By James Robinson (writer), Eddy Barrows (artist), Ruy Jose with Julio Ferreira (inkers), Rod Reis (colorist)
The Story: Black Lantern Kal-L (the original Superman from Earth-2) is looking to paint Smallville black, and he brought some post-living help in the form of Psycho-Pirate and the original Lois Lane. Standing for truth, justice and a speedy end to DC’s zombie apocalypse are Kal-El (our Superman), Superboy and Ma Kent.
What’s Good: I can’t say enough good things about the art. Every face is expressive, every hero expertly muscled and every Black Lantern is scary as sadistic zombie superheroes can be. The color work by Reis was also brilliantly done, especially in all those unlined glowing effects, as well as the color cuts across people showing their emotions. If you want a really nice piece of art, color and all, check out the shards of ice on page ten. I also loved watching the Black Lanterns almost drool over the emotions they were producing. The art team produced an effect that was really creepy. Rage, avarice, fear, hope, will, compassion, love: each with their own color and mood, all being sucked up by the foot soldiers of the zombie apocalypse.
What’s Not So Good: A lot of this issue felt really flat in the writing department. Blackest Night: Superman #1 built up a great head of steam and set all the pieces in play, but this second issue didn’t move them very far. The balance between Kal-L, Kal-El, and Conner has shifted a bit, but really, the fist fight they were in the last issue is dragging on.
The minor Norman Rockwell dialogue flaws I pointed out last issue also reappear in this one, stronger than before and at times, incoherent. The over-smiley barber in Smallville in the morning is told “Thanks for staying open,” which in the morning makes no sense at all (leave me a comment if you think I missed something). Through some problem in the lines around the dialogue bubbles, some kid called Simon says his own lines and his mother’s. And unfortunately, the small panel with the Army vet had me reaching for my insulin. The shame is, none of that first set up page was necessary. Robinson could have thrown us into some substantive action. Given how I think the plot didn’t advance very far, and how disconnected the subplot feels with Supergirl, I’m wondering if there just wasn’t enough story material to fill the three issues of this series.
Another problem was that the dialogue was doing extra duty as exposition, like when Psycho-Pirate says “…me, Roger Hayden, the Psycho-Pirate! I steal people’s emotions.” Some villains are talky, but that’s a bit over the top. It’s an example of why text boxes should probably make a comeback. And even dialogue that wasn’t being saddled with exposition felt a little uninspired, like Conner’s “No way, you sick weirdo! Give me back my town!” Too bad.
Conclusion: The Blackest Night storyline has a lot of potential, so it’s unfortunate that this story was so average. It was drawn by an extraordinary art team, though.