Posted by Don MacPherson on June 28th, 2007
Green Lantern Sinestro Corps Special #1
“Sinestro Corps, Prologue: The Second Rebirth”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist/Cover artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colors: Mouse Baumann
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US/$5.99 CAN
Crisis on Infinite Earths. “The Death of Superman.” “Emerald Twilight.” “The Return of Superman.” Green Lantern: Rebirth. Villains United. Infinite Crisis. Ion. 52 #52. These stories and more are really required reading if one wants to fully appreciate the various continuity references that turn up in this new Green Lantern story. Johns’s script is incredibly dense, and even those with knowledge of the DC history at play here might be a little put off. To the writer’s credit, though, a creepy atmosphere of intense foreboding manages to pierce that wall of potential inaccessibility to pull the reader into the prelude to a cosmic war. The plot here may be dressed up with the notions of ideology, prophecy and emotion, but it’s actually quite simple: opposite numbers are getting ready to rumble. No, the book derives its strength not from plot but from atmosphere. Ethan Van Sciver’s dark artwork goes a long way to enhancing the tense and unsettling mood that pervades almost every moment in the story.
Aware that his old enemy Sinestro is recruiting members for some kind of army to serve as a corrupt counterpart to the Green Lantern Corps, Hal Jordan investigates and shares his concerns with fellow Green Lanterns from Earth. He quickly finds his concerns have merit, and joined by John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner, Jordan tries to warn the Guardians of the Universe. He may be too late, though, as the Sinestro Corps launches its first salvo in a coming war. The attack serves more as a distraction from an effort to recruit some key new members, one of which turns out to be a respected Green Lantern in his own right.
Van Sciver’s dark, detailed style is an excellent fit for this story. The Sinestro Corps is shown to be an army of monsters, and he brings a harsh, corrupt and ugly look to the villains. The inkiness of the visuals helps to drive home the chilling, intense qualities of the plot and the antagonists nicely, and the Sinestro Corps uniform design incorporates super-hero, sci-fi and villainous elements quite well. Van Sciver seems to like using grand, dramatic movements to bring the drama to life, but it doesn’t always make for a clear flow to the action. He also opts for unusual points of view for the space-faring sequences, which makes sense, but it also makes it hard to get a sense for what some of the lesser-known Green Lanterns. As is usually the point with art for various Green Lantern comics in the past few years, the strongest visual element in this book is the color. Moose Baumann really knows how to light up a GL story. The art really pops thanks to how he using vibrant, electric colors to illustrate the various lantern effects, both green and yellow. He uses the somewhat glossy paper quality to great effect as well.
It’s clear that DC issued this in the one-shot format so as to bring more attention to this event-driven storyline, but really, what we get here is an oversized issue of the regular Green Lantern series. It even features the last in the “Tales of the Sinestro Corps” series of short backup stories that’s been running in GL the last few months. At first, I thought that this struck me as something of a money grab on DC’s part, but the large scope of the story certainly seems to merit the oversized format. A lot happens in this issue; it’s just not clear how all of it unfolds.
Johns grew up during same era of DC Comics as I did, and I can tell from his writing that we share some of the same fond memories of super-hero stories gone by. I’m a fan of DC’s complex and even convoluted history; I love how disparate characters cross over into one another’s worlds, I always loved the seemingly endless array of colorful champions and crises that DC’s stories offered. But the script for the Sinestro Corps Special struck me as being way too “inside” than it needed to be. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging continuity, but there are times the script here is mired in it. Don’t get me wrong… I get the references and even enjoyed them on a certain level. I was pleased to see the return of a couple of key characters, for example. It makes me nostalgic, but I don’t know that it actually adds to the story. I wonder if Johns’s scripts for future chapters of this story won’t be burdened with excessive but necessary exposition.
Despite those misgivings, Johns taps into the same sort of drama and intensity that one can find in Marvel’s Annihilation line of cosmic war/super-hero comics. Sinestro and his allies pose a real sense of menace here, but perhaps what’s so disturbing is how easily one can appreciate Sinestro’s motivation. It’s not that one relates to him, but I can see the logic in his plans and motives, twisted as it may be. The opening scene, which is something of a symbolic rebirth for the title villain, makes him seem like so much more than the mustache-twirling antagonist than he was in past stories.
“Tales of the Sinestro Corps: The Greatest Once, the Greatest Again”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Dave Gibbons
Inks: Rodney Ramos
The backup story also touches a nostalgic tone on a couple of levels. Johns’s scripts for these short stories are reminiscent of the “Tales of the GL Corps” backup stories of the 1970s and ’80s without actually referencing those old segments. But what I really enjoy is seeing Dave Gibbons tackling these characters once again. He illustrated Green Lantern in the 1980s, and his bright, wide-eyed style really suits a more traditional tone in super-hero storytelling (though of course he demonstrated during that same decade he can handle beefier fare with Watchmen). The characters’ faces in this story are subtly expressive, which is what’s called for in a story that’s basically about friendship.
Though I still don’t know what Lyssa Drax’s deal is, Johns’s plot and accessible script do a great job of letting the reader know who Sinestro was and how he came to be who he is today. I like the notion that he sees (or at least saw) Hal Jordan as a kindred spirit, and the notion of two friends becoming bitter enemies is a classic conflict, a formula that pays off just as well here as it has time and time again in so many other works of fiction to come before. 6/10