Blackest Night: Halfway Through DC's Horror Story

By Andrew A. Smith
Scripps Howard News Service

At DC Comics, the dead are rising. And so are sales. And so are some canceled titles – just for one issue, and just for fun.

This is all due to the blockbuster miniseries Blackest Night, now at its midway point. (It climaxes in March.) This story, which has many spin-offs and affects most DC books, features Black Lantern power rings (like Green Lantern’s, only eee-vil) resurrecting dead loved ones from the grave to kill the living. Posters on my Web site ( describe it as “creepy,” “unnerving,” “gruesome,” “brutal,” “raw” and other such compliments.

Meanwhile, sales are surging. Blackest Night #2 was the biggest seller in August, according to Diamond Comic Distributors Inc., and Green Lantern has more than doubled its sales from this time last year. That makes retailers very happy.

“I have yet to hear a bad thing about this story,” said Brian Jacoby of Secret Headquarters in Tallahassee, Fla. “I think it’s one of the best ‘event’ comics ever done. The story is tightly plotted, with lots of ‘Holy Moley!’ moments, some stunning visuals, and it’s obviously being done with love and respect for the characters. DC has hit a home run with this event in a way I've never seen before.”

What’s so cool about Blackest Night? Well, as I write this, Martha Kent is being chased through a cornfield by a dead friend. Batman is fighting off his dead parents. All the dead members of the Justice League have arisen, from Aquaman to Martian Manhunter to the Elongated Man, and have already killed two more members – who promptly joined the Black Lanterns. And at the center of the storm, on the planet that serves as the headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps, all the dead Green Lanterns – of which there are jillions – are trying to “recruit” their living counterparts.

Spooky? Yes. Because, says DC editor Dan DiDio, Blackest Night isn’t a superhero story – it’s a horror movie. In explaining the concept, he refers to Alien, The Exorcist and other famous, frightening fare.

“You can see how the stories develop, in the earliest issues of Blackest Night, they play out like horror movies,” he said. “We were laughing as No. 3 was being created, because you have the moment between the two young lovers [a hero and his girlfriend] at the beginning … and you’re like, as soon as you see the scene, you go ‘This is going to go horribly, horribly bad.’ And sure enough, it fulfilled those expectations.”

Spoiler: The girlfriend was turned into a pillar of salt! Since most Blackest Night victims get their hearts pulled from their chests, she got off easy.

What’s next? Well, October brings Blackest Night #4, titled “100%,” and refers to the power levels of the Black Lantern rings. Readers have noticed that the more the Black Lanterns kill, the higher their power-ring levels.
“The fact of the characters being reanimated from the dead is just a means to an end,” DiDio said, “and what the end is we’ll start to reveal more of as we hit #4.” He also added, chillingly, that the dead people aren’t wearing power rings, but that the rings are alive, and “wearing the dead people.”

November will bring more Blackest Night spin-off miniseries, with The Flash, Wonder Woman and the Justice Society forced to confront dead friends. And in January comes a surprise. The Blackest Night miniseries will skip a month, and instead we’ll see dead friends of a different sort.

“We’re going to have a little fun,” DiDio said. “We’re not only returning characters from the dead in Blackest Night, but … we’re actually bringing eight canceled titles back from the dead for one issue.”

So look for brief resurrections of Atom and Hawkman, Catwoman, Phantom Stranger, Power of Shazam, The Question, Starman, Suicide Squad and Weird Western Tales, all related to the overall Blackest Night story.

After “Blackest Night,” what then? What of the various power-ring Corps? DiDio says some storylines and characters will continue … or maybe not.

“That’s assuming there are still multiple Corps after Blackest Night,” he laughed, “that’s assuming that there is still Green Lantern after Blackest Night, that’s assuming there’s still a DC Universe after Blackest Night! That’s not a question I can answer because just judging by how the story is developing I’m not sure how anybody survives right now. “

Contact Andrew A. Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal at

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Comment by Dagwan on October 9, 2009 at 11:20am
I'm pretty sure that God's name is not "Ron."

"You've got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I'll bet he was glad to get rid of it." -Groucho Marx

Check out the Secret Headquarters (my store) website! It's a pretty lame website, but I did it myself, so tough noogies

Listen to, it's the future of rock-n-roll!

Comment by Mickey McLaurin on October 9, 2009 at 9:44am
"...Oolon Colluphid's trilogy of philosophical blockbusters Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?"
Comment by The Baron on October 9, 2009 at 8:27am
Well, why does God allow anything, really?
Comment by Eric L. Sofer on October 9, 2009 at 7:49am
ITEM: Well... maybe my Silver Age senses aren't very good any more, but all I see this as is a conceptualization of "Marvel Zombies" writ DC style. (I have not read the Marvel Zombies stories... I do not particularly LIKE zombies.) Is it really anything more than DC copying a Marvel idea and trying to cash it in? Lucky for DC, that Geoff Johns IS a genius and can write his way out of a cement block.

ITEM: The Atom and Hawkman? DARE a man hope for a Joe Kubert cover? (Or Murphy Anderson, if one must settle...)

ITEM: Power of Shazam? The only dead member of the Marvels that I know of is Shazam himself... and that happened when Captain Marvel was created. I may have to see what that's about...

ITEM: Once again, if we discuss bringing the dead back to life, we have to discuss the existence of God* in the DCU, and why he allows this to happen. To me, that seems to happen every time the Spectre is brought into the picture... a good reason for the Spectre to be in his own universe, away from the rest of the DCU. (You all know the idea; if the Spectre existed and battled the Anti-Monitor, how could God allow those infinite numbers of Earths to be destroyed? Why didn't He just stop it right from the beginning (pun intended)?

*God, of course, being a euphemism for your own specific choice of the Supreme Being... Adonai, Jesus, Odin, Zeus, etc.

I'm kind of liking what I've read of Blackest Night so far, although it may be a little disturbing that what I like best is that Green Lantern and Flash are teamed up again. Yay Barry and Hal!

I remain,
Eric L. Sofer
The Silver Age Fogey
Comment by The Baron on October 9, 2009 at 7:34am
You know, for a lame idea that - to my knowledge - never seems to have sold worth a damn, the "Hawk & Dove concept seems to keep getting reinvented periodically, doesn't it?
Comment by Cavaliere (moderator emeritus) on October 8, 2009 at 10:10pm
As far as I know, the only dead Dove is Don Hall. Dawn Granger wasn't as dead as we thought and if Wiley Wolverman is dead then I haven't heard about it.
Comment by Figserello on October 8, 2009 at 8:03pm
So when Blackest Night is all over, will there be any GL villians who don't have some sort of ring?

To paraphrase Harry Callahan: "Rings are like opinions - Everyone has one..."
Comment by Horn'd One on October 8, 2009 at 7:46pm
I figure afterwards there will be some remnants of each of the various Corps still active, clashing with each other and recruiting new members (I can just see at least 3 Corps groups trying to recruit ONE potential agent at one time). I don't know iif any BLs will still be around, or if a few BL rings escape to restart the whole thing again, but like any cinematic epic, the possibility will be left open-ended for possible follow-up/sequels.

And I *still* say the BLs are revenants.
Comment by The Baron on October 8, 2009 at 10:30am
"I'm Brian, and so is my wife!"
Comment by Lumbering Jack (M'odd-R8-Tr) on October 8, 2009 at 9:55am
So when Blackest Night is all over, will there be any GL villians who don't have some sort of ring?


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