I went back and forth over how to address these issues. Full-on plot synopses? Well, the stories are pretty cut-and-dried; they don’t really need much explaining. Annotations? Well, to be honest, there’s not a whole lot there to reference; it would be pretty damn boring.
I know! I’ll just give my brief-yet-insightful thoughts about each story, and then take it from there!
Gee, I’m so smart sometimes…
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1
“Tales of the Blue Lantern: Saint Walker” was, out of all these tales, my favorite, for two reasons – Jerry Ordway and Saint Walker himself. First off, I’ve loved Mr. Ordway’s writing and art for years, all the way back to The All-Star Squadron, and through his runs on the Superman titles and The Power of Shazam!, so I like to see that he’s still getting semi-regular work these days, even though his penciling isn’t considered “hot” or “cool.” Good stuff.
Secondly, I do like Saint Walker and the concept of the Blue Lanterns. Hope is a very powerful emotion, but it’s a bit vaguer than ideas like rage, fear and love. It’s easy to show that a Red Lantern is royally pissed-off, or that a Star Sapphire is promoting love; a Blue Lantern inspiring hope takes some work, but Geoff Johns did a good job with that here.
My only hope is that there short stories aren’t just throw-away tales, and that what we learn about the characters here have some sort of impact later on down the road, if not in The Blackest Night then at some point in the future.
“Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Mongul for Your Love” was okay. It seems that Peter J. Tomasi has a strong love for Mongul – I seem to recall him writing a two-part story in Showcase ’95 starring the first Mongul, that featured the births of the current Mongul and his lovely sister, Mongal – and it’s a cool little story that shows what an evil little bastard Mongul was as a child. But I can’t help feeling that there were far worthier members of the Sinestro Corps that deserved this space. Mongul is a fairly well-established character in the DC Universe, and he’s had a good amount of exposure in Green Lantern Corps over the past year or so, so I would have liked to have seen a story about someone else, that’s all. Alas, I fear this was not the case.
“Tales of the Indigo Tribe” was weird. Not bad, cool in fact, but it was weird. It’s hard to connect to the main character when all they do is talk in “nok nok” jokes. (That was a bad joke. I’m sorry. I’ll try to be more compassionate next time.)
Anyway, the Indigo Tribe is, as of right now, a complete mystery. Their powers, their motives, their origins…everything’s shrouded in mystery. What we do know, however, is that they embody “compassion” which, as my dictionary describes it, is “pity inclining one to help or be merciful.” This actually explains a lot about this story. When the Tribe encounters the dying Green Lantern Sarolis, Indigo uses his own power against him, mercifully ending his life. Similarly, she turns the Sinestro Corpsman’s power back on him, driving him away in fear. The Indigo Tribe stands in stark contrast to the Orange Lanterns; whereas Larfleeze kills others and uses the orange light to selfish steal their identity for his own purposes, the Indigo Tribe is all about giving others back what they most need. I suspect that they will soon be major players in the War of Light.
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2
“Tales of the Red Lantern Corps: Fly Away” was beautiful. And it’s didn’t touch my heart and made me cry or anything like that. I just think that Eddy Barrows is a fantastically underrated artist, that’s all. The man should definitely have a regular DC title, and it sends me into a rage that he doesn’t.
Okay, rant over. The story was good, too. By and large, the Red Lanterns are the most “evil” of the new Corps; there’s not much redeeming about individuals who vomit blood. It’s hard to get to know them, much less like them, so it’s a credit to Geoff Johns that me was able to make Bleez a sympathetic character for whom we feel bad when she’s transformed into a Red Lantern. It makes me think that most of the Red Lanterns -- with the exception of Atrocitus, who was probably a problem child from the start – were just average folks until they let their rage overwhelm them. Now if only we can get the back-story on Dex-Starr, that crazy looking kitty cat…
“Tales of the Star Sapphires: Lost Love” nicely fills in the blanks of how and why Carol Ferris decided to become the Star Sapphire again, as briefly seen in Green Lantern #38. It’s a little bit of retroactive continuity on Geoff Johns’ part in making the Star Sapphires and their violet light into a part of the emotional spectrum, and it gives Carol far more motivation and purpose that I think she has ever had in the past. Granted, it does take liberty with a lot of other past Green Lantern/Star Sapphire stories, but I’m always willing to ignore certain aspects of continuity in favor of a stronger story. And who doesn’t love Gene Ha’s artwork? Though it’s rare to see his pencils grace the pages, it’s always a treat.
“Tales of the Orange Lanterns: Blume Godhead” was a bizarre tale, simply because the Orange Lanterns themselves are bizarre. There is only one true Orange Lantern –- Agent Orange, a.k.a. Larfleeze, the alien Muppet. He simply kills other beings and reanimates them as avatars using the orange light. This story is about Blume, a greedy god of hunger whom Larfleeze has consumed and now uses for his own purposes. It’s a dark, moody tale, enhanced by Tom Mandrake’s pencils, but it leaves me wondering if Larfleeze only consumes and reanimates those who are as fueled by avarice as he. I’m greedily waiting to see more of this bizarre creature.
I did like “The Symbols of the Spectrum” by Ethan Van Sciver, detailing the thought processes behind the design work for the various looks of the new Corps. I remember reading some of this on either Newsarama or Comic Book Resources, but it is still a fun look into how an artist goes about incorporating symbols into designs. Good stuff.
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #3
An overall note about this issue – I didn’t think that either of these tales was really necessary. I like both Kilowog and Arisia, and thought that they were cool little stories, but the Green Lanterns have two regular titles in which to shine, as opposed to the members of the other Corps, most of whom are new. Basically, I just wanted to see more of a spotlight on the Blue-Red-Indigo-Orange, Corps, because we have seen so little of them as of yet, that’s all. Such is life.
What “New Blood” and “Daddy’s Girl” both have in common is that they are both about who Kilowog and Arisia had to lose in order to become Green Lanterns. Kilowog stepped up to lead his group of recruits after their trainer Ermey was killed, and Arisia was only given a ring after both her father and uncle died in the line of duty. I’d wager that these fallen Lanterns will be returning soon, and that these stories are here to show that even the Green Lanterns will be attacked by those closest to them.
As for the Director’s Commentary of Blackest Night #0…A big thumbs down.. It was twelve pages that could have been devoted to another Green Lantern tale, in my opinion. I would not have minded it if any of the commentary had been substantial, but it wasn’t anything that one could not have gleaned from scrolling through a blog like the one I’m doing here. It wasn’t horrible, but I wasn’t all that impressed by it either.