Loving Blackest Night… Skipping Brightest Day?

Whew!

So… that happened, huh?

Although it seemed at times like it might never come to pass, and that we and the storyline might grow old together like Grammie and Pop-Pop in Miami, Blackest Night has ended. There was teasing, and there was buildup, and there was frustration and mounting excitement and fumbling in the darkness and then finally a centerfold and a blast of white and it was all over. It didn’t remind me of anything I had experienced before.

I can only barely imagine what it must be like to be a reader who started on the ground floor with this story, somebody who picked up Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 and is just now finally seeing everything pay off. You people must feel like the East Germans when the Berlin Wall came down, but with less Hasselhoff enthusiasm. I can still remember the first time I heard The Sinestro Corps War described as “the second act of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern story”; I was washing my Hypercolor shirt while watching Vanilla Ice on The Arsenio Hall Show. It’s been a long time coming, is what I'm saying.

I’m exhausted, and I just got here, relatively speaking. After years of all my friends doing it and saying, “Come on. Try it; it’ll make you cool,” I started experimenting with Green Lantern back in November. I have been binge-reading a couple of times a month ever since, shotgunning trades in an attempt to be ready for this past week. Now that everything has ended and the sun has risen, I can see why everyone is into it, but as Blackest Night wore on I found it a lot harder to maintain my Green Lantern buzz than the other users I know.

All that’s left now is the big, looming question: was it habit forming?

I have to be honest with you: for all our talk this week on the podcast about how well the big finale set up several new and intriguing stories to flow out of it, I find myself downright tepid about the prospect of picking up Brightest Day. In fact, the one thing my two favorite books of the week had in common last week was that I turned to their final pages and groaned aloud at the unwelcome sight of a checklist. Unlike with X-Men: Second Coming, at least I realized from the outset that Brightest Day was a crossover rather than simply a miniseries. Still… my eyes hit that checklist, and my initial split-second reaction was, “Ugh. Thank you—sincerely, thank you—but no.”

It’s not that I reached some kind of crossover saturation point. All I read during Blackest Night was the main book and Green Lantern, along with a couple of minor forays into the Batman and Starman tie-ins. Throughout earlier parts of the story, like the aforementioned Sinestro business, I dabbled in Green Lantern Corps before deciding I could lose it without missing anything. Now that the black rings have settled, I don’t feel like I was wrong about that; reading the main book seemed to give me all the information I needed to enjoy the story. (Besides the five years worth of books I had to read preceding it, I mean. More on that shortly.) In fact, there were points when I felt like I could read Blackest Night without even bothering with Green Lantern anymore. What did that last issue add, other than the revelation that the DC Universe is a godless place where all Life was created by giant Pokemon?

(What is the plural of that? “Pokemen”? It’s not important.)

So if it’s not crossoverload, why does the prospect of Brightest Day fail to kickstart my heart? The fact that it comes out every two weeks for the next year of my life certainly isn’t doing it any favors; binge-reading the last four years of stories, give or take, has given me a newfound appreciation for brevity. Past a certain point, my mind starts to record the whole thing as an indistinct miasma of weightless guys shooting beams at other weightless guys.

I was also more than a little discouraged by the fact that I still couldn’t tell you who half the guys in question were, and even when I did know I didn’t feel like I’d been given a strong reason to care. I’ve always been a big proponent of answering the questions, “Where do I start with [Comic Book X]?” and “What do I need to know before reading [Comic Book Y]?” with some variation of, “Just dive in. You’ll pick it up as you go, just like you did when you were nine, except now there’s Wikipedia, so, bonus.” I have never been lost, necessarily, while following the Geoff Johns oeuvre; I always felt like I had all the information I needed to follow the tale at hand. At the same time,  I’ve been dipping one toe after another into the DCU going all the way back to Identity Crisis in issues, and I’ve been reading Green Lantern and his Corps to one degree or another since before the Sinestro Corps War, and as things were wrapping up last week I still found myself saying, "Who is this now? Am I supposed to know what that’s all about, with the hawk-people? In all the years I’ve been trying these books, has Aquaman ever been in one of them? When did he die, anyway?" I’ve given it the old college try, but even after reading comics for roughly eighteen years of my life, I’m starting to think the DCU may actually just be emotionally insurmountable to me. I keep waiting to feel something more that I keep failing to feel. It's not like I don't want to, either.

Meanwhile, I have heard someone say, "We will definitely be revisiting the matter of the Scarlett Witch and wrapping it up with a tidy, crisp bow," and literally five years have then gone by without anything being mentioned, and I just sit in Father Time's waiting room vacantly, contentedly humming "The Girl From Ipanema." My only consolation when the intricacies of the DCU are perplexing me is the thought that somewhere, on the other side of the world, someone who grew up reading Justice League comics is going, “Aaagh! I’ve been reading since Avengers: Disassembled, and I still have no clue what the deal is with the red-faced cyborg. Am I supposed to know who the guy is with the shades and the red leisure suit? You know what?: screw this.”

More than all of this, I’m afraid the creative and marketing teams did such a good job convincing me that this book was the culminating third act of all Green Lantern comics, and it succeeded so well in living up to its buildup, that now the whole thing just seems Done. I’m sure other stuff happened to the characters after Return of the Jedi, but I don’t feel any strong compulsion to find out what it was. After you’ve blown up two Death Stars and saved the galaxy from tyranny, Reconstruction in the Outer Rim feels like an inevitable letdown.

Still, never let it be said that I did not give a universe a chance. Johns and Company have earned my trust and my dollar; I will stick with Green Lantern for now. I will be checking out at least the first issue of the new series, if not the reviews, despite my hesitation and lack of burning passion. They have won me over before; I am sure they could do it again with Brightest Day #1.

…except …they’re starting it with #0?

Ugh.

I’ll try it anyway.

 


Jim Mroczkowski saw The Matrix four times trying to figure out why everyone liked it so much, to no avail. Now, Twitter grew on him.
 

Comments

  1. Go forth, brave sir.  I shall not be joining the ‘Brightest Day’ unless there is universal acclaim.

    DC burned me on their last two series that were distributed more often than monthly.

  2. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    As much as I enjoyed Blackest Night, I’m much more excited for Brightest Day. Glad you’re at least considering giving it a shot. Even if you don’t stick with the main book, there still ought to be a handful of one-shots or minis that would be worth looking at. With all the returning characters who’ve been out of play for so many years, I have to imagine the books will offer enough background info to appeal to new readers and those not fully familiar with the DCU. 

  3. Second Coming isn’t that much different from Brightest Day.

    It’s the cumulation of House of M and those 2 Messiah Stories with crossovers to the cable comic etc.

  4. From August till now I caught up from Rebirth, all the way through Blackest Night and I enjoyed it a ton. All the little things that popped up along the way really made this a great read for those who followed the entire thing. Hopefully Brightest Day continues that.

  5. @MisterJ

    You didn’t like Wednesday comics?

  6. I’m doing the Brightest Day thing, but only the main book (And GL/GLC/FLASH which have the banner). Pretty much unless it’s being written by Johns, I’m going to wait to hear reviews.

  7. @Jurassicalien – Ditto

    Brightest Day will be my first "after epic story" book that i’m going to pick up. 

    But just the prime GL titles (GL and Corps)

  8. I’m just glad to know that I’m not the only one who contentedly hums The Girl from Ipanema.

    What a relief.

  9. Although I have yet to read the finale to Blackest Night, I am stoked for Brightest Day.

    Listening to the podcast from yesterday, the characters and ideas that are going to be floating around soon damn interesting. Plus it has Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi as the writers. So you know that at worse, it will be readable.

  10. Any chance you’ll give Flash #1 a try?

  11. the money it would cost to pick this up compared with the trades made it an easy choice for me to skip at least for now.

  12. Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    I’m actually the opposite of you here, Jim. I’ve read most of Johns’ GREEN LANTERN run thanks to trades found at my local library, and while I liked them, they didn’t do tons for me. And perhaps I read the Sinestro Corps War too quickly, as I found it very Big and Grand but also felt it had too much going on to read in a single sitting. So, I sat BLACKEST NIGHT out, except for the occasional miniseries and when it popped up in DOOM PATROL.

    But I’m very excited for BRIGHTEST DAY. It seems like a fresh jumping on point for me. True, I’m an old DC reader from a ways back, so I suppose I have more of a connection with most of these characters than you, Jim. I’m looking forward to this fresh start (?) with some old favorites. Here’s hoping they do a good job of letting readers like you into the front door while keeping readers like me sticking around.

  13. Great article. I feel much the same.

    I was down on the last issue of BN (didn’t hate it, though), but I liked the series overall.

    Yet the prospect of jumping right into the next hyped "banner" softcore event is something I have zero interest in. You may as well be asking me whether I want to read the telephone book or something. 

    And the checklist in the back of BN 8 didn’t help any. The Flash book is part of Brightest Day, in some sense? Okay, then I’m definitely not picking it up (was already leaning against it, but this makes the decision really easy for me).

    The thing is, I’m sure I woul enjoy most of the Brightest Day stuff, but I’m sick to death of being marketed to, of feeling the pressure to buy into hype and reciprocate it when reading the eventual comics behind the "banner". If Brightest Day is great stuff, then I’ll check it out later. In trade or something. I will not be actively caring about it on a weekly basis. I will not be following every little story development. I will not be tracking the overall sense of how people feel about it, whether certain books are living up to expectations, etc. It isn’t worth it. It takes too much time and the comics–good as they often are–aren’t worth observing this closely or this constantly.

  14. "A centerfold and a blast of white and it was all over." I can imagine.

    I’m undecided on Brightest Day.  It sounds interesting, but 26 issues is a lot of money.  Perhaps if it were available digitally at $2 an issue I would be more interested…

    I find it interesting that you mention that the story implies that the DCU is "godless".  I’ve seen that mentioned by other users on the site (and on twitter) and I’m not sure I see it.  Yes, the book implies that the great white "Pokeman" created life (unless I’m misunderstanding the book), but I don’t recall it revealing what created the great white "Pokeman".  There’s still room for a god (or gods) to play the creator/planner role.  I’d love to see a DC series that actually investigates the role of god(s) in the DCU, but the topic is probably a little too controversial. 

  15. Like Jimski, I’ve been butting my head against the DCU for a *lonnnng* time, and running into the fact that I don’t care about 90 percent of what’s going on (and with the announcement of Greg Rucka leaving, that goes up to like 98 percent).  I’ve found threads and characters that I care about but they tend to fade away.  (Like, if there’s gonna be a ‘Brightest day’ book about Guy Gardner and Wonder Woman trying to hunt down Maxwell Lord, you guys should let me know, but otherwise. . .) It’s not the comics, or the characters it’s the disconnect between what I’m interested in about these characters and what stories the people who write and publish the comics want to tell.  It’s all good — they get to sell a bazillion comics that I’m not reading, and I get to save my money. 

    This is subtly different from Marvel where it’s absolutely bloody obvious to me that somebody knows how the Scarlet Witch story is going to end and they’re JUST NOT TELLING ME.  (In actual logic-world, I know there is no difference at all; it’s just a home turf thing, I think.)

  16. I thought about jumping in with all the Brightest Day titles but instead I think I am only going to get BD + GL, GLC and Flash. If these crossover with one of the other new titles that are launching then I may get that title just for those specific issues.

    We’ll see how it goes.

  17. I’m excited for Brightest Day and will be onboard for most of the tie-ins.

    But I am drawing the line at "Cloudless Night" or "Sunny Day with a chance of rain". No way! I am saving my money and buying a dime bag. 

  18. @muddi900-Whoops, forgot about Wednesday Comics, I was referring to Countdown and Trinity.  But I did not go for Wednesday Comics, either.  It just felt analogous to paying for a brochure….

  19. Personally, I was excited for Blackest Night until i saw the checklist. Now, not so much.

  20. I’m thinking I’ll pick this up, but not sure how involved. No one that returned is a real "pet" character of mine, though.  I’m sure there will be tie-ins that I pick up, but I’m not sure I’m going the distance with this one.

    @AmirCat – Hey, man…great meeting you on the Tiki Tour!  Share that dime bag with me.  ok? 

  21. @misteckent (aka Andrew) – It was awesome meeting you man. Fo sho on the dime bag – done & done!

  22. Ignore the checklist, just as with Blackest Night, you only have to read the things Geoff Johns writes, Green lantern, Flash en the main Brightest day series. The rest is just filler

  23. I’m more excited about Marvel’s "Heroic Age" than Brightest Day, though I will still check out Brightest Day, just to see if Ralph and Sue will show up and the plans for Maxwell Lord.

  24. @Cedric: Yeah, you’re right. Still was off-putting a little bit.

  25. Brightest Day isn’t a crossover like Second Coming. All those books on the checklist just deal with the chracters that were resurrected. Here’s the breakdown courtesy of Geoff Johns: http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/2010/04/01/blackest-night-is-overwhat-is-brightest-day/

    Hell I’m getting them all except for Titans, but looks to me like you can read Brightest Day on its own.

  26. "But while the truth behind their return and their ultimate destination lies within the BRIGHTEST DAY series itself and GREEN LANTERN, there are other books where you can follow these recently returned heroes to find out what life has in store for them and what they have in store for life." -Geoff Johns

  27. I see Brightest, as more of a DC Universe thing along the lines of a Infinite Crisis, 52, or something like that.

    Blackest Night, while being VERY DCU-centric, was the culmination of the events of Green Lantern up to that point. 

    I can see a GL fan just reading the GL family of books from here on in. I don’t think that the GLU will be the whole point of Brightest.

  28. People shoot rainbows out of their superpower rings until they defeat the bad guys, and the world was created by Pokemon = That is why I don’t read DC.  The occasional paperback.

    Nice article Jimski.  Throwing in the "Scarlet Witch" so no one would notice this is a "Marvel Wins" article.  I’m with you brother!  The truth is we Marvelites could throw a Scarlet Witch into the discussion and know it doesn’t affect our Marvel love at all because…no on gives a crap about the Scarlet Witch!  🙂

  29. Is Brightest Day the place i can get more Aquaman and Mera?  Because if so…I’ll probably pick it up.  Though i’m thinking i’m doing all my buying through DCBS.  My LCS is not great.

  30. I’m in for Brightest day.  DC has been hitting it outta the park in my eyes for the last year or so.  No reason to jump off the train now! 

    the Tiki  

  31. I can completely relate to this column. While I’ll still be reading Green Lantern post-Blackest Night, I decided this weekend to pass on Brightest Day and have to admit it’s somewhat of a relief. I’ll definitely check it out in trade, but with additions to the family on the way, less space in which to store single issues, and the financial burden of the bi-weekly format, I just don’t think I can hack it.

  32. "and then finally a centerfold and a blast of white and it was all over."

     I feel dirty.

  33. The fact Johns is writing Brightest Day is enough for me to get on board. He’s a master at making these B-level characters shine (Booster Gold has an on-going because of this), and this roster of characters looks interesting to me.

  34. I love how some of the nerds in this thread are talking down to some of the other nerds.

  35. I have loved Blackest Night (I’m was a Marvel Zombie until last summer), BN has been my favourite event in my ten year comic history. I will stick with GL, and will be picking up Flash #1, but I couldn’t care less about brightest day.

    It looks like it’s going to be about characters who at the moment couldn’t sell their own book so teamed them up in something that sounds Green Lantern-y. Will Hal or the Corp actually appear in these books? Now of the revived characters appeal to me, other than the ones who are relevant to GL or the Flash so I think I will back and board my 9 issues of Blackest Night and leave it there. I had great fun with this almost monthly mini series, not going to ruin it with a twice monthly ongoing.

  36. I read Blackest Night in my comic book store (not buying it). It was exciting but I can’t say I really enjoyed it too much. Only Green Lantern I read was Rebirth. However I’m in for Brightest Day. Why? Because:

    A) Talent level. I like both Tomasi and Johns. Ivan Reis will be on art with others. Exciting.

    B) I like having a biweekly book. I had a lot of fun with Batman and Robin these past couple of months because of that biweekly spurt.

    C) I want another 52 style success. 

  37. Money and increasing responsibilities that come with age dictate "pass," despite wishes to carry on.

  38. Nice article Jim.  I’m definitely in for Brightest Day, but there’s always a chance it could suck.  Of course, that chance is the size of a quark, but there’s still a chance.

  39. @JumpingJupiter – You’ve just described about every message thread on this website.

  40. You can count me in the camp of people who are stoked for Brightes Day. I am just happy to see certain characters back. Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and Hawkgirl and I looooove Deadman. Very curious about this new take on him.

    Oh and Jim don’t act like you don’t know who Wonder Man is. Shades and Leisure coat. Can someone name me a better superhero costume other than that?

  41. Your not excited because your Dead Inside Jim…LOL..I am soooooo excited about Brightest Day.

  42.  
    For every jumping on point, there is an equal jumping off point.  Glad you got the story you wanted.  Good luck with your decision on how to go forward.
     
    I only have the funds and time to follow the Marvel U,  more or less.  But am working forward to the Heroic Age.
     
     
  43. Those final pages of Blackest Night #8 are what sold me on Brightest Day.  I really expected Sue and Ralph’s return.  To NOT have that choice made is something I want to read about. 

  44. I think the Geoffcon should formally be changed to the "Geoff Johns Hello"

    As in, hello, you’re now an addict to anything I write. Resistance is futile.

  45. Jimski, you have totally nailed how I feel about Blackest Night and I totally agree with ya.

    I’m actually considering dropping GL and GLC altogether, but that’s largely for cash reasons.

     

  46. The plural (and singular) of Pokemon is Pokemon.  Japanese doesn’t have singular and plural.  😛

  47. I’m really quite fascinated by brightest day. i don’t really know the complete concept behind it but i’m assuming that it will be a lot to do with the guys that were resurrected, right? so the mystery of why only them is a great hook, but i am hoping that there will be a lot of "reunions" or so between not only the heroes but maybe the villains as well. like just because hank hall is back, does he still remember being extant and will there be repercusssions. likewise tim drake and captain boomerang and then throw boomer junior into the mix. max lord causing shit to go bad again.

    and i could have the feeling wrong about but i keep hearing that it might be like 52 with different stories going on simultaneously. so each fortnight we get to delve somewhere different.

    but gl and glc have been my favourite comics for a few years now and i think i’m even loving glc a lot more. i didn’t know who aresia, soranik natu, kilowog, sodam yat, evn mogo were but they’ve left a very big impression on me.

  48. I personally have never been interested in DC, but that’s radically changed thanks to Johns.  After a year or so of delving into the DCU, I can honestly say I’m way more excited about anything at DC than I am with stuff at Marvel (and I’ve always been more a Marvel zombie than anything else).  Learning about these characters for the first time is incredibly fun.

  49. We all know how this works – another comics event, more tie-ins to the event that we will not all be picking up.  Brightest Day, GL, and GLC are enough for me to capture the core of the storyline.  And I guess if there’s a tie-in that really wows critics, I’ll pick that up later.  All in all, we know the drill and we know we’re not going to shell out $50 a month just to keep up with one big storyline and all its tie-ins.

  50. As a Green Lantern fan I’ll continue to buy the GL books and the Brightest Day book.  I probably won’t by any of the tie-ins with the Brightest Day banner just to follow the story. I am excited to see what happens with Aquaman now that he is back.

  51. I also get a touch nauseous when I see the dreaded "CHECKLIST" at the back of a book.  Folks have recently been debating whether a 4 issue event is better than an 8 issue event.

    The event book itself is not usually the problem.  I can handle an 8  issue "event" but 64 issues of cross-overs and tie-ins seem a bit absurd.  It becomes a chore to determine which ones to pull or pass on.

    I know the crossover books are optional in theory (blah blah blah).  However, if I’m willing to commit to an event book, I don’t like to think I’m missing any pertinent, imporant information covered in the tie-ins.

    The checklist feels a bit like getting the bill for an expensive restaurant before you’ve even eaten (or even ordered) the food.