By: James Robinson (writer), Eddy Barrows & Marcos Marz (art), Julio Ferreira, Luciana Del Negro & Ruy Jose (inks), Rod Reis (colors)

The Story: The original (and dead) Sandman, Dr. Midnight and Mr. Terrific get their memories uploaded into Black Lanterns. In the meantime, the JSA are fighting a tide of black lanterns in New York. The struggle is not only physical, but emotional. At S.T.A.R. labs, today’s Mr. Terrific is trying to figure out what makes the black lanterns tick by studying the now-inactive Kal-L and Psycho-Pirate black lanterns from the Blackest Night: Superman mini. Mr. Terrific summons a few of his light-producing teammates, but it looks like the black lanterns aren’t going to give Terrific the time he needs to figure it out.

What’s Good: Two things hit me right away when I opened this book. First, the art by Barrows and Marz, and second Robinson’s writing. It’s not normal that I would be stopped at the door like that, but both elements were really impressive.
After some of Robinson’s misses (check out WCBR’s reviews on JLA #40 and JLA: Cry for Justice #5), I was expecting less, but right away, he dove into four parallel story threads on the first page. Robinson controls the mood well in all three threads, by saying less, rather than more. The confusion the dead heroes would feel at being uploaded is clear, but he rightly leaves the subtle storytelling for his art team. The fourth thread runs along the bottom of each page, with different JSA members, but from the perspectives of the black lanterns they are fighting. Once we get to the big donnybrook, Robinson switches to Jesse Quick’s voice, which feels different – she’s at the edge of panic and there’s no mistaking it, even if there were no pictures. In my books, Robinson is out of the dog house.

I’ve seen Barrows’ art in Blackest Night Superman and Green Lantern, but I’ve never seen him with the level of subtlety he brought to this issue. The difference could be that he’s got Marz with him, or it could also be the influence of Del Negro. Barrows and Marz have a great command of the basic communication of storytelling, whether we’re looking at flashbacks, or monster splash-page fights. But where this art team really impressed me was on the close-ups. Check out the texture of the fist on the bottom of page 1 and of Sandman black lantern’s skin on the splash page. Or see the tendrils of reforming zombie on page 10. But the best piece of detail work is on Wildcat’s face when he apologizes to Power Girl. Barrows and Marz perfectly nailed the expression of pure regret. Reis delivers his typical quality work on colors, especially with the emotional spectrum of the black lanterns.

What’s Not So Good: There are a few technical issues in this book. On the writing of the parallel uploads in the first few pages, the voice and subject matter in each of the three characters were pretty similar. Robinson didn’t exploit the opportunity to try to inject more character and individuality into these voices, which left them feeling a bit uninspired. On the art, the dynamism in the flashbacks was a bit stiff, while in the present it was very expressive and definitely in the Kirby style. The difference is really easy to see on page three. Look at the exaggerated dynamism of the bottom panel, compared to the kind of dull shot of Mr. Terrific. Lost opportunities that don’t take away from a very solid book…

Conclusion: Buy it. At $2.99 it’s a deal for your DC zombie apocalypse.

Grade: B+

-DS Arsenault

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