June 20th, 2011


In Brightest Day, in blackest night...

Blackest Night

Published by DC comics, Released by Titan in the UK

Creators: Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Oclair Alber, Joe Prado

Brightest Day

Published by DC comics, Released by Titan in the UK

Creators: Geoff johns, Peter J Tomasi, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Fernando Pasarin, Adrian Syaf, Scott Clark, Joe Prado

Review Written by Gavin O’Reilly.

No evil shall escape his sight. And we certainly can’t escape the sight of the Green Lantern in recent weeks and months due to the forthcoming film due out in the next week. Opinion is divided on the trailers, I for one am a bit worried. However, I do want to shed a (green) spotlight on the Green Lantern, as despite growing up a Marvel boy, I always thought Green Lantern was effin’ cool, and got way ahead in the race to be my favourite DC super hero by a good stretch. His powers caught my imagination, the idea of a universal police force in the shape of the corps grabbed me, and I think I can probably cite him as the reason for my mild side obsession for the under-addressed genre of sci-fi super hero comics, in space particularly. Sure, most heroes have the odd space adventure, but those comics often don’t get to explore the fun concepts that an interstellar police force can play with. It has always had the potential for epic, grand stories.

Aside from the obvious motivations of multimedia cross pollination and promotion for the film, it does seem as though the Green Lantern has been taking centre stage in the DC universe in recent years (rather than just the last few months, which is timeframe usually led by film promotion tie-ins).  Two of the big events in recent times have been “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day”, which have involved may characters from the DCU.

Blackest Night tells the story of the emergence of the black power rings- rings seeking champions from beyond the grave.  It also includes the other coloured ring bearing corps, established in the comic not long before this event.  The invention of the other colours representing other emotions (other than green representing will, we have red=rage, orange=avarice, yellow=fear, blue=hope, indigo=compassion, violet=love) has proved a popular one with readers, the idea seeming so simple and obvious that it is a wonder it wasn’t done years ago. While the idea is fun, there is something a little too power-rangery about it, and although partial to a bit of mighty morphing action as a child, it does give me the sense of this being more of a guilty pleasure comic book than something I am wildly passionate about. The somewhat basic cheesy concept seems to fit this tale though- as with any comic or story that is somewhat juvenile, it jaunts along in a muddled fashion and does not make the best of sense at times. That is not to say it isn’t an enjoyable journey at all, but it does suffer from being mired in the ever-confusing DC continuity (thank god for the 52 reboot ey?)

I think anyone who doesn’t follow DC continuity closely would struggle a little with this book, but it is a fun, sprawling epic affair all the same. The art is adequately substantial for an event of this weight- cinematic in feel and appropriately, the colours in this book really jump out as vivid to me. Given the presence of the black power rings (representing death no less) the art could have strolled into murky territory, but luckily this is not the case. It does have a certain sense of a big event that will be remembered.

Not least because of the fallout caused by it, which is picked up nicely in “Brightest Day”. At first I thought this would be another self contained graphic novel, but  volume one is just that- the first collection in what appears to be an ongoing (maxi?) series.  Avoiding spoilers, I can say only that this volume picks up where Blackest Night left off- dealing with the (re) introduction of a whole set of characters . It rattles along nicely, picking an affable main protagonist to mostly follow while we try to solve the mystery of……..the white power rings. Uhm, I smell the whiff of a Zord or two.  The art in this series is again very solid, and again, something about the colour in this book really works for me.

In essence both “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day” are fairly silly concepts. Convoluted, seeped and dredged (lovingly) in continuities that often don’t make sense. They would both potentially be difficult for a new reader. However, all of these things add up to one thing for me- a guilty pleasure. It is trashy and I love it, its knock-out, balls on the floor superhero stuff that doesn’t have to make sense. It’s big, bold and dumb, like the big comic crossovers I obsessed over in younger years. It has the taste of yummy collectibles and action figures to spin off- surely Green Lantern can’t be far off his own breakfast cereal with free ring giveaways?  I know I would collect them and eat “Emerald Flakes” on a Saturday morning watching cartoons. Or even Power Rangers.

Go on- get in touch with your inner child and get on board with the current spotlight of the DC universe; don’t let him escape your sight...

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