By: Greg Rucka (writer), Nicola Scott and Eduardo Pansica (pencillers), Jonathan Glapion & Eber Ferreira (inkers)
The Story: The contents of this issue take place entirely between the back splash page of Blackest Night #5 (Wonder Woman becomes a black lantern) and the back splash page of Blackest Night #6 (Wonder Woman becomes a star sapphire). It is a 22-page path of carnage as Black Lantern Wonder Woman treats Mera, Donna, Cassie and her mother to an Amazon zombie battle axe fiesta.
What’s Good: I enjoyed Rucka’s triple narrative following Diana through her torment. Her own thoughts (“Stop this.”), warred with the black lantern’s words (“Everyone you loved is dead.”), while the sleazy ring keeps up creepy subtext (“Flesh. Rage.”). It was fun technique to read, even if it took a bit more effort. Rucka also did a good job of making Mera a kickass character (something Geoff Johns and James Robinson are also doing in other issues). She took a beating and delivered one too. Scott and Pansica delivered some fine work on the art side, with lots of expressive faces and moody shots.
What’s Not So Good: By placing everything between the panels of an issue that came out last week, they made this issue really easy to skip. If you bought Blackest Night #6, what are you going to miss? This book becomes an unimportant detail before you even start reading the story. Worse yet, the first rule of fantastic fiction (superhero, sci-fi, fantasy, horror) is that you must not find out at the end that it was a dream/vision/virtual reality. There was a time writers could do this. That time was called the 19th century. Now, this particular plot device is called cheating. These two factors alone would make me recommend that you not to buy this issue.
But there are more, minor writing flaws. Firstly, Diana’s struggles against the black lantern ring throughout the issue came across as passive with running monologue like: “No, Gods, please stop me.” “That’s it Mera, you can do it,” etc. It’s obvious what Rucka was trying to do, but displaying an inner struggle is never easy and in this case, in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, it didn’t work. Secondly, unlike Blackest Night: Superman or Blackest Night: Titans, where all three issues were parts of an arc, the first and second issues of Blackest Night: Wonder Woman are pretty self-contained. Nothing in issue #1 drove me to buy issue #2 and vice versa. Given three issues, it seems to me that Rucka could have built a more cohesive arc. It may be that, like Blackest Night: Superman, there wasn’t enough story to fill all three issues, so Rucka, Schlagman and Berganza are grasping for filler. This is a real letdown, considering Rucka got two out of three nods as our pick for 2009’s best writer. Rucka is capable of much more than this.
I’ve mentioned stiffness to Scott’s action sequences before. This issue suffers from some action that lacks a bit of dynamism, or verisimilitude. By this I’m not knocking the realism of Scott and Pansica’s draftsmanship. I mean that some of the action doesn’t seem to fit with gravity and momentum. Check out the angles of the axe throw and the stiffness of her mother in the two panels on the bottom of page twenty-four. This is a bit of a drawback in a comic with this much action.
Conclusion: Skip this issue. Read Blackest Night #6. Everything you need is there. If you want great Rucka, read Detective Comics #861 in a couple of weeks, where he’s doing brilliant work.