Monday, July 19, 2010

Event Fatigues

Holy $#!+, an actual Second Printing post! Hello, gang.
I've been away, looking after my baby, building a shed and other things, things that took me away from comics and the internet. But the shed is built, the baby's being looked after, and other things can go insert themselves in dirty places. I want to talk comics.

I'm sure I mentioned a few months ago (a few looong months ago) how I was trade-waiting for Blackest Night, and even though I was guaranteeing that I was going to buy it, I was in no way shape or form guaranteeing that I was going to love it, or like it even. In fact, I was kind of dreading the experience as much as I was anticipating it. I mean, more undead superheroes? Sigh. And this was before I knew that Barry Allen and Ray Palmer were so prominently featured (never were there two more boring characters...)

I've written a long-form review of the Blackest Night hardcovers (which we'll link to when it's posted) and so as not to repeat myself too much, I have to say I bloody well loved it. To be honest it's competing in my brain right now with my favourite EVENT comics of all time.

What I didn't say in my review, which I'll say here, is how much I like these sort of "compartmentalized" events, EVENTS which are triggered by the events in one title or another, drawing the heroes of the universe together. That doesn't happen too often, as normally an EVENT is created to have an EVENT for EVENT (and sales boon) purposes. So major cudos to Geoff Johns for his cunning planning and deft execution here.

While it's frustrating to yet again end an EVENT with the lead in to more things happening (Brightest Day, in this case) the EVENT of Blackest Night does seem to resolve what was set up for it to tackle. Nekron's defeated, the dead are totally departed and (for better or worse) some lost loved ones have returned.

Back in April I absorbed all the Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps trades which followed the Sinestro Corps War (where I left off) and I was enthralled by the "rainbow lanterns". Johns expertly transformed that story into the event of Blackest Night, separating the event into one book and the relevant "rainbow" stuff into the main Green Lantern series concurrently.

Johns really seems to understand, at least with Green Lantern, how to ebb and flow his grander storytelling themes, how to pull back and let the sea quiet down (ala Secret Origins post-Sinsestro Corps War) and then slowly build up the rolling waves until they start to curl upon themselves and crash into the rocks. I'm seeing that even more clearly having already started Brightest Day before reading Blackest Night, and realizing the previously lamented zero issue actually serves a purpose, at least in Johns' scheme of things. I can see what he's building with Brightest Day... not clearly mind you, but I can see that wave forming in the distance that's going to come crashing down on us in 9 months' time. While I've not been reading Green Lantern monthly, I can tell by the solicits for the upcoming months that there's a wave building there too, surrounding the emotional avatars (Parallax, the Predator and others Johns has created to serve as new mythologies in the DCUniverse, where once the Lords of Order and Chaos or the siblings of Death, Destruction, Dream, etc. held sway).

The one thing I need to get over is that there may be no endgame to all this. Storytelling in monthly comics is always meant to go on, and on, and on. There are copyrights to maintained after all. But I hope, that in the scheme of things, Johns has a definitive end for himself, to let himself off the hook, rather than wind up in an X-Files situation of years of plodding nonsensical randomness.

I'm still wavering on where to place Blackest Night in the hierarchy of DC's event books, but here's my current hierarchy (did I miss anything? Are 52 and Countdown considered events?)

The Good:
1. Final Crisis (I'm a Morrison whore, and I won't apologize for this)
2. 52 (ingenious)
3. Blackest Night
4. Invasion (a perennial favourite, and still an incredible read)
5. Crisis on Infinite Earths (the originoo, doesn't read all that well, but looks phenomenal)
6. Underworld Unleashed (actually one of the best-reading events)

The Not-So-Bad:

7. Legends (a well-written, if low key event, introducing the bright and shiny new DCU of 1986)
8. Armageddon: 2001 (a definite guilty pleasure)
9. Infinite Crisis (largely flawed but a valiant attempt at recalling the feeling of the original Crisis)
10. Final Night (a relatively uneventful event, but sweet and meditative)
11. Identity Crisis (fin-headed arse-rape aside, a pretty intense read)
12. Day of Judgement (Geoff Johns first attempt at an event... completely unexciting but great Matt Smith art)

The Ugly:
13. DC 1,000,000 (okay, I'm not *that* big a Morrison whore, not when Val Semieks is involved, at least, ugh)
14. Bloodlines (I have a lot of affinity for loser characters, and this event created dozens of them, plus Hitman)
15. War of the Gods (another Wonder Woman-related snorefest)
16. Zero Hour (oh my word, this doesn't hold up at all)
17. Eclipso: The Darkness Within (once beloved, now reviled after a recent re-read)

The Plain Awful:
18. Amazons Attack (so dreadfully mishandled, how can something with such delicious ingredients taste so awful)
19. World War III (extremely poorly executed aside to "52", will be forgotten)
20. Millennium (welcome to dullsville, population: you)
21. Countdown (the horror...)
22. Genesis (almost completely forgotten now, as it should be)

The Missed:
Our Worlds At War (I just didn't bother).


Anonymous said...

The thing that's surprising me about "Brightest Day" is that the various Rainbow Brite Corps aren't quite what you would expect them to be. For example, you'd think the Reds (rage!) should be people with nothing but cruelty and wrath in their hearts, but thus far, 100% of Red Lanterns are in mourning for lost loves. Mera and Aquaman, Atrocitus and Mrs. Atrocitus, Guy and Kyle, Laira and Ke'haan, even Dex-Star and his owner. So Geoff has probably given this enough thought that it won't go as stupid as I feared it would.

KENT! said...

I actually found it curious that the impact of the rings on their bearer is different. Whereas a green or yellow Lantern is pretty much themselves, a red or orange lantern is actually affected by wearing the ring into being more angry or greedy. That was also unexpected. But, I guess Johns had established that the Star Sapphires were in some sense manipulated by their emotional powers.

Geoff's mixed up the purposes of each of the corps enough (though I'm not quite crystal on what the purpose of any of the corps besides the GLs are) to differentiate them and make them more than just another "Darkstars"

Anonymous said...

The further one gets from the middle of the spectrum (green), the heavier impact there is on the wearer's personality.

The reds have an axe to grind with the Guardians because, in the distant past, the Guardians' trooper robots (the Manhunters) malfunctioned and wiped out almost all life in sector 666. The violets are trying to save the universe through a very smothering form of love.

Orange is just greedy and exists for its own sake, while the indigos had been working in the shadows to prevent Blackest Night, and it's not known what they're doing now.

The yellow corps was created to toughen up the Green Lantern Corps so they'd be able to withstand Blackest Night (yes, Sinestro has been bedeviling the GLC all these years just to force them to get stronger, and he's been taking a lot of dives along the way). The blue corps, meanwhile, was created by the Guardian Ganthet to support the GLC against Blackest Night, so yellow and blue had the same goals but diametrically opposed means.

Prankster said...

Wubba wubba...wha? I'm no big follower of event stories, but from what I've seen of DC 1,000,000 (admittedly I've only read the core JLA books by Morrison) it's one of the best-executed mega-crossovers ever, a sentiment I've heard echoed elsewhere. Did the tie-ins really suck THAT badly?

Jeff said...

I LOVED The Final Night. Of course, I'm a huge fan of Karl Kesel, but man, I think that blew the socks off of Underworld Unleashed.