Monday, January 19, 2015

7 Days of Comics: Blackest Night–Batman

Blackest_Night_Batman_Vol_1_1_VariantBlack Lantern Corps is an Omnibus of isolated events during the Blackest Night series. As such, it effectively acts as Blackest Night: Justice League, except with a cooler title. I’m going to be taking a look at each chapter within the book, and the first is Batman.

Some backstory might be required. In Infinite Crisis, Batman was killed. There were… questions and complications about this raised later, but for the purposes of this event comic, Bruce Wayne is dead. Following his death, his first protege, Dick Grayson, takes up the role of Batman for the sake of Gotham City, which has descended even further into chaos without its symbol. Dick’s first action is to retire Tim Wayne (formerly Tim Drake) as Robin, as he sees his most recent successor in the role as an equal. In Tim’s place, Bruce’s biological son, Damian, has become the new Robin.

This being an event comic, of course, everybody key to the Batman mythos is involved. With one fatal exception, but that’s not something that’s unique to this story: DC in many ways seems to be afraid of the two Robins that were brutally murdered. And came back to life. That said, I’m not asking where Red Hood is right now, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Spoiler.

Probably the biggest exception to the Batman idea is Deadman. I have no idea what his history with Batman is, but he didn’t know Bruce was dead, and the main reason he’s here is because of his role in the greater story of Blackest Night, which is essentially a prologue for his much greater role in Brightest Day.

The story opens with Batman and Robin – Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne- taking the corpses of the Waynes out of their graves and bringing them back to Wayne Manor, after witnessing what was left of Bruce’s grave, desecrated by Black Hand. Meanwhile Deadman is experiencing his own body’s reanimation, and after realizing he, as a ghost, can’t fight it, he heads to find someone he knows can help him: Batman and Robin. When he possesses Batman, he realizes it’s not who he expects, but they share intel. When Tim Drake’s parents rise as Black Lanterns, Batman calls Tim, now the most recent Red Robin, to come and join them.

The story is two parts from here: the fight against the zombie infestation, which includes the group picking up Commissioner and Barbara Gordon and even forcing Etrigan to join them against his will, and the emotional game played by the Black Lanterns. This is what sets Blackest Night apart from other zombie stories. Knowing the emotional depths that the former Robins are capable of and what drove them to the profession in the first place, the Black Lanterns stage re-enactments of both of their parents’ deaths. The only question is whether the Black Lanterns will strike at the right time, or get too greedy and lose the pot.

The only flaw to this story is that it’s a little obvious. Stop me if you think that the former leader of the Titans and his friend and equal are going to be killed by the henchmen before the Big Bad shows up. As a result, the big setup comes across as more an example of how the Black Lanterns can fail than as a suspenseful story. Maybe it’s too many big names or maybe it’s a lack of red shirts to include- with all of these big events it’s not like superhero deaths are rare enough that including them in every event is an option without depleting the population.

The story has its suspenseful moments, but the fact that the Black Lanterns miss their opportunity to take out a major hero (despite actually having that opportunity) is pretty disappointing. Ultimately that makes this big event in our hero’s lives come out as an average comic. It’s still entertaining, but once I saw what was going on I wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seats. It’s another part of the Blackest Night saga, and an entry in the lives of heroes that I never followed on a month to month basis, both of which are welcome things, even in an average comic.

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