Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke
This issue serves as a prologue to the upcoming Blackest Night event, explaining the origin of the Green Lantern villain Black Hand. This issue also shows how Black Hand becomes the first Black Lantern and the vessel of the embodiment of the Black Lantern Corps, like Ion and Parallax for the Green and Sinestro Corps respectively.
You can go into this issue fresh, knowing nothing of Black Hand, and probably be adequately prepared for his role in Blackest Night. If you’re one of the people who picked up Blackest Night #0 for Free Comic Book Day and have been wondering for the past two months why Black Hand is a Black Lantern or even just who he is, this book is for you. It’s a decent back story, giving Black Hand a fascination with death from an early age. He seems very dark and a little bit twisted thanks to his childhood interests and family relationships. More important to the upcoming event, however, is his actual connection to Scar and the Black Lantern Corps. Without knowing how much of this will be explained in the actual event itself, this issue may prove to have some important information.
As a stand-alone Green Lantern issue, however, it’s not much. It’s all just back story to an issue that came out two months ago. It feels more like a supplement one-shot issue as opposed to being part of an ongoing series. Of course, people would probably be less likely to buy it if it were just a one-shot issue, so it’s probably best for DC to throw it into an ongoing and hope people continue.
There’s just no real story though. It’s all back story, all prologue, very little meat. If you need everything regarding Blackest Night, you may need this. If you want a Green Lantern issue expecting some Green Lantern action or just something happening to any Green Lantern, you may want to give this a pass. Time will tell if this is an essential part of Blackest Night that should be in the trade (although I doubt it’ll be that integral), but if you really don’t care about Black Hand, you can give this a pass.
The art is definitely fitting the Black Hand being portrayed in this issue. Everything is dark and dull. The detailing is very well done, looking like it was drawn with time and care. The art does not look fast paced for most of the issue, which is good as this is not a fast-paced issue.
Everything looks pretty slow and steady, just as you would expect out of a funeral home.
The detail of the art extends into the setting. Bland walls with repetitive wallpaper patterns and stuffed dead animals in the background of the Hand home continue to add a dreary tint to Black Hand’s childhood scenes. Speaking of the scenery, the mortuary and family home setting is a great fit for the story, adding that dark touch of death while still very presentable. The art here really brings out the morbid feel a funeral home typically inspires.
The characters themselves are creepily dreary. The Hand family is drawn thin and bony, and the men have slicker-back black hair. The characters’ faces look like real faces, lacking emotional exaggeration in place of realism. This is most true in the eyes. Most close up shots even show the veins in the eyes, and they widen and squint as real eyes would. The clothing too has a real feel, as you can almost feel the plastic latex texture of Black Hand’s body bag turned costume. The clothing coloring is pale and subdued. Likewise so is their skin. This is not a family that vacations out in the sun.
It’s is pretty much just the Hand family though, as other characters do look more lively and have a brighter complexion. The brightness of Hal Jordan and the other heroes shown bring out the dark melancholy of Black Hand’s story. Even the green light used from Black Hand’s Divining Rod seemed especially bright in this issue. What few moments of light there were really brought out the darkness.
We’re right on the cusp of the next big event for our emerald heroes. Do you need this issue to understand what’s coming up? I doubt it. However, if all the previews and the free Blackest Night #0 have gotten you interested in Black Hand, or if you’re already interested in the character from his prior appearances, give this a look see. It’s a good back story for him. If you don’t care though, the art is still nice but you’ll probably be good to go for Blackest Night.
Overall (Not an Average): 7/10