lantern” and the other comics. It was repetitive at times, but it added a level of depth that redeemed the would-be fatal flaw.

“Blackest Night” also provided a good chance for D.C’.s artists and writers to show their skills. Better designed than the standard costumes, every member of a lantern corp, when drawn in detail, has a uniform with slightly unique characteristics. This means that whenever a character, such as Superman, became a Black Lantern the artists at D.C. managed to build a unique costume.

The dialogue was also a positive aspect of the series. With the dialogue, there was a good balance of serious discussion, sometimes used to build tension, and occasional comic relief. While the text wasn’t always perfect, D.C. did manage to at least have the right amount; neither too much nor too little.

Ever hear the phrase “the night is darkest just before the dawn”? Well the sequel series, “Brightest Day,” looks to be a promising story as well.

“Green Lantern” will likely be one of the big movies this summer along with “Transformers 3” and “The Hangover 2.” Why not take a little time before summer to delve into “Blackest Night?” I’ve never been a big fan of comics, I like the occasional anime but have always tended to avoid reading comics, yet this story even I found enjoyable. If you plan to give the upcoming movie a chance, you might as well give this story a chance.