Blackest Night #6 Review

Blackest Night #6 1Blackest Night has not blow us away here at The Revolution. Having said that, this story has gotten better with the last issue of this title. I am confident that Johns is going to end Blackest Night in an entertaining fashion. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Blackest Night #6.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Oclair Albert and Joe Prado

Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the Rainbow Raiders on their heels as they react to the various DCU heroes who have died and come back to life suddenly becoming Black Lanterns. A black power ring calls out for Hal and chases after him. Another black power ring calls out for Barry Allen and chases him. Sinestro wants to use lethal force against Black Lantern Superman, Black Lantern Wonder Woman and Black Lantern Green Arrow. Hal tells Sinestro to not use lethal force.

Blackest Night #6 2Barry quickly escapes Black Lantern Bart Allen’s attack. Barry then tells Hal to create a green energy chain that Barry can grab onto. Barry takes Hal’s green energy chain and wraps it around his torso. Barry tells Hal to hang on. Barry kicks it into high gear and races off.

The two black power rings chasing the two heroes follow. Hal says that the black power rings are fast. Barry replies that he is faster. We see Barry run two seconds into the future. The two black power rings then say “Connection severed.” The two black power rings then de-power and drop to the ground.

Hal asks Barry if they stop Nekron will Superman and Wonder Woman die? Hal asks if both he and Barry will die. Barry looks at Hal and says “I sure as hell hope not.” Barry then races off with Hal in tow as they head back to Coast City and the battlefield.

Blackest Night #6 3We shift to Black Lantern Jean Loring, The Atom (Ray Palmer flavor) and Mera inside of a black power ring. Deadman hops into Black Lantern Jean’s body. Deadman says that he cannot control zombie Jean’s body for very long. Deadman quickly warns Mera and Ray that Deadman has been hearing whispers inside of the black power rings. Deadman reveals that all of the Black Lanterns are headed for Earth.

Zombie Jean then yells for Deadman to get out of her body. Black Lantern Jean then regains control of herself. Mera asks Ray if they need Zombie Jean in order to get out of here. Ray replies “No.” Mera says “Good” and proceeds to rip out Black Lantern Jean’s tongue and impales Black Lantern Jean with her trident.

Zombie Jean cries out to Ray that she loves him and for him not to leave her like this.
Mera yells for Ray to ignore Jean and not look. Mera grabs Ray’s hand and the two of them begin to grow and exit the black power ring.

We then cut to John Stewart streaking into the Earth’s atmosphere with every single Black Lantern in the universe hot on his tail.

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We hop back to Coast City and see Ray and Mera popping out of Wonder Woman’s black power ring. Mera glows red with rage. Mera tells Atom to go find the Flash. Mera says that she will take care of Black Lantern Wonder Woman. Black Lantern Wonder Woman says that Mera cannot handle her. Mera replies that they are going to find out if that is true or not.

We see Barry and Hal arriving back on the scene. Sinestro is suprised to see the two heroes. Barry says that they outran the black power rings. Sinestro replies “Too bad.” The Rainbow Raiders continue to blast away at the Black Lanterns.

Hal says that when they tried to combine their lights that they were only able to form a fraction of the white light. Evidently, destroying Nekron will require everyone channeling the light of life. Ganthet replies that they need all of their Corps to unite and use every beam of light they have to take down Nekron.

Indigo-1 agrees but points out that it will take some time getting all the members of the different Corps to Earth. Ganthet says that they will just have to find a way to hold off Nekron until then. Ganthet tells Hal that Hal’s ring can replicate itself and has done so in the past during times of great need. Ganthet then reaches out and Hal’s power ring splits into two. The second green power ring flies onto Ganthet’s hand.

Blackest Night #6 5Ganthet says that the Rainbow Raiders can double their numbers. Ganthet explains that even though they all wield different colored lights, that all their technology that their power rings are based on are from the Guardians’ technology. And unknown to the different Corps, the power rings contain the same safeguard.

According to the Book of Oa, during the Blackest Night, the rings are capable of deputizing a person for twenty-four hours. Ganthet says that as his last act as a Guardian he is now activating that safeguard in the power rings of each Rainbow Raider.

We see the power rings of each member of the Rainbow Raiders replicate themselves and then fly off and scan for a proper recruit for each respective Corps. The blue power ring flies to Barry and says that Barry Allen of Earth has the ability to instill great hope. Larfleeze yells for his replicated orange power ring to come back. Larfleeze yells that he will not share his power with anyone.

We cut to Lex Luthor in his hideout. Lex is in his battle armor. The Black Lanterns of all the people that Lex has killed come breaking through the hideout’s main door. One of the Black Lanterns is Lex’s father, Lionel Luthor. Lex starts blasting away at the Black Lanterns.

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Lex is clearly overwhelmed, but right before he falls in defeat, the orange power ring flies into the room and slides onto Lex’s finger. The orange power ring says that Lex Luthor of Earth wants it all. Lex’s eyes glow orange and he says “Mine.”

We hop over to Scarecrow torturing some woman with his fear gas. Scarecrow rants that he wishes to feel fear and only the Batman is capable of doing that. Suddenly, a yellow power ring flies onto the scene. The yellow power ring slides onto Scarecrow’s finger and says that Jonathon Crane of Earth has the ability to instill great fear.

We slide back to Coast City where our heroes are battling the Black Lanterns. The indigo power ring flies over to the Atom and says that Ray Palmer of Earth has the ability to feel great compassion. The indigo power ring slides onto Ray’s finger and says “Welcome to the Indigo tribe.” Ray’s eyes glow indigo and Ray says “Nok.”

We see the violet power ring and the red power ring flying over to where Black Lantern Wonder Woman and Mera are battling each other. The red power ring replies that Mera of Earth has great rage in her heart. The red power ring then slides onto Mera’s finger.

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The violet power ring says that Diana Prince of Earth has great love in her heart. The violet power ring then slides onto Wonder Woman’s finger. The black power ring and the violet power ring then fight each other for control of Wonder Woman.

Carol tells Hal that Wonder Woman is bursting with love and that no one loves the planet more than Wonder Woman. The violet power ring wins the battle and the black power ring breaks apart and falls off Wonder Woman’s finger. The violet power ring tells Wonder Woman “Welcome to the Star Sapphire Corps.”

Hal is stunned by what he sees. We then see our newly assembled additions to the Rainbow Raiders, Lex Luthor, Scarecrow, Barry, Ray, Mera and Wonder Woman in their respective Corps’ uniforms. Barry says “No more worries, Hal. All will be well.” End of issue.

Commentary:
The Good: Blackest Night #6 was a fun read. This issue was much like cotton candy for the brain. It was enjoyable but certainly was not filling or anything extraordinary. Johns does a nice job constructing this issue.

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The story had a pleasant flow as each scene transitioned nicely into the next one. Often, big events feel disjointed as the writer crashes the reader from scene to scene in an effort to try and touch on all the various characters and plot lines. Johns is able to deftly slide from scene to scene as he easily pulls all the different characters together to Coast City for the climactic showdown with Nekron.

The first half of Blackest Night #6 summarily unimpressed me. I was concerned that this issue was going to be another slow and pointless read. Luckily, Johns revealed a neat little plot twist of having the Rainbow Raiders’ power rings replicate themselves. This plot twist in the second half of this issue was the clear strength of this issue and saved Blackest Night #6 from being a slow and dull issue.

I love the new recruits for the Rainbow Raiders that the replicated power rings sought out and recruited. Scarecrow was a natch for the Sinestro Corps. Lex Luthor as an Orange Lantern was spot on perfect. Few characters in the DCU exhibit the level of greed that Lex Luthor possesses. I absolutely adore this selection. I cannot wait to see Lex wielding the orange light in the next issue.

Blackest Night #6 9Also, with this plot twist that brings both Scarecrow and Lex into the Rainbow Raiders, Johns makes both characters’ earlier appearances in this title make more sense. Originally, I found both the Scarecrow and Lex’s insertion into Blackest Night as a bit odd and a time waster. Johns does a fine job proving me wrong in my original assessment.

Ganthet as a Green Lantern was an obvious choice. I have always liked Ganthet and I liked seeing him wielding the green power ring. Barry, who after his “death” in the original Crisis became the ultimate super hero martyr inspiring countless of other heroes in the DCU, was a natural selection for the Blue Lantern Corps.

Having the red power ring recruit Mera was a bit of a surprise. In the prior issues of Blackest Night, Johns made a point of showing how Mera was in tight control of her emotions thereby enabling her to come up “blank” on the emotional spectrum vision of the Black Lanterns. Of course, given the losses that Mera has sustained as of late with both Aquaman and Aqualad’s deaths, her simmering rage is more than understandable.

Ray’s selection for the Indigo Tribe based on his incredible amount of compassion was consistent with how Ray’s character has been written since Identity Crisis. Ray’s selection for the Indigo Tribe also hearkened back to the tribal aspect of his character from the 1983 Sword of the Atom mini-series.

The choice of Wonder Woman as a Star Sapphire was probably the one that I found the least exciting. I never really equated Wonder Woman with an incredible capacity for love. Of course, I will openly admit that I know next to nothing about Wonder Woman beyond her Golden Age roots. So, maybe her selection as a Star Sapphire was as spot on perfect as the rest of the recruits.

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What I did like about Wonder Woman’s selection as a Star Sapphire was that it gave Johns a chance to deliver yet another plot wrinkle on how the different colored power rings operate. This was quite a surprise to see the violet power ring latch onto a person who was already wielding another colored power ring. The duel between the black power ring and the violet power ring for the control of Wonder Woman also gave the reader a clue as to what we might see in the final two issues.

It is clear that the black power rings do not have as strong a control over the living reincarnated characters like Superman and Wonder Woman as they do over corpses. Johns very well may have been showing the reader exactly the manner in which the other reincarnated Black Lanterns can and will be saved.

Johns presented the reader with some nice character work in this issue. Johns continued to do a fantastic job with the buddy team of Hal and Barry. I love both characters, so seeing Hal and Barry in action together is the aspect of Blackest Night that I am enjoying the most. Johns clearly loves both characters and it shows in the nice chemistry that he whips up between Hal and Barry. Johns did a fine job showing the reader how Hal and Barry’s personality differences compliment each other and, thereby, make them one seriously formidable team to deal with.

However, what has impressed me the most about Johns’ character work in Blackest Night has been the surprisingly good handling of Mera’s character. I strongly questioned Johns’ heavy use of Mera at the beginning of Blackest Night. I have always viewed Mera as a rather lame character. Johns has pulled off the impossible and actually made me a big fan of Mera’s character. I am thrilled that Johns has used Blackest Night as an opportunity to breathe life into a lower tier character like Mera.

I dig the edge that Johns has given Mera’s character. However, Johns has not made Mera just a stereotypical and one-dimensional angry brawler. Instead, Johns has made Mera rather fascinating by giving her character some depth by showing the reader the personal sorrow and conflict that resides beneath the more overt rage and anger. Personally, I thought letting Mera go toe-to-toe with Wonder Woman was a brilliant idea. It immediately elevated Mera’s character into a force to be reckoned with.

Johns also cranks out some good dialogue. Johns has a fine feel for the various characters in this issue. The banter between Hal and Sinestro was spot on. The dialogue had a good flow and helped keep the reader’s attention despite the lack of much plot progression in this issue.

Johns also treated the reader to a solid amount of action. This is not an action packed brawlfest, but Blackest Night #6 delivered enough action to keep the issue from being dull and dry.

Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert and Joe Prado continue to craft plenty of beautiful artwork. Blackest Night #6 was a fantastic looking issue. Reis is capable of delivering incredibly dynamic action scenes just as well as he is at delivering emotional dramatic scenes. Reis was able to breathe so much life into a story that often lacks much depth or substance.

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Examples of this are panels like the one where Barry has an intense look of determination as he says “I’m faster” as he tries to outrace the black power rings. There are plenty of other panels like that one where the artwork makes the story so much more entertaining.

I particularly liked Reis’ incredible two page splash shot of the new additions to the Rainbow Raiders. Ray Palmer’s Indigo Lantern costume was an awesome design. Reis does a great job taking the old look that Ray sported back during the 1983 Sword of the Atom mini-series.

The Bad: Unfortunately, Blackest Night #6 suffered from the same defects that afflicted the previous issues of Blackest Night. The pacing on Blackest Night #6 was just terrible. Johns continues to move this story along at an excruciatingly slow pace.

There are only two issues left in this big event and the story is still advancing at the slowest possible pace. I honestly thought that Johns would have finally picked up the pacing on this story and kicked things into high gear for the final three issues. Instead, the slow pacing in this issue gives me the feeling that Johns is simply stalling for time in an effort to stretch Blackest Night out over the course of eight issues.

The plotting on Blackest Night #6 was unimpressive. Yes, there were a few neat plot twists, but for the most part, the plotting remains rather average. There is a lack of plot lines in this big event. Usually, Johns penned stories have multiple layers of plot lines running at the same time. That is not the case for Blackest Night as Johns has kept the number and nature of the plot lines rather simple and sparse.

There was practically no plot advancement at all for the first twelve pages of Blackest Night #6. There was a lot of sound and fury in this issue, but largely nothing happens at all in this issue other than the Rainbow Raiders getting some new recruits.

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Johns spends the first half of this issue largely rehashing what we already read over in Green Lantern #49. The scene involving Deadman, Jean, Ray and Mera was largely useless as the reader already knew that all the Black Lanterns in the universe were heading toward Earth. The scene with John Stewart simply reproduced the ending to Green Lantern #49.

The first half of Blackest Night #6 was chock full of the same repetitious dialogue discussing how to beat Nekron and the Black Lanterns. Johns re-hashes once again how Nekron’s plan involves using the reincarnated heroes in the DCU.

The fact that Blackest Night is so incredibly repetitive only serves to make it seem that much slower and shallow. There is nothing complex about the story in Blackest Night. Certainly, the plot lines and themes do not bear repeating so many times in order for the reader to understand them.

Even the final eleven pages dedicated to assembling the new recruits for the Rainbow Raiders seemed unnecessarily stretched out. The assembling of these back-ups could have been done in a much more economical fashion.

As entertaining as I found some of these new recruits, the fact is that these final eleven pages felt more like Johns was simply arranging game pieces on a game board than actual story development and plot progression. I understand that arranging the pieces is a necessary element of any story, however, I would have thought that Johns would have been done with that this late into Blackest Night.

Blackest Night #6 was another thin story that lacks much substance to it. Blackest Night has been a shallow read and this issue does nothing to change that fact. With only two issues left in this big event, it has become obvious that Johns had enough material for a four issue mini-series.

Unfortunately, someone within DC decided that Blackest Night should be an eight issue mini-series instead. The result is that a thin story appears even more shallow as Johns has had to stretch it out over the course of eight issues requiring the pacing to be slowed down to a crawl and a liberal amount of filler having to be added to the mix in order to puff up this story.

Blackest Night #6, and this mini-series in general, feels rather small in scale. At no point do I feel like I am reading a cosmic threat that is endangering the entire DCU. Final Crisis certainly had its faults, but at least it felt grand in scope. Final Crisis felt like a massive DCU big event. Blackest Night #6 feels more like just a Justice League of America story.

Overall: Blackest Night #6 followed Johns’ normal formula for a comic books: Perform little plot progression, move the story along at a slow pace and then whip out a cool ending that gets the reader excited for the next issue. Readers who decided to wait and read Blackest Night in collected form made a wise decision. Blackest Night should be far more entertaining in the collected format.

When I first finished Blackest Night #6, I thought it was pretty entertaining. However, after thinking about the issue and writing this review, I realize that I like this issue much less now than I did once I finished reading it. The reason for that was because the final pages were so cool that they made me forget the fact that very little actually happened in this issue.

Having said that, I do believe that I will be in the minority when it comes to Blackest Night #6. I think that your average comic book reader will enjoy Blackest Night #6. Readers who have been enjoying Blackest Night up to this point will more than likely also enjoy Blackest Night #6.
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Rokk

4 Comments

  1. I agree that there's not enough material here for 8 issues but we all knew from the beginning that this wasn't supposed to be a big event. It was just another green lantern storyline and then someone (i won't start pointing figures, but come on!!) came along and decided that it needed to be central to the DCU instead of just GL. So I can forgive Johns here because that sort of decision isn't up to him and he's doing great character work to fill in the spaces which I'm perfectly happy with since I will take character work over tons of action without meaning any day.

  2. Saiyan5nine-tails December 31, 2009 at 2:44 am

    Well, as I said in an earlier comment on Blackest Night, there probably should be a mandatory requirement to read Green Lantern. After all, he's probably trying to explain what went on in GL 49 to those who are reading Blackest Night exclusively in this issue, so yes, it can be a problem for people reading both.

    As to the repeating of how to beat Nekron, the first attempt didn't work, so they decided they needed more juice to do it.

    I still think that something is going on with the Indigo Tribe that we'll be told about in Blackest Night 7, leading to a killer plot twist, and this series will finally pay off. After all, BL Jean Loring believed that Ray would understand what Nekron and the Black Lanterns were trying to do, so maybe there's something about the Indigo Tribe that will make them side with Nekron (finally figured out how the HTML tags work).

    He'll probably turn up the engine with the upcoming issues. If you think it'll help, why don't you stick Green Lantern and Blackest Night in the same review, to make things easier for yourself.

  3. Still hate how in every event they find a way to take Supes outta the equation… even if it kinda makes sense this time…

  4. I'm sure it's something that would only bother a Wonder Woman fan, and I keep hearing how few of us there are, but it bugs the hell out of me that the ring calls her "Diana Prince of Earth." That's not her name, that's never been her name no matter how many times they misguidedly try to carry over the secret identity thing from the long-ago tv show, and it's not how she thinks of herself. There is no "Diana Prince of Earth," and it makes NO SENSE for her to be called that. She's Princess Diana of Earth, Diana of the Amazons, Diana of Themyscira… any number of options. But not Diana Prince of Earth. That's not Diana.

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