Behind a clever cover by Scott Kolins homaging the recent Flash: Rebirth #1 we see what’s going on in Central City as the Black Lanterns rise. Barry Allen zips around warning the meta-community to be on their guard, before racing to Africa’s Gorilla City where he hopes wise King Solovar will have some ideas on how to help the living beat the dead. The Rogues, meanwhile, ready for battle; there’s a veritable gauntlet of deceased-supervillains linked to them and likely to make a grab for their black hearts at any minute.
These conflicts are saved for next issue, unfortunately – I was really looking forward to the return of Captain Cold’s sister, the Golden Glider after many years dead. Never mind, there’s fun to be had here as Barry fights a revived speedster and a super-gorilla, using his scientific mind as much as his speed. He does his darndest to shut off any emotions after he loses his first Black Lantern but we comic readers know that’s not going to work for long . . .
Writer Geoff Johns delivers an ambitious script, squeezing in the histories of Gorilla City, Professor Zoom, Barry himself; he provides details on Blackest Night, introduces more than a dozen characters . . . somehow he pulls it off and the comic doesn’t collapse under the weight of exposition. He even finds room for an interesting scene with the new Captain Boomerang and has Barry find those mysterious cave paintings from Rebirth. There’s not a lot of forward momentum – unlike this week’s Blackest Night: Wonder Woman, which provides both recap and an entertaining chapter of the bigger story – but the comic is a good primer for readers unfamiliar with Barry’s world and hopefully the real fireworks will come next month (I was holding out for a confrontation between Iris Allen and that upstart Fiona Webb, who nearly wed Barry after Iris died, but it turns out Fiona never died – now that’s weird).
It’s good to see Kolins reunited with Johns, given their superb partnership on Wally West’s Flash run, and the creative crackle is back. Kolins gives Johns whatever he asks for and more. The energy never flags. I like the way Kolins’ art has developed – there’s a pleasing Keith Giffen character to the figurework at times, especially in the Boomerang Jr scene. And colourist Michael Atiyeh, a new name to me, provides each scene with the proper atmosphere and keeps the many costume colours from clashing.
I loved the reminder that Wonder Woman wasn’t the first Justice Leaguer to snap a villainous neck – Barry Allen got there years before his much-maligned colleague. And it was fun to see Captain Cold go off-message and describe the DC undead as zombies. So there!