In equation form: Zombies + Dead DC Superheroes = Blackest Night. Also, everyone's favorite superhero gets a massive makeover! Behold:
Comic Book deaths are a very serious business, with 'serious' here meaning 'a chance to make more ka-ching by reviving dead characters'. The DC Universe has had its share of heroes and villains living, fighting, dying, living again, sometimes dying again, and living again. In fact, the Joker has been caught up in so many explosions that insurance agents consider him more of a threat than Batman does. However, there are those who died in the DCU that apparently bit the dust for good - Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Firestorm, and other heroes that aren't Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman.
DC Comics' 2009 crossover event, Blackest Night, resolved to change this by way of superpowered fucking zombies.
It's amusing how Aquaman becomes a badass zombie and still chooses a seahorse. There's a goddamn zombie shark behind you, King of Atlantis. Hell, there's two.
Before Blackest Night, it was revealed that the Green Lanterns, who were the universe's police officers, were not alone in wearing skintight suits and wielding all-powerful jewelry. In fact, there were six more Lantern Corps existing, each wearing a color of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, and violet).
With the appearance of the Blackest Night, however, it is revealed that every hero who was resurrected in DC continuity owed their resurrections to a being called Nekron (and his subtly-named aide Scar), who wished to eliminate all life in the universe.
Nekron, feeling that life was corrupting the universe's existence, hatched a plan to eliminate all of it once and for all. This is Nekron:
Being a dark, sinister, undead being, perhaps Nekron can't be blamed for using making use of dark, sinister undead beings.
Scratch that: he screwed with Batman. Blame the hell out of him.
Blackest Night begins when Black Hand, one of Green Lantern's enemies, digs up Bruce Wayne's grave and summons an incantation that allows him to begin charging up a Black Lantern Battery. Pretty soon, Black Lantern rings (similar to the ones the Green Lanterns use) begin to fly out all through the universe, resurrecting heroes and villains in the DC Universe, as well as the dead members of the Green Lantern Corps.
See that 'Rise' command? The only counter you can use against that Black Lantern command is 'Shit Pants'.
Later on, it is revealed that for every person the Black Lanterns kill, the Black Lantern Battery charges by .01 percent, which - considering that they plan to kill every single one of the 6 billion people on earth - has, according to the Google calculators, a chance of charging around sixty million times over. Luckily, the Battery charges only once throughout the course of the story. Unfortunately, it came at the cost of the aforementioned B-player deaths, and resulted in the creation of, but not excluded to:
resurrected heroes turning into Black Lanterns...
every criminal buried in the Justice League's base turning into Black Lanterns...
...and the whole 7 million population of Coast City, which was once annihilated, into Black Lanterns.
Like this, times six million.
Great job, protectors of Earth.
Aside from removing all life in the universe, perhaps the second most sinister plot of Blackest Night was to find a simple reason for killing off many minor DC characters and bring back to life more interesting ones. Sure enough, many minor characters, such as Firestorm's girlfriend, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Tempest, and Damage are zombifically sacrificed by order of Blackest Night's ultimate dark lord, Geoff Johns.
Left: Damage, newly-inducted minion of the Dark Lord. Right: The Dark Lord.
Flash spreads the word of the Blackest Night throughout the world, calling out for all the heroes to work together. However, for a bunch of superpowered heroes, Earth's frontal defense might as well have been Robin and his pair of short shorts, as the Black Lanterns, who were composed of pretty much everyone who fucking died, overwhelm the heroes, killing this and killing that all around the world.
Above: Not even everyone who fucking died.
With the rise of the Black Lanterns, the leaders of the different Lantern Corps decided that fertilizer was descending at an alarming pace, or, "shit was going down real fast". In desperation, they decided that each Lantern Corp choose a member of the human race to help the power that particular color represents.
If the plot sounds familiar - danger to Earth, chosen people, multicolored suits, special powers - that's because their sounds eerily like a certain Saturday morning kid's show.
After agreeing to pull off this Power Rangers-style sequence, a series of rings begin searching the Earth for those who could embody the different colors of emotion. Strangely enough, for a group wanting to save the Earth, these rings have a shitty moral compass, choosing villains like Lex Luthor and Scarecrow to embody greed and fear, respectively.
The skulls represent dedication to protecting the Earth.
Despite better combinations such as a Blue Lantern Flash and a Violet Wonder Woman, things fail to go well for the good guys, especially with Orange Lantern Lex Luthor trying to steal every single one of his comrade's rings. Because of the Power Rangers Corps failing to work together, the Black Lantern Corps leader, Nekron, manages to arrive on Earth and attempt to kill the White Lantern Entity, which is the opposite of life. In Power Rangers lingo, it's like Rita Repulsa arriving at the Power Ranger's base and trying to kill Zordon.
Just as Nekron is about to kill the White Entity, Hal Jordan realizes that all the entity needs is someone to harness its power in order to save the universe. This idea is then stolen by Green Lantern enemy Sinestro, who merges with the White Entity to become a White Lantern.
Once again. Ladies.
Just as Sinestro and Nekron are about to face off, Hal Jordan, apparently not content with Sinestro being the heor for once, decides to steal the White Lantern Energy from him, transforming he and his friends into an entire White Lantern Corps. They then resurrect Black Hand, the guy from the beginning fo the story whom everyone ignored, who was in fact the real thing that was keeping all the Black Lanterns alive. The White Lantern Corps then take it upon themselves to kill Nekron, making the other colored Corps look like a pile of flying multicolored cheerleaders.
Thus, the day is saved not by teamwork of the Power Ranger Corps, but by the glory-hogging Hal Jordan.
"...also, we're taking all the credit for this!"
After Blackest Night, twelve heroes and villains were resurrected as part of DC's next event, Brightest Day. The yet-again subtlely-named series details what happens to the twelve heroes, as well as the Dark Lord's plans for them.
The final outcome of the series remains unknown, but whatever fiendish plot is at hand, it can be assured garish, retina-straining whiteness is sure to play a major part.
Somewhere, somehow, opthalmologists are rubbing their hands in delight.