When this book is up, it is up. There are tales in this issue that truly feel like deleted scene-type extra features, taken straight from the “Blackest Night” double-disc DVD Blu-Ray super combo pack. Those stories – the tale of Ragman, the Rainbow Raiders’ collective toast, the struggle of Donna Troy, the conflict of Karu-Sil – are poignant and substantive. Other stories fall flat or feel like filler to pump this issue up in page count.
Schlagman’s Animal Man story isn’t very impressive and puts Buddy in a spot where we’ve seen him before. Buddy’s seen the light. He’s going to control his own destiny. Yup. Been there, done that. I’m pretty sure I even have a t-shirt for that one. The Scarecrow story fills space and that’s about it there. Sure, it’s a peek into the transformation that Scarecrow underwent once the yellow ring found him, but without the other deputies’ tales here it seems out of place.
The framing sequence for this issue – written by Pete Tomasi and drawn by Patrick Gleason – appears to be the most vital offering from “Untold Tales of Blackest Night,” as there are definite, strong, mysterious ties between the goings-on there and the current subplot from “Green Lantern” featuring the emotional entity snatcher. Gleason’s dark, emotionally-charged art is tailor-made for this story of Lyssa Drak and her observations from “Blackest Night.”
The Ragman bit is a deleted scene given life. Those who read “Blackest Night Director’s Cut” #1 know of this scene, but to see the story come alive through Ivan Reis’ pencils defies description. We’re limited to a two-page vignette of Black Hand attacking Ragman through the latter’s suit of souls, but two pages is hardly enough. The remainder of this issue could have been filled with that struggle – drawn by Reis – and I would have bought a second copy. While I would never base the merit of a single oversized issue on two pages – 1/20 of the issue – these two pages make a very strong case in the other direction. Reis is a master of all he draws and Ragman is no exception. Joe Kubert would love to see this.
Van Sciver’s turn writing and drawing a tale of Karu-Sil is invigorating. Karu-Sil is obviously dear to Van Sciver, and this story gives us insight to what makes the character so compelling to Van Sciver
This isn’t must-read material by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a nice return to some elements of a story that thrilled fans over the past year. There are a few surprises, a few disappointments, and a few worthy additions to the canon of “Blackest Night.” I, personally, would encourage DC to consider revisiting this era every year about this time. This issue is definitely more treat than trick.