Monday, August 3, 2009

Marvel's Blackest Night

Most people know about the current DC supercrossover Blackest Night, that tri-yearly event of bringing together as many superheroes as possible into one storyline, and charging 4.99 an issue, that both of the major comic companies love to do. Thankfully, the current DC x-over is penned by Geoff Johns who seems, unlike Grant Morrison, more interested in bringing heroes back from the dead than killing them (although Blackest Night #1 might have already proven me wrong.)

The idea of Green Lantern power rings that cover the entire color spectrum is novel, and has been well-executed, but the final addition of a black ring that raises the dead, turning long-fallen heroes into heart-eating zombies is brilliant. A simple conceit in which an infinite amount of old stories and characters can be rehashed, in a completely new world, bringing a healthy dollop of horror into the standard good vs. evil epic showdown. (And let's be honest, horror has never been more popular, nor more rich in storytelling as a genre, as opposed to cheap scares and gratuitous sex.) It was such a rich idea, I wondered what reaction the folks at Marvel were having, whether Bendis was ordered to perform some alchemy with the foundering Darkest Reign titles.

As it often turns out, competing companies or studios come out with a similar (or exactly the same) idea at the same time (Antz and A Bug's Life anyone?). Now, as revealed at San Diego Comic Con, Marvel has their own Blackest Night in the works.

A crossover (shocker) between three X-titles (X-Force, New Mutants, and X:Men Legacy) will begin coming out in the fall. The arc is titled Necrosha (really?) and will feature the B-level psychic vampire Selene, mostly a lil' Pheonix/Rachel Grey enemy, and her lapdog Eli Bard. These two have harnessed the Transmode Virus, or possibly the Legacy Virus...well, some kind of mutant virus, and have resuscitated dead mutants and infected them with it, controlling them as one would control an army of zombies.

The X-family has had their share of horrible deaths, perhaps more than most even, and is certainly ripe for zombie-fication. For instance, the heart wrenching loss of young Doug Ramsey, which so many of his compatriots still feel, is certainly going to be played on, at least judging by this leaked picture:

The timing, however, leaves something to be desired. Blackest Night will be wrapping up around the fall, and were Necrosha to begin this summer then perhaps fans could say "Oh wow! Isn't it funny how good ideas occur to different people at the same time? It's some kind of spontaneous evolution!" Now it'll just look like plain thievery, and the only decision left to make is, as long as the story is good, do you really care?

Whatever the state of the last arc of X-Force, Chris Yost is a good writer, who has proven it in the past and even now with Red Robin. In addition, Mike Carey has done a wonderful job with X:Men Legacy, and having proved his extreme love and respect for the X-Men's past, I can only look forward to what he will do when that past confronts the present. (Read their interview with Newsarama here.)

Here's to the emotional power of intimately known zombies, whatever universe they may come from.

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