Friday, December 28, 2007

Sinestro Corps: Home Invasion (DC comics)
Green Lantern #24 When: December 2007
Why: Geoff Johns How: Ivan Reis

The story so far...
Long thought dead, it is the resurrection of Hal Jordan that prompts the return of the villainous fallen Green Lantern called Sinestro. Revealed, he carries with him the mysterious powers of a yellow ring, gathered in his previous travels of exile in the anti-matter universe, Qward.

Sinestro is revealed to have been imprisoned within the Central Power Battery on Oa, where he conversed with the yellow fear entity Parallax, and hatched the downfall of one of the Lantern's greatest heroes, and his bitter rival, Hal Jordan.

As Jordan joins Kyle Rayner and the other surviving Lanterns to spur the beginnings of a new era of the Green Lantern Corps; Sinestro and Parallax begin their own quest, sending out yellow power rings to gather agents for their Sinestro Corps of fear wielding soldiers. So begins the inevitable first stages of the Sinestro Corps War, prophecized by the Book of Oa.

With their intention to destroy the fifty-two worlds of the megaverse, the Sinestro Corps descend in full on "New Earth." While the Lanterns struggle with their own battles; Hal Jordan rushes to the rescue of his Coast City dwelling brother, and his family, who has come under threat from Parallax, who has possessed the once future Ion - Kyle Rayner!

Tale of the tape...
ARTWORK: Alex RossARTWORK: Ethan Van SciverStrength: Green Lantern 2 (Average)
Intelligence: Green Lantern 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Parallax 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Parallax 6 (Generator)
Agility: Parallax 7 (Unlimited)
Fighting Ability: Green Lantern 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: Green Lantern 7 (Cosmic Power)

- When space alien, Abin Sur, crash lands on Earth, he uses his dying moments to search the immediate vicinity for a man of honest and brave creed, capable of overcoming great fear.

The bizarre alien ring would summon to him Hal Jordan; a man whose destiny had appeared to be following in the foosteps of his father, Martin, who was an ace test pilot before him.
Little did he know, Jordan would soar far higher, and fly much faster, than the speed machines he would come to love.

Sworn into the fold of the intergalactic peace-keeping corps; Jordan becomes the Green Lantern of Sector 2814, inhereting Abin Sur's ring.
Drawing it's powers from the energy battery constructed on the planet Oa, the ring grants Jordan, as any GL, the ability to harness his willpower to form any construct imaginable.

- It was at the dawn of existence that a creature's sentience would begin dependent solely on a singular emotion, and it's name was Parallax.

This yellow entity thrived on fear and began to purvey the reaction in societies and cultures throughout the universe. This terror campaign would be recognized by the Guardians of the Galaxy, who would use their green energies of will to entrap the creature deep within the green swirl of their green battery.

Parallax would eventually awaken from it's slumber, and use his central position to tap into Green Lantern's across the galaxy. The destruction of Coast City allows the creature to compromise a gradually manipulated Hal Jordan, and it again emerges into the universe, launching a war on the Guardians with their greatest champion as his host.

Though inherently capable of manipulating and feeding on fear in much the same way the Green Lanterns draw upon willpower, Parallax was also able to control the powers of his host, to a relevant degree.

The Math: Parallax Ranking: Green Lantern (#136)

What went down...
Warned of his brother's fate at the hands of Parallax by Sinestro; Hal Jordan takes immediate leave of his fellows, exhausting much of the last of his ring's power to reach staggering speeds!

As Parallax clutches with taloned fingers at the faces of Jim Jordan and his family, Hal rockets across their apartment balcony to snatch the possessed Rayner away, leaving exploding concrete in his wake!

Jordan grapples with Parallax who attempts to undermine his attentions with taunts, recalling the destruction of Coast City, and the threat to the fledgling reconstructed real estate.
The psychological attack is mirrored by the physical, as Parallax rolls in mid-air out of Jordan's energy blaring clutches, turning to toss him into the earth.

Jordan's body bounces in the dirt, as a faint transmission from John Stewart and Guy Gardner offers Jordan hope of back-up. He reminds them the predicament their fellow; Kyle Rayner; faces, given the possessive power of the Parallax entity, recalling the Spectre's intervention in his own escape.

Gardner and Stewart split-up to send the former, despite his chagrin, to seek out an artifact from Rayner's life with his murdered mother - a painting of great sentimental value that might wrench him from the fear of his failure.

Meanwhile; Jordan struggles to reach the man beneath the Parallax, but just as he appears to be getting through his power ring finally reaches 0% energy.
Powerless, Hal Jordan finds himself at the mercy of the fear powered Parallax!

Contorting it's host body, the Parallax manifests a swirling mass of tentacles that envelop a helpless Hal Jordan. John Stewart arrives in time to witness the gathering yellow energies that emenate from beneath the hunched creature, watching in horror as it rises reborn in a glowing yellow triumph - now in possession of two Green Lantern hosts!

Parallaxed powered up unleashes yellow streams of energy that grind John Stewart into the dirt. With grit teeth the Green Lantern summons the power of his ring with determination and will, only to resist Parallax and cut through his attacks with a stream of glowing green!

At that moment, a previously detoured Guy Gardner arrives with the Rayner painting in his possession. Seeing Parallax on the ropes from Stewart's attack, Gardner rips the painting from it's wrapping and beckons to the Kyle within.

Alone in the darkness, Kyle Rayner's possession manifests itself psychically as a field of yellow wheat. A voice echos to him, eventually revealing his predecessor, Hal Jordan, glowing bright with the power of the Green Lantern.
Kyle admits his guilt over the loss of his mother at the hands of Despotellis - an agent of the Sinestro Corps - and as the wheat turns to stringy tendrils, Jordan reaches out to his successor with undestanding and compassion.

The unity of the two Lanterns allows their green light to glow bright!

The strength of two hosts proves to be a two-way road, as green light leaks from Parallax's outward depiction of Rayner, signalling the emergence of both Rayner and Jordan, bursting free in a spray of yellow blood!

The quartet of Human Lanterns enjoy a brief reunion, but are soon faced with a recouped Parallax that gathers from the gloopy remains of the day. Furious, the fear entity looms over a naked and powerless Kyle Rayner, but is stemmed by the unlikely arrival of two Guardians from Oa!

Carrying recharge lanterns for each of the men, the two Guardians restore Kyle Rayner's status as a Lantern, having previously seen him elevated to torch-baring role of Ion. Glad to return to the fold, Rayner joins his fellows in chorus as they charge their rings.

With the Guardians having just disected and absorbed Parallax into the four rings, it remains to be seen whether or not there will be ramifications. In the time being, it is a battle won, in a war as yet undecided.

ARTWORK: Ethan Van SciverThe hammer...
Though it was Ganthet and Sayd who struck the winning blow, I think the involvement of each individual Green Lantern proved crucial, so we're going to be generous, and call a win to all!

Strange but true: I'm not a big sci-fi guy.
In that respect it was always the superhero aspect of the Green Lantern that remained the most important to me. By it's definition, I'm often reluctant to call myself a fan of things, because it implies a certain level of familiarity and knowledge. I don't know the minutia of the Green Lantern's lengthy history, but if I had to choose a favourite; and couldn't go the obnoxious smug route of saying Alan Scott; I'd say I'm a fan of Hal Jordan.

We've spoken before about the inflection a fan makes when identifying a moment of a legacy as "their" version of the character. Jordan was the Green Lantern in prominence when I read his tales, so alternates roughly fell by the wayside, namely Kyle Rayner. That said, I think the last decade has allowed the character to mature and endear himself in a way that I also enjoy.

It's interesting to watch Geoff Johns work.

I think it's too late to say Johns is becoming one of the lynchpins of the DC Universe. Geoff Johns has well and truly landed, and his influence has been felt by most fans reading DC comics, as he joins Grant Morrison, and the departing influences of Mark Waid and Greg Rucka, as architect of the DCU.

Evidence of Johns far faring involvement is the promotional conclusion to Sinestro Corps War, which reveals the coming final chapter of the Green Lantern's prophecy, Blackest Night.

One of the curiosities evident in Johns' writing is that it bucks against many contemporary trends, exhibiting a questionable degree of characterization, boasting instead the strength of story structure and planning. It's always curious to be deathly excited to read a Johns book, but ultimately find yourself a little mystified at the end of it, unable to recall miniscule specifics; not that this is necessarily the case of this issue.

The introduction of a yellow brigade seems like one of the least likely concepts to turn around the flailing fortunes of the Green Lantern franchise.
As much as Johns reinvigorated the brand with the new reader grabbing, Rebirth, the energy has struggled to remain consistent. Referring back; I find it oddly enjoyable that it would be conceits typical of the science fiction genre that would bring us all back to the green light.

It's worth noting that the story actually recalls events described in a previous GL story, building on notions proposed by "the great" Alan Moore, but then, that again refers to one of Johns' subtle strengths; his ability to drawn upon and inspire intelligent application of characters and their histories.

Having read so much positive fan press about the War, I may have been a little too whipped up to draw my own appreciation. It's with a critical eye that I note, much like the fabled LBS [*Lazy Brubaker Syndrome], that Johns' muted characterization means events unfold in expected sequence, with 'oh my gosh' moments that ask the reader to appreciate them on their merits, but are in a way betrayed by their logical succession.

The superhero conceit ironically lets the story down; seeing the overwhelming odds of the Sinestro Corps broken down through individualized battles. The Green Lanterns manage to gather their forces into smaller groups to out number Sinestro members, with prominent members defeated in video game succession.

It's foolish to say that there's anything wrong with that, but it does tend to undermine the war qualities of the story, which uses window dressing of occasional group shots to allude to the broader conflict. These allusions manage to include peppered cameos by members of the Justice League and Society, albeit without interference in those respective titles (probably for the better).

If nothing else, Sinestro Corps War makes these characters enjoyable to see again. Perhaps the greatest obstacle faced by the Corps, I feel, is the lack of iconic villains, so to that end, the Sinestro Corps is a greatly succesful vehicle that uses the requisite familiarities of Cyborg Superman and Superboy-Prime, but adds it's own qualities.

That said, the promise of a legion of Lantern Corps, each representing different colours and motives, highlights the follies of such a maneuver.
Presumably the prophecized fall to be depicted in Blackest Night will provide a buffer to eliminate the excess of Corps, because as much fun as alternate brigades may be, they threaten to overwhelm and water down a concept that, on it's own, is more than sound. Blackest Night does, however, tend to suggest negatives to go along with those contingencies.

As you'll be reading in the coming months, the Infinite Wars is instigating an initiative called Spider-Boycott: 2008. We'll be omitting Spider-man from our regular routine (as much as possible) in response to the major retcon featured in One More Day, that not only erases Peter Parker's marriage to Mary-Jane Watson, but reimagines the history that was created following, including the unwelcome resurrection of Harry Osborn.

With DC's Final Crisis looming, and the Green Lantern prophecy claiming the Blackest Night will accompany the fall of the universe; it's hard not to feel reticent about the future of DC Comics.

For the past five years intergalactic doom and gloom has been teased with Infinite Crisis, the multi-verse, and various other plot devices. The grim feeling that something might actually come of it is not a dramatic suspense I wish to indulge.
As much as one comes to accept the ebb and flow of sensibility in comics writing, and makes the well adjusted decision to accept certain changes; blanket retcons are not a notion I like to encourage or entertain.

Though twenty years later we see and enjoy the benefits of Crisis on Infinite Earths, we cannot condone another wipe of the slate. So, much as it's thrilling to look forward to the prospects suggested by the Sinestro Corps War and it's inevitable conclusions, there is a sense of reluctance and concern for the future.

I do my best now to contain myself, to discuss Blackest Night in a future entry, when we revisit the Sinestro Corps War. Hopefully that will be sooner than later, so I don't forget the delicious prospect these Black Lanterns present.

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 5.5

After two years, it's kinda nice to finally be able to present the Infinite Wars as Green Lantern-friendly. We hope we can shine our light to bring all you GL nuts to the Infinite Wars, and hey, if you aren't among their number yet, why not head over to Amazon to pick yourself up the first Sinestro Corps War trade -- and pre-order the second, which contains the issue reviewed here, and much more! Yay Amazon, yay kick-backs, yay Sinestro!

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