Tuesday, August 18, 2009

BLACKEST NIGHT #2

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Oclair Albert
Editor: Eddie Berganza

Synopsis

As Black Lantern rings fall across the universe, reviving fallen heroes and villains alike, Mera and Tempest battle Black Lanterns Aquaman, Dolphin and Aquagirl at Amnesty Bay. In the battle, Tempest is killed and resurrected to join his undead comrades, while Mera flees. The phantom Stranger and the remains of the Shadowpact watch helplessly as the Spectre is converted to the forces of darkness. Meanwhile, in Gotham City, the Flash and Green Lantern put a stop to J’onn J’onzz’s rampage, but find themselves confronted with the Black Lantern Justice League…

Notes

Page 1: The Stonechat Museum in St. Roch is in total disarray after Black Lanterns Elongated Man and Sue Dibny killed Hawkman and Hawkgirl in Blackest Night #1.

The Atom II was last seen in Blackest Night #1. See behind him are photographs of Jean Loring, his ex-wife, now deceased, and of the Atom himself, wearing his second costume, which he donned while living the Amazon jungle.

Page 2: “Carter” refers to Carter Hall, Hawkman.

“Jean,” as mentioned above, is Jean Loring.

“Kendra” refers to Kendra Saunders, Hawkgirl.

Hawkman’s not looking too good. Being killed and revived by an alien entity does that to you.

“I’ll be right there.” The Atom is able to travel virtually instantaneously by shrinking down and traveling via phone line.

Page 3: James “Jim” Gordon, first appeared in Detective Comics #27. Police commissioner of Gotham City. Father of Barbara Gordon.

Barbara “Babs” Gordon, first appeared in Detective Comics #359. Formerly known as Batgirl, now operates as Oracle. Daughter of James Gordon.

This conversation between Jim and Babs is weird to me. She revealed her identity of Oracle to her father in Birds of Prey #85, and then went on to tell him that she used to be Batgirl. He then told her that he always knew. So, either his not knowing who Batgirl was is a post-Infinite Crisis retcon, or they have both agreed to not talk about this topic directly, and he’s just alluding to it for this reason. Either way, it doesn’t really affect the outcome of the story.

Page 4: Green Lantern last appeared in Green Lantern (fourth series) #44.

Page 5: Mera and Tempest last appeared in Blackest Night #1.

“Arthur” refers to Arthur Curry, a.k.a. Aquaman.

“If bringing Arthur’s remains to the tombs of Atlantis will earn you their acceptance…” Tempest assumed ruler ship of Atlantis in Titans #15.

Ocean Master and Black Manta are two of Aquaman’s deadliest foes. Well, to be honest, two of his only foes, really. Yeah, yeah, I know, there was the Scavenger. And the Fisherman. Look, he’s up there with the Atom as far as lame rogues go.

Page 6: Aquaman I, real name Orin, adopted name Arthur Curry. First appeared in More Fun Comics #73. Killed in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50.

“Your king who would rather be buried in the mud next to his human father than his own people.” As I explained in the notes to last issue, Aquaman’s history seems to be up in the air at the moment. His most recent origin had Aquaman as the son of Atlanna, queen of Atlantis, and Atlan, an immortal Atlantean sorcerer. He was cared for by Arthur Curry, a lighthouse keeper, and took the surface man’s name as his own. However, the Silver Age Aquaman was the son of Tom Curry and Queen Atlanna. If and when Aquaman truly returns to life, he needs to figure out who his daddy really is.

Once again, note how the Black Lanterns read the emotions of those around them. In this case, Aquaman is sensing the fear of Mera, Tempest and the Atlantean soldiers.

Black Lantern power levels are up to 2.63%.

Page 7: Deadman, real name Boston Brand. First appeared in Strange Adventures #205. He died in that issue too, because, well, he’s dead. You know, “Deadman.” Kind of self explanatory, really.

However, even though Deadman is a wandering spirit, his body has still been taken over by the Black Lantern ring, which begs the question, what exactly are the rings taking control of? Boston Brand’s body is being used, but his soul/spirit is still free to act on its own. Does that mean that the souls of the other heroes and villains that have been resurrected have nothing to do with their bodies’ corruption? Or is Deadman a special case?

In any event, Deadman and Deadman’s body’s exploits continue in the pages of Blackest Night: Batman #1.

The vignettes appearing around Deadman as he lies on the ground, starting from the twelve o’clock position, are:

Firestorm, leaving his grave;

Black Hand, making goo-goo eyes at Bruce Wayne’s skull;

The revived members of the Flash’s Rogues Gallery – the Top, Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang, Golden Glider and the Rainbow Raider;

The Phantom Stranger and the Spectre, in Valhalla;

The Atom, Phantom Lady, Black Condor, Human Bomb and Sandman outside the Justice Society of America Brownstone;

The Superman of Earth-Two in Smallville; see Blackest Night: Superman for more;

And a bust of Terra.

Page 8: Hawk I and Dove I, real names Henry “Hank” Hall and Donald “Don” Hall. First appeared in Showcase #75. Dove was killed in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12. Hawk assumed the identity of Monarch in Armageddon 2001 #2, and then “evolved” into Extant in Showcase ’94 #9. He was killed in a plane crash in JSA #15.

“Don Hall of Earth at Peace.” In an interview over at IGN Comics, Geoff Johns is quoted as saying that this scene “really speaks to the nature of Don Hall. He can’t be desecrated by the likes of these things. He’s untouchable in death and at total peace more than any other being in the universe.” Hmmm. Interesting. Does this have anything to do with the fact that, as Dove, Don was linked to the Lords of Order? And is Don Hall the key to destroying the Black Lanterns? Will he return as…a White Lantern?

I just love spreading ridiculous rumors like that.

Nevertheless, the Don Hall situation has me intrigued.

Page 9: “Because you sit on the throne now, ‘Aqualad’?” Before going by the name Tempest, Garth was Aqualad, Aquaman’s partner.

“Dolphin” refers to…Naaah, turn the page. You’ll find out.

Page 10: Dolphin, real name unrevealed. First appeared in Showcase #79. Killed during the destruction of Atlantis in Infinite Crisis #3. Her death was revealed in Titans #15.

Aquagirl I, real name Tula. First appeared in Aquaman (first series) #33. Killed after Chemo pollutes the waters she is swimming in Crisis on Infinite Earths #9.

Page 11: “Do you still miss him? Do you miss our son?” Aquaman is referring to Arthur Curry, Jr., he and Mera’s son who was killed by Black Manta in Adventure Comics #452. I really, really, really hope we don’t get any creepy Black Lantern Aquababy; that would be gross.

Oh, man, this is cool…

“VUU VUU VUU VUU VUU VUU VUU VUU”

That’s Aquaman’s mental telepathy! Remember the sound it always made back on the Super Friends cartoon series? Well, that’s it, right there! And it’s damn cool!

Also cool is the fact that Aquaman has summoned a pack of undead sharks. Undead sharks are cool; sounds like a good name for a garage band, actually.

Page 12: The Spectre III, real name Crispus Allen. First historical appearance in More Fun Comics #52. Allen first appeared in Detective Comics #742. He was killed by Jim Corrigan in Gotham Central #38, and revived to serve as the host of the Spectre in Infinite Crisis #4.

Blue Devil, real name Dan Cassidy. First appeared in Fury of Firestorm #24. Was killed by the Mist II in Starman (second series) #38. Returned to life in Day of Judgment #4.

Phantom Stranger, real name unrevealed. First appeared in Phantom Stranger #1.

Zatanna, real name Zatanna Zatara. First appeared in Hawkman (first series) #4.

Pariah, real name Kell (or Mossa). First appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. Killed by Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three in Villains United #6. In DC Comics Presents #94, his original name is given as Kell; this is changed to Mossa in The New Titans #81. No reason was ever given for this change.

“Worlds have died. Worlds will rise.” Similar to the slogan for Crisis on Infinite Earths, “Worlds will live. Worlds will die.”

Page 13: Yuck. Pariah exploded into a whole bunch of Black Lantern rings.

Black Hand last appeared in Blackest Night #1.

“But you, Phantom Stranger? You’re neither dead or alive, are you? You’re something else entirely. Something…strange.” Black Hand is commenting on the fact that nothing is known about the Phantom Stranger’s true nature or origins.

Pages 14-15: So, it seems that Crispus Allen’s body has been co-opted by the Black Lanterns to trap the power of the Spectre. Once again, this brings up the nature of the Black Lanterns’ power and its true levels – it resurrects Allen’s body, with the full power of the Spectre at its control, without the interference of the Spirit of Vengeance. Pretty powerful stuff.

“I want Hal Jordan back!” Hal Jordan was a host for the Spectre after Jim Corrigan but before Crispus Allen. Again, this line is a bit strange; if the power and the consciousness of the Spectre has been trapped and subverted by the power of the Black Lanterns, then who is this that “wants” Hal back? Is the force animating the body just trying to act like the Spectre? If not, and it’s Allen speaking, then why does Allen want Hal?

Page 16: The Flash and J’onn J’onzz last appeared in Green Lantern (fourth series) #44.

Page 17: “You didn’t have his child, Tula.” Dolphin and Tempest had a son, Cerdian, who was also killed in the destruction of Atlantis in Infinite Crisis #3.

“I am what all the Aquamen lust after.” Oh, yeah, in addition to having Tempest’s child, Dolphin was also involved with Aquaman. She actually was dating Aquaman, and then fooled around with Tempest, and it was a big deal. Real soap opera stuff, Atlantean style.

Page 18: As seen here in the case of Dolphin, Black Lanterns can regenerate any damage done to them. Kind of throws a kink into the whole defeating-the-zombies plan.

“Hope.” The Black Lanterns seem to want to harvest the emotions of those they kill. They wait until their prey expresses rage, fear, hope or love, and then they go in for the kill. Thus far, none of those killed have expressed with compassion or avarice, and those who channel willpower seem to be well defended.

Page 19: “Hope for me. Hope for Atlantis. That’s just what I’ve been waiting for,” And, thus, as Tempest feels hope, Aquagirl kills him.

Black Lantern power levels are up to 3.43%.

Page 20: “Welcome back to the darkness. Welcome back to the peace. Welcome to the Black Lantern Corps.” This is equating death with darkness and peace. It’s not so much that the Black Lanterns are evil; it’s just that they represent death as opposed to life.

I’m not trying to point out the obvious, but it’s a very subtle distinction. It’s not like we’re dealing with Darkseid, who wants to subjugate the universe and rule over all life. The force behind the Black Lanterns (okay, okay, it’s Nekron, I know, let’s move on) seems to want to restore the natural order of things and reduce the amount of individuals returning to life unnaturally.

Mera has always been an outsider. She is from an alternate dimension, and never really belonged in Atlantis. And now, her entire “family” is a part of the Black Lanterns, and she is still among the living, all alone.

Page 21: “You’re trying to prevent me from manipulating them again.” J’onn used his telepathy on the Flash in Green Lantern (fourth series) #44.

“Flash Fact.” Flash Facts were scientific tidbits of information regularly featured in Barry Allen’s adventures.

Page 23: “I still can’t get through to Oa.” As seen in Green Lantern Corps #39, Oa is having its own problems with the undead.

Abin Sur was Hal Jordan’s predecessor in the Green Lantern Corps.

Page 24: Here they are, the Black Lantern Justice League. From the front, and going clockwise around, we have the Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Sue Dibny, the Elongated Man and Firestorm. More detailed information on them next month.

As to the Atom…Did he make it to the Stonechat Museum? Was he killed and made a member of the Black Lanterns, or did he escape? Only time (and the next issue) shall tell.

Pages 25-27: “The Book of the Black” gives us a look into the mind of Black Hand, and what a disturbing place it is. Basically, its narrative leads up to the deaths of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, as seen in Blackest Night #1, along with the declaration that “Love will soon be dead” and that “Rage is next.” The war of light continues.

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