Geoff Johns utterly confounds me.
Unlike pretty much all my follow commenters on the Internet (e.g. the ones people actually read) who find Geoff Johns to be the most toxic sort of backward-looking nostalgia-mongering since that brief flash of madness where people really cared about what Alex Ross thought of the current state of superhero comics, full stop I actually find Johns ideas rather intriguing.
At least the ones he seems to stumble onto by accident on the way to something that really pisses me off, anyhow.
You see, I like the idea of the "rainbow Lantern" corps--I can totally get behind an "arms race" of power rings, as the idea that people just fall in line and accept the authority of the Green Lantern Corps seems to be rather flimsy and in need of explanation. The Time Trapper being a constantly-shifting sentient timeline? Liked that. Hawkman's stop-and-start rat's nest of continuity being explained as imperfect perpetual reincarnations? Very clever, I thought, even if it steamrolled over John Ostrander's Hawkworld/Hawkman stuff, which I quite enjoyed.
I was even able to find stuff to like in Blackest Night that helped the stuff I didn't (the zombies, the gore, the fact that you can pretty much skip to the last 3 issues because NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL THEN EXCEPT GODDAMN ZOMBIES) I liked the idea of deputizing heroes and villains to serve as substitute Lanterns; I liked the idea that Earth was the actual cradle of life in the universe and the Guardians had hid that fact to protect Earth and justify their authority; I liked that Sinestro, of all people, got the White Lantern power.
But of course, all these bits get pissed away, on the way to Blackest Night's ultimate denouement, wherein a great lot of heroes and villains come back to life (funnily enough, most of them died in the gore-fests of the 2000s, now that I think of it) and Martian Manhunter gets some bloody pants, Firestorm's a white guy again (not that I often agree with Chris Sims, but his article on this tendency hit the nail on the head as to why this was a terribly worrying trend, and that was before they snuffed the Ryan Choi version of the Atom), Deadman is "aliveman," and here's goddamned Aquaman back and . . .well, things just kind of sputter to a stopping point because things don't really end in the Big Two's superhero comics, one just bounces on to the next thing like a ping-pong ball in a clothes dryer.
It's a really awful ending, as you're kind of geared up for this big-ass showdown that . . .never comes. The Deputy Lanterns are gonna take down Nekron and the Black Lanterns, only they don't. Then Sinestro (who looks like Hitler and is powered by White Power--why no Geoff, that doesn't look bad at all) and he doesn't. Then Hal Jordan gives his abominable "We came back to life because we didn't feel like being dead, so there!"speech and they can't beat them and then the cavalry finally rides in and . . .fucking Aquaman? Really? Really?
And even that doesn't really solve things to any satisfactory conclusion. Nekron just kind of explodes because it seems like a good idea at the time, Black Hand gets dragged off and things just kind of fizzle out, because by God, we've gotta have Brightest Day here next week.
One would imagine that Brightest Day, by it's very name, and because it deals with the aftermath of the DCU's darkest hour and ended with resurrection, that it would have a slightly cheerier remit. Surely, the heroes who'd been dead for some time would take some time, at least, to be grateful for their second chance at life, maybe grapple with the fact that time moved on slightly, maybe . . .
. . .yeah, right. This is DC we're talking about here. Brightest Day is about as glum and joyless a comic as it is possible to make with human hands, and bear in mind two things: One--it spins out of a limited series featuring zombies ripping people's hearts out.
Two--I've read every issue of the original Faust, and it's like bloody Planet Terry next to this. It's an utterly joyless grind wherein everyone who's resurrected slogs grimly through things when they're not actively whining about being alive, and of the three black people who get any face time in the story, one is a child-molesting pirate, one whines that Ronnie Raymond is a shit Firestorm (and he is) and the last one kills a whole fish market full of white people when he hears Aquaman's back because White Power Geoff doesn't care about black people and oh yeah, he's actually Black Manta.
Now, the idea that resurrecting Aquaman should drive anyone to anything but yawns and a deep sense of apathy is frankly silly enough, but the idea that Black Manta (whose superpower, as Seanbaby one remarked, is that "he owns a boat") was just marking time in a fish market because without Aquaman to pester, life had really lost its luster is just . . .fucking dumb.
And not really in keeping with Black Manta's characterisation. He's a black guy (and because he was a black guy, he had to have "Black" in his name because we might have gotten confused) who has plans to build a homeland for black people under water. So, uh, why the fish market job? Has the recession hit supervillainy as well? How is that gonna get you any closer to Underwakanda? You have a helmet that shoot fucking lasers, man. There's options.
What else is going on on this issue? Oh, the White Power has left a White Power Battery in the middle of the street which no one can lift except whoever's worthy, Deadman's whining about being alive, and Aquaman can only summon dead sea creatures who go 'round killing everyone, which, when you think about it, makes Aquaman about 75% more useful than he is the rest of the time.
You know before, when I said that Geoff Johns tends to create stuff that I find interesting by accident on the way to annoying me about something else? Yeah, well, there was absolutely nothing of that to distract me from how goddamned annoying this comic is, and when you consider that this week had an utterly gratuitous Titans issue wherein they killed off the other Atom (because Titans wasn't enough of a gore-fest to begin with--I swear; if Wolfman and Perez had it to do over again, with the benefit of hindsight, they'd never have done the Judas Contract if they knew what dire bilge would result from the generation that thought it was the kewlest thing evar) and Paul Jenkins wrote Stupid Fucking Paul Jenkins Comic #2314, Featuring The Sentry fighting very hard to collapse everything stupid and awful about superhero comics in the new millennium into a black hole of suck, this was the rancid cherry on top of the proverbial shit sundae.
Seriously--if you were in a comic shop, this was the collectively stupidest Wednesday on record. Everyone should have walked out of the comics store hanging their heads in shame.
Going back to the Sims article for a second (lest my froth lead to more parenthetical asides--oops, too late) I don't actually believe that Geoff Johns wants to whitewash all DC characters (but White Power Geoff is too good a name not to use, and I hope someone'll get the Arrested Development reference) but shit like this doesn't help. Three black people in the issue, and they're all awfully unpleasant.
I don't want to read stuff like this. I don't want to read comics wherein a bunch of dead heroes whine about not being dead anymore. I want to read stuff like Power Girl (well, until that gets bent into shape and she starts whining and shit) --I want to see superheroes doing superheroic shit and enjoying themselves while they do it. I want to see them have fun doing it, and I want to feel like I've had a nice break from the cares and difficulties of my own life when I'm done.
And most of all, I want to know why in the FUCK these people who want the Silver Age back SO DAMN BAD seem to want everything BUT the essential optimism that characterized the fucking Silver Age brought back. I can't be the only person who's noticed this, can I?
In short, I would not recommend this book. I didn't think it was very good.