Blackest Night: Black Guardian
by Russell Burlingame
Geoff Johns has teased at conventions, interviews and most recently in the pages of the Blackest Night #0 Director's Cut (included in Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #3), that the big bad behind Scar and The Black Hand will be much, much scarier than any of the threats so far seen in the series. There's no way I could possibly touch on all the likely candidates, but a few sprung to mind and I scribbled them on a pad of paper while waiting for a friend at a Chili's the other day. That said, I figured a quick look down what I consider to be a list of fun possibilities for suspects is in order.
This skull-faced lord of the underworld is powerful enough, and in the right ways, to do it. His role in the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps miniseries of the early '80s shows that this kind of thing is right up his alley, and of course Blackest Night #1 featured a skull on the cover for no adequately explored reason.
Why not him? Geoff Johns has flat-out denied that Nekron will be involved with Blackest Night when asked at a convention. On the other hand, Johns can't be expected to come clean with the series' big twist if somebody guesses it.
He's certainly powerful and insane enough to pull this off-the villain behind the JLA/Avengers series and the man who was integral to the rise of the Anti-Monitor is integral to the Green Lantern mythos and the instigator of an untold number of deaths in the DC Universe.
Why not him? The Avengers connection, and the fact that it's the only place most fans will have seek Krona, makes him a potentially confusing villain for new readers.
Appa Ali Apsa ("The Mad Guardian")
In terms of crazy bastard Guardians, there's Krona, there's Appa...and then somewhere way, WAY down the list is Scar. Scar ain't got nothing on the guy who stole cities from all over the universe, planted them on Oa, and then took on the whole GL Corps and the rest of the Guardians. He's almost as integral to GL history as Krona, certainly moreso than Nekron, but has the added bonus that he absolutely hates the Guardians and knows all their secrets (like, for example, where Larfleeze and the orange rings were).
Why not him? Geoff Johns seems to be ignoring most or all of the Gerard Jones-era Green Lantern stories, which is when the formerly amiable Appa (he's the Guardian who went on a quest to find America with Hal and Ollie) went off his little blue nut.
Nobody knows Malvolio's power levels or exact capabilities, but he's used to working in the shadows and manipulating rings-that much is clear from his only appearance in anAction Comics Weekly arc featuring Hal back in the '80s. Well, that much plus he hates-HATES-the Guardians of the Universe. He's also a favorite among hardcore Hal fans, as a small segment of us expected Malvolio's ring-worn by Hal, demonstrably different in appearance to the rest of the Lanterns' and referenced in Gerard Jones' Green Lantern #25 for those who weren't sure if the Action Comics Weekly arc was canon-to be the source of Jordan's madness in "Emerald Twilight." While Johns has explained away the madness as a yellow cosmic fear bug, nobody has ever followed up on Malviolio's exact plans.
The degree to which DC's most powerful antagonist-ever-has been powered down on Geoff Johns' watch is kind of absurd. To bring this character back into being during the last big event and then use him only as a non-sentient energy source for lesser villains seems bizarre, and obviously he's the one who put a whomping onto Scar in the first place.
Why not him? At the moment, he seems to be just a power source and not actually alive. Johns has suggested that's not changing anytime soon, and there's little reason not to believe it.
As last depicted (in Johns' own Sinestro Corps War), Henshaw is obsessed with death, craving it although it can never come for him. The Anti-Monitor (who is the power source for the black battery) had association with another guy kinda like that-Pariah-and he forced Pariah to live a life full of pain and misery for years. Were Henshaw to learn of Pariah-and of the character's eventual (short-lived) death-it would stand to reason that he might use the Anti-Monitor himself to bring about his own ending.
Why not him? Henshaw isn't in any position to have much interest in the seven million dead of Coast City rising from the ashes with power rings.
Anti-Life has always been his obsession, and bringing about death on a broad scale one of his methods. So is it a stretch to think that the despot of Apokolips might be serving Death with a Big D in some capacity? Also, he was last seen as being on his way to transitioning into the Fifth World, living as sort of ambient energy after his body was killed, so it's a fair guess that he could be the disembodied voice that Black Hand is hearing...AND that would speak to the hints that we'd start to get some Bruce Wayne clues during Blackest Night.
Why not him? Aside from just having been shot by the Bat-God-Killing-Gun at the end of Final Crisis, there's the fact that...well, he was the VILLAIN in Final Crisis. Using him again so soon would seem a little uninspired.
Most folks don't remember it, but at the end of Green Lantern: Mosaic, John Stewart was at least briefly imbued with the powers of a Guardian of the Universe. I was never entirely clear on when that power was taken away (maybe a reader can tell me), but my position is that, first of all, when Appa Ali Apsa started taking on human characteristics, it drove him mad-so what might happen when a human gets Guardian-powers? I wonder if subconsciously some part of his mind and some fraction of the powers he was granted have been working on this for years. This would be a serious twist AND fit Johns' bill of a very, very dangerous bad guy.
Why not him? It'd seem pretty random and arbitrary. Plus, he's one of DC's few reasonably popular African-American heroes and was "The Black Guy" on Justice League Unlimited, so at a time where the company is looking for diversity, it's hard to imagine DiDio signing off on making Stewart a mass-murderer.
As mentioned by a reader in the previous installment of the list, Hammond is a classic Green Lantern villain who has made brief, menacing appearances in Johns' current run and who has mind-control capabilities. While he's never undertaken anything on this scale, it's safe to say that anyone who turns out to be this story's villain, will never have attempted anything so big before.
Why not him? Apparently Johns has made convention comments fingering Hammond as the first post-Blackest Night bad guy. Also, the scope of his power has never been great enough that Hal couldn't overcome it with time and/or a little help-so the notion of his controlling a Martian Manhunter with even a portion of his original memories and powers seems a little preposterous.
Seriously? Come on-"Blackguard, the Black Guardian?" How cool would that look on a business card? And he's got beef with Booster Gold and the JLI, so raising Beetle would be a natural. He was last seen in one of the Giffen-DeMatteis JLI miniseries (which apparently are non-canonical to some extent anyway) as part-owner of a bar with Guy Gardner, giving him a connection to the GLs.
Why not him? He's a putz with little or no power, who really had no business putting up a fight against Booster twenty years ago. Also, he was last seen in one of the Giffen-DeMatteis JLI miniseries (which apparently are non-canonical to some extent anyway) as part-owner of a bar with Guy Gardner.
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