On Oa, the Scarred Guardian reflects on the thought that no-one, not even the Guardians of the Universe, is meant to live forever. She is told by whatever power is behind the Blackest Night that it is time for the first Black Lantern to be created.
On Earth, the Green Lantern villain Black Hand reflects also, but for him the thoughts are of his beginnings. As the child of a funeral director, William Hand was withdrawn; he had trouble connecting with people and things that were living, preferring the dead.
Years later, he was almost killed by the alien Atrocitus (who would later become the first Red Lantern) but was saved by the Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Sinestro. Taking Atrocitus’s weapon that could absorb power, William heard the voice of what he thought was Death telling him to run. With his weapon charged with Green Lantern’s power, all William could see was the bright green light and knew that he needed to shut it off. Fashioning a costume from a body bag, he became the villain Black Hand and fought Green Lantern over the years.
He remembers losing his right hand to the Spectre and having it replaced by the mysterious Kroloteans who imbued him with the power to see Death. Now keenly aware of all the heroes and villains who had died, he could also see those that had returned to life, the voice of Death telling him that it wants everyone – not just those that have returned.
Black Hand returns to his family home and, one after another, kills his two brothers, his mother and his father. At the prompting of the voice of Death, he then kills himself.
The Scarred Guardian appears and vomits up the first Black Power Ring and grants Black Hand undeath, making him the embodiment of the Black Lantern Corps.
Green Lantern #44 (This issue follows on from Blackest Night #1)
On Mars, in the tomb of J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter, a Black Power Ring bursts into his coffin and places itself on his finger. In moments he is transformed into a Black Lantern and breaks out of his coffin.
On Earth, Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the Flash find Batman’s grave ransacked, his skeleton exposed and his skull missing. Flash, ever the police scientist, discovers a black residue which seems to interact with the arrival of the Martian Manhunter (his arrival shown in Blackest Night #1). Jordan scans the Manhunter with his ring, confirming that he is dead. They attack each other, the Manhunter trying to tear Jordan’s heart from his chest before the Flash rescues him, the pair of them crashing through into a nearby fire station. Jordan attempts to contact his fellow Green Lanterns but is unable. Trying to get at the heroes, the Manhunter lifts the entire building and throws it into another.
On Oa, the Scarred Guardian explains her motives to the others, claiming to be bringing order to the universe. As she speaks, there are flashes of the War of Light – Green Lanterns fighting Red Lanterns on Ysmault for the body of Laira; Larfleeze, Agent Orange, guiding his ring constructs against the Blue Lanterns on Odym; the Sinestro Corps battling the Star Sapphires on Zamaron – and in every conflict, the Black Power Rings approach.
Back on Earth, the Manhunter tricks Flash into believing he is battling him when in fact he is beating Jordan. The Green Lantern frees Flash’s mind before the Manhunter takes hold of both heroes and sends them flying, Jordan into the air, Flash into a river.
In sector 1313, amidst the ruins of the planet Xanshi, Green Lantern John Stewart ponders, trying to forgive himself for the planet’s destruction years before. As he sits, hundreds of Black Power Rings crash into the debris as the voice behind them bids Xanshi “Rise.”
Before John Stewart’s eyes, the planet of Xanshi reforms, its surface marked with a Black Lantern symbol.
On Zamaron, the Sinestro Corps loyal to Sinestro battle against the Star Sapphires, attempting to free their imprisoned compatriots with the child-snatcher Kryb the first to break free just as Sinestro himself arrives to confront Carol Ferris. Though he gives her a warning and an opportunity to stand aside, Carol rejects it and continues to fight.
On Ysmault, the Lost Lanterns attempt to reclaim the body of Laira but the Alpha Lantern Boodikka insists on fighting both the Red Lanterns and the SInestro Corps members. As they attack, black Power Rings arrive, turning the recently killed – including Laira – into Black Lanterns.
Back on Zamaron, Kryb flees the battle to return to her children. Battling Sinestro, Carol discovers that there is still love left within him, finding a memory of his feelings for Arin, the sister of Abin Sur. Striking back, he and his Corps members capture her just as black Power Rings appear, accompanied by Black Lanterns made up of dead Sinestro Corps members. Back on Qward, the Black Lanterns have attacked Sinestro’s base camp.
On Odym, the Orange Lanterns manage to wrench the Blue Central Power Battery from its foundations in order to return it to Okaara and Agent Orange. He in turn watches the success of his constructs but his joy is short lived as more black Power Rings arrive. Finding the corpses of those Agent Orange has killed and consumed, Agent Orange finds himself surrounded by Black Lanterns.
On Oa, trapped within the Book of The Black, Lyssa Drak watches as Scar speaks with her master, pledging that the final Corps – the Indigo Lanterns – will be theirs as soon as they appear.
On Zamaraon, the Sinestro Corps continue their battle against the Star Sapphires while the Black Lanterns attack both sides. Queen Aga’po warns the Zamarons that whatever happens, the Predator must not escape the planet.
Sinestro and Carol Ferris battle the Black Lanterns before GL Hal Jordan and the leaders of the Indigo tribe arrive, teleported to the planet during the events in Blackest Night #3. No sooner have they arrived before the second in command of the Indigos is sent to Oa to help protect it. Jordan and Ferris meet up and, using the knowledge gained from Indigo-1, begin to destroy the Black Lanterns before being interrupted by Sinestro. They in turn are interrupted by Indigo-1 who tells Sinestro that Abin Sur, his late friend and mentor, told her she could trust him. Before Sinestro’s questions are answered, however, the black rings find the two immortalised lovers in the Central Power Battery of the Star Sapphire who are revealed to be Prince Khufu and Princess Chay-Ara of Earth – the original incarnations of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. As the two are reborn as Black Lanterns, the Power Batter falls, freeing the Predator.
On the planet Ryut in sector 666, Scar holds the Guardians prisoner and, as Indigo-1 transports Jordan, Ferris and Sinestro away from Zamaron, Scar orders any available Black Lanterns to follow them in the hopes of tracking them down.
Above the reborn planet of Xanshi, John Stewart hears a voice offering help.
Indigo-1 and her passengers arrive on Korugar where she forces Sinestro to face and battle Mongul who had succeeded him as leader of his Corps. While Mongul dominates him throughout the fight, Sinestro eventually reveals he has control over every yellow power ring and impales Mongul with constructs from his own rings. Crushing him beneath the yellow power battery, Sinestro is greeted by his Corps.
As he takes command of the coalition of the various Lanterns, Sinestro is interrupted by the arrival of two Black Lanterns: Abin Sur, his friend, and Arin Sur, Sinestro’s dead lover.
On Ysmault, Black, Green and Red Lanterns attack each other before they are interrupted by four more Black Lanterns, specifically the four reanimated corpses of four of the Five Inversions of Ryut, survived only by Atrocitus, now the lead Red Lantern. Atrocitus rages against them as they tear his heart from his body. Instead of killing him, the act merely inflames his hatred – the red power rings keep the Red Lanterns alive and thus have no need of hearts. While they are surprised, he turns on them.
On Korugar, GL Hal Jordan, Sinestro, Carol Ferris and Indigo-1 are attacked by the Black Lanterns of Abin and Arin Sur. Together, the representatives of four Lantern Corps manage to sever the connection the black power rings have with their master and the two Black Lanterns are destroyed. With that done, Jordan takes control of the group and, begrudgingly, Sinestro calls a truce between his Corps and the GL Corps.
On the resurrected planet of Xanshi, Joh Stewart finds a discarded green power battery while being observed by a figure who wears both a green and a black power ring.
On Odym, Saint Walker and the other Blue Lanterns fight against the Orange ring constructs of Larfleeze who attempt to steal the Blue Central Power Battery. Jordan and his team arrive in time to help but the Orange Lanterns vanish mid-battle, leaving the Blue Power Battery behind.
The reason for the Orange Lanterns disappearance is revealed on Okaara as Larfleeze, Agent Orange, runs from the Black Lanterns of those he has killed to create his ring constructs. Finally accepting he needs help to fight them, he is surprised to find Atrocitus appearing, demanding his battery.
Pursued by Black Lanterns, Atrocitus and Larfleeze, Agent Orange, fight across the surface of Okaara, both trying to hold on to the Orange Power Battery while at the same time escaping from the Black Lanterns. They are both saved by the arrival of Saint Walker, Hal Jordan, Carol Ferris, Sinestro and Indigo-1 who use their combined force to sever the Black Ring’s connections.
Together, the various Lanterns argue over the Guardians of The Universe’s attempts to prevent the War of Light which spills into another fight between them all with Atrocitus attempting to kill them. Jordan attempts to win Atrocitus and Larfleeze over to their side, to combat the Black Lanterns with them but Sinestro goes further. He threatens Larfleeze with the loss of his possessions and offers to join with Atrocitus to destroy the Green Lantern Corps. Atrocitus refuses his offer, however, and Larfleeze reveals he doesn’t care about his possessions, his greed now focused on having his own Guardian.
At that moment, they see an image of the death of Damage (as seen in Blackest Night #4) and the Black Power Rings reaching 100% of charge. Indigo-1 channels the Black Rings, sensing where their power emanates from and transports them to Ryut in sector 666. It was here, on Atrocitus’s home planet, that the Manhunters, fore-runners of the Green Lantern Corps, massacred the entire population.
Atrocitus agrees to help protect life from the Black Lanterns but vows to destroy the Guardians once that is done. Larfleeze in turn agrees to help but only if he has his own Guardian; to Ganthet’s dismay, Sayd agrees to serve Larfleeze after the Black Lanterns have been dealt with. Indigo-1, meanwhile, realises that the Black Power Battery has vanished from Ryut.
On the resurrected world of Xanshi, John Stewart has discovered the power battery of the long-deceased Green Lantern Driq who had been kept alive following his death some years before. Now Driq appears wearing both black and green power rings, along with the citizens of Xanshi, all of whom want Stewart dead. Using Driq’s battery as a bomb, Stewart manages to destroy many of the Black Lanterns at once, only to see them reassemble themselves. Before he can react, the Black Lantern version of his dead wife, Katma Tui, launches herself at him.
She reminds him that when married, they had shared each others’ fears, prompting him to remember a time when Stewart was a Marine, caught in a firefight during a war. When his friend and fellow soldier fell victim to the enemy, Stewart killed as many as he could before they fled, leaving the body of his friend. Katma tells him she knows his fear is not of dying, but of dying alone far from home.
Katma’s gambit misfires, though, and Stewart rallies himself, fighting until he realises the Black Lanterns are there only as a distraction. He leaves Xanshi behind, the Black Lanterns following him, but is shocked to find the planet so close to Earth and sends out a warning.
The short back-up story, The Birth of Nekron, can be found here.
Following the events of Blackest Night #6, Hal Jordan leads the attack against the Black Lanterns not only with the representatives of the other Corps, but also their new back-ups who all take to their new roles all too easily. As Jordan attempts to regroup and direct the attack against Nekron, the Black Lantern Spectre appears and captures him, turning him into a Black Lantern.
Ganthet and Sayd quickly intervene and rescue Jordan while Sinestro and the Scarecrow attack the Spectre. The other Lanterns join the fight, distracting the Spectre long enough for Jordan to use a ring construct to stake it through the heart. However, the attack doesn’t work.
Jordan remembers that when he and the Spectre were separated some time before, the Spectre had fled without facing the Parallax entity, reasoning that the Spectre was scared of it. Ganthet, at Jordan’s request, summons the power batteries of the four Earth Green Lanterns where Parallax had been imprisoned before Sinestro frees the entity.
Despite Carol Ferris’s worries about losing Jordan again and Sinestro’s jealousy that he is not the one to take it on, Jordan allows the entity to possess him once more and faces the Spectre again.
In the midst of the attack on Coast City, Lex Luthor, wearing an Orange power ring, is determined to have the Black Lantern Superman join his Corps while Larfleeze simply wants Luthor’s ring. Above them, grown to vast size, the Spectre and Parallax battle, Parallax literally tearing his way into the Spectre’s body to discover the true spirit of vengeance imprisoned within itslef by the black power ring that possesses the body of its host, Crispus Allen. Destroying the ring destroys the Black Lantern version of the Spectre, freeing the genuine article.
Parallax, however, is determined to destryo the Spectre, just as he is eager to judge and kill Parallax. As they continue to fight, Sinestro attempts to restrain Parallax while Atrocitus, sensing a kindred spirit, attempts to recruit the Spectre to the Red Lantern Corps. Despite the rage that burns within him, the Spectre is able to resist the red rage and instead helps Carol Ferris to pull Hal Jordan from Parallax, separating them once more. Though Sinestro attempts to restrain the Parallax entity, it is pulled away by an unknown force; elsewhere, Hector Hammond is afraid, somehow knowing who or what has captured Parallax.
Restored to sense, the Spectre faces Nekron and attempts to judge him directly but is rendered powerless as Nekron has no soul. With his Black Lanterns behind him, Nekron plans to kill the universe.
Following on from the events of Green Lantern Corps #46, the amalgamated Lanterns band together to hold off the attack of the massed Black Lanterns before the undead are drawn away, ignoring the Lanterns and instead head towards Coast City where Sinestro has just become the first White Lantern.
At Coast City, imbued with the power of the White Entity, Sinestro sets about destroying the Black Lanterns, at the same time recounting the origin of not only Ion – the power behind the Green Lanterns – but the other entities that power the other Lantern Corps, including Parallax, the Predator and others. Determined to kill the Entity, however, Nekron attacks Sinestro, almost cleaving him in half.
As Jordan and the other Lanterns attempt to help Sinestro, the Black Lantern planet of Xanshi launches a power beam into the sea, causing a huge tsunami which Jordan manages to contain. Above the planet, John Stewart and a team of other Lanterns head into the heart of Xanshi itself and manage to destroy the massive collection of black power rings that hold the planet together.
Xanshi explodes and as it and many other Black Lanterns are destroyed in the back lash, Nekron feels pain for the first time. The Lanterns take care of the debris as Sinestro is reborn, proclaiming himself the true Guardian of the Universe.