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 (captaincomics.ning.com) 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 email@example.com.