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DCD Blackest Night
by yo go re

For all that we poke fun at the Blackest Night crossover as being a ripoff of Marvel Zombies, the fact remains that DC did very well with the crossover. It built seamlessly on established continuity, and they managed to keep the series' Big Bad a secret almost until he was revealed.

Nekron, Lord of the Black Lanterns, is perhaps the most powerful dark force in the universe. As the Lord of the Unliving, Nekron draws power from the bodies of the dead. He has manipulated the villain Black Hand and the fallen Guardian Scar into creating the Black Lantern Corps. Through the force of the Black Power Rings, which reanimate and feed on the emotions of others, Nekron strives to accumulate enough power so that he will once again rise to destroy life, returning the universe to its rightful occupant... Darkness.

As others have pointed out, DC really is quite abysmal when it comes to interacting online, and has a bad habit of releasing spoilers for their own books way too soon. It's like they're trying to prevent unauthorized leaks by leaking everything themselves. It's annoying, insulting and amatuerish, but they actually managed to keep mum about Nekron's involvment in Blackest Night, allowing the mystery to build.

Nekron first appeared in the 1981 Tales of the Green Lantern Corps miniseries, which is otherwise best known for introducing the teenaged Arisia and giving her and Hal a ton of scenes which are really creepy in retrospect. Back then he spent all his time staring out from the inside of a space-anus, and looked like a whitish skeleton draped in rags and wearing a disco collar, so this redesign is clearly for the better.

Ivan Reis and Joe Prado ditched absolutely everything about the old design and reimagined Nekron as a cross between the Grim Reaper and Jacob Marley (by way of Spawn). His body is covered by dry, stretched skin, and he's wearing a tattered black robe with a hood draping down his back and revealing his prominent spine. His pants and boots are a little silly outside the realm of superheroes, but his belt is the Black Lantern "hand" symbol. He has black wraps starting mid-forearm and ending just before the fingers, like a boxer. He has a thick metal band around his throat, and another on his left wrist, connected by a chain. More broken chains hang from the collar, and both it and the cuff have unused attachment points for more chains.

Before the redesign, Nekron's face was just a skull with eyes. Sometimes the skull was oversized and bulbous, but it was still just a skull with eyes, and it was always 100% goofball. Basically, the stupidest "threatening" thing ever. The redesign puts some meat on those facebones, giving him the same drawn-taut skin as on the rest of his body. He wears the Black Lantern symbol like a crown, and though he still has eyes, they're just blank white orbs in sunken sockets.

The dominant feature of Nekron's new design is the fact that his chest has been punched open, and his black heart is visible within. The sculpt, by Johnathan Matthews, does a top-notch job of making the heart look like it's embedded deep within the chest, rather than being minorly recessed like Boodikka's lantern. It can't be a single piece, because the way the ribs bend over the opening, they never would have been able to get it out of the mold. It's a very creepy look, and I'm not sure if they ever explained the change.

Nekron has a balljointed head, the usual balljoint-ish DCD shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel forearms, T-crotch, swivel thighs, hinged knees and swivel shins. It's still heartening to see DC Direct moving forward with this: two years ago half those joints would have been absent, even though they blend seamlessly with the costume design. The material used to make the figure is slightly rubbery, so I had some trouble getting the joints to move at first: the shin swivels, "wrists" and left shoulder didn't want to move; an hour in the freezer fixed most of those, but the right wrist I had to boil and pop before it moved without threatening to shred.

Anyway, with all those joints, Nekron can achieve some very cool poses. Nothing too dynamic, thanks to the restrictions of his pvc robe and the limitations of his design (what, no biceps?), but he spends most of his time looming ominously, not getting into highly choreographed kung-fu fights. This is more than sufficient for the character. He has a Black Lantern base to keep him standing, and the large scythe that is the real source of his power. It's an 8¼" tall piece, with a curved handle, a 3" long curved blade, and a black lantern where the two join. In the story, the heroes thought they'd killed Nekron, but another zombie just picked up the weapon and was transformed into his new host.

Nekron's paint is mostly good, but then, it is mostly just a question of black and grey. The paint master showed a bronze color applied to the metal bits, and perhaps even the chains, but on the final figure it looks less like the rust of ages and more like radomly spotted fleshtone. His internal bits look oily, and his teeth are particularly well-done. There's meant to be a bit of black drool dripping down his chin, but it isn't painted as well as it should be, and ends up looking like an error instead of an intentional feature. As you can see in the photo up above, the heart actually has a bit of a brownish red app, but it's only apparent under bright light.

If you've been following Geoff Johns' Green Lantern from the beginning, the choice to use Nekron as the Big Bad of Blackest Night isn't a huge surprise - after all, Hal and Barry aren't the only useless losers he's brought back and made into something good. Story after story of the rebooted GL comic was about rescuing some forgotten villain from the trash heap. Black Hand, The Shark... heck even Sinestro and the Star Sapphires were all radically reinvented under Johns' pen, so Nekron is really just another obscure update. The character was recently included on a poll to determine a future DCU BAF, but right now we've got a killer version from DC Direct.

-- 10/17/10

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