Featuring the commentary of Geoff Johns (writer), Ivan Reis (pencils), Oclair Albert (ink), Joe Prado (ink), Alex Sinclair (colors), Nick J. Napolitano (letters)
The Story: The book starts out with a page-by-page (and occasionally panel by panel) discussion by the creators of all eight issues of Blackest Night. A beautiful cover gallery (with some neat quotes from various Blackest Night issues) follows, and then the entire script of Blackest Night #1. It closes with some details about the creation of various Blackest Night action figures, and a very cool gallery of character sketches and profiles. Also included are some deleted scenes and unused art and covers.
What’s Good: For someone (like me) who not only loves to read comics, but is fascinated by the creative process and comic-production business as a whole, this is a gem. A very expensive gem to be sure ($5.99— good grief!), but one that I don’t regret picking up. The commentary from Johns, Reis and company is entertaining, if not particularly insightful (lots of patting each other on the back, as one might expect) and the art galleries and character profiles are extremely nice. So much happened in Blackest Night that the character sketch/profile section actually serves as a nice resource for keeping all those moving pieces straight going into Brightest Day.
Of course, the art from Blackest Night was universally stellar, and its quality doesn’t change here. It’s a real shame that the only artwork that gets a true spotlight are the covers. They DO reprint many, many of the comic panels on the creator discussion pages, but the pictures are thumbnail sizes and serve to illustrate the panels that the creators are discussion, not as a showcase. The cover art is still beautiful though, and seeing them all reprinted together and alongside each other is a real treat.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of “deleted scenes” in general, but the ones they provided here are quite fun. I don’t feel Blackest Night missed anything by excluding them, but it is interesting to see what might have been. I’d have preferred more commentary or art showcasing to deleted scenes myself, but if you’re a fan of this sort of thing I believe you will be pleased with what is included.
What’s Bad: In spite of the fact I’m happy I bought this, I’m sure there’s nothing here that won’t be included in the inevitable special/ultimate/super-shiny/extra awesome edition of the Blackest Night trade. I’m also sad that we got the script for only one issue (although printing them all would obviously have made this book ridiculously huge—I’m just a sucker for reading scripts. Johns is a fantastic writer, and reading his description of things, and then looking at the artists’ interpretations of what he wrote, is fascinating.)
The lack of a non-cover art gallery is disappointing, as is the overall quality of the creator commentary. I understand that these aren’t meant to be the deepest things in the world, but a little more insight into the creative and decision making process, and a little less group-hugging, would have improved things immensely. It’s especially frustrating when someone makes a statement like, “we had other candidates for the yellow ring deputy, but Scarecrow worked out just fine,” and then provides no elaboration! WHO were the other candidates? What made you choose Scarecrow over them? (Granted Scarecrow was a brilliant and fantastic choice, but as long as the creators are discussing it, I want insight into the process that went into arriving at that decision. That’s why I bought this Director’s Cut in the first place!)
Conclusion: If you liked Blackest Night and are interested in the way a project like this comes together, this book is a lot of fun. It’s not amazingly deep or hugely insightful, but it will provide a lot of entertainment, as well as give you a fresh look at one of the best comic events we’ve had in some time. Whether or not it’s worth the rather expensive cover price depends entirely on just how excited the idea of getting a peek behind the comic-creation curtain makes you.