Ten years ago, in 2009, Geoff Johns began his third seminal event, Blackest Night, in his medium shattering run on Green Lantern. Johns has been teasing this event all the way back to his first issue on Green Lantern in Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 in 2004, with Hal Jordan the Specter disintegrating William Hand’s right hand to live up to his supervillain name Black Hand. This run of Green Lantern took elements from the entirety of the Green Lantern character’s existence and was expertly crafted into an amazing story that not only brought back old elements into the limelight but introduced new ones that are still branching out into new stories today.
Johns’ run on Green Lantern can be divided up into seven events: Green Lantern: Rebirth, The Sinestro Corp War, Blackest Night, Brightest Day, War of the Green Lanterns, Rise of the Third Army, and The Wrath of the First Lantern/The End. While these stories do ultimately center around the actions of Hal Jordan following his resurrection in Green Lantern: Rebirth, this gigantic epic expands a lot on the Green Lantern mythos. Within the first two events, Johns’ introduced concepts of the emotional spectrum with the Green Lantern’s using the green light of willpower/courage. Johns would first retcon the villain/love interest of Hal Jordan, the Star Sapphire in using the violet light of the spectrum which represents the emotion of love/desire. Then he would introduce the Sinestro Corp powered by the yellow light of fear with the former mentor and rival of Jordan, Thaal Sinestro.
This culminated in the Sinestro Corps War with the Sinestro Corps recruiting those that can instill great fear to combat the Green Lanterns. Following this event, Johns would introduce the other corps of the spectrum, those being the Red Lanterns powered by the emotion of anger/rage, the Blue Lanterns powered by hope, the Orange Lantern powered by greed/avarice, and the Indigo Tribe powered by compassion. The introduction of these new corps all centers around a prophecy found in the Book of Oa, a sort of rule book for the Green Lanterns. That prophecy is the “Prophecy of the Blackest Night,” an element found in the Green Lantern oath. Abin Sur, the prior greatest Green Lantern and friend to Sinestro who would pass on his ring to Jordan, researched this prophecy and discovered that it prophesied that a war of light would occur. This would also bring about the Black Lanterns along with the universe heading towards the existence of constant death, despair, and blackness. His search for answers about this prophecy would ultimately lead to his demise but he would discover who would be the tether for the Black Lanterns, William Hand.
William Hand is a necrophiliac who grew up enamored with death in his morgue-run home. One day, following his encounter with Green Lanterns for the first time in a graveyard, Hand hears a voice speak to him in his head, telling him that the universe is too bright and the light must be put out i.e the lanterns must be destroyed. This causes him to become a rather unsuccessful villain until his designated hand is resurrected by aliens hoping to find the source of the black power within him. The voice then tells him to kill his family and them himself but that’s when a Black Lantern Ring bounds to him and he’s able to bring the voice into reality. The voice was of the entity of death, Nekron and together they created thousands of black rings and resurrected all those who have died in the universe to create an army of emotionless zombies with one goal in mind: to destroy all life in the universe. Only the combined light of all of the lantern corps can stop the Black Lanterns and bring forth the final element of the emotional spectrum: the white light of life, The White Lanterns.
Blackest Night introduces a multitude of interesting concepts into the DC universe such as what if all of the characters who have died such as Martian Manhunter, Superman, Aquaman, Firestorm, and more were brought back as Black Lantern zombies with all of their powers still enabled. How can only a couple hundred lanterns fight of a force as large as over ¾’s of the universe capped by these zombie super beings? They’ll just have to get new recruits and that exactly what they do. Mera is chosen to become a Red Lantern, Wonder Woman a Star Sapphire, Lex Luthor an Orange Lantern, Ganthet (a Guardian of the universe) a Green Lantern, Ray Palmer the Atom an Indigo Tribe member, Scarecrow/ Jonathan Crane a Sinestro Corp member, and Barry Allen the Flash as a Blue Lantern.
Even existing Lanterns, like Sinestro, are given upgrades, becoming a host for The White Light Entity thus becoming the universe’s first White Lantern. The emotional spectrum/light entities were also a new concept introduced by Geoff Johns.
In the 90’s, Hal Jordan became enraptured by grief and fear which caused him to destroy the Green Lanterns and rename himself as the villain Parallax during a storyline titled Emerald Twilight. Johns retcons this heel turn in character development by stating that Jordan became possessed by the yellow entity of fear Parallax. The author later introduces the green entity of will for the Green Lanterns known as Ion, who was first hosted by the Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (the future true and single White Lantern). In Blackest Night, Johns introduces the entity for the Black Lanterns, Nekron, and the entity for the White Lanterns who is simply called The Entity. The other entities for the other corps in the emotional spectrum also teased in Blackest Night such as the entity of the Red Lanterns known as The Butcher but those beings wouldn’t be properly introduced until the sequel event Brightest Day, an event named after another element of the Green Lantern oath.
Geoff Johns would go on to finish his Green Lantern run in what may be considered one of the best runs in comic book history that is still cherished and analyzed for material today. If fans want to reread this horrific tale of zombified heroes and villains or are eager to read the Blackest Night for the first time, DC Comics has released an omnibus containing all of the core story and tie-ins of Blackest Night today celebrating the story’s tenth anniversary.