Friday, July 10, 2009

Trade Waiting - Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps Vol 1 & 2

The Sinestro Corps War was the second part of Geoff Johns's Green Lantern trilogy and DC's surprise hit from 2007. Unlike Green Lantern: Rebirth, the Sinestro Corps War does lay a lot of the ground work for Blackest Night. However, that is really only tangential to the epic that Johns is telling in Sinestro Corps War, which definitely lives up to its billing as the one of the best events of the past decade. Hit the jump for my review.

Written by Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons, and Peter Tomasi
Art by Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Angel Unzueta, Pascual Alixe, Jamal Igle and Dustin Nguyen,
Collects Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War Special #1, Green Lantern #21-25, Green Lantern Corps #14-19

As the title suggests, the Sinestro Corps War is about long time Green Lantern nemesis, and former Green Lantern himself, Sinestro, forming a rival Corps to fight back against the Green Lanterns. The story Johns tells is an epic space adventure in the truest sense of the word, which is what you would expect from a story about an intergalactic war.

The basic story is that Sinestro has gotten tried of waiting for the Guardians of the Universe to bring order to the universe and has formed his own Corps to do just that using the power of Fear, though it is not as simple as that. Sinestro begins his campaign by striking at Oa, home of the Green Lantern Corps, while freeing three captives of the Green Lanterns, Superman Prime, Cyborg Superman and the fear entity, Parallax, which is now controlling Kyle Rayner. These three heavy weights then became the heralds of Sinestro's new corps. The opening chapter, Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War Special, ends with the revelation that a resurrected Anti-Monitor is also acting as the Guardian of the Sinestro Corps.

A tangent regarding the Anti-Monitor reveal before I get to the rest of the review. People often complain that DC, and Marvel as well, are too impenetrable to new readers, which is something I can understand, even though I don't completely agree with it. The Anti-Monitor reveal at the end of Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special is a particularly strong example of this, for several reasons. First and foremost, the character only appeared in a miniseries that was 20+ years old when the issue came out. Not everyone has read or will read Crisis on Infinite Earths. Unless you have read CoIE and love the DCU as a concept, the reveal is probably pretty weak or leaves you scatching your head over who the big villain is supposed to be.

Secondly, and this ties into the first point, there is no context for the reveal. The Anti-Monitor shows up on literally the last page and is hinted at about a page before that with nothing to inform new or unfamiliar readers as to who he is or of his importance. I personally didn't find the reveal that amazing myself, mostly because having the Anti-Monitor as Guardian of the Sinestro Corps always seemed kind off to me. It reeks of "cool, but meaningless" to me, which is probably why I don't like it, though that would be different if I liked the Anti-Monitor. Anyway, this is really a minor point from a larger, and excellent, story, but it was just something minor that really bugged me.

The collections for the Sinestro Corps War includes both the Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps issues intermixed in a way that looks like an official read order, if there is one. This actually strengthens the Green Lantern Corps issues for me because, for the most part, they are basically filler for the larger story in Green Lantern. This is not to say that the issues are bad, I did enjoy them, but it still does feel like filler at times, especially with the art, which I'll get to later.

This collection method also brings down the Green Lantern issue a little because the Green Lantern Corps issues do not organically tie into the Green Lantern ones. So, when a Green Lantern issue ends there is a Green Lantern Corps issue afterward and it is not the best of transitions, especially since a lot of the Green Lantern issues end with cliffhangers. There is also the problem that the Green Lantern Corps will repeat plot points that came up in the previous issue of Green Lantern which makes them seem redundant. Despite these problems, this is probably the best way to collect the story since the Green Lantern Corps issues don't really stand on their own and only work in conjunction with the Green Lantern issues.

The Green Lantern issues focus on the Lanterns from Earth, especially Hal Jordan. Guy Gardner and John Stewart also get a decent amount of face time though Kyle gets the short end of the stick since he spends a lot of the story as Parallax.

The story in Green Lantern is action driven, like most of the event, though there are enough down time or character moments to give the story room to breath. Johns handles the action very well and moves the story along at a brisk pace to keep the momentum going. The story is also kind of "small" in the sense that it only takes place on Oa, Qward, and Earth, though Johns does manage to make it feel epic. This has a lot to do with the size and scale of the two Corps and the relatively large scale of the battles.

As already mentioned, Johns also leaves room for some more intimate character moments which helps to balance out the story. One thing I thought he did really well with the climax of the story, after the war came to Earth, is that it remained Green Lantern centric and the Earth heroes, like the JLA, JSA and Titans, were background characters (although, they do get a lot of face time in the Sinestro Corps War companion, which featured the various one-shots for the event). A very good story telling choice. He also did a good job wrapping up the various plot threads in a way that gave the story closure while leaving room for future stories, something a lot of big events have trouble with.

As I said above, the Green Lantern Corps issues do feel like filler for the main story in Green Lantern and, while pretty decent and enjoyable, seem to lack that something extra that Green Lantern had. A lot of the story has to do with various members going here or there and doing this or that. The story probably works better if you are invested in or like the various character, but I found them hit or miss. That said, there are two really good high points in the Green Lantern Corps issues.

The first is the Battle of Mogo. Gibbons does a good job of giving the battle not only a sense of scale, but it is also one of the few things in the Green Lantern Corps issues that added something to the Green Lanterns issues. It is also a fun plot with plenty of action and awesome character moments to go with it. It also makes more effective use of the first of the ten new rules that the Guardians added to the Book of Oa, allowing the Lanterns to kill members of the Sinestro Corps. Gibbons gives the moment some nice weight and it is one of the more effective scenes in the story.

The other high point of the Green Lantern Corps issues is the fight between the new Ion, Sodam Yat, and Superman-Prime in issue #18. This is also where Peter Tomasi takes over as the writer for Green Lantern Corps and there is a noticeable improvement in the writing. Gibbons is by no means a bad writer; Tomasi is just better.

The issue is largely a proper introduction for Yat in Sinestro Corps War since he is the new Ion. It is narrated through Yat's inner monologue and Tomasi does a good job of fleshing him out and, to me, making him a solid character with an interesting back story and motivations. The fight with Prime itself is also pretty good, though nothing overly spectacular either. One of the stand out things to me was the Yat's reaction when he realize that Prime was going to win. It is a great mirror to his attitude at the beginning of the issue and Tomasi does a good job of giving it some impact.

One of the aspects of Sinestro Corps War that I enjoyed the most was the titular character, Sinestro. Unlike a lot of a comic book villains who are evil since, well, they have to be, Sinestro has proper motivations and goals. Sinestro is also one of the characters that Johns was born to write and he is a wonderful character with a decent amount of complexity. Sinestro is a very engaging character and Johns knows how to get the most out of him. The revelation of Sinestro's motivation to start his intergalactic war, which was basically to strengthen the Green Lantern Corps in the crucible of war and force the ammendment of the laws in the Book Oa, also adds another layer of interest to the story and is a nice twist in and of itself while making Sinestro a much more appealing character.

The art is very much a mixed bag though. Van Sciver and Reis handle the Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps Special issues and are the highlight of the art in the collections. Reis art is slick and very much inline with the superhero aesthetic, but he lacks the flair that made Van Sciver's Green Lantern art in Rebirth so appealing. It is still very good though.

The art in the Green Lantern Corps issues, though, is a very mixed bag. Gleason is the best of the bunch and he does the most work, including the Battle of Mogo and issue #18, though the rest of the work does not mesh well with his style and can be pretty unappealing at times, reinforcing the filler feeling of the issues. Overall, the art is inconsistent, at best, though the Green Lantern issues are very strong.

Verdict - Must Read. A stunning space epic that adds new elements to the Green Lantern mythos.

Like this review? Interested in this books? Purchase Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War Vol. 1 & 2 from and help support The Weekly Crisis.

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Anonymous said...

What I like so much about Sinestro is that at the same time he says he started the war to strengthen the GLs, he says stuff like "Earth and its multiverse are MINE", and is rallying his army with the intent of wiping out Zamaron. He may want the GLs to be strenghtened but he still wants to play his own role

M├ędard said...

Good review, but I don't find the conclusion make any sense., with al the critiques you gave it.
Critiques like the mixed bag of art, the Green Lantern Corps issues being just mostly filler.

Maybe it's just me, but your review turned me of the Sinestro Corps, while before I was slightly interested to pick up the trades.

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