Friday, July 17, 2009


Blackest Night (DC)
Blackest Night #1 When: September 2009
Why: Geoff Johns How: Ivan Reis

The Story So Far...
As he had in life, the Anti-Monitor was to threaten the lives of all who know existence in death. Broken and defeated by Superboy-Prime in the Sinestro Corps War -- the cosmic villain was sent hurtling helplessly through space, to be claimed by cosmic conspiracy at his final resting place in the far lands of Space Sector 666. So was set into motion the forgotten Oan prophecy of the War of Light!

From the black battery that did rise from the Anti-Monitor's corpse, and through the Oan Guardian he had burned and corrupted, a dark force reaches out through space to grip it's death-obssessed avatar, the villain known as Black Hand. His is the sacrifice that gives birth to the first of a Corps of Black Lanterns who will rise from the grave, seeking to extinguish the light of life.

Summoned by black powerrings contrary to those that sprung forth from the fundamental energies of the emotional energy spectrum -- the dead will rise!

With their memories and abilities in the service of this wave of inescapable cosmic retribution, the Black Lantern will strike at the very hearts of their former friends and protectors of life. Ever hungered, they will be satisfied only by spreading their plague of death. The Blackest Night has begun!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Hawkman 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Elongated Man 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Hawkgirl 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Hawkman 4 (Marathon)
Agility: Elongated Man 6 (Rubber)
Fighting: Hawkman 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Hawkman 2 (Projectiles)

- Inspired by the famed contortionists he'd admired in his youth, Ralph Dibny set about investigating the chemistry behind a drink shared by the unusually agile performers, called Gingold. From the rare Mexican fruit used in the drink, Dibny was able to derive a highly concentrated formula which, upon being ingested, granted him a fantastic rubber-like elasticity!

As Elongated Man, Dibny uses his powers to fight crime, with a particular flair for solving mysterys with the aid of his sleuthing wife, Sue. Together the pair's crime-fighting skills even earned membership with the Justice League of America!

Additional: Sue Dibny was accidentally killed by the Atom's estranged wife, Jean Loring, during her attempts to reconcile their relationship in Identity Crisis.
Loring, having suffered a mental breakdown, attempted to provoke a reunion by staging threats to various other Justice League members' loved ones. She used her ex-husband's shrinking technology to enter [Sue] Dibny's brain, accidentally killing her in the process of causing a stroke.

After severall attempts to resurrect his wife in the pages of 52, Ralph Dibny became embroiled in a mystic plot hatched by the sorcerer, Felix Faust.
He was able to imprison Faust within the tower of Dr. Fate, but in doing so, garnered the ire of the bargaining demon, Neron. Neron killed Dibny, only to temporarily entrap himself within the enchanted walls as well, without Dibny to reverse the spell. In the afterlife, Ralph and Sue were reunited, gaining the ability to possess the bodies of the living via Rama Kushna -- the deity responsible for Boston Brand's similar spirit powers.

- There is much more than occupational curiosity that ties archaeologist, Carter Hall, to the ancient civilizations of Earth. In truth, the man who is also known as the gliding hero, Hawkman, has lived many heroic lives through the ages, dating back to the reign of Ramesses II in ancient Egypt.
It was then that alien "Nth metal" from the planet Thanagar bound his soul, as Prince Khufu, to an everlasting pact with the woman he loves, Chay-Ara -- forging a destiny to forever be reunited through reincarnation, and torn apart at the moment they find love. Just as they had been by the evil priest, Hath-Set.

In the modern age, the soul of Prince Khufu was forcefully reincarnated by the Thanagarians, granting Carter Hall the unique distinction of being aware of his constant resurrections. As Hawkman, he is reunited with the Justice Society of America, and Kendra Saunders, aka; Hawkgirl and the reincarnated Chay-Ara.

Both Hawkman and Hawkgirl possess enhanced abilities as a result of their exposure to Nth metal. Winged harnesses allow them the nimble flight of their namesake, which they use in tandem with a variety of medieval weaponry, most notably a fixed mace, but also spears, axes, and nets. Each possesses enhanced strength and durability beyond that of a human, and can heal non-lethal wounds with direct exposure to their Nth metal.

Math: Hawkman/Hawkgirl Ranking: Hawkman (#28)

What Went Down...
It is written on the pages of history that each time the betrothed souls of Prince Khufu and Chay-Ara admit their love for each other, they are to die before their time. Reborn in this modern age as Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the two heroes have remained distanced, the now aware soul of Khufu maddened by his beloved's refusal to explore their feelings. Though Hawkgirl had resisted for so long to preserve their time, she cannot fight fate. And so it would seem, fate is not without a sense of humor...

Finally Hawkgirl reveals her true love for Hawkman, only to suffer the killing blow promised hundreds of years prior by the curse that brought them together. It is impossible to seperate the truth of their endless cycle from the events begun in far-off space. Was it the ring of the Black Lantern that drove a spear through Hawkgirl's heart, the former friend who wears it, Sue Dibny, or their twisted fate?

It is undeniable that, with one of their own spears, Hawkgirl was impaled, and with his own fixed mace, Hawkman was smacked across the face. Even while the culprit stood far across the room with but an elongated limb.

Sadly, the forces behind the Blackest Night have chosen similarly kinred spirits in former JLA colleagues, Elongated Man and Sue Dibny, to execute the first in a checklist of heroes who are marked for death. As the first strike against the living heroes, it is an unchallenged ambush!

With a voice similar to a fallen friend's, the Black Lantern Elongated Man taunts an already bloodied Hawkman as it's twisted limbs snatch his helmet, and knock him through the air with the fixed mace, again.

Hawkman tries to strike at the Black Lantern's gut with his spiked gauntlet, but finds the same malleable resistance Ralph Dibny had in life, his stretchy body abosbing the blow with ease, only to reverse the fortunes of the close quarters exchange.

The Black Lantern denies Hawkgirl's aborted attempt to confess her love, even as he sees the violet energy of love emenating from her body. With rubber arms he charges the fixed mace with a whip of his extended arm, beating Hawkman's face to a bloody pulp. Despite this face, he does not give up on the woman he loves.

With her final words Hawkgirl ensures he knows she loved him. It is surely a hollow consolation for two star-crossed lovers so regularly torn apart.
Hawkman boils with rage, vowing to kill the creatures he cannot believe are his former allies. The Black Lanterns no doubt believe every word as they see the red of rage fill his very being.

The reincarnated hero can do little to fullfil his threats, but it is a warrior's death as the Black Lantern reaches into his chest and pulls his heart out. Black Lantern Sue does the same to Hawkgirl, registering the rising power level of 0.02%.

Black Hand is there to witness the handy work of his fellow Black Lanterns.
"You won't escape death this time." Perhaps it wasn't the curse, afterall.

The Hammer...
For the time being, we shall assume that this counts as a victory for Elongated Man and Sue Dibny. There is, of course, the possibility that there's more to these Black Lantern manifestations than simply the reanimation of corpses. I'm sure, regardless of the mysterys to be revealed, there will be an argument for culpability, but for the purposes of the Infinite Wars, we shall assume the abilities and presence of a character is enough to warrant their stat.

Which is to say, this is The Comic Book Fight Club, where we review and discuss superhero comics through the famous battles waged within. Each battle counts toward a greater tally as we gradually accumulate win/loss data, challenge the rank of the greatest fighting superheroes, and charge up our powerrings!

Proceedings have been sufficiently derailed throughout 2009, but still we remain steadfast in the review of issues collected and noted throughout the year. This is (ironically) the first year the Infinite Wars have actually made any conceited effort to reflect the releases of the week, so it's an overdue inevitability that we're finally here talking about one of the most eagerly anticipated events in comics history! A fact largely due to the teaser noted at the end of 2007's Green Lantern blockbuster event -- the Sinestro Corps War!

I suspect there will have been those that were outraged by the events of this first issue, particularly where the violent deaths of Hawkman and Hawkgirl are concerned. It's a trait some attribute as a trademark of writer Geoff Johns, who has made a habit of including the occasional brutality in his event comics.

The subject of brutality has been discussed in various facets previously on the site, as you might imagine. As noted during the review of Superman/Batman #15, I'm a great believer in accepting that there's some truth to acts such as these, and that while they might not be a requisite of the fiction, they should not be cause for disdain. The world of superheroes is bound to be a violent and unpleasant place, which is what seperates the titans of the DC and Marvel universes from average folk like you, or I. If there's a time to express that, I'm probably inclined to think "events" are a fair place to start.

It's also very hard to consider a high-concept event like Blackest Night without the expectation that death and resurrections will quickly follow. It is, afterall, an inherent property of the high concept of zombies -- which are essentially defined by being a mathematical principle of life and death. For every one we lose, they gain one, etc. Some will fall, but as comics have taught us, some will rise.
There's also still the distinct possibility that, come the end of Blackest Night, everybody gets to come back in a counter-balancing brightest day.

The Hawks apparently narrowly escaped death in the pages of Final Crisis, but have quickly followed up the fake-out with the real deal. They were apparently fair game, such is life (and death). Far be it from me to spend the entirety of this section offering concept-driven justifications for the writer and editorial staff.

Johns serves up his usual brand of traditional favourites and a general awareness of the many moving parts of the DC Universe, in this first issue. There'll be seven of them all up, so you can probably forgive the emphasis on set-up. For the most part, we already know what to expect of the Black Lantern heroes, and I suspect that will play out more thoroughly in other issues, like the forecasted BL Martian Manhunter return in GL #44, which is introduced in Blackest Night #1.

The recently resurrected Barry Allen looks to be a bigger part of things than might have been anticipated, which is bound to be double the case for anyone expecting a "Green Lantern" event. Blackest Night is definitely going DCU-wide and we get some great foreshadowing glimpses of that through memorial services for fallen heroes in the JSA and so on. That's not to say the GL's don't get a good amount of screen time. Fans receptive to quick recaps will absorb a lot of useful information for the coming months through recaps of the Green Lantern legacy of Women in Refridgerators, along with a glimpse of some of the War of Light occurring in conjunction with the Blackest Night. Scar finally makes her move, also, literally taking a bite out of her fellow Guardians.

Also acknowledged are the promos that teased Aquaman, which were quickly serviced with a glimpse of Mera and Tempest -- a couple of characters I certainly haven't seen in a while! Here's hoping that can lead to something, after Final Crisis provided another fake-out, this time alluding to a return of the deep sea JLAer. Light dressing for anyone eagerly awaiting the BL Firestorm, whose grave was visited by Professor Stein and current matrix wielder, Jason Rusch.

Long story short: plenty of excitement building, but we'll see how things shape-up as the series works it's way through. Plenty of Blackest Night issues on the way! I wouldn't be surprised to see a certain issue of Green Lantern mentioned earlier in this post, at some point in the future.

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 5

Blackest Night is an event maxi-series currently available monthly from DC comics. You can pre-order various collections featuring the spanning epic via Amazon. Be warned! The story is so large you may need to check the contents of each trade before ordering, to ensure you receive what you intend. You can find more collected editions based on the reviews in our Secret Archives, via the Amazon Online Store! By using purchase links provided around the site, you help sponsor future entries, as sporradic as they may be. All will be well!

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