Monday, April 26, 2010

Triple threat: Firestar-One Shot, Brave and the Bold #33, and Land of Oz #5

The Brave and the Bold #33
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by Cliff Chiang
Letters by Rob Leigh
Colors by Trish Mulvihill
Cover by Jesus Saiz
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"I'm putting together a girls' night out, and I'd like to invite you. Because I want this night to be special. Very special." -- Zatanna

Let me just start off by saying, I was mislead by the cover. I was hoping for some romp and stomp with three of DC's most notable heroines. Maybe a fight with the Riddler, Kadabra, and Dr. Psycho. Or perhaps team together to take on one notorious threat. It was fun for a while, but I just found myself almost heartbroken.

Since it's relauch, The Brave and the Bold has found itself to be one of the most consistent titles I've recommended to people who want to start reading DC books, but feel intimidated by continuity. It's for the reader out there who thinks that current books aren't for them and want to sit back and enjoy a fun adventure. While this issue had it's fun and cutesy moments, in typical JMS style, things take an emotional turn and punch you where it hurts, though true comic fans will see what's coming when the Oracle of Delphi is dropped into a conversation.

Cliff Chiang handles the art in his usual cartoonish style, yet still holds a level of energy with the girls and them having their fun. His use of facial expressions is spectacular that nothing feels wasted and even the most minor background character looks as if they have a story to tell. I loved how he handled Babs here and her level of inebriation without making her look dumb or, dare I say, slutty. As a fashion enthusiast, I also enjoyed how each of the girls outfits for the night reflected who they are (even shy little Barbara). In the end, how Chiang handled the "big reveal" is clever and all that much more terrifying. Trish Mulvihill does an excellent job of coloring over Chiang's work and compliments his simplistic style by not over-saturating the pages.

While I did have fun with the issue, I thought somethings felt a bit off. Mainly how JMS handled Diana. Her range of emotions are too extreme and seem almost out of place for a character who is the idea of perfection and grace in DC lore. Now while some readers might construe the ending as malicious, I thought of it as more in the vein as "what will be, will be". Barbara's legacy is so much more than just Batgirl, since I think she serves more of a purpose as Oracle and how she came out of her tragedy stronger than before.

Brave and the Bold #33 isn't perfect by any means, but I'm always ready to read something that showcases three of my favorite characters, even if it did almost make a grown man teary.


Firestar#1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Lan Pitts): Again, another book not really having any other purpose but to springboard another soon-to-launch ongoing series. Now, if this issue was to entice me on getting on board the other book it's connected to, then color me unenthusiastic. Sean McKeever does a great job with the script in the beginning, but then it opens up a sort of Lifetime movie that doesn't seem to end. I admire how McKeever adds a bit of scientific knowledge to Angelica's (aka Firestar) powers, but the rest just seemed heavy-handed. In addition to that, I don't remember her being this young or looking as such. Then again, last time I read anything relevant with Firestar in it was "Maximum Carnage." Oh, that's right. I went there. Emma Rios delivers in her usual style, but the anime-esque appearances look to have been pulled back a tad, at least compared to her Strange series a few months back. If you're a fan of Firestar, I know you're going to at least browse through this, but there's nothing to write home about, but I'll give credit for Marvel to start putting out some female-centric books.


The Marvelous Land of Oz #5 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Lan Pitts): If you haven't been picking up this series for you, a young reader you know or love, or just a fan of the world of Oz, shame on you! The collaboration of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young is one of this generation's greatest, especially in the field of literature for the young and young at heart. I've mentioned numerous times how Shanower is a known Oz fan and knows the world left and right and up and down. Young's style incorporates everything you would want to see in a book aimed at young readers with it's animated look and storybook charm. Accompanied by coloring mastermind Jean-Francois Beaulieu this series is one of the best all-around titles out there. Now, I know some of you might want to wait for the trade, but once you give one issue to a child, I'm sure their patience won't run as deep.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Magdalena #1 review

Magdalena #1
Written by Ron Marz
Pencils by Nelson Blake II
Inks by Sal Regla
Colors by Dave McCaig
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts

"I've given it all the thought I need to. I've accepted what I am. What my bloodline makes me. But I'm done being used by the Church. Magdalenas have been disposable commodities for centuries. That's NOT HOW I'm going to end up. Nothing is going to make me change my mind." Patience, the Magdalena

I went into this debut issue knowing little about the character and her history, besides some notion of Magdalena being a warrior nun. I know she's made appearances in other Top Cow titles, but other than that, I have very limited knowledge. So I went into this book without expectations, except for the expectation that Ron Marz rarely disappoints. If you're a fan of what he's got going on over in Top Cow's flagship title, Witchblade, you're in for a treat.

If, like me, you're not familiar with Magdalena and her background, no worries. The plot is pretty straightforward, and any backstory is explained through narrative, yet without slowing down the actual story. I got the gist and ran with it. Marz has handled not one, but three (now including Magdalena) titles that have strong, female leads that deal with supernatural forces since signing with Top Cow, so trust me when I say he's in top form. While Marz may have a common theme now with female characters with mystical weapons, each have their own voice, and the Magdalena of this generation, Patience, is no exception. There's a strong opening and it doesn't let up. You have Church politics, demonic brawls, a murder mystery and that's just first ten pages. You want your demon-hunting warrior woman doing what she does best? You got it. You want a set up with Patience and a kid Anti-Christ? You got it.

I am surprised Top Cow didn't pursue the usual route and do a sort of "Year One" take on the character. But after reading issue #1, I realized there wasn't really a need for that. Marz just picks up Patience in her own series as she is in current Top Cow continuity, which makes it easier to get to the action, which is wonderfully rendered by penciler Nelson Blake II. Blake captures the intensity of the fight scenes, and just as easily nails the "talking head" moments. The inking of Sal Regla (Ultimate Fantastic Four, Fathom) compliments Blake's style. Regla's inks aren't too heavy or overbearing, and give everything a clean, crisp look that is easy on the eye. On top of that, you've got Dave McCaig coloring his guts out and Ryan Sook on cover duty.

With other companies go from big events, to tie-ins, to more big events, it's refreshing to be able to enjoy a book without having to worry about buying back issues or confusing continuity. There's even a timeline of the women who have been called Magdalena in the past, which expands the world and I enjoyed a bit of each backstory. The issue is there from the get-go to enjoy, so if you've been wanting an accessible title, Magdalena #1 answers your prayers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Unwritten #12

The Unwritten #12
Written and layouts by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
Finishes and Colors by Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon
Letters by Todd Klein
Cover by Yuko Shimizu
Published by Vertigo
Review by Lan Pitts

"You're a very bad rabbit. And you're looking for a spanking."

My first read-through of the issue, I wasn't really sold on the concept and thought it more of a determent of the main story. It wasn't after my third or fourth time reading it, all the elements hit me. I felt devoured by the depth of it all, and quite frankly now that I get it, it's quite possibly the best book of the month if not of the whole series thus far. While at first it seems like a sort of children's tale in the vein of Peter Rabbit, until you realize the level of profanity that is used by the central character of the issue, a rabbit that has the most unusual name of Pauly Bruckner. Interesting name for a rabbit, right? Only problem is, that's no ordinary rabbit.

I don't mean in the Hoppy the Marvel Bunny sort of sense, no, this rabbit is actually a human. In addition to that, he's in a world that reminds me of the 100 Acre Woods and is surrounded by all sorts of children's book cliches and characters. It's only realizing the true nature of Paul's existence in the story has to deal with him botching a job and in return, Wilson Taylor (Tom's dad) put him there. Now, we know Wilson had the ability to take people and characters out of stories, but to put them IN one is a horse of a different color.

This issue reminds me of the earlier issue, and now Eisner-nominated "The Whale", as it takes a slight detour from the main plot with Tom, Liz and Savoy. Yet, it still expands their world indirectly with this revelation of Wilson's power. Of course this just built the suspense on what is going on with the trio and I have to wait another month.

The most beautiful thing about this issue is the ye ole story book art style. Huggins and Devon really soar here with the antique look of the pages. It's fresh and could be deserving of another award come next year. Unwritten #12 doesn't haven't any resemblance of the previous issues, but still has the originality and creative spirit of Carey and Gross.

If you haven't heard by now, this book picked up a few Eisner nominations and, in my opinion, rightfully so. Don't be the only reader at your shop not picking this book up.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Iron Man: Noir #1 & Angelus #3

Angelus #3
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Stjepan Sejic
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts

"See, that's where you're wrong. I don't have any friends...just victims." -- Jackie Estacado, the Darkness

We're half way through the Angelus mini series that explores Dani Baptiste's role as the embodiment of light, and things are picking up down in 'Nawlins when Jackie Estacado shows up with murder on his mind. Then again, he is a hitman, so that's probably nothing out of the ordinary. Now, I love the Witchblade/Angelus/Darkness chemistry, especially since Ron Marz has enhanced each of the titles without it feeling like a crossover. The books complete each other, yet still remain their own separate entity.

Angelus #3 touches on a few things that really showcase Marz's ability to engross you in the characters as well Sejic's art having some subtle moments that he's had problems with in the past, but really nails these exquisitely. Sejic also displayed great skill in color dynamics when Jackie and Dani face off whilst in their supernatural alter-egos. The dichotomy of the Darkness and the Angelus is shown well in the last few pages, really allowing for some gripping panels and great action scenes.

There's the continuation of romance that happens to be between two females, but it isn't heavy-handed and handled like any budding romance. Dani and her girlfriend, Finch, are taking it slow and their moment with Dani's father was the best part of the book because it seemed so real and human. The action scenes are wonderful as I noted, but really take backstage to the character development that is unfolding here.

Angelus continues to deliver on what comics should be like. Though you shouldn't feel discouraged or intimidated from feeling lost since it's the third issue. There is a recap page that breaks it down right as you crack the book open. It's wonderful story-telling without having to rely on shock factors with beautiful art that makes you pore over every panel, so sit back and enjoy a great read.


Iron Man: Noir #1
Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Manuel Garcia
Inks by Lorenzo Ruggerio
Colors by Marta Martinez
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Cover: Mike Fyles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"No the bottom line is I like adventures, Jarvis, and the rest of the country likes adventures, too. Times are dark. Depression, war on the horizon. People want stories they can escape to." -- Tony Stark

I have to admit, this might be my favorite Iron Man story ever. I also realize that this is the first issue of a mini-series so this reaction may be a bit premature, but I had so much fun with it, mainly because I didn't know what to expect. I've been digging this "Noir" line from Marvel since it debuted, though it's had it's hits and misses, Iron Man: Noir is more like a slam dunk, home run, and touchdown rolled into one. I'm not familiar with any creators involved in the project, but this makes me want to see other work from them.

How Snyder takes Stark and sort of transforms him into an Indiana Jones-with-money-like adventurer is enjoyable and when you think about it, not that far from what you would envision Stark in the 1930's to act like. He's charming, funny, adventurous and of course, has a heart defect. Other characters from the Iron Man universe make an appearance here, including an interesting twist on Pepper Potts that I really enjoyed. Snyder captures the world of yesteryear quite well with the analogies to comics and Stark's magazine, and just the "feel" of the world.

The art team is just as fabulous here. Going from deep jungles to metropolitan scenes, all the while keeping a steady pace the action heavy. Solid panel construction, lush environments, and great figure construction gives the book a first-rate look that I hope doesn't stop here. I like the design of the suit, and reflects the imagination of the decade and looks like something out of a sci-fi serial.

With the Iron Man movie coming out in less than a month, I'm sure Ol' Shellhead won't have a hard time selling books, but be sure to check this one out.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Work throughout the week.

Avengers: The Origin #1
Written by Joe Casey
Art by Phil Noto
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by George Marston and Lan Pitts

Avengers: The Origin is a decent re-telling, that fits nicely into Joe Casey's previous "classic Avengers" mini-series (Earth's Mightiest Heroes 1 & 2, and Iron Man: Enter The Mandarin), offering some alternate views of the classic tale. The biggest complaint is that, at times, it gets a little too verbose for my taste. Lots of word bubbles scattered around. I like the art, but I feel like Noto fails to capture the essence of most of the Avengers. His Hulk looks too civilized, his Thor is too slim, and his Iron Man feels out of proportion. There is a possibility that Noto slimmed Thor to make Hulk look like a viable thread and not the muscle-bound god that Kirby once envisioned. On the other hand, if he wanted to make Hulk more of a threat to Thor, he should've made Hulk bigger instead of making Thor smaller.

Phil Noto's art has improved and isn't as stoic as his earlier works, and how he presented Iron Man and Thor's alter egos just seems less radical. I do like how Casey handled Jan and Hank and does a great job on that front.

The panel construction could have been fixed as well because it felt like there was a lot of things being blocked and cluttered at times. Casey should have just let the art speak for itself at some moments and pull back a bit.

The pacing needs to pick up a bit as well. Though it's intriguing to think how they will amp up the threat. In the original comic, the formation of the Avengers took place over a single issue. Though how much of the pacing issues are to be blamed on turning a single comic into several.

Obviously they're going to add more to the story, but will it be a matter of improving on it or just deviated to the point where it's just ridiculous and completely unbearable? Joe Casey is trustworthy on that end because he's done well with similar concepts in the past.

The update to Rick Jones, making him part of a counter culture group is interesting. It seems like they are revolutionaries...or Young Repbulicans, because that is a lot of fire power.

Overall, it's solid, but it has lots of room to grow by the end of the mini.


Robert Jordan's New Spring #8 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Lan Pitts): Now here's something I thought I'd never see, the finished product of New Spring, which is the prequel to Robert Jordan's famed "Wheel of Time" series, yet here it is. Now I know that Dynamite means business with it's products and won't let the ball drop. This mini series just seems like ancient history to me, it's a shame Jordan can't be around to see it FINALLY in the fan's hands. Some of the art looks like it was done over and there's a sense of inconsistency to it in some places, but other than that, it's pretty standard stuff. Chuck Dixon again nails the adaptation of the book and I can't wait to see what else he has in store for us WoT fans. Now, I hope Dynamite reprints the rest of this mini because it is that hard to find and a bit pricey. The first issue alone goes for around $25 online.


Vengeance of the Moon Knight #7 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Lan Pitts): Tan Eng Haut is not Jerome Opena. And I mean that in every way possibly, besides the fact that they have both worked on this title. Where Opena had more of an action movie-oriented style, Tan has a more grounded and dare I say vanilla style. Perhaps maybe three panels out of the entire issue stood out. What a shame, too. Gregg Hurwitz does a great job again of spinning MK, as a street avenger, but the story is bogged down by a Deadpool appearance. I'm not a hater without merit, but it seems more like a product placement with DP in it than an actual first part of an arc. Just annoys because the book has had a good streak so far, but the art just took me out of the story. Hopefully, Tan will adjust his methods and not be so stiff.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blackest Night #8 Firing Range

So, the Best Shots team and I rounded up some reviews for DC's big even Blackest Night.

Blackest Night #8
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert and Joe Prado, Alex Sinclair
Published by DC Comics
Reviews by the Best Shots Firing Range

David Pepose:

The rings are bared. The universe is at stake. The dead have risen. And as the millions of the Black Lantern horde threatens to annihilate us all --

Let there be light.

A series that harkens back to the past even as it glows with potential for the future, Blackest Night #8 takes many of the flaws of previous issues and transcends them, going pound-for-pound with more memorable moments than any other book on the stands. It isn't perfect, but its humanity and its enthusiasm -- and its sheer craftsmanship -- make me wish that more event books ended like this.

While this series has examined the weaponization of emotions, one of the big concerns I've had with the trajectory of Blackest Night has been whether or not the characterization would be consumed by multicolored costumes and power-sets, and whether Hal Jordan would be overshadowed by the weight of the DC Universe even in his own book. From the very first page, I'm pleased to say that Geoff Johns has stuck the landing and proven us wrong -- he effectively sets up not just who the important players are in this book, but successfully melds together his disparate themes of fearlessness, companionship, and not going quietly into the night.

Ivan Reis, meanwhile, comes back with a vengeance after last month's issue. Even when Johns' balloons get a bit overwhelming, Reis always picks the right shot, with his panels of the various Lantern corps firing their rings reminding me almost of Alan Davis. Sometimes, of course, the sheer weight of the characters can be a bit much, but when it comes to Hal and the Green Lanterns, Reis makes everything sing. And let me say something that you will likely hear, again and again and again -- there are two splash pages that the story really hinges upon that Reis sells with absolute craftsmanship. Indeed, there's a real manic pace to how quickly Johns throws out ideas, and the fact that Reis can make them look so epic is the secret to Blackest Night #8's success.

Certainly this book has its flaws -- namely, how certain non-visual ideas like whether or not Nekron "allowed" the heroes to come back from the dead is a little distracting, and there will be those who find the denouement to be a little jerky or episodic. But when the chips are down and the world is coming down on our heads, Geoff Johns' mythology keeps the hulking enterprise from crashing down on this summer blockbuster book. In its own way, this issue is as ambitious a comic as I have ever seen -- even when it stumbles, it comes back up and rises again, always ready to take another chance and shoot for the stars.

And at the end of the day, there's nothing that represents Green Lantern better than that.

Brendan McGuirk:

In the end, Blackest Night was a story that used death as the means by which it celebrated life.

Death in comics, as so metaphysically and metaphorically illustrated by this series, is not the same as death in life. In our lives, death is a random, unstoppable force that humanity struggles to reconcile and understand. It is one of the few things people can universally acknowledge as more powerful then themselves. Death in serialized comics awkwardly mirrors its counterpart, used as a empathic tool that brings emotional weight and resonance to the sustained fiction. Death can be personified, and it can be undone. For superheroes, death is but a development.

Those were the stakes of Blackest Night; life versus death. All parts of life banded together, from the virtuous aspects of it to the indefensible ones, in the common interest of sustaining. Their opponent was not only the singular avatar of death, but also his fleet of resurrected foot soldiers. The Black Lanterns were perversions of life, creatures that bastardized the legacies of all that rose. They not only took up arms against their former allies, but perverted the memories of those they loved.

But life persists. In Blackest Night #8, the Lanterns, the lights of the universe, make their last stand.

It is as inevitable as the sunset; death conquers life. But not in comics. In comics, death represents a sort of finality; a structural beat used to convey a sense of commonality between a fictional world and our own. It is how you say “The End,” in a medium without endings.

The superheroes of Blackest Night emerge victorious because comicbooks are not reality. Death is not the supreme power of the DC Universe- the inspirational might of its heroes is. That is why they conquer death. That is why they cannot be permanently undone, either villain or editorial mandate. Their very purpose is to achieve the impossible. And as long as characters have the capacity to inspire, or be remembered, the door will be open for their return.

That's why, in comics, dead doesn't mean dead. Dead means sadness. It means conclusion. It means, 'This story counts.' Because in life, we really don't know what death means. It's for that very reason that we construct worlds in which we do. We struggle to understand death; to internalize, rationalize, and accept it. We try to give it meaning, or find ways to give our lives meaning as we race towards our own inevitable expiration dates. Death is impermanent in comics because we fundamentally reject finality until we are given no choice in the matter. Fiction is the only way we can control it.

There are things in our world we cannot conquer. We have superheroes because there is no feat to great for them, and that is why they inspire our imaginations.

Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis have collaborated since the debut of the latest Green Lantern series to bring Hal Jordan into the esteemed ranks of DC's icons. They have retold his origin, retooled his villain set, and now told of his crowning victory. Johns deserves accolades for writing a story that featured almost the entire DC Universe, but remained a Green Lantern story. Reis earned his round of applause for fully delivering both on intricate splash page crowd scenes and impossibly cluttered, but narratively clear, panel sequences. Blackest Night looks to invert the paradigm of “event comics,” by ending with returns instead of farewells. It is a new era, a Brightest Day, and one that promises not only hope, or love, but also to bring more rage, more avarice, more fear, more of all of life's components. As common a theme as humanity has, its conclusion is not simply an end, but a beginning.

THE Rev. O.J. Flow:

Great. The more the merrier.” -- Hal Jordan

Nothing beats a story when you think you know what’s going to be the ultimate outcome and you still find yourself positively moved at the twists and turns found in the conclusion, even when you find you were pretty much right! As Blackest Night #8 addresses life and death one last time, what was truly restored was my faith in the companywide crossover. Having shown no sophomore slump coming off of the popular Sinestro Corps War, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis (and all due credit to a crew of inkers who kept things humming and made Dick Giordano proud) absolutely delivered for this longtime comic book reader. The overall series was a smash hit in my book, and it was as exciting in the end as it was in the debut issue that had me going “WTF??”

In political terms, I’ve been a “moderate independent” in my stance on the returns of the likes of Hal Jordan and Barry Allen to the DC Universe. While I was right there alongside Geoff Johns in being the key demographic who grew up with these characters (Challenge of the Superfriends, Super Powers, etc.), I always respected the creators at DC who managed to make success stories out of Kyle Rayner, Wally West, and even Connor Hawke (Green Arrow), Jason Rusch (Firestorm) and Jaime Reyes (Blue Beetle), and I feel that there can be a place for all of them to coexist. Time will tell, along with “Brightest Day,” whether that will be the case, but in the meantime Johns & Co. have set the table for a great new era in the DCU. I did find it intriguing that when all is said and done, and Nekron and Black Hand meet fates most appropriate, it’s quite clear in Blackest Night #8 that they did not take the easy way out and simply hit the reset button on the last 25 years worth of stories. Better yet, what the creators did succeed in doing is opening up a treasure trove of tales for years to come!

Back to the main story, not a page is wasted (and big ups to how economical DC is in the use of ad space in this extra-length finale), and the pace never lets up. Even when things pause for just a second more to keep the reader up to speed than anything, the dialogue is sharp among every character, and the exposition never weighs down the action. Again the seemingly mismatched brothers in avarice, Larfleeze and Lex Luthor, get the book’s best comedic moments, and Agent Orange surprises all including himself in showing a side of which he never knew capable. Green Lantern, with the help of the Flash and his color guard in arms (Star Sapphire, Sinestro, et al.) proves that the DC Universe does not necessarily revolve around Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The pedestal that editors (and some writers, artists, and even critics) had placed on them over the last few years was showing much wear, and that’s underscored here by the virtual lack of contribution made by any of those three in Blackest Night’s resolution. Hal Jordan and Barry Allen don’t even so much as suggest something along the lines of “What Would the Trinity Do?” and it serves the overall landscape for this publisher well along with readership.

As for the expanse of the artistic creative team, I can’t think of one aspect of this book that doesn’t deserve an A for its contribution. Ivan Reis only went and produced the highlight of his résumé. My goodness, the virtual explosion of characters he works with here are endless, and not once does it feel like corners were cut for the sake of expediency. I could pretty much state the case for that in every issue. By the way, words cannot express my gratitude over the fact that from issue #1 to now, the production credits (save for inking, I believe) remained untouched throughout. No ringer brought in to salvage the last couple issues, this was a Reis masterpiece from start to finish. Even when the prerequisite double-page spreads are rendered, they are kept spare for maximum effect and never are they superfluous. Letterer Nick Napolitano does a marvelous job conveying the distinctive voices of the varied mix of alien races and species. In a mere eight issues colorist Alex Sinclair only went and compiled a career portfolio. Producing a vibrant body of work, this series should be turned into a manual on professional comic book color artistry. Inkers Oclair Albert and Joe Prado were reliable throughout this series, and here for sure, in maintaining the integrity of Reis' widescreen visuals.

For all of the excellence found in Blackest Night #8 and the chapters prior, it by no means redefines the crossover series concept. But thanks to Johns, Reis and everyone else involved in this series, it only took inventively articulating the concept of death in superheroics to breathe new life into a genre that, regardless of publisher, was all but gasping for air. It’s not easy to jump into a new story when the conclusion of another suggests that it’s not quite done, but this series also came up victorious in that respect.

Life doesn’t give us purpose, Black Hand. We give life purpose.” -- The Flash (Barry Allen)

Lan Pitts:

Blackest Night. This has been DC's big event of the past year, but the building up to and formation of the event has been going back almost six years -- and through it all, it had people talking, it had people buying and reading... getting into it. Whether people were angry, happy with it, or whatever, this story has really evoked emotion out of its fan base to an extreme level.

It's no secret that Geoff Johns has taken us on a dark journey these past few months. From the darkness of space, to the darkness that lurks within men's hearts, we've seen it all. I felt burnt out by the time I had read the seventh issue of this major event, but damn if the finale didn't give me all that I wanted and them some.

As far as the story here goes, there isn't a real sense of closure since it paves a way for Brightest Day, but I knew that going into it. What I didn't know was that I would be looking forward to the possibilities of the DC Universe this much. Is this a "game changer"? Absolutely. Has it lived up to it's hype? I do believe so. Both Johns and the art team consisting of Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert and colorist Alex Sinclair bring home their "A+" game as well as something a little extra that leaves you thankful you went along for the ride.

And I do mean "A+" game. There is so much going on, but this is the first time I didn't felt cluttered or overwhelmed by the art -- I just pored over the spread pages, just in case I missed anything. There's one spread where DC's heavy hitters and big names go after the Black Lantern threat that conveyed a level of energy and action that I can only describe as a very "George Perez" thing for Reis to pull off. I do think some fans might be polarized about the "big reveal," but I'm sure fans might have cause for a celebration or two.

Will Blackest Night have a place among such classics as Long Halloween, Crisis on Infinite Earths, or Emerald Twilight? I do not possess fortune-telling abilities as of this write-up and cannot say, but as for a good read and a hot topic with your fellow comic readers, this one will sure deliver in that aspect.

George Marston:

It is no secret that Blackest Night, as an event, has left me cold in numerous respects. Truth be told, I have been contemplating getting away from DC Comics entirely for a little while once this and the New Krypton storylines wrapped up. Well, allow me to eat my words. Blackest Night #8 doesn't necessarily make up for the shortcomings of the event as a whole, nor is it perfect, but it is a great issue that provides a meaningful end to a story that was beginning to feel tedious.

Geoff Johns is a master storyteller, there's no question, but perhaps the biggest star of Blackest Night has been Ivan Reis, who has shown a willingness to stretch the traditional nine-panels of a comic page to their breaking point. Here, there are a few missteps; occasionally a face seems a little distorted, or things get a little crowded, but the majority of this issue is solid, if not fantastic. The double page spread of basically every lantern ever is to die for, and the gatefold spread at the story's climax is a great piece as well. Finally, it is to his credit, and my admiration, that Reis put out eight great issues of solid comic art in a row on time. Getting back to Johns himself, he manages to squeeze in little bits of solid, gripping characterization for almost everyone who has been wrapped up in the main throughline of the event. He proves why he is now Creative Director of the entire DC line: he gets these characters. At least he gets the broad strokes, and the big picture.

Some of the end-game plot points are quite surprising, while others are no-brainers. What matters is, every big change immediately flooded my head with ramifications, possibilities, and excitement. They all have one thing in common though; they signal the rebirth of the lighthearted fun stories that I still crave, and the end of the "blood 'n' guts" era of DC Comics. Maybe my enthusiasm for the DC line was given its own rebirth, or maybe Hal Jordan's impassioned speech on the value of life turned not only the tide of battle, but my own jaded attitude. Maybe the white light filled not only these pages but my shrunken, Grinch-like heart as well. Whatever it was, I am now truly looking forward to what's next, and I honestly hope that Hal Jordan's positivity in this issue is reflected throughout the DCU. Whatever happens, I honestly have some hope that it will indeed by the Brightest Day that we have been promised.