Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Sinestro Corps War, Volume I

I’ve given up on superhero comics about a dozen times now, yet they always find a way to get me back. As a longtime fan of the Green Lantern, I must admit that the idea of bringing back rogue lantern Sinestro and having him lead a corps of yellow lanterns in a massive intergalactic war was quite appealing to me. After I read somewhere that blue and red lanterns show up in the series, I made the educated decision to rescind the superhero ban (at least temporarily) and pick up the first volume of The Sinestro Corps War.

Being out of the loop in the DC Universe since the end of Infinite Crisis, Geoff Johns did a pretty good job of filling me in on the state of events without an expositional info-dump. Apparently the multiverse being restored has lead to 52 distinct universes being centered on Earth. Exiled to the antimatter universe, Sinestro arms hundreds of aliens with yellow power rings and teaches them to use fear to control the universe.

Here’s the basic gist: the Lanterns are essentially space cops that patrol the universe, armed with magic
rings that create anything their bearers imagine. Each member of the corps is selected based on their ability to know no fear. One of the greatest Lanterns of all time, Sinestro, went rogue after his idea of law and order drifted too close to fascist territory. Convinced that his way was right, Sinestro set out to start his own ring-wielding army, tasked to eradicate chaos through a more violent path—by instilling fear. And thus the drama begins.

Seeing the massive Sinestro Corps battle the Green Lantern Corps is pretty awesome, but the art here can be a little crowded to really get the sense of what is really happening, even in a two-page spread. It doesn’t help matters that most of the aliens are bizarre creatures who only remotely are discernable as actual beings. For instance, one Lantern is a huge rectangular cube with the symbol printed on it. How is a reader supposed to empathize with that?

Johns doesn’t forget to throw in a couple of interesting additions to the Sinestro Corps. First is Superman-Prime, the evil Superman from Infinite Crisis, who just wants to destroy everything. But more compelling is Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman who blew up Hal Jordan’s home Coast City and was an imposer to the Superman name when the character died 16 years ago. He wants to eradicate life because without it no one will be able to feel pain. His character is handled quite well, and I really do hope that he gets what he wants at the end of this saga.

The first volume concludes with the Sinestro Corps preparing to attack Earth, causing me to fear that the conclusion will focus heavily on help from the Justice League and the rest. The mythology of the Green Lanterns and the greater ramifications of their existence on the universe is the most compelling aspect of a huge story like this. I hope that such matters are not forgotten and that characters like Superman play a small role, if any, in the rest of the story.

Looking forward to Volume 2, which maybe I’ll get a chance to read next week. I also hope to look into the Tales of the Sinestro Corps collection, which focuses on Superman-Prime and the Cyborg Superman to a greater extent. Hard to judge without reading the concluding volume, but my tentative thumbs up for now.

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