Blackest Night Cheeses Me Off Again

 I’ve calmed down since, but I got kind of irritated by a certain aspect of Green Lantern No. 52 earlier today. Let’s watch!

Spoilers! Spoilers aplenty! Read no further if you care about such things!

So this is a mostly-talking issue and I’m not too upset about it. There had to be an origin of that white light thing that Sinestro ate in Blackest Night and if it was a bit long, well, that’s kind of what happens when a story is blown up to somewhere between four and ten times the size that it needs to be. Gah, and there’s probably going to be another one of these for Nekron, isn’t there.

So Sinestro stops in the middle of a fight with about a million dudes and narrates the history of the White Light Entity. It goes something like this: the Entity appeared in our universe and created all of the stars and planets and stuff. It then created the Earth at the point in space where it first entered our universe and hid inside (deep within the planets gooey centre in the narration but about a foot below the surface in the actual comic). The Entity’s presence caused life to evolve, and then as creatures start displaying emotions (emotions like willpower!) they are transformed into Ion and Parallax and Predator and so forth, seven in all. I think that this is the origin of the emotional spectrum. Like, Ion is the first anything anywhere to exhibit willpower and afterward there is green light power for all – it’s not explicitly stated but it’s strongly implied and so I’m going with it.

This whole thing has been bugging me for a while now and I think I’ve figured out why: it’s the Earth-centric aspect of the whole thing, straight out of terrible 50s sci-fi. Where Our Heroes Are is the Most Important Place in All Creation. It’s a perennial problem in comics, especially DC comics, wherein writers feel a perpetual need to explain the remarkably high instance of alien invasion and such. I kind of thought that they settled that problem fine way back in Invasion: humans have a crazy genetic code and so there are lots of superhumans and so alien races want to exploit/conquer/destroy our planet. Simple, and yet every new event seems to layer on another heaping spoonful of importance, until the fictional history of the DCU Earth resembles some ungodly narrative casserole. I swear, if this exact same origin was set on a random alien planet I would have no problem with it, but it isn’t and now I have to tear it apart.

Okay, so the timeline goes: Entity arrives – creates universe – creates Earth, hides inside – life starts – unicellular/whale-looking thing feels first will – flying bug thing generates first fear – some other bug (?) feels first love – snake feels first avarice – bull (?) feels first rage – bird feels first hope – octopus feels first compassion.

I guess that this is a comic book and that the Earth could be 10+ billion years old instead of the 4 or 5 we currently reckon it to be, and maybe the universe revolves around a stationary Earth that is certainly not quintillions of kilometers away from where it might have been 10 billion years ago. Maybe the DCU is that radically different than ours.

And maybe the entire Age of Reptiles happened without any creature feeling anything like rage. Maybe dinosaurs went about their business in a dignified manner and didn’t take anything personally. It took the Rise of the Cows to mess things up for everyone. And maybe no living creature in the entire universe felt hope or compassion any time until the last, say, million years or so – remember, that octopus didn’t get around to it until after the cow-murder.

But even if every Green Lantern story told before this whole rainbow brouhaha is now said to be completely apocryphal, there are some holes in this story. Geoff Johns creation Larfleeze the Orange Lantern got his start billions of years ago, all fighting the Guardians and betraying his homies and such. And then billions of years went by and snakes and apples evolved and a snake in an apple tree felt avarice for the first time. Bah.

I suppose that I should be as willing to discard what I know about evolution and such as I was to abandon cosmology and common sense and the prior established history of the Green Lanterns and by extension the DCU, but this last detail pushes things just a bit too far. An earth that is the centre of the universe, that evolved the very first life anywhere and that reached the Age of Mammals something like 10 billion years ago (necessary for anyone to have gotten angry for most of the history of the universe, remember) only to remain in a sort of evolutionary stasis since then is just a bit too much for my suspension of disbelief glands to process. Especially since I just described the planet Malthus, a central element in Green Lantern’s history. There’s already a place that this could have been set that would have made all of this make sense! I mean, it wouldn’t be the greatest story ever told, but by GOD would it be about a billion times more palatable without ERTH ISS COOL AND IMPURTENT scrawled across it in foot-high letters.

Okay, I had to go and do something and I’ve calmed sown a bit. All I’ve got left is that it’s weird that that one robot would know the term “Western Seaboard” and not “Tootsie Pop”. They’re both pretty Earth-colloquial, right?

Okay… nerd rage spent. Go read the rest of the reviews in the next post for me being happy about comics. I’ll try not to do this any more.

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Comments

18 Responses to “Blackest Night Cheeses Me Off Again”

  1. The Mutt says:

    Silly rabbits. Everybody knows that the Earth is not the center of the Universe. Rick Jones is the center of the Universe.

  2. methane says:

    I haven’t been reading Green Lantern, but I do find Earth-centrism hurts science fiction stories.

  3. Bully says:

    All they need now is to get Neal Adams to illustrate it, so he can show how not only is the earth more important, it’s also bigger than it used to be.

  4. outburst says:

    I sometimes get upset when every 9.5 out of 10 aliens depicted in comics or movies or television all have two arms, two legs, one head, two eyes, etc. The chances that life on planets way out there are going to have such similar physiology as us is nonsense, but I think there will always be some need to bring it close to home for us. I think in general, we like thinking we’re the centre of the universe and we have the perfect physical form.
    It’s absolutely ludicrous to think so, but I think it’s in our nature to do it.

  5. Doktor Andy says:

    Well said, Johnathan.

  6. Andrew says:

    Here’s what you’re missing:

    Adam and Eve created Love, Eve taking the apple created Avarice, Cain killing Abel created Rage, Noah sending out the dove created Hope, and God relenting of the flood created Compassion (and thus completed the rainbow).

    I missed it too, the first time. But it’s not at all subtle or arguable. Look at the panels for the creation of each emotion again and slap your forehead, as I did, for thinking that some snake ate an apple greedily. Snakes literally don’t eat until they’re hungry again, a snake is the last creature who’d do that. So, there you go, that’s what you missed.

    As for why no animals ever felt those things, I suppose higher emotions like that were just beyond inhuman creatures, which… is that so hard to believe? Animals don’t really hate.

  7. hilker says:

    Does that mean Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-36 is in continuity?

  8. Rolando says:

    @Andrew I agree with what you’re saying and I saw that too. But Jonathan’s concern still holds. It’s already been established that in the DCU sentient life with emotions have existed for billions of years. This would imply that Adam & Eve and all the events of the Old Testament took place on Earth not thousands or even millions of years ago but BILLIONS of years ago. Then the rest of earth’s evolution just kind of stopped for a very, very long time.

    That being said, I don’t see it the same as either of you. All they said was LIFE began on earth. I didn’t assume those other events all took place on earth too. I thought those sparks of emotion happened in places across the universe. Those planets just happened to look like ours and they happened to have snakes, etc. the way we said most aliens already share a lot in common with human physiology.

  9. A Person Who Exists says:

    I can’t get over the evangelical nature of this story. I mean, okay, Genesis outlines the entirety of creation. That’s fine, I can live with that. I’m an atheist myself, but I can deal with that in my sci-fi. But it’s like John alluded to: It ends up a Young Earth Creation hypothesis. Every bit of evidence we have that life developed billions of years ago is tossed out, despite being canonically written by the same writer, its all gone in favor of melding to a religious perspective of the world.

    The fact this is the same writer who sidelines the Spectre continuously boggles me.

  10. Sallyp says:

    All i can think of, is that the depictions of the various entities are being presented in such a way as to appeal to HUMANS. I would think that the various aleins would get a different version of them, that would be consistant with THEIR belief system.

    Maybe

  11. Johnathan says:

    Andrew: caught the snake, kind of considered the possibility of an obtuse Cain reference and completely missed the last two – good spotting. Does that make the Predator… Adam? In any case, as Rolando pointed out, this makes the whole thing even more bullshit.

    I considered that Johns might be going for a Sandman thing where Cain is the first murderer and Abel the first victim, but not in Bible times – in some misty, beginning-of-everything past. Of course, as soon as that possibility is brought up I start thinking of all of the terrible ways that this story interacts with Sandman, beginning with the fact that Cain is not, in fact, a giant red bull-thing.

    If all the creatures are in fact from different planets… I might be able to ignore the fact that Earth is still 6 billion years too old.

  12. Bret says:

    Adam is the Predator?

    That just raises further questions!

    Questions like:

    So, why is he hunting Danny Glover again?

    If Ion is so powerful, how come Dutch could kill one of these primal emotion thingies with primitive traps?

    And where does Adam Baldwin fit in?

  13. Robert says:

    It’s this kind of revisionism / re-imagining that makes comics less important, less engaging and less influential.

  14. Julio Dvulture says:

    Well they recently established, in another ridiculous mini that the Cain was the first murderer and also that Cain is Vandal Savage, so… awful. Well, in a series that can’t even make sure where Killowog is on any given moment (compare killowog and lots of other lanterns in Coast city together with Hal and the others on Blackest Night 7 to them 10,000 feet over it on Green Lantern 52… for that matter there is a lantern that is just a bunch of bones envolved by a force field, and on blackest night he is a green lantern here he is a yellow one).

    I mean if you can keep straight what color a Lantern is, what hope you have for the fact that the green lantern corps existed billions of years before life started on Earth? Are these the famous Time-Travelling Lantern Entities I heard so much about?

  15. Dylan says:

    That Sinestro Corps bone-filled guy (I forget his name) was never shown as a Green Lantern. He’s a sort of amoeba creature that’s naturally greenish in color, but I don’t think he’s ever been show to be a Green [i]Lantern[/i]. He’s Sinestro Corps.

  16. G says:

    Western Seaboard most likly has universal counterparts(even if they are not called such) but tootsie pops are more an earth thing

  17. Johnathan says:

    I guess, but if whatever translation program they’re using turned “seaboard” (pretty US-specific, in my experience) into “coast” why couldn’t it handle “tootsie pop” into “zyblorg crunch” or something? That robot should be more concerned by context than term.

  18. KD says:

    Yea….i mean it’s crazy. For Geoff Johns to be such a continuity nut, he really couldnt/didn’t want to find a way for all this to sync up with what’s established about the DCU already? But therein may lie the problem: the DC office may not have an established origin of the DCU (since IC restructured the DCU, History of the DCU is probably out of continuity) which is a bit stupid considering the lengths they’ve been going to give the 30th Century seeds of development in the 21st century.

    I too can’t stand the “EARTH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER” theme in DC as of late (shit it was already the center of the goddamn multiverse). That’s one thing I like about Marvel, Earth for all the invasion attempts, is considered a backwater POS by most other alien civilizations.

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