The formal prologue, set before the Free Comic Book Day “Blackest Night #0” issue, details the creation of the first Black Lantern. In many ways, this is not what I expected, and that’s definitely a good thing. The main event kicks off next week with “Blackest Night #1.”

General Information

Title: Green Lantern #43

Author: Geoff Johns

Illustrator(s): Doug Mahnke (pencils), Christian Alamy (inks) and Randy Mayor (colors)

Cover Date: September, 2009

Cover Price: $2.99 US

Premise

William Hand has never been normal. He found himself misunderstood by his family, and placed in therapy. He didn’t learn to change his thoughts and proclivities, but instead learned to hide them from others. His put him on the path to villainy we all know, and ultimately to becoming an agent of the Black Light of Death. This issue is that journey.

High Point

“Something that reminded me of home. Of my family. Of my first kiss.” I swear that last part is closely tied to the last panel on page three.

Low Point

It’s a Green Lantern issue that doesn’t actually have Green Lantern. You almost wouldn’t notice, but it’s there. It’s really a minor problem, but it’s the only problem I can find.

The Scores

This is a highly original take on the Black Hand. In the space of a single issue, a formerly weak villain has now been propelled to one of the greatest and creepiest threats I’ve ever seen in comics. That takes talent from the writer and artists alike. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork by Mahnke is solid. There’s a lot of emotive detail. Couple that with Randy Mayor’s colour choices, and we get a truly disturbing issue. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story does a good job of covering a lot of ground quickly. We see the potential extent of the Black Lantern Corps, learn more about the driving forces behind Scar, and get the back story taking Black Hand from the villain we knew before to the villain he is now. It’s a freakishly effective ride. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is what it’s all about. The Black Hand has, traditionally, been the classic Silver Age villain, but we’ve never had a story from his point of view before. This elevates his threat level and interest factor by a couple hundred notches, and moves things forward from there, without actually contradicting anything we’ve seen before. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is excellent. I can’t repeat or stress often enough the magnitude of the transformation from the classic “curses, foiled again!” Silver Age mentatily Black Hand usually has to what is probably the creepiest villain I’ve ever seen in comics (or most movies.) I give it 6 out of 6.

The flow is smooth. Only one moment jars, and that’s by definite design. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is a great prologue issue. If you don’t know who Black Hand is, you will when this is done. The same goes for Scar and Green Lantern. There’s enough backstory here to for new readers to step in, but it’s not backstory we’ve seen before, so longtime readers won’t have a problem jumping on. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Green Lantern #43 receives 39 out of 42.

Blackest Night Checklist

A History of the DC Universe: Green Lantern

Preliminaries

The Main Event

  • Blackest Night #0 (Free Comic Day edition), #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, complete series
  • Green Lantern #43
  • Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1-3
  • Green Lantern #44-??
  • Green Lantern Corps #39-??
  • Blackest Night: Batman #1-3
  • Blackest Night: Superman #1-3
  • Blackest Night: Titans #1-3
  • more to come…