Monday, January 28, 2008

"Birth of the Black Lantern" (DC)
Green Lantern #25 When: January 2008
Why: Geoff Johns How: Ivan Reis

The story so far...
In the wake of the crisis that saw Alexander Luthor Jr and his Society of supervillains rock the very fabric of reality; Sinestro's involvement becomes redefined. Having served as a super powered lackey under Luthor, Sinestro escapes from battle to the anti-matter universe, where he encounters a restored Anti-Monitor, who had reborn along with a new Multi-Verse.

The Anti-Monitor joins Sinestro in creating a new Corps of agents with the intent to use them as heralds of his conquest over the positive realm. Harnessing the yellow power rings of Qward; the antithesis to the Green Lantern's Oa; the Sinestro Corps operate on a design of fear, using it to control their yellow energy the same way the Lanterns us willpower.

Tricked into believing the Sinestro Corps were to attack Oa, the designates of Sector 2814 soon find themselves four against an army as the Anti-Monitor and his heralds emerge in the Milky Way. They launch their attack on Earth, central to the new multi-verse, but the rest of the Green Lanterns, along with the heroes of Earth, soon join the war. Amidst the chaos, more personal skirmishes break out, and in an intimate exchange, Sinestro finds himself facing off with his two greatest Earth-born rivals...

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Ivan ReisARTWORK: Alex RossStrength: Draw 2 (Average)
Intelligence: Sinestro 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 2 (Average)
Stamina: Draw 6 (Generator)
Agility: Sinestro 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Draw 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: Draw 7 (Cosmic Power)

- The Green Lantern Corps are: Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner.

Having succumed to the effects of the Parallax entity; Earth's most famous Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, would lead a grief stricken rampage against his fellows in a bid to gain power enough to resurrect his obliterated city.
At the cost of the few survivors, the Guardians of the Universe would pool their energies to create one final, immensly powerful ring, which would be sent out into the universe with the last surviving Guardian from Oa; Ganthet.

The ring would come to be the inhereted by Kyle Rayner.
The young graphic artist's imagination would make him an ideal recipient, his creative mind opening up a realm of possibilities to the ring's powers of solid manifestation. These iconic Green Lantern powers would come to Rayner with the added responsibility of being the last of the Corpsman - a footnote that would continue to be a part of his education right until the return of the Corps.

- Born on the planet Korguar, the man called Sinestro was selected by the Guardians to become the Green Lantern of Sector 1147. Dedication to justice in the space region would soon see him excel to a revered status as one of the greatest Corpsman the Green Lanterns had ever seen.

Assigned to train a human designate, Hal Jordan, selected to succeed Abin Sur's duties over Sector 2814; Sinestro's path would be that of a fallen dictator. A reviled Jordan would aid his mentor in defending his homeworld against invasion, but when the Guardians are called to aid them, Sinestro's fascist methods are exposed.

While in exile in a parallel anti-matter Universe, Sinestro encounters the planet Qward, counterpart of the Guardian's homeworld, Oa. The inhabitants, the Weaponers of Qward, construct for Sinestro a yellow ring that harnesses the universal power of fear, and grants him a yellow version of the same adaptive powers of the Green Lanterns. Powers that chiefly allow him to physically manifest any construct he is able to fathom.

The Math: Sinestro (Avg) Green Lanterns (Ttl) Ranking: Hal Jordan (#51)

What Went Down...
Above the rebuilt Coast City, the Green Lanterns fight their cosmic war against the Sinestro Corps, now granted the powers of lethal force by their masters, the Guardians of the Universe. Claiming such provocation as his true motive, Sinestro charges on his mortal enemy, Hal Jordan, with the suggestion that he remains the greatest Lantern in history.

The nobility of Sinestro's plan is quickly lost as he summons the robotic Manhunters designed by Hank Henshaw with the purpose of draining a ring of it's power. Both Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner fall victim to the automatons' trick.

Stripped of their power, and without a battery to recharge, the two Green Lanterns make a tumbling landing atop one of the Coast City buildings below. Pursued still by Sinestro, the pair are forced to improvise, calling upon their physical prowess to maneuver in the absence of Lantern propelled acrobatics.

While the Sinestro Corps War rages on in the skies above them, the Cyborg Superman becomes a victim of the new killing powers of the Green Lantern, caught in a blast designed to destroy the Anti-Monitor and the yellow central battery. The apparent death results in mass malfunction of the Manhunters.

With the robotic scouts plummeting motionless from the sky, Hal Jordan is able to snatch one of their skulls whilst fleeing Sinestro. He soon turns the tables on the villain, using a yellow energy sapping Manhunter to strip the villain of his energy. Powerless, Sinestro finds himself on even terms, and all too happy to boldly challenge both Lanterns to unarmed combat.

The trio of powerless Corpsman tumble across the rooftop, before falling onto a construction site. All three are toppled in the harsh landing, but Sinestro fares well enough to turn an offensive, rapping the already shaken Kyle Rayner with a devestating left hook.

Taking advantage of the makeshift weapons strewn around the skyscraper construction, Jordan puts his willpower behind a 2x4 plank of wood!
The weapon shatters across Sinestro's head, taking a spray of blood with it.

Sinestro plays the psychological card, lamenting on Jordan's time possessed by the entity Parallax, and the things it made him do. Jordan spear tackles Sinestro through wall construction while the villain recounts tales of the death of Jordan's father. Jordan proves fatigued, but defiant, as Kyle Rayner reemerges.

Rayner dives at his inherited foe, putting his own body on the line in an effort to send the fear mongering Sinestro through a pane of glass. Pain is undoubtedly what the pair feel, as they each come to land on a lower level of construction.

Sinestro touts metaphorical victory over the pair, lording the initiation of lethality as a lasting tribute to the fear purveyed by the Sinestro Corps, and the destiny of the Green Lantern Corps as armed lawmen. Jordan silences him with a fist.

Outside, and across the country, the Sinestro Corps find themselves defeated by the united might of the entire Green Lantern Corps, Guardians, Justice League, and Justice Society. Inside, it is Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner who are victorious.

With Sinestro bloodied a fraction more than his green counterparts, Hal Jordan takes great pleasure in exercising restrain. Sinestro's fate is consolation.

ARTWORK: Patrick GleasonThe Hammer...
Your winners and inductees in to Season 2008: the Green Lanterns! They get no prize, but join the many superheroes and villains already vying for top spot in this year's rankings. Stay tuned Friday for more on the rankings, but in the meanwhile...

After talking about Annihilation, it was hard to just turn and run, so I really wanted to take the opportunity to not only feature another comic dated 2008, but also flash back to the Green Lantern side of things which only just started getting airplay toward the very end of 2007!

Dependent largely on where you were looking, Sinestro Corps War may just have been the biggest event rocking your reading as the previous year came to a close. For those of you following the story through to it's already promoted 2009 sequel, Blackest Night, there's still plenty to come, it would seem!
Hand-picked by Geoff Johns himself; Sterling Gates writes Green Lantern Corps where Mongul has been seen lurking with exciting prospects, while the master himself continues to plant seeds and explore the aftermath not only of the War itself, but also the connected ramifications.

I'm going to say this of Johns: he's earned his place at the top of the game.
Often we might express critical views of certain person(s) output, but that isn't always indicative of a broad view of that writer, penciller, or other.

If you're inclined to view the our menu [located right] you might have noticed a top ten creators tally. It rarely changes because, unlike our character stats, it isn't wiped periodically, which means Geoff Johns is going to be at the stack for quite some time. Being dependent on ratings values, Johns has actually amassed a lead over nearest rival [Jeph Loeb] worth approximately five must-reads.
These terms are all abstractions, but what I'm trying to illustrate is at least the tactile presence of Johns, and the constitent quality of his work.

THE ABSORBASCON has me convinced something bad will happen if I don't end with a GREEN LANTERN looking stupid, or badly injured...Based on the issues I wound up with, I couldn't agree with those touting Sinestro Corps War as memorable and fantastic. Amidst the chaos, I tend to think Johns inevitably falls into the void of strong concepts, and solid logic, but a story that ultimately lacks any identifiable character.

Johns can clearly grapple with understanding some of DC's most maligned and vintaged characters, but the undeniable weakness in his arsenal remains the ability to convey characterization through subtlty; something many of his peers lord as an asset in a writer's market, still driven by the influence of early 2000's wordy fads.

In some ways I would describe the Sinestro Corps War as quite ambitious. Not only does it reorganize and root the Green Lantern mythos in a very specific style of science fiction concept, but also attempts to layer a sense of commentary beneath the strong overtones of a familiar superhero crossover epic. Again, this added layer lacks some subtlty, but with very few dull moments, the ratio of crossover to page is probably well worth it.

After events convenient, the Green Lanterns stand victorious over the successively toppled menaces of the Sinestro Corps, Anti-Monitor, and herald baddies; Superman-Prime, Cyborg Superman (Hank Henshaw), and Sinestro.
Fairly urban concepts of distrust for law enforcement become the most obvious concept explored as the Green Lanterns return to a universe that will now know them as lethal enforcers bound only by individual discretion.

The irony of combatting a man, Sinestro, who abused his Green Lantern powers in the past, is somewhat lost to the driving momentum of plot points that likely need wrap up during 2008. What we weren't able to talk about last time was the promise of a 2009 event which will introduce another of the spectrum of Lantern enforcers, rising from the corpse of the Anti-Monitor to be the undead Black Lanterns. Again, the prospects of the comic book overshadow any political commentaries designed to suggest versimilitude, but that's a matter of interest.

We could talk more about the potential of 'internal affairs' style sub-sections within the Lanterns, but without details, I do tend to feel that's a precipice to Sinestro's history as the league leading corrupt Green Lantern. Then again, that in itself suggests commentaries of super powers in times of fear, and Star Wars style depictions of a Bush-style assumption post 9-11. Not that I think Johns is trying to cast those aspertions, as much as he is telling a contemporary story that's inevitably associated with those sorts of allusions.

Last time [Green Lantern #24] we talked a bit about the potential to water down the entire concept with an excess of coloured Corps. That said, the lingering concept of a Black Lantern Corps composed entirely of the resurrected dead is a delicious spin on the otherwise over populated zombie genre in comics.
Even in the context of watching Infinte Wars-style combat in 2008's comics, it's going to be hard not to observe every perilous situation in DC comics and it's Final Crisis with suspicion for who might return in a Cyborg Superman style role.

If the dead are open fodder, I suppose that even opens the fanboy door to all kinds of skeletons. You almost dare not imagine the notion of a Bart Allen Black Lantern, although, a Black Flash would be entirely appropriate.
Even for those undermining dangers, I think you have to credit Johns for his penchant for grand design. In the fashion Annihilation reintroduced key characters and concepts from the cosmic Marvel Universe; Johns puts together an 'all in one' tour of what one should expect of a new Green Lantern universe.

Promises of prophecies, wars, and crisis are a sure way to keep fans watching, but as we roll on to the afforementioned Final Crisis, we once again consider that horrible thought. With the Spider-man reboot being the measure of precedence; Johns' ability to contribute, redefine, and reshap, without stripping away chunks of history in a haphazard slate-wipe, makes fear for what the Crisis means to on-going continuity all that more concerning.

Blackest Night may very well be a guarantee for the secured future of the DC Universe, or maybe that's just the perfect creacendo to the end of this world as we know. Let's hope, either way, it's a tad more artful than the house across the street.

The Fight: 5.5 The Issue: 6

While it might not go down in history as a "must read", the Sinestro Corps War is going to be on any Green Lantern fans reading list for years to come. If you're excited about the Green Lanterns, and missed out on this redefining event spectacular, it's the perfect jumping on point! You can jump right in with the trades, both available through Amazon! Amazon not only offers affordable prices, but by using the purchase links provided here, you sponsor future entries into the Infinite Wars themselves.

No comments: