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mygif

I’ve come to the conclusion that Blackest Night was mostly an excuse to bring back all the heroes and villains that they’ve killed off the last 20 years that they’ve regretted killing off.

For every CROSSOVER CRISIS EVENT ZOMG they had to kill off a handful of characters “Just to show how dangerous the Big Bad is” or “This could be it THE END OF THE MULTIVERSE”. But the problem with that is that you have to kill the occasional likable hero (Martian Manhunter, Sue Dibny, Jade, Brother Geek, that guy on page 9 panel 3 you know the one with the purple spiked hair yeah that guy) for the emotional impact that death would cause.

And of course this being a comic book universe where the writers on a title changes every other year, and the editorial board changes every 8 to 10 years, they’re gonna want to bring characters back.

So I consider the Blackest Night to be the most overt attempt at a Reset Button ever done in comic books history. And not that this is a bad thing… in that regards it works pretty well, actually. I think most readers knew this coming in. Bringing back Aquaman and Martian Manhunter are smart moves. Bringing back Maxwell Lord and the Anti-Monitor are even smarter moves. I don’t think people are going to begrudge Geoff for doing this.

One thing about the deputizing power granted to Ringbearers now is that this could be canonical: we could have now stories where superheroes are augmented for an issue into a Green Lantern or Blue Lantern or a Red Lantern or Yellow Lantern. Just picture a villain getting the temporary boost of Red Rage power! The deputizing of Scarecrow into a Yellow Lantern for example brings up the possibility of making him into a permanent Yellow Lantern for our sector (although as a Batman villain and not a Hal Jordan villain, this might cause problems), which a good number of fans seem to clamor for. I kinda liked this move.

One last thing: For what I know, people loved Larfleeze’s antics. His horror at having to share his ring (“NO!”) with LEX FREAKING LUTHOR was hilarious, and the resolution on that – Larfleeze handing a defeated Luthor back over to the humans, not realizing until too late he was finally giving something away! – was too tasty for apt description.

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Meanderthal said on April 1st, 2010 at 9:58 am

I can only assume that “deputizing” heroes into the various Corps was somehow intended to make it more than just a “big Green Lantern event”. Overall, it rings false and kind of gimmicky (though I’ll be the action figure manufacturers love it; use the same Flash molds, just paint him blue!).

You know, I’m a big Green Lantern fan, but I’m about damned tired of Hal Jordan. He was never actually a character with any nuance, but it has really gotten worse in the hands of a writer who seems to have narrowed him down to a (short) list of characteristics on a spreadsheet.

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lance lunchmeat said on April 1st, 2010 at 10:09 am

I’m okay with the anti-monitor being back because I just learned everything he does is even cooler if you read him in OPERA VOICE.

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I swear I must be the only person in the universe who actually liked J’onn’s new look.

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I know they’ve been around for awhile now, but I still can’t get over how dumb all the different colored lantern corps are. I mean, when it was just Green Lanterns, they were space cops. Ok, that makes sense. Even adding the Yellow Lanterns I got; they’re an organized group trying to undermine and eliminate the universes primary law enforcement agency.

But seven different groups? Now everyone is just incredibly redundant. Why should I care about the Green Lanterns when there are 6 other groups who can do basically the same thing?

Also, yeah, I’ve never understood Geoff Johns’ popularity. Like you say about Blackest Night, he’s not bad necessarily. He’s just very dull, and in the most predictable manner possible.

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If they really wanted to, they could use “Deputy Barry Allen” as a way to curb the Silver Age excess going on at DC right now. Let Barry keep the blue power ring, stick him in a team-up book with Hal Jordan where the two get to punch the Tattooed Man in the face a lot. Wally gets to keep the Flash book, Hal can still make appearances in one or more Green Lantern books, and everyone gets to be happy because their favorite, special guy is getting some time on the page.

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lance lunchmeat said on April 1st, 2010 at 10:57 am

The anti-monitor’s back because he’s fun to kill, simple as that.

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Matthew Johnson said on April 1st, 2010 at 11:17 am

Because I am lazy, can anyone tell me what happened in this series? (I’m more interested in how it came out — who actually died, who was brought back to life, etc.)

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Bringing back the Anti-Monitor, I think it’s because of one thing: They had killed off Darkseid.

I have to ask, did the New Gods come back or not? I didn’t see them this arc as Black Lanterns, after all.

The way the DC board is talking it sounds like they’ve buried the whole New Gods mythos, meaning there’s no longer a Big Bad like Darkseid lurking about. Your heroes are only as good as their villains, so the need for a Big Bad that can reasonably DOOM an entire universe is there.

Anti-Monitor won’t show up for EVERY Crisis event, to be sure, but he can pop up oh every five years or so to allow the DC Universe to reboot itself.

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@Matthew Johnson, here’s what happened:

DC issued a series of cool color-coded plastic rings you could collect and show off to your friends. I spent $3 for a Blue Lantern ring! Srsly!

…okay. Blackest Night took a throw-away prophecy Alan Moore made in a Green Lantern short story and converted it into a War of Colors between the Green and Yellow Lanterns. Someone at DC made the smartass realization there were other colors of the rainbow that could be made into Lanterns, so they converted an old villain set (Star Sapphires) into Purple Lanterns, and then created Red Lanterns, Blue Lanterns, Orange Lanterns, and Indigo Lanterns (they needed seven colors) and applied “emotional spectrums” to them, making Green = Willpower/fearless, Yellow = Fear, Red = Rage, Orange = Greed, Blue = Hope, Purple = Love and Indigo = Compassion. And then to create an archnemesis color they took Black and made it void, doom, scary, nasty… which meant they needed Black = Death/Zombies!

But they painted themselves literally into a corner with all these colors, and had to come up with a White ring color to fully counter the Black rings. So they went and made White = Life/Not-Zombies and there you have it. Eight issues of wondering why Luthor couldn’t take over as Orange Lantern forever… oh, right, Status Quo is God.

Oh, and they brought almost every character they killed off the last 20 years back. Except Sue and Ralph Dibny, who will probably come back in Blackest Night II: The Quickening.

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MGK is right about “death is death from now on” not sticking: what will happen is that if a character dies, they COULD come back as a Black Lantern and threaten people until somebody cockpunches them into being a White Lantern.

…well, it could work that way…

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malakim2099 said on April 1st, 2010 at 11:41 am

They also didn’t bring back Ted Kord.

EPIC FAIL!

@gnosis: You aren’t the only one. I liked J’onn’s new look too.

Didn’t read 8 yet, but I thought Blackest Night was enjoyable for what it was. It wasn’t ZOMG AWESOME by any means, but I was entertained.

Still didn’t like Max’s overt villain turn, so I’m not sure about his rez. Especially since a big reason why Wonder Woman killed him in the first place was the sheer number of layers of control Max put into Superman over the years…

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Most of the resurrections were people who’d make interesting stories, at least potentially. Johns gets to keep Prof. Zoom and Captain Boomerang for his new Flash book; Deadman, Aquaman, and J’onn for Brightest Day. Simone gets the first Hawk (and Dovey the Zombie Slayer) for the Birds of Prey relaunch. Osiris probably goes to the Titans (insert better off dead joke here if you dropped the book in the past year). Jade sticks around in GLC to make out with Kyle in front of his girlfriend. Max & Anti-Monitor sneak off for who knows what.

I’ll say Blackest Night had fairly solid ending despite its shaky start, but all the points you make* are legitimate. But since one of DC’s largest problems is a lack of solid ongoings that aren’t Morrison’s Batman, they should probably get Johns back to where he was in 2005 as the build-up guy. When he tries to be the event guy, as you said, he writes something that’s just there. Something that’s an event because DC says it is. Better than Countdown, but not as good as 52; Blackest Night would be as forgettable as Trinity if not for the resurrections. Hell, they both revolved around giving all yo fav’rites some shiny new clothes, didn’t they?

*Besides “Well that’s not who I would have resurrected.”

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Positronic Brain said on April 1st, 2010 at 12:43 pm

As much as I agree with your essay, since this crossover ended with the possibility of a new Hawk & Dove book, I am willing to buy Geoff Johns a beer. If somehow Blackest Night managed to erase Dove’s sister from continuity, I might even buy him some pretzels to go with it, too…

(As an aside, it looks like in my old age I’m becoming that guy who mumbles whenever they change the status quo of the comics he loved when he was growing up – and surprisingly, I don’t care).

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I’m guessing Max is going to be the villain for Justice League: Generation Lost.

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Any writer could already do new Proffesssor Zoom stories whenever they wanted because time travel. And they were going to keep bringing him back since he’s Barry’s greatest foe and all, and greatest foes don’t stay dead forever, not since the Clone Saga ended at least. So ressurecting the guy means that when they do, they don’t have to much about with amnesia and explaining exactly when in Thawne’s timeline the story happens and can get right to the actual story, which is a good thing.

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Elasticlad said on April 1st, 2010 at 1:18 pm

The difference between Blackest Night and something like COIE is that BN is a marketing ploy masquerading as storytelling.

“Hey everyone, read Blackest Night then buy your favourite plastic ring and\or colour coded T-shirt. Don’t forget to read our new ongoing series starring Character X, who was recently resurrected. Also, please ignore the fact that we killed that character two years ago, just so we could bring him\her back for this story!!! New number 1s for all!!!”

COIE was about trying to simplify a crowded and unwieldy DCU into something more reader friendly. It was about re-organizing an entire fictional continuity, rather than cashing in on a temporary change to the status quo.

What I find sneaky is how Johns went back and found a way to transport even more Silver\Bronze age characters into the Modern age. Comics do themselves and their readers a disservice every time they hit that reset button and obliterate a character just because they find their motivations or current incarnation inconvenient. Hey, what great Ronnie Raymond story was left untold? Did we really have to magically do away with Kendra just so we could get Shayera back? I guess it was it too hard to have Hawkman fight for her love and respect. They need to be in love NOW.

(And I too liked J’onn’s old new look.)

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That genre-wide idea that “let’s kill Character X because we like Character Y, but wait, Character X is a legend so let’s bring him back in two years” is one of the primary reasons comic books have a negative reputation amongst the general population. Why read the stories if nothing ever sticks, if a character’s death is simply a precursor to his return. This isn’t anything knew either. A lot of main characters’ titles are over 500+ issues now. There are only so many stories you can tell.

It’s what I hate most about comic books. I feel no lasting impact from them, no emotional resonance.

This is Blackest Night in a nutshell. Big bad shows up. Things go bad. People die. People get resurrected. There’s a slight change to the status quo that’ll be undone in two years. Repeat. Frankly, I’m tired of the cycle.

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The main problem with Johns is that, like with Bendis at Marvel, there’s no one who can tell him “This is the most stupid idea ever,” and make it stick. Sadly, sales were huge on this event, and that guarantees we’ll see more just like it.

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Cookie McCool said on April 1st, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Also, “Blackest Night” sounds better as a Batman title, despite the Lantern oath.

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For what it’s worth, I liked it. I also have low standards; I’m comparing this more to say Secret Invasion and WWH, which has an even worse case of “We’ll solve the problem by hitting it even harder” than Blackest Night does. I won’t be surprised if Siege has a similar ending.

This was also mostly the column I was expecting from MGK. Which makes MGK predictable like Johns. 😛

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Scavenger said on April 1st, 2010 at 3:00 pm

See you’re thinking “Hal Jordan: Space Cop” like he’s on Hill Street Blues or even TJ Hooker.

You need to be thinking “cop” like on CSI or Criminal Intent…nameless extras who just stand behind the scientists or FBI agents when it’s time to make the bust.

For me, Johns is like cotton candy…he does fun ideas…and the multi-colored corps is a fun idea…but then there’s nothing there. He proceeds to do everything in the exact way you’d expect it to play out. It’s appealing to the inner fanboy, but not to the experience reader (compare, imo, to Dan Slott, who equally minds obscure continuity, but then does something you’d not think of with it.)

Peter David has said you should never give the readers what they expect….Johns is proof, to me, of why.

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@PaulW: “Yellow = Fear”

Not quite, Yellow represents the less commonly known emotion of Ability To Instill Fear.

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Cookie, you may enjoy the Blackest Knight arc of Batman & Robin, which has Cameron Stewart draw Dick (and others) fighting a clone who was driven mad by Bruce’s memories.

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Equinox216 said on April 1st, 2010 at 3:21 pm

@Scavenger: Actually, NOW I’m thinking “Hal Jordan: Space Hooker”. Thanks a lot.

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I think the biggest problem with this event was that Risk didn’t lose any more limbs during it.

“Did we really have to magically do away with Kendra just so we could get Shayera back? I guess it was it too hard to have Hawkman fight for her love and respect. They need to be in love NOW.”

Well, sure Elasticlad, you could do it the other way, but then how would DC be able to shit all over Roy Harper’s life even more?

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Mary Warner said on April 1st, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Not being a DC reader, I don’t know whether I should comment here or not, but wow– this really does sound like a huge mess of a story.
I don’t know, it does sound to me like DC really does go over the top with their massive crossovers, to an even greater degree than Marvel does. (I haven’t even looked at Siege, though, or even the publicity about it. All I know is it has something to do with Norman Osborn and Asgard, and the Sentry ripping somebody in half [again], so maybe it could be worse, but I really doubt it.)

I was wondering, though… If Blackest Night had ended with Rex The Mother-Fucking WonderDog suddenly appearing, and defeating the bad guy (whoever he was), would that have completely changed your opinion around, and made you shower as much praise on the story, and Geoff Johns, as you possibly could?

(And before anyone asks, I figure Rex wouldn’t need any colour lantern-ring-whatever, because he’s REX the Mother-Fucking WonderDog, and he transcends the entire eloctromagnetic spectrum. Duh.)

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DistantFred said on April 1st, 2010 at 6:30 pm

“Also, who the fuck thought resurrecting Eobard Thawne was a good idea? Seriously now.”

This is the easiest damn question ever: THE SAME PEOPLE WHO THOUGHT BRINGING BACK BARRY ALLEN WAS A GOOD IDEA.

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Jason Barnett said on April 1st, 2010 at 6:31 pm

you know, another person on the net pointed out that Boomerang Jr. was the one who claimed he had a plan to help his dad. so that actually kind of implies it was his idea.

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Jason Barnett said on April 1st, 2010 at 6:41 pm

malakim2099-Word is hat Ted’s already back in some way. That’s why they didn’t bring him back in Blackest Night.

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Illuyankas said on April 1st, 2010 at 7:37 pm

“Hey, let’s ruin Boomerang II’s character and undo all his previous appearances by making him throw women and children to a murderous zombie, have it kill him too then bring back the original!”
“Yes! While we’re at it, let’s also make the old Firestorm kill the girlfriend of the new one in a horrific fashion while old and new are combined, then resurrect the old one and leave the new one’s girlfriend dead!”
“GENIUS!”

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Bleah. Maxwell Lord is just about my favorite DC character, but I don’t fucking want him back if it’s going to be the terrible retconned version of him Johns and Jurgens decided would be so cool back when they forget to actually read any of the story arcs he was in aside from his intro.

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Jason Barnett said on April 1st, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Personally I prefer it when an event book hits all the notes. I’ve found whenever they try to change things out, they leave something out I’d hope to see and expected to be amazing, never add something I didn’t expect and like.

They added the deputy Lanterns to stick some conflict into the heroes, otherwise the battles would have been nothing but “Connection Severed” constantly for the last few issues.

Illuyankas- I’m hoping Brightest Day brings back the new Firestorm’s girlfriend. With the White Lantern around they could easily decide Hal is wrong about the Death is Death thing.

Rachel- from what I;ve heard what happened with Max wasn’t lack of research but a deliberate editorial decision. The DCU doesn’t have a lot of telepaths.

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[…] Mighty God King offers a very interesting overview of Blackest Night. […]

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RobotKeaton said on April 1st, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Was Johns writing Teen Titans when they defeated Dr. Light by hitting him with every TEEN TITAN EVER?

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Lamashtar said on April 1st, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Rex the Wonder Dog is a White Lantern, naturally.

Most of your criticism comes off as very Comic Book Guy, MGK..Hey, I didn’t like World War Hulk personally! But as a Hal Jordan fanatic who thinks EVERYBODY who was a Black Lantern should have been resurrected, I do share the main criticism: the writing felt very ho-hum. I should’ve loved Green Lantern 50, but it felt exactly as if Geoff was checking off a list of plot points.

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The Kicker Of Elves said on April 1st, 2010 at 11:09 pm

“The deputizing of Scarecrow into a Yellow Lantern for example brings up the possibility of making him into a permanent Yellow Lantern for our sector (although as a Batman villain and not a Hal Jordan villain, this might cause problems), which a good number of fans seem to clamor for. I kinda liked this move.”

-PaulW

I’m going to perform a rare and epic Internet de-lurk to mention that the above is a great fu–frelling idea. I like Scarecrow, don’t get me wrong, but like a lot of Batman villains he’s a little played out.

Making him a problematic threat to Hal as a yellow lantern is a nice way to elevate a solid villain (power-wise) and change a dynamic. Or two, really. Once Hal’s done beating up Yellow Lantern Scarecrow he can get de-powered and return to the Gotham scene…where the experience of fighting on a galactic level can add some depth and, maybe, menace to the character.

I’m not really trumpeting Scarecrow or a change for his character, I’d just really like to see DC do something interesting with the cosmic retcon they detonated. And what that event did to the characters involved.

Too often it seems crossover events don’t change peripheral or supporting characters in any meaningful way. They should be a chance to shake things up in a title once in a while, especially if it coincides with a creative change.

If the DC titles I do read return from Blackest Night mostly unchanged (“when last we saw our heroes”) it’ll be another nail in the coffin for their creative direction as far as I am concerned. Hopefully the writers can shake off the winter blahs or whatever has been bothering them the past several months…or a year or something.

re-lurking…

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Jason, it’s possible for things to be both deliberate and poorly thought-out. And, in this case, poorly executed. In order for that take on Max to work, he would have had to be lying constantly in basically every single one of his previous appearances, including to himself in all of his own thought balloons throughout the entire Giffen/DeM run. I don’t think “We can’t think of anyone else with mind powers” is a clever enough reason to retcon literally 100% of an established characterization–especially when the story he ended up in didn’t really have anything to do with him at all; he was just a placeholder villain to set up a conflict between the Big Three. They originally planned to use Mr. Jupiter, who would have been a better fit all around; IIRC, they decided to go with Max because it gave them an excuse to use Ted in the utterly dire, utterly onanistic Countdown to Infinite Crisis.

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Candlejack said on April 2nd, 2010 at 1:04 am

Scarecrow can’t be Hal Jordan’s villain; like most Batman rogues, he plays mind-games, and Hal doesn’t have a mind. As I recall, back when yellow was his weakness, Hal flew head-first into a yellow billboard, because he was angry at it. Nobody’s home.

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lance lunchmeat said on April 2nd, 2010 at 1:53 am

Lamaster, I don’t like that you think Rex has died, ever.

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Brian T. said on April 2nd, 2010 at 2:53 am

Supposedly, they went with Max Lord instead of Mr. Jupiter partly because they thought Mr. Jupiter was a really stupid name.

Okay, I can see that. But why not go out on a limb and make a new character? Why do something that didn’t have much of a point other than annoying Giffen/De Matteis fans?

Seriously, about the only reason to bring back Max Lord and then do the “If I didn’t like it, it’s not in continuity any more” thing Johns does on an irritatingly frequent basis is that it gave them something to talk about in Newsarama interviews.

The whole OMAC Project thing didn’t stop being a rip-off of old X-Men storylines involving the Sentinels just because they decided to pee all over Max Lord and Ted Kord while they were at it. It was basically two bad tastes that tasted worse together.

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Illuyankas said on April 2nd, 2010 at 8:35 am

Actually, getting Yellow Lantern Scarecrow to have wacky adventures in space for a while before getting depowered and sent home after various painful shenanigans that pissed off a lot of powerful alien factions, makes the perfect situation for Batman to protect Scarecrow by fighting a bunch of alien bounty hunters in Gotham. I’d read it.

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Rex isn’t a white lantern, he’s the infinite power source the while lanterns draw from for their abilities.

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malakim2099 said on April 2nd, 2010 at 8:56 am

As I recall, back when yellow was his weakness, Hal flew head-first into a yellow billboard, because he was angry at it.

@candlejack: To be fair to Hal, I believe you’re referring to Emerald Dawn… and as he just gotten the ring at the time, he wasn’t aware of the weakness to yellow that the ring had. 😉

Which, really, when you’re in possession of a ubercool ring of cosmic power, you wouldn’t think that one isolated color in the entire spectrum is your vulnerability unless someone told you about it first.

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So, basically, every single thing I said would happen in “Blackest Night” without reading even a single word of it, happened. (Except for Hal Jordan and Geoff Johns having sex on-panel.)

Words cannot express how much pity I feel for Geoff Johns at having become so utterly trite and predictable that you can hear the premise of his eight-issue mini-series and know exactly how it ends. Seriously, I dread having something like that happen to me.

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It would be nice if undead Question or some others from the crossovers were still roaming around randomly, to be used as villains or returned at a later date. There should be more fallout in these big events; not just punch out the Anti-Monitor and all the shadow demons disappear.

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Allegretto said on April 2nd, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Geoff Johns is a glorified fanfiction writer.

I swear, for a second there i almost expected to see Barry Sue and Hal Jordan blowing each other on a two page spread or something.

If it were up to Johns he’d also make Jordan make out with every female in every comic book ever, and Barry Sue lead Superman and Bats and every other superhero in the planet as the new super awesome hero of hope for realsies. Not like that Superman that only inspired people “When he was dead”

Honestly, his RetJohns and favoritism are the pettiest I’ve ever seen this side of Claremont’s Psylocke.

And again, i agree with you. Its not that he’s a terrible writer, he’s an okay writer, really. Its just that there’s a lot of things to hate on his okay writing. I hope that makes sense.

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For example: why did they need to “deputize” Barry Allen and Lex Luthor and Ganthet and Mera into the various-coloured lantern corps?

I still don’t get what the deal is with Ganthet getting a ring that empowers him to do a bunch of stuff he could already do anyway.

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Candlejack said on April 2nd, 2010 at 1:07 pm

malakim2099: you be fair, I’m makin’ a point here! 😉

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Also

1. Was there really anyone who sincerely wanted to see Max Lord ever again?

2. I wouldn’t mind the Anti-Monitor coming back every five minutes if he weren’t such a pussy now

3. I laugh every time someone on a message board says that now that DC’s done Blackest Night they’re REALLY DONE killing heroes and bringing them back from the dead, no, really!

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Lister Sage said on April 2nd, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Now, if they give Aquaman the beard back, we can talk about progress.

Not just that. They need to give him the personality he has in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, because that version of Aquaman is the only version of Aquaman I’ve ever given a shit about. When last Aquaman had a beard all he was was a Namor stand-in which really does nothing for the character other then let Peter David write Namor stories while at DC. And before that all Aquaman was was boring. So, I say slap a beard and eyepatch on him and give us a comic book version of “That Time I Infiltrated a Group of Pirates By Wearing An Eyepatch!”

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Brian T. said on April 2nd, 2010 at 4:26 pm

One of the things I really don’t get about Johns is that the dude has written a metric butt load of comics, and he still doesn’t seem to have much of an idea of how to use superpowers that don’t involve physical violence.

… which makes it kind of weird that he’s the Green Lantern guy now. Doesn’t anybody remember the way he used to constantly have Alan Scott get punked out early in JSA stories? He constantly found excuses to not use Dr. Fate’s magic powers either.

I don’t know if that changed after the relaunch, but Stargirl barely did anything with her Cosmic Rod’s ranged attacks. Dr. Mid-Nite didn’t even use his ray gun or the strobe built into his goggles. Except for one time in his first appearance, back when David Goyer was still co-writer.

The last significant thing Johns did with Ronnie Raymond before that issue was retconning him into not being able to control his transmutation powers. Supposedly, he needed physicist Martin Stein’s Rain Man-like encyclopedic knowlege of chemistry to turn stuff into other stuff. I guess god-like control of molecules isn’t violent enough or something.

He even finds lame excuses to have Hal Jordan punch somebody instead of using that insanely powerful weapon on his finger.

It’s like Johns only responds well to poorly rendered martial arts action and he has spent most of his career trying to train his readers into thinking the same way. So, now people feel let down if Black Adam doesn’t tear out some sucker’s large intestine and choke him with it.

In practically every comic he writes, you can expect all the people with cool powers that can be used from a distance to be taken down and/or killed almost instantly. Leaving the day to be saved by Wildcat because he jumped out of the way at exactly the right time. Or Mr. Terrific. Or whichever character Johns is currently trying to convince us is the best superhero ever created in the entire history of the medium.

They should just let him get it out of his system and let him write a comic called Justice League of Mary Sues. Wildcat, Stargirl, Mr. Terrific, Barry Allen and Hal Jordan would spend every issue beating the crap out of all the characters he doesn’t like with their bare hands.

As things stand, he needs an editor brave enough to say things like “You know Green Lanterns can become intangible and create force fields, right? Some of the people you just killed in that scene should have survived that attack. And if your villain just killed twenty Green Lanterns, why is Judomaster still okay?”

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Didn’t Johns already bring Reverse-Flash back from the dead in Rebirth? Did he come back from the dead again again?

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Jason Barnett said on April 2nd, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Bill Reed- In Flash Rebirth Johns used Reverse Flash. In Blackest Night he brought him back so he could use him in Flash Rebirth.

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Blackest Night only further solidified my vow to never pick up a single issue of the new Flash series. It wasn’t enough to bring back Barry, downgrade Wally, kill off Savitar and Inertia, depower Zolomon, but really to fuck over Owen Mercer (a character with actual potential) like that for fucking Digger Harkness (NO ONE MISSED HIM) is just bringing back Silver Age for the sake of bringing back Silver Age.

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@Thok

Yes that is true but World War Hulk was a HULK story so if it doesn’t revolve around Hulk punching things harder and harder on one level or another it has pretty much failed.

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Sofa King said on April 2nd, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Ah, but the most important question is: was The Monocle brought back?

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KD, I kinda missed him.

Only because of Suicide Squad, admittedly, but still.

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Yes that is true but World War Hulk was a HULK story so if it doesn’t revolve around Hulk punching things harder and harder on one level or another it has pretty much failed.

My comment actually applied to Secret Invasion as well, which didn’t really have an excuse for the only solution to be hitting Skrulls hard. Remember, that was a mini that lead to Norman Osborn getting ridiculous amounts of power by shooting somebody in the head.

(Also, the Sentry vs Hulk ending sequence in WWH was known to everybody by issue 1 or 2.)

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“1. Was there really anyone who sincerely wanted to see Max Lord ever again?”

Yes. Like Rachel, I’m not a fan of the retcon they did with Max, but accepting the fact that it’s there and not going anywhere, I would like to see those who got played the worst by him (i.e. Booster, Fire, Ice, Captain Atom, etc.) get to confront him and bring him to justice (something they did not get a chance to do in the build up to Infinite Crisis thanks to Wonder Woman.)

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I remember Reading Lord of the Flies in high school, and the teacher described it as a perfect example of how to write a novel. The introduction of the characters, the building of the plot, the crisis, climax and deounment, all hitting exactly on cue. A perfect template to follow.

That didn’t make it any less fun to read.

Geoff has writing comics down to a science. But all the science in the world doesn’t make a rainbow any less impressive to look at.

If you’re looking for people to break the rules and experiment and bring you something new and shocking, do not come to Geoff Johns. He’s comfort food. He fills your stomach and it tastes good and you’ve had it tons of times before but it tastes good every time.

Blackest Night did exactly what it set out to do; rock our socks off and sell a crapload of comics. Everybody wins.

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Jason Barnett said on April 2nd, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Vinnie Bartilucci- I agree completely about Johns.

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Except for the “rocking our socks off”, I agree completely. :)

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fsherman said on April 3rd, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I actually liked the GL Blackest Night books, and if they’d kept it to GL and GLC, I think it would have been good. As a major event, it looked like “Everybody’s doing zombies! We gotta cash in.”
And yeah, I remember Marvel a decade or so doing a The Rules Have Changed, Dead Is Dead story. That sure worked.
As for Thawne, Johns just likes Reverse Flashes. He made up his own for Wally and he seems to think Flash needs a Zoom like Batman needs Joker. Only he’s wrong (I don’t care for his Flash takes much).

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Lamashtar said on April 3rd, 2010 at 6:17 pm

@Lance, Sorry. I thought we were doing a ‘best fit’ for Rex. Is there a color for awesome?

@Allegretto, all work-for-hire writers are fanfiction writers. They just get paid for it.

@Brian T., I *thought* that the rings were depowered in the soft reboot of Rebirth. I mean, otherwise, we’d be wondering why they even bothered to torture people in Cry For Justice when Hal could’ve just read their minds.

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Brian T. said on April 3rd, 2010 at 11:33 pm

That sounds right. Johns definitely did other things to make the rings more lame, such as retconning in the notion that creating energy constructs is actually really hard and you’ll feel tired and weak if you do it too much or don’t do it right.

I guess it’s supposed to be more “dramatic” now that Green Lanterns are a lot easier to kill.

Wikipedia is vague on this point, but it sounds like Hal Jordan can still scan people’s minds if he wants to. I guess we have to chalk that one up to bad writing.

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Lamashtar: No, Hal can still read peoples minds… but a)he forgot he could and b)torturing people sends a message to the people being tortured. In this case, that message is The Justice League is PROACTIVE now, and no longer above fighting villains using techniques that are technically war crimes.

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Steve Rogers said on April 4th, 2010 at 8:32 am

“he still doesn’t seem to have much of an idea of how to use superpowers that don’t involve physical violence.”

Given the disturbingly high levels of murder and dismemberment in his comics, I think Johns might just really, really like writing physical violence, or have some really fucked up things to work out.

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Michael P said on April 4th, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I greatly enjoyed Lord of the Flies, but otherwise agree entirely with Vinnie’s post. Geoff Johns does not write stories anymore; he writes progressions of plot points that are connected only by virtue of happening one after the other. They never come together to the point where it feels like they mean anything, even to the people they’re happening to.

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Admiral Snackbar said on April 4th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Steve Rogers: “Given the disturbingly high levels of murder and dismemberment in his comics, I think Johns might just really, really like writing physical violence, or have some really fucked up things to work out.”

With a lot of writers who have the same tics, I would agree with you, but I just don’t see Johns as being that dark. I think it’s more a failure of imagination and a lack of maturity that causes Johns to do that. This is the guy, after all, who saved ideas that he wrote about in letters to the 90s Superboy comic, and then used at DC. He’s never gotten beyond that young moment. We have seen the limits of his ability, I believe – the best he’s ever done was probably Rogues’ Revenge, because the plot movements in that were surprisingly deft for him, and there was a nice balance of external and internal conflicts.

As a general rule, the smaller Johns’s focus is, the better he is, which is why the Flash Rogues suit him so well. They’re just screwed up conmen trying to get by. It’s also why the Flamebird subplot in his old Beast Boy mini was so strong, and ended up stealing the book wholly – Johns can be really good at characters for whom everything is personal, who are deeply affected by every small change in the landscape. His imagination veers towards the world-changing, but he just doesn’t have the ability. His incredible earnestness functions best with characters who work on a smaller stage.

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Wait, Max Lord is back? I haven’t been following Blackest Night (I picked up issue 1 in all its heart-ripping glory at a local show because they were giving away Black Lantern Rings), but unless he’s de-powered, doesn’t that mean Wonder Woman has to hunt him down and kill him again? It was THE TRUTH that the only thing that could stop him from mind-controlling Superman was neck twistage.

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Brian T. said on April 5th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Admiral Snackbar said: “With a lot of writers who have the same tics, I would agree with you, but I just don’t see Johns as being that dark. I think it’s more a failure of imagination and a lack of maturity that causes Johns to do that. This is the guy, after all, who saved ideas that he wrote about in letters to the 90s Superboy comic, and then used at DC. He’s never gotten beyond that young moment.”

That makes a lot of sense.

It also explains the weird things that crop up in his stories when he tries to write about women.

Stargirl is about the only female character he hasn’t done anything that could be construed as misogynistic to, and that’s probably just because she is based on his dead sister so he tries really hard to make everything she says and does seem adorable. It doesn’t work, but at least he’s trying.

He keeps doing weird things like revealing that Power Girl just acts tough to hide her deep-rooted insecurities. Or having Hawkman and Dr. Fate fight over the Kendra Saunders Hawkgirl for a fairly long time even though she did nothing to indicate she was interested in either of them. Or deciding that She-Hulk’s powers should be based on fear. Or trying to get rid of the female Judomaster’s weird power that protected her from some types of attacks. Or writing a story where Hal Jordan is able to defeat four Star Sapphires by flirting with them and getting them to fight each other over him. Because Hal Jordan is such a stud and they’re just stupid girls.

There are probably tons of other examples. He definitely didn’t do the Wasp or the Scarlet Witch any favors when he was writing the Avengers.

He seems to spend an awful lot of time either depowering female characters or making them seem kind of incompetent just because they’re girls and they have feelings and junk.

I used to think he had some really messed up hang ups about women–especially the idea that women with cool powers can kick ass in a comic book. But it makes more sense to think of him as a case of arrested development.

He can’t write women (or convincing alien characters for that matter, which really drives me nuts when I try to read a Green Lantern comic), because he’s stuck mentally and emotionally at about fourteen years old. He likes all that really violent Miracleman-wannabe nonsense because he grew up on crappy Eighties action movies and never stopped thinking they’re awesome.

Where is Sarah Jessica Parker when you need her? Maybe if Johns finally launched, his writing would get better.

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Dan Coyle said on April 5th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Johns is married, if that means anything.

Though the fact that Carter and Kendra’s relationship boiled down to Carter fervishly hoping, “oh, if ONLY she’d come around” for what feels like ten years…

Fuck it, let’s go all in: Geoff Johns doesn’t need to run DC. He needs help. Whatever his family did to him, whatever his sister’s tragic and needless death did to him, spending the rest of his life taking it out on DC characters and their readers will never, ever make him happy. In the end, he’s not hurting comics so much as he’s hurting himself.

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Admiral Snackbar said on April 6th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Brian T.: I think for me, the biggest tipoff about Johns in that regard is what he’s said about Superboy and Wonder Girl, that Connor is the high school quarterback and Cassie’s the head cheerleader. I know he was writing them in Teen Titans and all, but really, Johns? I can’t imagine Wolfman was sitting around saying the same things about Dick Grayson and Donna Troy, you know?

So now Connor and Cassie get to have their generically sweet, chaste relationship where they sit at flying picnic tables and kiss with no tongue in the moonlight. I’m not saying he should get all lascivious with his minors, but I graduated high school only five years ago and there was a lot more going on with us than that. I mean, at least give me the sense of urgency that you can find in any 60s pop song. Listen to the Shangri-Las sometime, you know? They’re ahead of Johns’ time, and Leader of the Pack’s like 45 years old. Writing your teens as if it’s the 1950s with glossier paper just strikes me as one of the reasons comics don’t appeal to kids anymore. They did get their discreetly hinted-at night of passion before Infinite Crisis, but let’s face it: that’s really because Johns didn’t want Connor to die a virgin (and thanks for playing, Cassie!). That’s so insulting! Why not let Connor die a hero and a virgin? You’re not defined as a human being by whether or not you’ve gotten laid. Having your cool stud/jock/stand-in for your high school hopes and dreams die having never gotten past second base would be ballsier than anything Johns did in IC, that’s for sure.

So I don’t know, I think if Johns has any hangups over women, they’re more of the Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen “I can’t figure them out but I’m going to write awful relationship subplots UNTIL I DO” variety than the “rrrrragh death metal guro puts-the-lotion-on-its-skin” variety. Meaning it’s easier to write teen girls, because he doesn’t have to worry about the complicated sex stuff, and plenty of people are so dismissive of teens that there’s a good chance he won’t be called out on writing them as stereotypes. It’s also why he writes things that I think are accidentally really insulting, like Power Girl’s cleavage window being because she found out she wasn’t Clark’s cousin and thus couldn’t put a Superman symbol there. Seriously, she can’t just be a confident woman comfortable with her sexuality? (Besides, like Clark wouldn’t have welcomed her with open arms into his family? He’s SUPERMAN.)

I think the biggest worry, though, is why he keeps writing Stargirl, his little sister stand-in, as constantly in relationships with guys who are above 18 (Atom Smasher) or at least assumed to be by others (Captain Marvel).

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Steve Rogers said on April 6th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

@Admiral Snackbar and Brian T.: That’s a good way of looking at it. I’d add to the arrested development idea Johns’ really weird and gruesome juxtapositions of, say, Nazis violently dismembering entire families on panel, with viscera and blood everywhere, on one page, and on the next cutting to the JSA sitting around HQ talking about how awesome they all are, because they’re heroes, and family, and family who are heroes, and how wonderful Courtney is, and so on, with no apparent awareness of the jarring shift in tone between scenes.

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Dan Coyle said on April 6th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I remember once someone asked him about the Nazi dismemberment thing, and this was post Infinite Crisis when we were told (by Mark Waid) that things were going to get lighter, and WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS, and Johns just snickered and said, “Well, they’re VILLAINS.”

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Admiral Snackbar said on April 6th, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Steve Rogers: Nice point! Thinking about it, that actually accounts for one of the reasons I love his Flash work – the shifts in tone are more measured and better handled. You get that division between Wally scenes and Rogues scenes, but the Rogues are human and even redeemable on some level, so it’s not like the huge world-enders the JSA or whoever fights. The contrast is less jarring and the characters have more shading. Also, you’ve got the whole idea of the Rogues as a dysfunctional family, so contrasted with Wally and Linda or Wally and Jay and Bart, there’s some nice parallels.

It’s almost perverse, how much time thinking about the Johns Problem takes up for me. Granted, given the size of my pull list these days, it’s not like that would’ve been time spent reading new comics.

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Steve Rogers said on April 6th, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I don’t think it would be such an issue if Johns were writing genuine horror comics or something like that, where the violence fits with the tone of the stories he’s telling. But, I mean, who in their right mind picks up a Green Lantern comic and expects to see some thing with the eyeballs of people’s dead family members being spat on them or whatever the heck it was?

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I don’t want to get too far off the track of this thread, but I see these same sort of comments get made time and again in comics blogs that deal with specific writers so I have one question and one comment.

The question is: What is meant by “professional fan-fiction?” I don’t understand what this means. Aren’t non-fans who write comics just hacks? I understand the concept of the Mary-Sue/pet character, but what seperates the “I’ve always loved Superboy and wanted to write Superboy comics” from “getting paid by DC to write fan-fiction.” About half the time I think it’s fans thinking “I want to write Superboy AND I could do better.”

The second is that I always get uneasy political, personal, or social conclusions are drawn about a writer based on the writer’s fictional works. I don’t don’t really follow Johns, but a lot of what’s described upthread just seems like lazy writing and poor characterization.

Being a lousy or lazy writer doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you a bad writer. Usually when writers hold fringe political or personal beliefs they will go great lenghts to make sure people know about it by publishing those beliefs in other media, as Dave Sim, Orson Scott Card and Frank Miller have all done. Until Johns says or does something misogynistic I don’t think it’s fair to assume he’s a misogynist becuase he can’t write female characters.

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Admiral Snackbar said on April 9th, 2010 at 5:08 am

John: I think your latter point is pretty much the conclusion we’ve come to with Johns. Honestly, this is mean, but I don’t think there’s enough below the surface in his work for misogyny to be lurking in most places. He does stupid things with female characters, but I think that’s just general discomfort with writing them. With a Sim or Miller, there’s actually, like, subtext there, and that’s why you can really inquire into their lines of thinking. I think it was Tucker Stone who said that Blackest Night is about exactly what it claims to be about, a bunch of superheroes with rings fighting a bunch of zombies with rings, and nothing more. There is NOTHING you can read into it, and save maybe Rogues’ Revenge and a couple other books, Johns’ entire catalog is like that.

And I think the line of “professional fan fiction” is tricky to locate, and pretty dubious, but Johns’ particular mix of often poor quality, speechifying, Mary Sue-ism, obsessive and meticulous revision of past stories, and INSANE REVERENCE probably qualifies a lot of his stuff for the category. Granted, it’s a dangerous label to be throwing around, but this is a case where I don’t have any issue with it. Just compare Johns’ Green Lantern to Tomasi’s Green Lantern Corps – that is the difference between a professional fan fiction writer and a genuine professional, right there. Tomasi knows enough to bury the stupid ideas he’s forced to work with under a field of interesting, dynamic characters. Johns, for his part, is the one coming up with the stupid ideas.

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AS: Good points. My comment was wasn’t really targeted at this thread, I just brought it up because I think MGK is the most reasonable comment thread in the comics blogosphere. It’s a reaction to too many similar Women in Refrigerators posts in other blogs. I realize it was off topic.

That’s a pretty good working definition for “professional fan fiction” but I’m just always suspect of an insulting designation that got so much of that “I know it when I see it” quality.

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[…] that just seem to keep coming and coming (I know it just started, but is SIEGE over yet? What about BLACKEST NIGHT?) Having spent some time roaming the message boards, it’s been a little disappointing to see […]

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[…] takes on Johns’s Green Lantern run offered by Zom (of the must-read Mindless Ones blog) and Chris Bird. This book was just unreadable. I’m not the biggest fan of Johns’s writing style, but […]

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Badficwriter said on April 11th, 2010 at 8:27 pm

@John

In general, the insulting description can be apt. 90% of everything is crap. As someone who’s compiled one too many fanfiction directories by having to READ them all to make sure what I was listing, it can drive you away quickly.

However, that 10% includes pros who just want to play in someone else’s backyard and those who can and have graduated to professional writing–who might only end up overworked Geoff Johns level. If you’re looking for decent fanfic, never hunt randomly, only go with the recommendations of those with stronger fortitude than you. :)

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[…] review of BLACKEST NIGHT can be found right here. Worth a read, whether you agree or […]

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