Friday, October 30, 2009

Thoughts on Blackest Night and How Zombies Bring Out the Human in All of Us

Zombies are all the rage in the entertainment world. And it seems that there is nothing stopping the undead from becoming even more of a media phenomenon after the success of Zombieland, Left 4 Dead, The Walking Dead, and any and all other forms of media they have infected. People just love zombies, fact.

Now I have written plenty on how Blackest Night is not only a legitimate way for zombies to be in the DC Universe, but its also one hell of a story that encompasses decades upon decades, dating back to Alan Moore's early work on Green Lantern, of canon and prophecy that is paying off in a natural and fantastic way. Sadly I fear many will see this zombie tale much as they see other zombie stories as; corny, campy, gory, unjustified, and meaningless. But the lifeless truly have so much more to offer us.

In Romero's early work, Night of the Living Dead, the story wasn't about the dead rising, it was about how people became savages, capable of horrifying decisions that will ultimately lead to their own and other's demise. But like I said, most see it as a fun zombie movie to watch with your girlfriend so she can hold you tight.

Much like Battlestar Galactica used science fiction to highlight human will and resilience, zombies have a way of using the fantastical to bring out the factual. With Blackest Night, the heroes, villains, and civilians of the DC Universe are confronted with those who have died but still have emotional attachments to them. Dick Grayson sees the return of the Flying Graysons, Sinestro sees the rise of Abin Sur, Mera of Atlantis watches her husband Aquaman crawl form his grave, and the Flash and Green Lantern battle the resurrected Martian Manhunter.

On the outside, this sounds like a fanboy's wet dream. Zombies, heroes, villains, zombie heroes, and zombie villains. And more often then not the dead heroes are much more badass then they ever were living - thanks to Geoff Johns. Yet, beyond the flashy fight scenes and the sweeps splash pages lies a deeper theme, one that forever will ground all of the characters in a very human and real way. When each character is confronted with one of the risen dead whom they have an emotional attachment to, they are reminded of the hardships, the tragedies, and the mistakes in their lives. Each and every character has something to repent for, something that has and always will put a blemish on their record, and the Black Lanterns are unflinching in their convictions.

Each and every character's flaws are brought to the foreground, bringing a very human quality to them. All of us are flawed and that is what makes us human, and interesting. No one is perfect. Not Superman, not Wonder Woman, not The Flash, and certainly not Hal Jordan. I truly commend Geoff Johns on this. In one fell swoop he has modernized and humanized the entirety of the DC Universe, in an entertaining and horrifying way. Heroes are not always saving everyone, sometimes they cause more harm then good, and the Black Lanterns do not believe that the ends justify the means. They tap into the emotional spectrum and prey on the guilty and those who refuse to believe they are. Which is basically everybody.

Once this is collected, buy it. It is a game changer and a new beginning of sorts. Hopefully it stays this good. But don't start reading it now, because waiting the months in between issues is fucking awful.


  1. I was just listening to NPR and this Child Psychologist was on talking about children and psychology and then the host was all like, let's take some calls. From that point on every caller began questioning this guy about Zombie psychology and ruined his day... probably.

  2. Zombies are great and I'm excited for Blackest Night