One of the new DC comics I started reading following the DCU’s line-wide relaunch (called “The New 52″) was Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern. I’ve been really enjoying it, so I decided to go back and catch up on the saga Mr. Johns has been weaving in the Green Lantern books for the past several years. Click here for part one. The next collected edition I picked up reprinted the big cross-over event The Sinestro Corps War, which took place over several months in the two main Green Lantern comics (Green Lantern and the Green Lantern Corps).
The Sinestro Corps War – This was a fantastic story-line, my favorite since Rebirth. I loved Green Lantern: Rebirth, but my interest wasn’t quite as captured by the three subsequent collections of Mr. John’s run on the re-launched Green Lantern regular comic. But The Sinestro Corps War kicks things back up into high gear. The story is hugely epic, containing galaxy-spanning interstellar conflict featuring hundreds of characters, but it is also deeply personal, centered on the individual characters and story-arcs of Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, and a few other characters. In many ways, this feels like the direct sequel to Rebirth, as the Parallax fear-creature returns (this time taking possession of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner), and the resurrected Sinestro steps back into the fore as Hal Jordan’s greatest nemesis. This story is HUGE, a fact driven home by the splash page at the end of the Sinestro Corps Special (the issue that kicked off this crossover) in which Sinestro’s allies are revealed as the Cyborg Superman, Superboy Prime, and the Anti-Monitor. This story is neck-deep in the intricacies of DCU continuity, but that didn’t prove an impediment to me, even though I’m not nearly as well-versed in the DC Universe as I am in the Marvel Universe. I’ve read enough of the big DC crossovers over the years to recognize all three of those characters, even if I don’t quite understand, for example, Superboy Prime’s back-story, or how exactly the Anti-Monitor was returned to life after Crisis on Infinite Earths. But in the context of this story, it doesn’t matter — Geoff Johns gives us just enough information to ground the motivations of all three villains, and together they set the stakes extraordinarily high, posing a threat that it seems impossible for our heroes to overcome. I loved that we get to see other DC heroes involved in the story’s climax — which makes sense when the Earth and the Universe was facing such danger — and I was pleased that we saw just enough of Superman, etc., while the story stayed sharply focused on Hal Jordan and the other Green Lanterns.
But the stand-out character in this story-line is, of course, the titular Sinestro. I love this depiction of this character — absolutely brutal and vicious, but also with very clear and reasonable goals and motivations. The idea of his forming his own corps — one based on FEAR, rather than the WILL that powers the Green Lanterns, is a genius idea. I love Geoff Johns’ expansion of the Green Lantern mythos, and presenting this second corps was a huge step forward in that. It’s even more exciting because, re-reading the story now, I know that this is just a stepping stone onto the idea of MANY different corps, each powered by a different color on the emotional spectrum. I can’t wait to get to those future stories.
The art is excellent. Rebirth’s Ethan Van Sciver returns for the first section, the Sinestro Corps Special, and his hyper-detailed art is spectacular (and another great connection between this story and Rebirth). Then the series mostly bounces back and forth between issues of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. That could be choppy, but Mr. Johns and writers Dave Gibbons and Peter Tomasi coordinated well so the issues flow smoothly from one to the other. It helps that both series boast terrific artists. Ivan Reis handles the Green Lantern issues, and there’s something to the smoothness of the lines in his artwork (inked by Oclair Albert), as well as his apparent ability to drawn ANYTHING, that reminds me of the great Alan Davis. Green Lantern Corps boasts the work of Patrick Gleason. His art is very stylized, but I love it — it works perfectly with the strange, alien worlds and characters featured in Green Lantern Corps. Mr. Gleason seemed to have tremendous fun with this story-line, and it’s funny how more gruesome the artwork in his issues is — Mr. Gleason’s panels of interstellar war are liberally littered with the body-parts of fallen Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps members, and the heroes always seem far more covered in blood in his pages. It’s pretty great! I have to highlight the full-page splash that kicks off Green Lantern Corps #16 — in which the Green Lantern planet Mogo is viciously attacked by the mechanized planet-sized Sinestro creature Ranx — as particularly stunning. (There’s one issue of Green Lantern Corps in this collection which was illustrated by several fill-in artists, which is rather unfortunate. It’s a shame that the art quality drops so suddenly in that chapter, late in the story, but what can you do?)
The Sinestro Corps War is a huge success — a terrific, epic story that is immersed in the history of the DCU but also very accessible for someone coming in fairly new. I’m glad I read all of Geoff Johns’ previous Green Lantern collections before getting to this one, though as this feels like a huge culmination of the saga so far. Though I know there’s a lot more ahead. This one was a real winner.
Tales of the Sinestro Corps — This volume collects various back-up stories and one-shots that highlight different characters featured in the Sinestro Corps War. Since this volume contains work by many different writers and artists, it’s no surprise that the quality values wildly over the course of the different stories. My favorite aspect of this collection were the series of short Tales of the Sinestro Corps, which each highlighted a different member of the Sinestro Corps. These short stories are pretty much all wonderful. The first several are written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by the great Dave Gibbons. It’s great to see Dave Gibbons’ artwork again, and of course his work is as astounding as usual. I particularly loved the story highlighting Bedovian. Though my favorite of the Tales of the Sinestro Corps was the story “Fear is a Baby’s Cry!” written by Sterling Gates and illustrated by Jerry Ordway. That one is REALLY twisted!
The full-issue-length one-shots in this collection were all a little less compelling. The one focusing on Kyle Rayner was interesting, and answered a big question left hanging by the main Sinestro Corps story (namely, what was up with that special painting?), but the art was dreadful. The Cyborg Superman one-shot also features artwork that, while better than that in the Kyle Rayner special, isn’t nearly at the level as that seen in the main Sinestro Corps story. That one-shot basically rehashes the history of the Cyborg Superman character — and while it’s nice to see the pieces of his story brought together and aseembled chronologically, it’s pretty much a rehash of stuff we already knew. I did enjoy getting a few more pages of Superman’s battle with the Cyborg Superman, something I thought was missing from the main Sinestro Corps story. Then we get a one-shot telling the back-story of Superboy Prime. I thought this was far more interesting, as most of this story felt knew to me. (If it had been told before in other DC comics, I hadn’t read it.) It’s a great, tragic tale. (Although I will comment that, though it’s been a while since I’ve read Crisis on Infinite Earths, this doesn’t jive with my recollections of the Superboy character seen in that series. I might be misremembering, or maybe there is some ret-conning at work here.) The final story is an epilogue to the Sinestro Corps War, bringing us up to speed on Kyle Rayner’s new status quo. It’s good, but not particularly great. The volume concludes with many, many pages listing the various different Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps characters, with brief bios and histories of each one. I couldn’t possibly read them all, but it was great fun to skip through them, pausing now and then to read the details of a character I was interested in learning more about. I’m glad these encyclopedic entries were included in this collection!
Over-all, Tales of the Sinstro Corps is vastly less interesting than the main Sinestro Corps War story, but it did serve to flesh out the edges of the saga, filling in some details and expanding on certain aspects of the story. As a stand-alone volume it fails, but when read in concern with The Sinestro Corps War, it’s an interesting addendum.
I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on the new few Green Lantern stories…!