After seeing Helen Rittelmeyer off on a 7am bus to her summer gig in Washington, DC, I lost no time before sinking deeply into escapist fantasy to numb the pain of her absence: finishing reading Thomas More’s Utopia in Starbucks (more on that in my October Book Selections entry), getting tickets to an 11:45am show of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which was fine for fans, pointless for normal people, I think), getting a haircut short enough to make me appear ritually born again as my childhood hero Tom Swift, and stopping by Jim Hanley’s Universe (though I usually go to Midtown Comics, with its 20% discount deal) for “Free Comic Book Day,” which is exactly what it sounds like (and still going on as I type this, so run to your nearest comics shop).
Hanley’s policy is five free comics to customers on this exalted annual occasion, so I picked up Avengers, Love & Rockets, Savage Dragon, Simpsons, and — most important — Blackest Night issue #0 (yes, zero) from DC Comics, the prelude to the long-dreaded “blackest night” event prophecied in the decades-old Green Lantern vow about remaining vigilant against evil “in brightest day, in blackest night.”
One year ago, I convinced the lovely and unsuspecting couple seen in the photo above, Nicole (nee Beaver) and Sandy Partowidjojo, to put that phrase in their marriage vows, which they did, and that helps me feel as if I was in Bali for their wedding instead of perhaps foolishly deciding I was too busy to attend. The free comic is really for them — and I genuinely intend to give it to them as a first-anniversary gift later this month.
But what exactly is this “Blackest Night,” you ask? In a word: zombies. And despite all my efforts, I am inevitably reminded of Helen, who has a soft spot for the undead and recently told me about an acquaintance of hers, Dave Kasten, realizing there is a rock-paper-scissors paradox involving zombies, since zombies could obviously defeat ninjas, ninjas probably beat pirates (though each have their partisans, obviously), and (here’s the paradox) pirates can demonstrably defeat zombies, as demonstrated in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. If anyone in Washington is hiring, incidentally, I think the guy who came up with that needs a job, which may not surprise you.
The thing that makes the Blackest Night zombies (or Black Lantern Corps, as they are more properly called) special, though, is that they are zombies of familiar dead superheroes and supervillains. At first, I thought, How many dead superheroes can there be, given that they’re constantly being resurrected on the rare occasions when they fail to dodge bullets with implausible luck? But by my Wikipedia-assisted count, the Justice League alone has thirty-seven dead members, listed below for your moment-of-silence perusal:
Superman (original Earth-Two version, anyway)
Batman (for now)
Elongated Man (and wife)
Hawkman? (both of them? sort of?)
Hawkgirl? (both of them? sort of?)
Amazing Man II
Crimson Fox I
Crimson Fox II
Rocket Red 4
That’s a lot of very powerful zombies. Let me add that I’d love to see them bring back Grant Morrison’s version of Frankenstein, who’s sort of a zombie, amidst all this. But I’m not actually going to read it.