In your local comic stores, Tom Taylor and Trevor Hairsine’s DCEASED zombie epic has been tearing flesh and shelves alike, depicting a typical Injustice-ian world where no one is safe and anyone can be an undead menace. It wasn’t too long ago that another zombie outbreak was unleashed upon the world when Geoff Johns presented readers with Blackest Night, an event where every skeleton in DC’s historic closet had returned to haunt the living, feasting off the emotions their return inspired as members of the Black Lantern Corps.
But it wasn’t just the returns of long-dead characters as the soldiers in a war of death that put us on edge. It was the fact that in a world of unstoppable, ring-powered zombies, absolutely everyone was at risk of falling at any moment, and even joining the Black Lantern Corps themselves in the process. For a true sense of the size and scope of these casualties, here we have ten examples of characters who went down during Blackest Night.
In the lead-up to Blackest Night, part of the opposition’s opening move was clearing one of the biggest power players from the board. Before their assault on Earth, the Black Lanterns’ first major target was the Guardian homeworld of Oa. The undead-raising Black Lantern rings found their first swell of forces in Oa’s crypts of fallen Lanterns, forcing the Corps to battle friends and loved ones for the fate of their Central Power Battery. Kyle makes the ultimate sacrifice in Green Lantern Corps #42, igniting himself to take out the encroaching wave of Black Lanterns before the planet could fall.
DID IT STICK?: Not for a minute. By the next issue, Star Sapphire Miri Riam successfully resurrects Kyle with the love held for him by his girlfriend, Soranik Natu — but that momentary sacrifice did yield momentous consequences, inspiring Guy Gardner to embrace the rage of the Red Lantern Corps in righteous fury for his fallen brother.
HAWKMAN & HAWKGIRL
The casualties of Blackest Night proper begin to mount in the first issue. Long conflicted by her feelings for Hawkman, Kendra Saunders, the current iteration of the reincarnating Hawkgirl, is about to finally profess her feelings for him when another Super Hero couple comes to call: Sue Dibny, whose death infamously came in Identity Crisis, and Elongated Man, who met his end in 52. The Black Lantern Sue runs Kendra through with a spear before she can finish her confession, as Hawkman’s former friend Elongated Man clubs him manically with his own mace. The issue ends with the deceased Hawkman and Hawkgirl rising to join the ranks of the Black Lanterns, firmly establishing the stakes of the war to come.
DID IT STICK?: Only for the night. By the end of Blackest Night, the White Lantern entity emerges to resurrect a dozen characters for purposes which would play out in the subsequent Brightest Day. Among those twelve were Hawkman and Hawkgirl… though the latter no longer possessed the memories of Kendra Saunders, splitting the would-be lovers apart once more.
The original Aqualad’s hard luck didn’t just start on Titans. By Blackest Night #2, Garth had already lost three of the most important people in his life: his mentor, Aquaman, his first love, Tula, and his wife, Dolphin. As Blackest Night falls, the three of them emerge to torment and destroy the remaining members of the Aquafamily. After fighting over Tempest with Dolphin, it’s Tula who rips Tempest’s heart from his chest — first metaphorically, and then quite literally. With Tempest arisen as a Black Lantern, only Mera remained to fight for her family.
DID IT STICK?: For a while, yes. Garth wouldn’t be seen again until well after the timeline altering effects of Flashpoint, debuting as a member of Mera’s personal black ops task force in 2015’s Aquaman #42 — though memories of his life before Flashpoint would return to him in Titans Hunt.
HAWK (HOLLY GRANGER)
The crime fighting team of Hawk & Dove was forever changed when Don Hall was killed in Crisis on Infinite Earths. His brother, Hank Hall, would eventually find a new partner in Dawn Granger… though when Hank himself met his own end, Hawk & Dove became a sibling act once more when Dawn’s sister Holly Granger was enlisted as the second Hawk. In Blackest Night: Titans #1, this second wave Hawk & Dove assists their fellow Titans. Fittingly, it’s the original Hawk who ends up doing Holly Granger in, plunging his hand into her chest after battering her around the Tower library, with Dove present and yet utterly helpless in the battle for her sister’s life.
DID IT STICK?: It has. Hank Hall was one of the twelve people truly resurrected by the White Lantern Entity at the end of Blackest Night, and he’s remained Dawn’s partner ever since.
It takes two personalities to run the Firestorm Matrix. Classically, this role has been filled by high school football star Ronnie Raymond and science professor Martin Stein. But after the original Firestorm took a fatal hit in Identity Crisis, a new duo took up the Matrix: the brilliant teenager Jason Rusch, and his equally bright girlfriend Gehenna. But that partnership meets its end in Blackest Night #3, when a resurrected Ronnie Raymond- now as the Black Lantern, Deathstorm- uses his powers to rip Gehenna out of the Firestorm Matrix and fuse with Jason himself. Unable to do anything but watch from his perch in Raymond’s head, Jason’s mind looks on helplessly as Deathstorm transmutes Gehenna into pure salt.
DID IT STICK?: It stuck. Ronnie Raymond is one of the twelve people to be resurrected by the White Lantern Entity, and he goes on to form a new uneasy partnership with Jason in Gehenna’s stead.
One of the coolest things to come out of Blackest Night was that its resurrections didn’t end with mere characters: by Nekron’s Black Hand, even long dead comic book titles were resurrected for one more Black Lantern themed issue. Starman, Suicide Squad, The Question, and many more returned from the comic book graveyard for a final tale of undead horror. One surprising inclusion was Weird Western Tales, one of DC’s Western themed comic series in the ‘70s known for featuring such hard-traveled heroes as Bat Lash, Scalphunter, and Jonah Hex. In Weird Western Tales #71, Jonah Hex rounds up the posse on a hunt for Joshua Turnbull, the last scion of his old nemesis Quentin Turnbull. Joshua meets his fate when he foolishly beseeches a Black Lantern Quentin to aid him in fighting for the family name, only for Jonah Hex to step out of the way and allow Quentin to gun his great grandson down himself. All alliances and enmities are forgotten in the long sleep. When Blackest Night arrives, the only two sides are the dead and the living.
DID IT STICK?: Jonah’s quest to extinguish the Turnbull blight on the West is finished for good. We hadn’t seen Joshua before this issue, and in all likelihood we won’t see him again.
DAMAGE (GRANT EMERSON)
Son of the Golden Age Atom, Al Pratt, this former Titan isn’t exactly considered an A-Lister today, but he accomplished some amazing things during his tenure. In Zero Hour, for instance, it was Damage’s powers which ultimately kept the Parallax-addled Hal Jordan from reshaping the entire universe to his own twisted will. He battled the world-ending threat of Imperiex alongside the Justice League of America. Zoom, Gog, and Magog each had notable confrontations with Grant Emerson during his heroic tenure. But despite his impressive heroic resume, Grant meets his end in Blackest Night #4 when Ray Palmer saves him from a Black Lantern Al Pratt — only to have his heart torn out from behind by Ray’s ex-wife, Jean Loring. With the harvest of Damage, the Black Lantern power battery finally reaches 100%, and Nekron arises.
DID IT STICK?: Blackest Night was the end of the road for Grant Emerson. In memory of his loss and his great heroics in life, Grant’s girlfriend Sonia Sato (alias Judomaster) founded a charitable disaster relief organization in his name. In the Rebirth era, an entirely unrelated character named Ethan Avery took on the Damage name, though he bears no relationship to Emerson.
As thick as you are, pay attention: though once a member of the Guardians of the Universe, the Oan who would come to be known as Scar never forgot their failures in their self-appointed positions. Disfigured in the battle against the Anti-Monitor during Crisis on Infinite Earths, Scar eventually came to the notion that the only way to find balance in the universe and embrace the coming of the Blackest Night. After all, she posed, are we not all brothers and sisters in death? With Nekron’s rise and her plan seemingly complete by Blackest Night #5, it’s only an alliance of members from all seven Lantern Corps which bring down Scar in a bath of every-colored light.
DID IT STICK?: Scar’s sole purpose was to bring about the Blackest Night. With her purpose fulfilled, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see her rise again.
CAPTAIN BOOMERANG, JR.
Owen Mercer was the son of the deadbeat Flash villain turned Suicide Squad mainstay Captain Boomerang, who just so happened to have a knack of his own with the Speed Force- tapping into it to throw his family’s trademark boomerangs with inhuman speed and accuracy. Before Blackest Night, Owen spent some time replacing his father’s spot in the Suicide Squad, and some more with Dick Grayson’s Outsiders. But his unresolved father issues come to a head in Blackest Night: The Flash, where he finds himself catering to his undead father in a vain attempt to reconnect with him. He’s successful only in the grimmest possible sense, when an invigorated Black Lantern Boomerang takes the heart of his own son for his final meal.
DID IT STICK?: For the most part. Though Captain Boomerang himself is one of the twelve brought back by the White Lantern Entity, Boomerang Jr. was gone for good — that is, until the Rebirth era a couple of reboots later, where Owen appears once again to exact vengeance on his da’ in 2018’s Suicide Squad #47.
THE RAINBOW RAIDERS
Untold Tales of Blackest Night is one of the best issues of the event, and yet it wasn’t released until after it was over. Untold Tales contains a bevy of interesting scenes, stories, and perspectives throughout the universe which didn’t quite make it into the final cut of the series, allowing them to be told after the fact in this volume. One tale was the story of the Rainbow Raiders, a group of seven thieves who had themed themselves after a former D-List enemy of The Flash. Though they had yet to oppose any incarnation of The Flash themselves, the Raiders shrewdly see the Blackest Night as their opportunity to join in on the winning side- or so they think. The Raiders enact a suicide pact in order to bedevil The Flash as Black Lanterns themselves… but find not even a nominal resurrection, lacking any true emotional connection to the heroes whom Nekron seeks. Whoopsie-daisies!
DID IT STICK?: Considering these Raiders were literally invented to die in this event, dead is exactly where the Rainbow Raiders stay.