I don't read Green Lantern Comics pretty much at all, and Geoff Johns is not one of my favorite comic book writers. I read a chunk of his JSA and was unimpressed, I do not remember why -- I don't remember any of the issues. I read Infinite Crisis, which I think has the Johns hallmarks -- deep continuity callbacks and over the top violence. It was sort of serviceable, but had a lot of foolishness in it. Like JSA I don't really remember it too well. I was so interested in Blackest Night as an idea -- that preview so many wagons ago really go my attention -- that I read Sinestro Corp War. I loved the idea of the Anti-Monitor and Cyborg Superman as members of the Sinestro Corp because it is so ballsy and insane, but much of the Space War / Space Cop stuff I found pretty dull. Matt Fraction said that nothing puts him to sleep faster than elves on horseback and I think that is how I feel about seeing tons of throwaway designs for various aliens with little captions that say "Ring at .002% power" and whatnot. Twists like the Lanterns being able to kill lead to the most obvious moral discussions and violence. The rainbow corps is one of those ideas you have to love because it is so unashamedly what it is -- the product of a 12 year old imagination, taken as far out as you can think it.
Blackest Night is a fantastic idea, especially at Didio's DC. Marvel had Marvel Zombies, but that was for the most part a kind of throwaway gag, a chance to see all the characters mashed up in a totally different genre. Blackest Night is able to so something quite smart -- make a plot point out of DC's massive body count, a body count that comic books kind of demanded by the "Event" climate of the moment, where comics are made important by major characters dying, hopefully in such a way as to get press like Captain America did. Superboy dies at the end of Infinite Crisis, and Ralph and Sue die in Identity Crisis. Plus the general violence of DC comics as symbolized by Kyle Rainer girlfriend being stuffed in a refrigerator and the "women in refrigerator" site that sprung up around it. Johns puts that image right in the first issue here.
But the other things comics are famous for is bringing dead characters back to life. Morrison made this point more than a dozen years ago in JLA when Superman goes to the grave of Metamorpho: he is distressed that no one is there to pay respects but the guy at the grave tells him "you people come back all the time." Even the two sacred cows of superhero death -- Bucky and Jason Todd, the only characters who you thought were really going to stay dead -- came back, as did Barry Allen in Final Crisis. Comics are more and more driven by nostalgia, and that nostalgia means people want to see the things they knew come back; if they are dead, they have to come back to life. They will never accept anyone other than Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern so back he must come -- the reason Johns got the Green Lantern gig in the first place, I think.
So Blackest Night makes perfect sense. It is able to take advantage of the exhaustion and body count of Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis -- an exhaustion that could have been counted against it as just one more DC event -- and turn it to a virtue. And it takes advantage of the great visuals Marvel Zombies has been enjoying for years, but with the added fun that they are totally in continuity. And the images are fantastic -- the black swarming rings like flies swarming through the universe, licking Batman's Skull, a Guardian chomping on a Guardian, the dead heroes being chosen and rising, Black Martian Manhunter, Ralph and Sue, realizing that Hawkman and Hawkgirl are next -- hilariously after being back for like five minutes (they died at the end of Final Crisis right?). Jonathan Kent -- could he be among the returned? Awesome. Interesting that the Enlongated Man is so important as a Black Lantern -- not only is he from the first of the violent crisis sequels but it was Reed Richards that set the zombie thing in motion over at Marvel. The hungry jaw dislocated open is such a horrific image, and so many movies use it for horror -- I guess you can't resist it when you have characters like Mr Fantastic and Ralph Dibney around.
As a system for image deployment this is great, but as a story -- not so much. There is no sense of place at all -- where are those Black Lantern's rising from? Establishing the back-story of the Green Lanterns of Earth -- a story I, unlike a lot of the readership, actually needed -- seemed really badly done, just uninteresting, and unclear (what is the story with Ice?). Damage and Atom Smasher -- are these real characters? There whole conversation seemed really silly. The JLA morgue -- what? A splash page of dead heroes for Barry after pages and pages of graveyards? And this conversation between the Hawkpeople was dreadfully hitting the nail on the head again and again and again. You just can't create this sense of epic doom by in a handful of pages if you are going to also have the image of Hawkman on a phone WITH A CORD in that group of pages.