Posted by: Graeme McMillan on November 23, 2009
I fall behind in a lot of reading, and then I have more to read to catch up. Case in point: I picked up GREEN LANTERN CORPS #42, got about three pages into it, and realized that I had no idea what was going on apart from it tying in with Blackest Night and the plot being essentially “Bad Things Happen On Oa.” So I stopped reading, went back and re-read GLC #39-41 first, then #42, straight-through and realized: Hey! This’ll make a great trade. Here’s the thing, though; I’m conflicted whether or not that makes it a good comic.
Don’t get me wrong: Taken as a whole, the four issues so far of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s “Black Lanterns Bring The Pain And Shit” are one of my favorite things about Blackest Night. There’s a lot going on, but enough different threads so that the repetition of “Oh, it’s character X meeting someone who’s dead from their past” isn’t really pushed in your face (Kudos to Tomasi for using his stories in the Tales Of The Corps three-part mini from the start of the event to set a lot of this up, too; suddenly, what seemed like well-done but unnecessary tie-in has a point), and Gleason’s art, always been one of the best things about the book, remains kinetic and frenetic enough to suggest the panic and confusion of everything going wrong at once. But almost none of the strengths of the story come through when reading it in singles. The juggling of plot threads, which works so well when reading it all at once, is frustrating, making the story seem more scattered and stuttering than you want it to be, and the forward motion of the plot seems almost impossibly slow. This isn’t a complaint about decompression, to resurrect (Hey! Black Lantern Comic Terminology!) that old chestnut, because it’s not that each issue feels stretched out or empty, just the opposite – They actually feel too full to be able to go anywhere.
(As an aside, for a second; #42′s big ending worked better than I initially thought. When I first read it, I cynically thought, oh, they’re just killing off a minor character because it’s a crossover. But then I realized that it was a death that had more weight than that other Blackest Night deaths so far, which include arguably bigger names Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Tempest and maybe Firestorm… Kyle’s death, despite coming midway through the story, feels like the story’s first “real” one, which has to mean something. Well, until he comes back next month, I guess.)
I’m left conflicted. Are these decent comics or not? Well, kind of? If you sit down and read them in one go, then I’d call them Good, but otherwise, they’re just Okay. Maybe I should switch to trades and save myself the dilemma.