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On the Hot Seat with BKThompson-Blackest Night Retrospective!

Written by Steven Harris on Tuesday, June 29 2010 and posted in Features

Porcelain38 and bkthompson debate whether or not Blackest Night was a success!

For the past year skies have been dark over the DC universe as black rings fell from the sky and the dead rose from the grave. The nine month story line spilled over into countless titles, produced eight different mini-series, enticed fans with plastic rings, reinstated Hal Jordan as a bad ass, and solidified Geoff John's position as prime architect of the DCU. As with any company wide crossover, Blackest Night was met with both praise and large amounts of criticism.

This week DC is releasing three premiere Blackest Night hardcovers that collect a majority of the crossover.

Today we'll have Outhouse poster BKThompson on the hot seat to debate whether or not, in retrospect, DCU's Blackest Night was a success and lived up to the hype.

Porcelain38: Ok, first horse out of the gate: Was Blackest Night a success?

BKThompson: Outside of dollars, no. Blackest Night did not do anything meaningful to the DC Universe. Sure, it bought back a dozen dead characters, but as a whole storyline the DCU still looks the same as it did before Blackest Night started.

Cry For Justice had bigger impact than Blackest Night did. Though, at least, Blackest Night was more impactful than, let's say, Marvel's Necrosha X crossover.

When it was said and done. Even the tease in the Green Lantern books for the War of Light was really nothing more than a bunch of Lanterns of various colors shooting their rings off at Nekron and Black Hand.

P38: Ok, Blackest Night wasn't so much about progressing the entire DCU as much as exposing new fans to what Geoff Johns had been creating with the Green Lantern franchise for the past five years.

BKT: What Johns did on Green Lantern for the past few years... I'm not sure that Blackest Night was that. In the Green Lantern books it showed all the lanterns except for Indio in much more detailed and character driven stories that gave everyone more depth. Again, in Blackest Night, you just saw all the lanterns shoot their rings off, with the minimal amount of characterization to make a person even care whom was who.

If there was any sort of characterization it would have been the relationship of Hal and Barry.

P38: It did bring back new characters, but it also established that now dead is dead. It was more emotionally focused than story focused, which i think is something that is easy to lose in a big crossover. I mean look at Siege. There wasn't exactly an emotional arc for any of the people involved.

BKT: Yes, while it was very emotionally focused, it also had very heavy handed speeches from both Barry and Hal. It reminded me of the flaw people always bring up about Tom Clancy novels: that people do not talk quite like that in real life. Not everything is a speech from the heart or drips with so much emotion. The only time I thought it worked well was in issue #4, when Barry and Ray Palmer and Mera were in the 911 offices and and Barry is giving his pep-talk to tell them its time to step it up and be the heroes they are meant to be.

P38: I think long speeches are something that should be expected in comic books. I mean every time Superman shows up you expect a boy scout lecture. I can guarantee that if you open a Captain America comic, it will have an uplifting speech from Cap. That's what these people do. I think people needed to be reminded that everything about this series was about emotion, and sometimes, in a comic book, the only way to get a message across is by not being subtle.

BKT: You gave the Superman example. Hal is not Superman, nor is Barry, but when I see Superman give the speech, it is to civilians and not other heroes. Superman, in a not so arrogant fashion, knows he is looked up to by the super hero community so there is never the need to preach. Now I want to point out that when I read Blackest Night as a monthly, these speeches did not really bug me as much, but sitting down and reading the whole limited series over two days, they really popped out

P38: Let's give the man some credit. Ivan Reis did some beautiful art in this.

BKT: No question, Reis held the book together and did something a DC event artist has not done consistently: drew the whole series.

P38: HA HA! Suck it J.G. Jones!

BKT: DC gave him some breathing room with the skip month, which I think was a smart move, and I hope they learn from this.

J.G. Jones was a gamble that D.C. should not have taken. At the level they wanted Final Crisis to be to the DCU it could not afford to have the delays it did and was one of many reasons why that series is looked down on so strongly.

P38: Now, you mentioned the month skip in between the books. Within the month skip we saw two issues of Green Lantern (50 & 51) and a bunch of previously ended or canceled books come back for one more issue. With these "dead" books, were there some that were pleasant surprises or some that were just pointless? What did you think the strongest & weakest was?

BK: Weird Western was the one I could have done without, I give credit to Didio and Arlem for trying but I felt it just did not work, or was needed. Starman... As glad as I was to see this book brought back, I wanted to see Jack, and Shade. Though this was one of the strongest of the themed books, I wish it would have gone somewhere else. The best was Catwoman and I liked this more because it put a little more depth to what Selina did to Black Mask. Good addition with a very solid creative team of Bedard and Marco Marzit. It was nice to see some attempt to get the original creators to come back to the resurrected books: O'Neil on Question, Robinson and Harris (though on cover) on Starman, and Ostrander on Suicide Squad. I wish they would have attempted to get the previous writers to continue on the other books to give it more 'resurrected' feel with same creative team back from the dead.

P38: Each "act" of Blackest Night saw the release of a three issue mini-series. Each mini-series saw either a person or team being attacked.

Personally, I thought they were fun for what they were and had some cool over all moments. but ultimately added little to absolutely nothing to the overall story ( I'm looking at you JSA). I liked Tales of the Corps; It was some fun background on characters we didn't know that much about, like Saint Walker.

BK: this was a series that showcased the different lanterns of the emotional spectrum. Though really, most if not all of the characters made an appearance in the Blackest Night. When you tie it into Blackest Night, as this was, you'd think these would be good character development issues that would dovetail into the main series. This could have been a good one-shot of the heroes that had the Kilowog, Carol Ferris, and Saint Walker story. The rest, even with #3 having the director commentary of Blackest Night # 0, was just filler.

The Batman mini-series would have been good if it had just focused on Dick and coming to terms with Bruce dead and then having his parents coming back for the brief moment. It had the emotional impact but over all could have been a much tighter one-shot or two issue.

P38: At the time of this interview we are about a month into brightest day, and seeing some of the ramifications of Blackest Night. So far, how do you feel about Brightest Day? Was Blackest Night justified as the means to jump start Brightest Day?

BK: Because it led right into Brightest Day, I felt that Blackest Night was robbed of some impact power in the DCU. I think Brightest Day has been good, but you could read the last issue of Blackest Night and be set for Brightest Day. The overall scope of Blackest Night pretty much seems to be just pushed aside to let Brightest Day play out.

P38: Final statements on Blackest Night? How will time treat this mini-series?

BK: It will be kinder than Final Crisis...

Though I think as a stand-alone read it will not stand up well. There are too many need-to-read Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps issues to really take in the whole scope of the story. It is funny, when I read Blackest Night as monthly I thought it was really good. Tthere were some interesting ideas in place. As I said before, reading the whole series in a few sit-downs, I saw a lot of flaws that I missed. Hands down Reis saved the book and kept the art consistent and energetic. I think if they would have let this been a 12 or 13 issue series, which seems more appropriate in terms of theme, and pulled a lot of the Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps content into it, it would have been a stronger book.

P38: I don't think that Blackest Night can be separated from Geoff Johns's run on Green Lantern, and that may hurt people who are looking to read the story without reading John's Green Lantern run. However I'm sure that for anyone who's willing to invest the time and effort in reading all of John's run, the effect of Blackest Night will be increased a hundredfold, and that will make it one of the best crossovers ever.

I would like to thank BKThompson for his contribution to this article, and I invite you, the reader, to share your opinions.

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