Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blackest Night #1 Left Me A Little Flat

I know a lot of people are raving about it (which might have led to higher expectations to fall short of, on my part). But this first issue just didn't really come close to wowing me.

A few of the reasons:

  • That trademarked crossover tactic of "look, here are a few panels of what you'll have to read about in other books".
  • The other trademarked crossover tactic of "look, we're launching something here that you'll have to read about in another book".
  • The hurried introduction of so many bits, which is meant to demonstrate the chaotic environment but often just reads as rushing the setup.
  • Unnecessary two page splashes.
  • What feels like a lack of giving me something to grab on to about the source of the Black Lantern threat.
  • Being unable to forget the real world flip-flopping on the status of certain characters between Final Crisis and Blackest Night.
What it really boils down to is that, currently, I'm already as hyped up for this event as I could be. Teasers of what will be happening (much of which has already been spoiled by DC solicitations previously) aren't going to get me foaming at the mouth for the next issue. I'm burnt out on ominous, mysterious evil forces that aren't yet being slowly revealed to the reader, especially after how disappointed I was with Morrison's Mandrakk.

Through today's practice of way too much information about future work being put in front of the eyes of internet trawling fans and the standard practice of how to open the first issue of an event, I put it down being left cold. It feels like I went in expecting the first 1/8th of the "movie", but wound up just seeing an extended "trailer". My excitement/anticipation took a shot to the nuts, even though I feel pretty confident that subsequent issues will be better at living up to expectations. It's a head versus heart thing: logic tells me that this issue is just the necessary evil of setup, but emotion tells me that it should have been able to pack in something that still wowed me. Especially after building up my expectations for so many months.


  1. I thought it was really good.

    Everything you list as problems, the "trademarked crossover tactic", seem to be the exact reason you would want to read or buy a crossover book. It would not be a crossover-type book if none of those things were there. It would be something else.

    I think this book is a win. The things you complain about seem like bonuses, not negatives....

  2. Bonuses?

    Look, I can get "necessary evils", but I can't see how you can spin buying a book and having potentially some of the most interesting scenes happening outside of its pages into a bonus.

    Don't get me wrong: there were some good bits that actually happened in the book. I know some people were wowed specifically by the last few pages. But here's the rub: different people are going to vary on what aspects of the book they find the most interesting.

    From my perspective, the different Lantern factions warring and the scene going down at the grave site are more interesting and relevant than the Atom/Hawkman/Hawkwoman drama. If one of those first two got more panels at the expense of that last bit, my personal enjoyment would probably go up a few ticks. But, then, someone else would have complained that they only saw the end result of the Hawkman bit, but not how it happened.

    The reality is, to me, that we get the Atom/Hawkman/Hawkwoman thing in here only because none of them have their own series and Johns is no longer on JSA to be able to handle the Blackest Night Hawkman subplot there.

    Publishing realities dictating how a story is told are RARELY a bonus. Stuff getting sloughed off into other books based on which scenes have a genuine alternative to be published elsewhere to be economic with the panels divvied out is not an exception.

    It's come to be expected because it is how publishers have chosen to do it for decades. But a really smart, savvy & good guy recently said "demand better". So I feel perfectly fine judging its flaws on their own merits, rather than just comparing it to other events that have used the same structure or formula.

  3. It seems like you're criticizing it more for not telling the story you wanted it to, rather than it not telling a good. interesting story.

    I LIKE the two page splash emphasizing to the Flash all the things he's really missed while he's been gone. Necessary? Maybe not, but good. For Sure. I thought the coolest part is Flash starting to realize how much he's really missed. I consider that a bonus.

    If the story contained ONLY necessary panels, THEN I would be disappointed.

    The last few pages I didn't see coming and enjoyed as well.

    Different books offer different stories and story parts. It seems like you're complaining that this story did exactly what it was SUPPOSED to do, which is serve as a background/starting point/catch-up for this Blackest Night party, and you're disappointed its not another episode of Green Lantern Corps.

    I actually subscribe to the "Restriction breeds Creativity". Your attitude, on the other hand, appears very mercenary.

    I can complain that the "First issue death" is a trope, but it was executed well, which to me is more important. I would be much more disappointed if that death happened in a separate book, and then kept getting referred to in this one.

    Which I think is a more realistic interpretation of why that scene was in Blackest Night, rather than your explanation, that this is the only series where Johns would be able to handle it. Actually, its a central part of the story.
    (as well as a trope, but when done right, I have no complaints about that.)

    Again, not saying its perfect, but it's fun. I think that makes it a success.

  4. Maybe if you signed your name, you'd let this just be a discussion of difference of opinion instead of seeming to take it so personal...

    I complained about unnecessary splash pages in a book that ostensibly had to shuffle bits off into other books due to page constraints.

    You answered that you liked what the splashes were depicting, which really doesn't address the need to do a two page splash. The item could be handled more economically without losing weight. Even reducing it to a one page splash restores 5-8 panels. Besides, out of all the splashes, the Green Lanterns flying into Coast City stood out as the most gratuitous, IMO.

    I said: "Publishing realities dictating how a story is told are RARELY a bonus."

    You said: "I actually subscribe to the "Restriction breeds Creativity". Your attitude, on the other hand, appears very mercenary."

    Actually, I do think that limitations can sometimes breed creativity. I clearly don't think that this is the case here, mostly for those restrictions being addressed through "paint by numbers" crossover formula.

    I'd love to know how feeling publishing concerns (room available and the like) rarely contributing a bonus to a story makes me "mercenary". Please, do explain.

    I'd like, also, to know why you'd be disappointed that the deaths happened in another book, while you're apparently perfectly happy that the Lantern wars are happening elsewhere, as is the graveyard confrontation. There appears to be an inconsistency to that logic, so I'd like to see where you're coming from.

    If Peter Tomasi or Geoff Johns were currently writing JSA, I feel pretty confident that the drama of those last few pages would be confined to that book, while the "money shot" would run in both. Why? Because it is the same thing they did with the war and graveyard items, while those are even more key to the story.

    I get where you're coming from on the first issue needing to be an intro. I really do. It is part of why I attributed part of my being less thrilled to the fact that so much of what happened in this book was pretty much spoiled in the run up hype. In addition, I would have thought that the intro stuff would have been largely handled in Blackest Night #0 (you know, the free issue that is perfect for such things) and the Prelude To issues.

    You think the issue was well executed. I thought it was a collection of teasers loosely thrown together in an issue for the most part. I think it was formulaic and mean it to be a negative, while you seem to find it as a positive.

    Of course, you, also, state "but it's fun" as if it were a fact. So, you know...there's probably not going to be a conclusion to this conversation that you'll be satisfied with.


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