I don’t know if you’ve ever played a Japanese import RPG that was obviously intended to be shown on an HD television, and after plugging it into your 360 or PS3 you realized that your non-HD TV could not possibly display all of the narrative text at work in the game. If the HD TV in this metaphor represents a reader’s encyclopedic awareness of The Flash’s history, my reading experience with Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night: The Flash #1 was much like the user experience described above. That’s not to say there wasn’t a compelling and enjoyable story here, but it reached Crisis on Infinite Earths levels of continuity density. And despite some comparatively dense montage pages of 9-14-panel primers, I’m sure many of the implications introduced went over my head as a casually acquainted Flash follower.
This was probably the best single-character spin-off story I’ve read yet from the now-sprawling web of “Blackest Night” titles. Barry Allen is still unsure of exactly how The Reverse-Flash came back to life and subsequently snatched him out of the Speed Force, effectively saving him and bringing him back. That introduces a dilemma for him that the Black Lantern ring resurrection process may be a part of the process that brings Eobard Thawne back to life, enabling him to save Barry. Time traveling mechanics aside, this situation adds weight to the story, and the Gorilla City and Captain Cold moments kept things lively with the continuity-rich character-driven moments that Johns does so well.
I also appreciated the clarification of what the Black Lantern zombies really are — programmed bodies with mind software based on the final memories of their hosts. It’s a bit like the Doctor Who episode with the astronauts whose zombie reincarnations repeat the last words their characters said before dieing.
Scott Kollins’ art keeps up with Johns’ story, too, even if a couple of the page in here come off as ultra-compressed. I’ll definitely pick up issue #2, which is more than I can say for a couple of the “Blackest Night” titles I’ve picked up issues #1’s from thus far.