Greg Horn delivers a stunning tribute to Neal Adams (and the entire Denny O’Neil/Neil Adams era) on this issue’s primary cover, while Mike Grell returns to Green Arrow with a variant depicting the character Grell helped resuscitate back in the 1980s. While the covers are iconic, they don’t delve much into the story that lies within.
J.T. Krul sure has had some plum assignments regarding “Blackest Night.” His “Blackest Night: Titans” story was where Dove’s powers against the Black Lanterns were revealed. Here, Krul is given the chance to give us a peek inside the inner workings of a possessed Black Lantern. The story goes that Nekron allowed a certain number of heroes to return to life to seed his attempts at domination. Oliver Queen was one of those heroes. This issue focuses on the rest of Ollie’s “family” as Ollie goes on a Black Lantern powered rampage.
This issue was sparse on backgrounds, playing up the contrast between Ollie and “undead Ollie,” and giving Diogenes Neves a chance to shine in his drawing of the heroes at work. The panels that did have backgrounds had lavishly illustrated backgrounds, but for the most part, there is an ethereal, slightly supernatural creepiness to the lack of backgrounds. The caption boxes tell us Ollie is a prisoner inside his own body, and the lack of background helps bring that into focus. The contrast between Ollie’s “internal” thoughts and the “real” world is accentuated by Chuck Pires’ painterly colors. Pires doesn’t deliver traditional comic book coloring to this issue, and in this case, that works quite well, adding to the uneasiness that is required in these “Blackest Night” stories of the dead and the possessed.
The backgrounds are traded out for environmental composition: a heavy downpour and black ooze frames of flashbacks and half-truths. The downpour is the backstop for one of the most dynamic images in this book which, unfortunately, becomes little more than a pinup. The black ooze of the Black Lanterns here reminds me of Venom, and I found myself expecting to see the character when I next turned the page. Rest assured, there is no Venom in this issue, save the spite spewed from Ollie’s mouth as the Black Lantern possession forces him to destroy those he cherishes most. Ollie Queen may be a bastard, but he knows it, and here he’s trying to shine through as the hero he has always striven to be.
The tandem of inkers worked well with Neves’ clean style, but Cifuentes’ work was more scratchy and sketchy than Jose’s. This certainly didn’t impede the story, as the action was stepped up considerably in the second half of the book. The sketchiness added a sense of urgency to the events there.
Krul will be spending much more time with the Green Arrow corner of the DC Universe in the coming months as he writes the “Rise and Fall” storyline that will alter the lives of Green Arrow and his allies. I just hope Krul brings the same passion to those stories that he has to “Blackest Night.”