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Blackest Night #3 hit the stands this week, giving us more death and destruction in the DC universe. More of the story starts to become clear as we are given a whole lot more information on what the Black Lanterns are and what their goal is. Oh, and we get a dose of those mysterious Indigo Lanterns along the way! If you haven’t read the solicits and don’t know the big bad for Blackest Night, be forewarned that he will be mentioned in this review!

When we last saw Hal and Barry they were about to take a pounding from the Black Lantern JLA. The battle resumes on page 2 of this issue and we get more great taunting by the Black Lanterns as they try to elicit strong emotions from GL and Flash – adding more to the notion that their goal is to get their victims in a highly emotional state before feeding on their hearts. During the battle we see that Ray Palmer did indeed survive his encounter with Hawkman, although not unscathed, and he’s had the opportunity to learn quite a bit about the Black Lanterns while hiding in Carter’s ring. We also get to see what happens when you try to separate the ring from the Black Lantern as Barry makes an attempt to find a weakness for our heroes to exploit.

What’s interesting are the wormholes that Ray sees on the molecular level. Knowing already that Nekron is the force behind Blackest Night, it all makes sense because Nekron has the ability to create those kinds of portals. And the fact that those wormholes are carrying energy goes right back to the goal of the Black Lanterns. In feeding on the emotion filled hearts of their prey, the corresponding energy is channeled back to Nekron to power him up for his return.

This is really great storytelling by Geoff Johns. One of the things I really like about his writing is that he dusts off characters that have been around for a while and finds great ways of turning them sideways until they are something more than we always thought they were. Nekron first appeared back in 1981 in the second issue of Tales of the Green Lantern Corps and while he’s shown up in a few places since, he’s really been another one of those potentially universe threatening forces of evil that’s has been kind of relegated to the back burners of DC history. Fortunately Geoff has found a great vehicle for the character and a way to deliver a pulse pounding event that covers the DC Universe in a shroud of horror.

Mera is another one of those characters often used as in a supporting role – but she’s front and center here and a great scene with Firestorm at JLA headquarters. The monitors in the background show us some of the events taking place around the globe, and for a second their we almost got to find out who the Unknown Soldier is.

From a story standpoint Mera serves an important role in passing on more important information. I shared a few weeks ago in my review of Blackest Night: Titans #1 my theory that the Black Lanterns cannot read the emotions of people at peace. That, since there’s no dominant emotion for them to focus on, the Black Lanterns find no use in people who they can’t provoke. Both Mera’s comments and the information that Ray Palmer shares add credence to that theory.

The Brave & The Bold – in my opinion the best team in comics.

Just as Ray is about to get a chance to see his ex-wife we get the timely arrival of the Indigo Tribe. Merging their energy with Hal’s, the members of the Indigo Tribe are able to dispose of several of the Black Lanterns, offering a temporary reprieve. We are treated to a great page of artwork by Ivan Reis that illustrates Geoff’s notion that we are all created from the splintered light of creation and in turn generate energy that fuels the emotional spectrum. Over the eons some beings, like the Guardian, have learned how to harness these energies, and Indigo-1 provides us with the fact that the green energy of willpower is essential to the destruction of the coming darkness.

Ray Palmer also provide more clues as he hypothesizes that the “dead aren’t wearing the rings. Maybe the rings are wearing the dead.” Indigo-1 shares that only the combined energies working in harmony can defeat their as-yet unknown adversary and that Hal is a key player since he has connections to all the most powerful members of the rest of the energies. Hal gets the line of the issue. (“Death is overrated”, indeed!)

Now I’ve read some criticisms of the next scene between Hal and Barry and I will agree somewhat that it does slow the pacing down a bit. But I think it’s important that we get to see this moment between these two icons and I think this is just one of those moments where you’re in the eye of the hurricane and all it peaceful for a moment before all Hell is about to break loose.

I really think that the strongest relationships between characters occurs between those that are not only similar but also reflections of each other at the same time. Batman and the Joker is a great example of a relationship between two characters that are two sides of the same coin yet still diametrically opposed to one another. Hal and Barry have a similar dynamic as Geoff Johns points out here and it’s a great moment that we get to witness and it’s probably the first time in years where they’ve both had the chance to have a heart to heart talk for a minute on just who they are. Great stuff.

The issue winds down, well okay it doesn’t wind down so much as it comes to an end, with Jason and Gehenna’s deadly encounter with Black Lantern Firestorm. I’m not a Firestorm fan so the impact of these moments don’t resonate with me, but it is nonetheless poignant and disturbing at the same time.

Of course the issue ends with the revealing of the latest recruits in the Black Lantern army – chief among them Max Lord, Killer Frost, Copperhead, Alexander Luthor, and Dr. Light. There are a couple more creepy pages from the Book of the Black to round out the issue and we are teased that by the time we reach the next issue the Black Lantern power level will reach 100 percent. And for people wanting to know the lineup of James Robinson’s JLA run there’s an ad showing the whole group.

Ivan Reis shines and if not for the fact that Doug Mahnke’s doing a bang up job on the main Green Lantern title I’d be lamenting his impending departure from the GL books. All around a great issue well balanced between action and considerable time spent advancing the overall plot. Ten Lanterns.

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