Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps

Writers: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Sterling Gates
Artists: Rags Morales, Gene Ha, Eddy Barrows, Jerry Ordway
Collects: Tales of the Corps #1-3, Adventure Comics #4-5, six pages from Green Lantern #49, Book of the Black

We're still in tie-in land here, but unlike last time, this ones actually got some measure of worth to it.

I kind of get the impression that a lot of what's collected here are odds and ends that didn't fit in any other collection put together in it's own trade. Obviously, the Tales from the Corps mini needed to go somewhere and I imagine the two Adventure Comics issues weren't exactly easy to place in a trade. Slapped together with six pages from Green Lantern #49 - which is clearly there only to give a chapter to the Black Lanterns - and the "Book of the Black" segments and you have quite the odd collection. The end result is a trade that feels like an anthology, which really isn't a bad thing.

It's fairly enjoyable and really serves as something of a primer to the Green Lantern franchise as it exists now. The bulk of what's collected are origin stories for various characters across the seven Lantern Corps, giving insight into some key supporting players in the franchise. If you ever wanted to see Killowog as a Lantern recruit or, say, Monguls history, this is the volume to go to. All of them are fairly enjoyable little stories - well, except for the Indigo Lanterns piece, which shows us that they're supposed to represent compassion and then tells us nothing else about the mysterious group - though the nature of the exercise keeps all of them at a short length. To be honest, despite the clear Blackest Night branding, the Tales of the Corps issues really have more to do with the "War of Light" amongst the different corps.

The latter half of the book is the one that justifies the tie-in banner. Six pages of Green Lantern #49 provide a Black Lanterns chapter for the book, rounding out the book with at least one story for each corps. It's presented as an origin story, but it isn't. It's the only story of the volume that doesn't work on it's own, because frankly it reads like what it is; six pages of a Green Lantern issue in the middle of the event. There's also a small prose section detailing the thoughts of Black Hand which was fairly interesting and perhaps even a bit creepy.

The last part collected is a two issue tie-in centered on Superboy Prime. Look, I like Superboy Prime. I'm not going to apologize for it. Ever since Infinite Crisis - and hell, even during it - he's become a gigantic indictment of comic fanboys, which I suspect is primarily why a lot of them hate him. I mean, he prowls on the DCMB for chrissakes. He's also good for a lot of metatextual stuff, since he supposedly lives on "our" Earth, or real life.

This tie-in seems to signal the character being set aside for a while. It's probably a good thing, as while I hope he comes back after a couple years, he probably needed a break, since doing the same joke without a pause tends to wear it out. Still, it's an enjoyable, goofy story in that Superboy Prime way, seeing him trash the DC offices and demanding they leave him alone to fighting Black Lanterns of all the heroes that he killed in Infinite Crisis. Well, all of them save Pantha; I guess Geoff Johns didn't want to piss off the four people who actually give a goddamn about the character again.

The art's held down by a bunch of pencillers that are particularly good at their craft, which is the long way of saying the art's pretty rad. They don't always get much to work with - these are short vignettes that typically clock in at six pages and never exceed twelve - but they make the most of it. Even Eddy Barrows turns in some good art - as you'll note my previous experience with his work was not positive - and how the hell can you go wrong with art from guys like Gene Ha, Tom Mandrake, Jerry Ordway and Chris Samnee? That's right, you can't.

The Score: 7 out of 10

It's ties to the event may be tenuous and it's probably the least necessary of all the Blackest Night tie-in volumes, but what the hell. I enjoyed what I read and to me that means a lot. If you want to read some origins, are in the mood for some quick stories or are looking for decent Blackest Night tie-in volumes, you could do worse.

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