Friday, April 24, 2009

The Sinestro Corps War, Volume II

Since DC Comics sold thousands and thousands of issues with their Infinite Crisis super-crossover, universe-altering event a few years ago, comic publishers haven’t been able to get these sorts of stories out fast enough. I for one think these sorts of ideas rarely are successful, but with the conclusion to The Sinestro Corps War, I may have to adjust my thinking a bit.

The premise of the series is pretty straightforward. Former Green Lantern Sinestro forges hundreds if not thousands of yellow power rings that are powered by fear, much as the Green Lantern rings are powered by willpower. Bent on subjecting the multiverse to order with the threat of harm, Sinestro and his people set off to make it happen. I talk a bit more about the premise here, where I reviewed the first volume.

In the second half we see the inevitable tide turning against the villains and for our heroes, though Johns does an excellent job with that victory seeming anything but certain and in many ways pyrrhic. The green power rings are unable to be used in order to kill another living thing
, but the Guardians decide to remove this restriction in order to ensure the victory over Sinestro. This has all sorts of fallout for future stories, especially the idea that sometimes men and women fighting for good must take a life in order to preserve the greater good. It’s something police officers struggle with each day, so it is obviously more believable a scenario than the previous ‘we’d never kill anyone, we are the good guys’ scenario that has been the case up until now.

But the most groundbreaking changes are to the entire mythos of the Green Lanterns. An ancient prophecy foretells the rising of all sorts of other Corps marked by different colors of the rainbow spectrum. Instead of just green and yellow, we witness the birth of the Blue Lantern Corps, powered by hope, and the beginnings of an orange, sapphire, red, and even black corps to come in the future. This is all playing itself out in the monthly issues, yet I am content to wait until the various collections are released to get the whole story.

Despite my praise, the collection does have some flaws. First of all, it’s likely inevitable that such a big story would drag in some places and move much too quickly over others. A few plot points seem to be dropped, and certain characters, which may be familiar from other series or the expanded universe, aren’t contextualized. And let me also say that since Galaxy Quest already covered this, it is no longer cute to have a superhero battle crash into a comics convention. As in the first volume, Ivan Reis’s artwork is detailed and fantastic, but this attention to detail can make it difficult to make sense of some of the more complex scenes difficult to parse for the important things.

Yet what really makes this a successful crossover event is not only the creation of the other Corps, but the fact that such a crossover was limited to the extended Green Lantern universe. As the fight moves to Earth, we see heroes such as Superman and Batman fighting alongside the Green Lanterns as makes sense, but Johns is careful to make them so peripheral as to be almost superfluous. Could DC have sold some extra books by tying in some of these battles to their lesser selling titles? Of course, but that would have diluted and perhaps corrupted what came off as an excellent event.

Now if I can just keep myself from buying a Blue Lantern t-shirt until I read a story that expands on their new mythos even a little bit…

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