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Blackest Night #5 joined Green Lantern #48 on the top of my stack of new comics this week, although it wasn’t on the top of the stack since the editors did a so-so job of letting us know by putting a note in the front of Green Lantern, but they told us it took place before Blackest Night #6. Kudos for them for telling us, but kind of funny at the same time.

Since the events taking place in the main Green Lantern title are integral to the story and DC has promised you can read the main title only, a couple of panels are used upfront to explain a little of what’s gone on in Green Lantern and a snapshot of how Hal Jordan feels about the situation he finds himself in. Between this and comments that Hal makes in GL #48, I firmly believe that there’s going to be a lot of fallout between the Guardians and Corps when this crisis is all over. Larfleeze’s comment that “there’s nothing worse than empty” is another dialogue gem that might be lost on those who aren’t familiar with how the orange power of avarice clouds the mind, but for those who have enjoyed his appearances it’s just another great potential signature line for our favorite message board.

This two-page spread of all seven of the “Fellowship of the Rings” is a colorful display of each member charging their rings, complete with each of the seven Corps’ oaths except for Larfleeze who appears very distracted by all the things he wants. Ivan Reis’ art and Alex Sinclair’s coloring brings each Corps’ energy to life without it looking like a bad cartoon sequence, although it’s funny to see Hal refer to them as the “rainbow rodeo” and the “color-coded calvary” later in the issue and not chuckle a little since many people have made similar references in past months.

Watching the seven ring bearers is a little like watching reality television as they struggle to maintain cohesiveness despite their common goal. The interplay not only between the characters, but the way in which their respective rings affect each other continues to be interesting, and I hope that all seven Corps remain when the Blackest Night is over because there’s a great deal of story potential here. Hal thrusts Larfleeze’s face into his orange power battery so that he will have a full charge before asking Ganthet where the Black Lantern Central Power Battery has gone since it no longer on Ryut.

Cut to Coast City where Barry Allen tries to deal with Nekron, Black Hand, and their new army of the dead. Nekron states that Barry’s death was the first and that his rebirth is the last, indicating that Nekron’s plans stem from what occurred in the first Crisis. Barry notices that Black Hand has Bruce Wayne’s skull, which seems to cause him some pain when he gets too close to it. The “emotional tether manifested” notification from the power battery reinforces that there is a connection between Nekron and Barry. Wally West shows up in his new Flash outfit to lend a hand so that Barry can explain who Nekron is to readers who are unfamiliar with Nekron’s history. Wally brought members of the Titans, Superman and Wonder Woman along with him fresh from their respective Blackest Night mini-series.

We cut to Manhattan to follow up on the events from Blackest Night Titans #3. Damage becomes the newest recruit in the Black Lantern Corps and joins Black Lantern Jean Loring in her confrontation with the Atom and Mera. Loring, Atom, and Mera then disappear into the cellular structure of Damage’s new power ring.

Bart Allen, the Kid Flash, explains to Barry the high points of the story in the aforementioned Blackest Night: Titans miniseries – that Dove emanates a white aura capable of wiping out Black Lanterns and that Donna Troy was bitten by a Black Lantern – and that bite is having an adverse effect on her. Barry, Wally, and Bart are attempting to free the Guardians that Scar incapacitated back in Blackest Night #1, but Scar will have none of it as he fights back.

In comes the seven members of the various Corps, blasting Scar into oblivion with a combined ring blast. The seven head to the giant black power battery, hoping to destroy it and cut this event short by three issues. Both Hal and Carol again make references to this looking like something from a cartoon, but for some reason their combined attack on the power battery is doing nothing – which makes me happy since I’m loving this story too much to have it end three month’s early! A Black Lantern ring snakes its way from the battery at top speed and then we hear the words many people have been waiting for…”Bruce Wayne of Earth….Rise!”

Bruce Wayne of Earth…..RISE!

This in itself lays to rest the notion that it wasn’t really Bruce’s body we saw at the end of Final Crisis as some people have theorized. That is unless the download of memories comes from someplace other than the body being reanimated. The two-page spread of Black Lantern Batman is really cool and creepy at the same time. We then see Black Lantern rings pop onto the fingers of all the heroes who’ve come back from the dead since Barry died except for Hal and Barry. Nekron says some interesting things which I’ll get to in a minute, but for some reason Nekron disables Black Lantern Batman. I’m still scratching my head over that and I know that there has to be a reason for it but at this point I’m not able to come up with anything.

The issue ends with two black rings headed straight for Barry and Hal as they are surrounded by a whole bunch of Black Lantern superheroes. “The Book of the Black” continues to be a great backup feature of this story, adding much needed macabre layers to Black Hand’s character. When I was on the Raging Bullets podcast last week co-host Sean Whalen came up with a great idea that I hope someone at DC picks up on – collecting the parts of the “Book of the Black” and reprinting them as a leather-bound book complete with offset pages that were made to look like they were old paper. I like the idea of embossing the Black Hand symbol on the cover.

Nekron has his army at last.

As I mentioned earlier, Nekron made a number of interesting statements this issue to hint at what’s been going on. Now Nekron originally served as the rule of the Land of the Unliving, a realm where the dead passed on their way to their final resting place. When the Guardians destroyed Krona for his wrongdoing at the beginning of time his energies made their way to Nekron’s realm and the paradox of an immortal in the land of the dead caused a rift that allowed Nekron to view the realm of the living. As a result, Nekron led an assault with Krona, who Nekron restored to the land of the living. All of this took place in a three-part miniseries called Tales of the Green Lantern Corps back in 1981.

Nekron says that all the heroes who died since Barry came back not because they escaped death, but because he allowed them to return and that they remain connected to him, hence the “emotional tether registered” comments as the Black Lantern rings approach any of them. Combined with his earlier comment to Barry about him being the first and I get the impression that Nekron has used the connections to the fallen heroes that he has chosen to allow to return in order to get a foot in the door between his realm and ours and paving the way for his return. This also explains why is only seems that heroes get to come back from the dead in an interesting way. And the defeat of Nekron by the end of the story will serve as the reason why the revolving door of death may not be there once Nekron is pushed back to the Land of the Unliving once again and the rift between the two realms is sealed shut.

Nekron also mentions that the Guardians have a secret that has yet to be revealed. Is it tied to the events in Sector 666? I don’t know but I’m sure that whatever it is while rocking the Green Lantern universe to its corps….er, core.

Again, another wonderful issue and Ivan Reis continues to do the best work of his career. Although I have to admit that the alternate cover shown on the right by Rodolfo Migliari is one of my favorites of this whole event.

Ten out of ten lanterns.

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