by Geoff Johns (writer), Ivan Reis (pencils), Oclair Albert & Joe Prado (inks), Alex Sinclair (colors), and Nick J. Napolitano (letters)

The Story: The nature of the white light of creation stands revealed.

What’s Good: How high can a single cliffhanger ending raise the overall experience of an entire issue?  That’s often a question I wonder when I write my reviews, but in the case of a comic like Blackest Night #7, the answer is “very, very high.”

The last few pages are guaranteed to make your jaw hit the floor.  This is, barring any sudden reversals, the biggest single development that I’ve read in a comic since Captain America got himself shot.  What makes the surprise most effective is that it is very close to the conclusion most readers saw coming since the start of Blackest Night.  In fact, leading up to the book’s final page, Johns seems to gesture towards this expected conclusion and then, seemingly out of nowhere, he hits a hard left and essentially sucker-punches the audience who were sure they had it all figured out.  Johns shows himself to be a master of playing with our emotions, and the whole episode is executed in an epic fashion that gave me chills.

While the ending of this issue is what defines it, that’s not to say that the rest of the comic isn’t solid as well.  Some of the newly deputized lanterns are a lot of fun.  Scarecrow in particular is just awesome, his insanity bubbling over into a sort of glee that is so contrary to his surroundings that you can’t help but enjoy his raving.  Lex Luthor, meanwhile, boils over in explosive fashion as the orange ring ends up removing his restraint and fully unleashing his worst characteristics.

Between Scarecrow and Lex, there’s a whole lot of chaos and seeing Scarecrow fight Luthor and Black Hand for attention in a comic brimming with massive characters and developments is a laugh, as in a fit of self-awareness, he screams “this is my moment.”  It’s a clever little moment, as  Johns makes literal the battle for the spotlight that often plagues comics like Blackest Night.

As far as the artwork goes, Ivan Reis continues to stake his claim to being the best artist in DC’s stable.  The sheer number of characters he’s able to cram into the page without sacrificing detail is ridiculous. Everything continually gives off the feeling of being barely contained.  There are a couple splash pages that will definitely catch breath and give pause and Reis’ work with the White Light in particular is alien, creative, and creepy while still awe-inspiring.

What’s Not So Good: As good as Reis is, at some points, at times it feels like he’s fighting a battle he can’t win.  There’s simply too much and too many.  Characters stuff themselves into panels, all in their separate battles, and it ends up being a giant mess of combat that is all just a bit too  much to easily ingest.  This occasionally makes the flow from one page to the next a little less fluid.

Furthermore, if anything, this issue was so good that I wish it was longer.  There’s just too many characters and too much going on for it to all be fully comprehensive and cohesive in 22 pages.  Black Hand, for instance, is sold a little short, nor is there enough Nekron.  It’s often in danger of feeling like “combat all over the place,” with no single battle feeling as conclusive or as significant as it should.

Conclusion: An absolutely amazing issue that will definitely be remembered for a long time to come.

Grade: A-

-Alex Evans