Monday, October 26, 2009

Review: Blackest Night Superman #3



Blackest Night:Superman #3 ended the mini-series and provided some interesting fodder for the upcoming finale of the main event. In some ways, it answered some questions that I think we all have been thinking about. It also supplied some info about Black Lanterns that I found pretty interesting.

In other ways it may have irked Supergirl fans. But more on that later.

Perhaps the thing that has worked the best in this mini-series was Eddy Barrows ghoulish art. As I have said before, when Barrows is on his game, his stuff is fantastic. So it bothered me that we had some fill-in pages by Allan Goldman. Not that Goldman's art is awful. It is perfectly fine. But their is a clear difference in style and it took away from the experience.



The book opens up right where last issue ended.

The second page is this 2 page near splash of Supergirl going toe to toe with Black Lantern Zor-El. As I said with last issue, I love Barrows' interpretation of Supergirl's uniform with the enormous S-shield on a near full shirt.

And as I said last time, it is great to see Kara overcoming her fears and actually fighting here. It would have been very simple for Robinson to write Kara as being emotionally devastated by Black Lantern Zor-El's lies, to crumple on the floor crying and helpless. I am positive other writers would have done that. So to see her first be 100% will and then a mix of rage and will as she fights was refreshing.



And Superman continues to battle the Psycho Pirate-controlled Conner above Smallville.

Another thing I have liked in this mini-series (in all the Blackest Night books really) have been the emotional spectrum gauge we see with the characters. How interesting to see all 7 colors of the ring spectrum shown in this panel. Superboy is being forced into avarice and rage. Superman showing the rest as he copes with both Conner and the carnage around him.

While Psycho Pirate can induce rage and avarice in Conner, he doesn't force the 'flavor' of those feelings. I think the lines we read Superboy saying are really buried deep within him. I think we are seeing his own personal demons finally bubble to the surface.



And Ma Kent is trying to fend off Black Lantern Lois in the corn fields behind the Kent farm.

In one of the more ghastly spreads, we see Krypto rip the ringed hand off the zombie and play keep away with it as it tries to reattach to Lois. It is this sort of horrific art which really adds to the feel of this book. It should be frightening on all levels ... not just psychological but visceral.

Krypto finally blasts the Lois lantern with his heat vision, dropping her into a nearby gorge. With Ma momentarily safe, Krypto is able to join the main battle over Smallville.


Now one of the questions I know I have been asking myself is 'how does Blackest Night and New Krypton work together?' In other words, what effect do 100,000 Kryptonians have on the current War of Rings. Will they join in the war? Shouldn't they? You can't ignore their presence in the universe.

So Robinson comes up with an answer on why the citizens of New Krypton will be left off the playing field of Blackest Night. The scientists on New Krypton have scanned the zombie Zor-El and have been able to put together some shielding technology that will repel the Black Lantern energy from the planet. Unfortunately, it also means that whoever is on New Krypton will be forced to stay on the planet. The shield works both ways ... keeping Black Lanterns from coming in and keeping Kryptonians from leaving. If activated, Superman will be unable to return to his new home.

Alura makes the tough but right decision. She tells the scientists to activate the shield after she helps Kara defeat Zor-El.

In some ways it is a convenient way to explain the lack of the Kryptonian military in Blackest Night as well as explain why Superman (who promised to stay in new Krypton) is back on Earth. In other ways it is a bit deus ex machina that the scientists could put this together so quickly. It read a little like Silver Age issues where the scientists in Kandor could do almost anything.


While the shields in space, the battle rages on in Smallville. Kal-L joins the enraged Conner in combat and seems seconds away from ripping the heart from Superman.

Amazingly, Conner is able to shake off the Psycho Pirate madness. Suddenly feeling hope, love, fear, and rage Superboy defends Kal-El by using his tactile telekinesis directly on Kal-L.

Again, Barrows does a chilling job here showing bits of flesh flying off the undead Superman.

Nice to see Conner show some emotional fortitude here.



And above New Krypton, Alura arrives just in time to save Supergirl from having her heart ripped out.

I actually thought there was a lot to like in this scene but only if you have been following Supergirl as a title.

For one, Alura has constantly badgered Kara and at times has seemed to dislike her daughter. So to see her rush off to defend Supergirl was nice.

But more importantly, Alura has basically said all the things the Zor-El zombie has said ... calling Kara a disappointment and failure. I wonder if Alura notes the irony there.



Alura grabs Supergirl and flies back towards New Krypton just as the shields are activated, severing Zor-El's hand off in the process. Zor-El is now trapped outside.

But more importantly, Supergirl is now trapped inside. Does that mean the Kara play no part in Blackest Night? I don't think I will be very happy if that is true. Hence my concerns about being irked above.

Now I suppose that some might say this is another case of Supergirl needing to be rescued by someone else. But I wasn't too upset about it here. For one, if Kal-El needs all the help he can get with Black Lantern Kal-L then Supergirl should not be able to defeat Black Lantern Zor-El alone. Secondly, it was nice to see the mother/daughter team-up here.


Throughout the Blackest Night books we have been shown how emotion can both attract and repel the zombies. Those people with 'clear heads' or even spectrums (like Dove in Blackest Night:Titans) or multiple emotions (like Superman in this series) have been able to do the most damage against the Black Lanterns.

In an ingenious move, Superboy grabs the Medusa Mask from the Psycho Pirate and forces Kal-L and the Psycho Pirate to 'feel'. Not feel one emotion, but feel them all.



The resulting emotional backlash seems to inactivate the Black Lantern rings forcing the zombies to fall lifeless.

I think I have said before here (and at least discussed with my friends) that a White Lantern wielding all the rings is going to happen and that pure emotion will be the ultimate weapon against the Black Lantern Corps.

So overall I felt that this was a very good mini-series. It really brought the Blackest Night war down to a person level for the super-family. I thought the characterization throughout was spot-on and especially liked how Kara was able to face her own fears of inadequacy as she fought her father's abomination.

While I thought the use of the Medusa Mask as a weapon against the zombies was inspired, I thought the New Krypton shielding seemed a little too easy of an answer. I remain hopeful that Supergirl isn't kept on the bench of the biggest DCU crossover in several years because James Robinson stuck her there.

And the art work was tremendous in those pages Barrows did. I believe he is scheduled to be the artist on Blackest Night:Wonder Woman. Hopefully he can keep up on his deadlines there.

Overall grade (issue): B+/B
Overall grade: (miniseries): B+

13 comments:

Mauricio said...

It was nice issue, I'm only reading the main mini and this one , so far so good. As for Supergirl here, she was written well, a lot of people complain when SG is shown emotional but they forget she's 16. Reminds me of how many people complained back in MHR when Kara was afraid of dying after the Spectre shows them her future. I felt it was a good reaction since that was a 14 year old coming from a better place in all aspects. (I, however, as a long Supergirl fan felt that not fighting "rebel" and saying that "she deserved" was way off the character).

ps: no costume change on #50 since Jamal told me that last night.

Nikki said...

I just thought. Kryptonians get their power from absorbing light.
yet it has no effect

Saranga said...

Twas a good issue. I particularly liked Alura's role. Sure, she can be cruel and dismissive but when the chips are down she fights with a clear head and takes responsibility for her own. It was also gratifying to see that she trusts Kara to be able to hold her own in a fight. Alura and Kara made a good team.

TalOs said...

It just about broke my heart to see Supergirl literally punch a whole right through Zor-El's corp as well as seeing Alura doing extreme damage to their beloved one too.

Anj: I'm with you with not liking the how the repelling Black Lantern force shield around New Krypton will be keeping Supergirl on the planet during the duration of Blackest Night mega event now.

Mauricio said...
ps: no costume change on #50 since Jamal told me that last night.

Really? Ugh! Crap crap crap! >:( With all due respect to Jamal why even mention the costume change that both he and Stirling have been hinting to and have been tossing and turning over as to whether adopt or not during various given interviews? :/

PS: Anj, go back and carefully flip through Blackest Night: Superman #2 because it surprisingly seems we have YET ANOTHER Kryptonian sporting the house of El S-shield! Could this individual be Jor-El's identical twin and brother to Zor-El aka Nim-El or even Nim-El and his wife Dondra's own son Don-El we're seeing even? :/

Gene said...

I believe Alura has become a more likable character these past few months.

Too bad there won't be a costume change in #50, but I am still looking foward to that issue.

Mauricio said...

as far as a 'new' costume goes. I'm honestly happy there won't be a change. The current costume is not my favorite, the movie costume is, unfortunately, some feel they'll link her to the 'matrix' version instead of the movie if they use it.

I know there's people that don't like the current costume, but some of them for the wrong reasons.. like teenage fashion, just because her tummy is bare, etc..

When I think of a costume for Supergirl I think about a standard, character recognization, a definite look and for that I look at two sources (even when i do my variations): the original costume by Jim Mooney amd the movie costume.

Bookwormwithanattitude said...

Barrows is NOT the artist on BL:Wonder Woman (thanks the gods- his art is okay here, but for the most part I reeeeally don't like it) the fabulous Nicola Scott is.

Great review as always!

TalOs said...

Mauricio said...

As far as a 'new' costume goes. I'm honestly happy there won't be a change. The current costume is not my favorite, the movie costume is, unfortunately, some feel they'll link her to the 'matrix' version instead of the movie if they use it.

I think that's only if they use the pointy cuffs, red skirt loops as well as Superman's own style boots that they would think it was the Matrix Supergirl version instead of being the movies. (Where the movies doesn't use the pointy cuffs, red skirt loops and has her boots have a 'pointed up arrow' yellow/gold colored trim design going for it.)

It's so easy for DC to amalgamate both the movie and Turner's design in to one that is equally iconic that I'm still shocked DC haven't even worked it our for themselves as of yet. :/

I know there's people that don't like the current costume, but some of them for the wrong reasons.. like teenage fashion, just because her tummy is bare, etc..

Hmmmm, I suppose. :/

When I think of a costume for Supergirl I think about a standard, character recognization, a definite look and for that I look at two sources (even when i do my variations): the original costume by Jim Mooney and the movie costume.

Heh, I like that. ;)

PS: Anyone else as of yet found in Blackest Night: Superman #2 the surprising appearance of a 3rd Kryptonian from the House of El? :)

Anj said...

It was also gratifying to see that she trusts Kara to be able to hold her own in a fight. Alura and Kara made a good team.

I agree that it was great to see Alura rush to Kara's defense. It is one of the more favorable depictions of her.

Anj said...

I'm with you with not liking the how the repelling Black Lantern force shield around New Krypton will be keeping Supergirl on the planet during the duration of Blackest Night mega event now.

Hopefully it won't happen.

But then they will need to explain how Supergirl got off the planet.

Pretty horrific that 'daddy' is still outside the shield banging away.

Anj said...

Barrows is NOT the artist on BL:Wonder Woman (thanks the gods- his art is okay here, but for the most part I reeeeally don't like it) the fabulous Nicola Scott is.


Thanks for the info. I liked Scott's work on BoP a lot.

Turns out I was half right. Barrows is the artist on Blackest Night:JSA.

Adam Smasher said...

So far blackest night isn't blowing me away, as its doing to others. It just seems a very busy, pretty basic zombie story. I was expecting something deeper, more original and surprising (ala Moore's big 'magic/spirit' epic in Swamp Thing, or the existential explorations found in Ostrander's Spectre)

This was a decent issue though. The leader of the Indigo tribe has indicated elswhere that it would take all rings combined to end this. I imagine Hal Jordan (who has already worn multiple rings in the past) will be the while knight who chanels them all.

Anj said...

It just seems a very busy, pretty basic zombie story. I was expecting something deeper, more original and surprising (ala Moore's big 'magic/spirit' epic in Swamp Thing, or the existential explorations found in Ostrander's Spectre)

I loved the American Gothic run on Swamp Thing so I appreciate any reference to it.

I think this is a step above the typical zombie story in that there isn't much of the 'shambling brain eating' themes in those stories.

Plus there just seems to be a much richer history for all the ring corps, the history of this war, etc.

I am certainly enjoying this crossover more than Final Crisis, Infinite Crisis, and Identity Crisis.