Of the three initial Blackest Night spin-off miniseries, I’ve liked the Superman one the best. And maybe that’s just because I’m more of a Superman guy, or maybe because of the three series so far it’s been the one that I think has been the most personal. Blackest Night: Superman #2 is another example of what I want to see in Blackest Night – the story of the rise of the Black Lanterns goes beyond the physical attacks on the living and strives on the emotional attacks.
James Robinson does a great job of using Earth-2 Superman to his advantage and striking at our Kal-El by playing the Pa Kent card effectively. And when the Psycho Pirate Black Lantern shows up the whole situation goes from bad to worse. I really liked how he used his abilities to manipulate the emotions of the people of Smallville so that he can get the most emotion out of them once they are harvested. And you know that it was hard enough for Superman and Conner to try to stop Earth-2 Superman, but when the Pirate turns Connor against Superman it just adds so much to the sense of hopelessness that’s been generated throughout the whole Blackest Night event.
If I have a main criticism of this series it is in the inability to keep the pacing of the Smallville story from being affected by the insertion of the New Krypton portion. I think it would have served both stories better had the New Krypton part been a “back up” to the main Smallville story instead of being inserted into it. In this issue it’s only a few pages but it kind of stops the flow of the main story at it reaches the issues climax.
It’s certainly not because the New Krypton section isn’t great in its own right, that’s for sure. The scene where Zor-El taunts Kara is almost painful to read in how delightfully sinister it is. As a parent I could never say those things to a child and I can only imagine how those words stung. Seeing Supergirl be so resolute in her response despite the emotional toll says much of how far she has come as a character. In fact, right now I find more to like about Supergirl than any other character in the Superman family – a far cry from how I felt about her during the days where she seemed resigned to be a cover girl.
Eddy Barrows art is nothing if not consistent. His take on Black Lantern Zor-El is horrifying and I just love the closeup panels of Zor-El both when he’s doing his number of Kara and when he’s regenerating after she punches the top of his skull off.
All in all the issue keeps the pressure on and the story pushes forward. I’m not sure where this story is going since it doesn’t really seem to have a purpose other than to provide a reason why Superman, Superboy and Supergirl are absent from the main Blackest Night series, but it’s a fun and frightening story anyways.
Eight out of ten lanterns.