Friday, December 12, 2008

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

The Story So Far...
The Anti-Monitor - a creature of immense power that once sought to destroy the multiverse - 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 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, but the rest of the Green Lanterns, along with heroes native to the planet, soon join the war. The Justice League, Justice Society, Titans, and more, rally to join the Green Lantern Corps in a stand against a force determined to seek the destruction of all.

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Wonder Man 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Iron Man 5 (Professor)
Speed: The Sentry 6 (Mach-Speeds)
Stamina: Iron Man 6 (Generator)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Ares 7 (Warrior)
Energy Power: The Sentry 7 (Cosmic)

- The Green Lantern Corps is: John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kilowog, Arisia, Breeon, Adam, Soranik Naru, Princess Iolande, Bzzd, Green Man, Torquemada, Voz, Apros, Brik, Tahr, Kraken, Chaselon, Sir Deeter, Leezle Pon, Lok Neboora, Raker Qarrigat, Salaak, Stel, Isamot Kol, Larvox, & Vath Sarn.
With: Superman, Powergirl, Hawkman, Alan Scott, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Metamorpho, Firestorm, Wonder Girl, Raven, Red Tornado, Captain Marvel, Batman, Starman, Supergirl, Hawkgirl, Plastic Man, Starfire, Bulleteer, STRIPE, Black Lightning, Red Arrow, Firehawk, Miss Martian, Jay Garrick, Nightwing, Creeper, Cyborg, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Robin, & Steel.

Having succumbed 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.

- The Sinestro Corps is: Anti-Monitor, Cyborg Superman, Superboy-Prime, Karu-Sil, Haasp the Hunter, Snap Trap, Despotellis, & Yellow Lantern.

While imprisoned in the Central Battery of Oa; former Green Lantern, Sinestro, came in contact with a creature as old as time itself. Parallax, an entity born of fear, had been imprisoned by the Guardians of the Galaxy and consequently instilled in the rings of the Lanterns an impurity that left them vulnerable to objects of yellow -- the colour of fear in the cosmic emotional spectrum.

When Hal Jordan was able to excise the corruption of Parallax from his soul, a freed Sinestro opts to form a new army in the anti-matter universe of Qward. Armed with yellow rings inspired by fear, he summons the most frightening villains from across the universe, joining together to form the Sinestro Corps.

Among Sinestro's most famous early recruits: Superboy-Prime, Cyborg Superman, Amon Sur, Mongul, Fatality, Parallax, and the Anti-Monitor.

Math: Green Lantern Corps Ranking: Batman (#1)

What Went Down...
The Earth plays host to three cosmic armies as the Justice League and other heroes combine with the Green Lantern Corps to resist their fear-wielding counterparts, the Sinestro Corps. At the centre of the melee, the armored giant of destruction - the Anti-Monitor!

From a distance the war is abstracted, appearing as a mass of wills colliding, but on the frontlines the personal struggles make-up the bigger picture. Among the heralds of the Anti-Monitor is Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman that welcomes the lethal force initiated by the Guardians that oversee the Lantern Corps. He provokes their action, crushing the will of Lanterns beneath his cybernetic hand, while burning the wings of the courageous Hawkman.

John Stewart uses his ring to douse the flames as he and Guy Gardner arrive to join their comrades. They are immediately greeted by the venom of Karu-Sil, one of Sinestro's fear mongers. Gardner retaliates against her parallax constructs, generating a swarm of glowing green wolverines.

In the skies above, the Anti-Monitor looms over a city in chaos, plunging his fist into the street with the aim of sucking the planet dry. A wave of energy expands, positive matter turning to anti-matter, threatening to incinerate anything unable to flee it's path. The destruction forces Lanterns to redirect their attention to the innocents of New York City, to whom the wave is the most immediate threat.
Heroes such as Wonder Woman and Plastic Man join Lanterns, such as Arisia and Kilowog, in the desperate rescue.

Two brands of Manhunter collide as Hank Henshaw's cyborg meets the fist of the last lawman of Mars - J'onn J'onnz! His intervention aids John Stewart, who carries the ailing body of Guy Gardner. Yellow blood spits from the sickened Lantern -- a sign of Despotellis, the viral Sinestro, attacking him from within.

Meanwhile, heroes such as the Red Tornado, Starfire, Red Arrow, Black Lightning, and Firehawk do their bit to battle the swarming Sinestro Corps. They buzz and battle around the Anti-Monitor like insects, but each of their blows decides the fate of not only this Earth, but every parallel world that stems from it!

The Anti-Monitor's destructive conversion of energies goes unchallenged, until voices from the void recall the crisis incurred by his last attack on reality. A crisis of infinite Earths that went unchallenged by Oan Guardians in bondage.
Oan Guardians who will not stand idly by as he threatens existence anew!

The Guardians funnel their green energies at the impossible beast, confident in the knowledge that this Anti-Monitor is not yet fully developed beneath the armor that connects him to the old. Their will slams against the Anti-Monitor's shell and tears and shreds at the metal of his robotic heralds, the newest Manhunters. Their captain, Hank Henshaw, remains unphased by the Guardians' power.

Baring a grudge for their role in imprisoning him during Alexander Luthor's attempts to affect reality; Superboy-Prime blasts at the Guardians with his Kryptonian heat vision, while fighting off the advances of Alan Scott, Wonder Girl, and the Lanterns. Anti-Monitor lashes at the immortal Guardians also, trapping one in a giant fist that singes blue flesh with raw anti-power.

On the ground, John Stewart fends off the bizarre advances of the Yellow Lantern, while the increasingly weak Guy Gardner turns his attentions skyward. There, looming above the Earth, is the construct called "Warworld" affixed to the yellow central battery of the Sinestro Fear Corps. A power source big enough to destroy the Earth, or, if contained, one giant Anti-Monitor.

Even as his insides are plundered by the microscopic Despotellis; Guy Gardner pledges himself to the cause, flying into the sky with his ring blazing, forming chains with his fellow to drag the Warworld battery into position.

Other Lanterns rush to aid their brothers, fending off the opposition of Sinestro's agents. With the Guardians doing their part to rupture the Anti-Monitor's armor, the Lanterns toss Warworld toward the New York City streets below, and prepare themselves for the mammoth task of containing the explosion.

Kilowog, Apros, Brik, Salaak, Bzzd, Isamot Kol, Arisia, Torquemada, Sir Deeter, and many other Green Lanterns, all focus their energy into a giant dome over Warworld and the Anti-Monitor. Hank Henshaw is also encased within. With a cold metallic hand pressed to the edge of the translucent green dome, he whisper thanks to the Lanterns, poetically anticipating his long overdue death.

While the heroes of Earth fend off the advances of the Sinestro Corps; the City trembles as Warworld explodes, obliterating Hank Henshaw, and massive portions of New York, with it. The Anti-Monitor emerges, however, with his armor in tatters, but his resolve in tact. He lashes out at the unsuspecting Lanterns, but finally his undoing comes from an unlikely source, one of his allies, Superboy-Prime!

The impetuous youth pierces Anti-Monitor's armor and body with a torpedo-like dive. No longer interested in the Anti-Monitor's attempts at conquest, he puts an end to the creature's rampage, dragging the tattered armor into space, before tossing the smouldering corpse of the Anti-Monitor toward a dark destiny beyond the stars.

Spattered with blood, Superboy-Prime prepares a renewed assault against the heroes of the universe. His tantrum is but a precursor to the true end of the Sinestro Corps War...

The Hammer...
In the interest of clarity, this is technically part one of a two-part scenario. The battle strings out to include the suggested fight against Superboy-Prime, but to save time and my sanity, I've broken it up.

For defeating Anti-Monitor (and Hank Henshaw) we declare Superboy-Prime, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Green Lanterns mentioned who affected and contained Warworld's destruction. For their involvement in repelling the other Sinestro Corps forces, and contributing to varying degrees in the specifics of this fight, we also award a victory statistic to the Earth heroes identified in "the tape". Their involvement, while non-specific, is clearly vital to the victory of the Green Lantern Corps.

For a final piece of house keeping, we also acknowledge confirmed kill stats to Superboy-Prime and Anti-Monitor, who both claimed two lives. Other instances prove too uncertain to confirm a death. Whew.

As you might have noticed, we might be a few weeks behind, but we've assembled some epic battles for the last month of 2008! Following on from last week's symbiote bomb [New Avengers #36], we give you yet another early 2008 major battle you might have been unaware of! True to the name of the site, these epic secret wars involved the heavy hitters of both universes, but neither expanded line-wide like the lynchpin events - Secret Invasion and Final Crisis.

Despite occupying only GL-related titles, it's fair to say Sinestro Corps War went quite a bit larger than the brief symbiote plague in our other example. In fact, reflecting on the year that was 2008 is almost impossible to do without mentioning spillover from the Sinestro event. Even now, looking forward, we anticipate the event forecasted at the end of this issue - Blackest Night!

The upcoming Green Lantern event is but one of several key pieces making up the connective tissue that is the DC Universe. The heavy editorial direction cast across the company has earned criticism from fans and commentators alike, but has also ushered in an undisputed era of cohesion for the DCU. While the heady excitement of the 52-era seems to have passed, DC still manage a tight ship of concept and causality. Reading DC comics has become describable as an experience, distancing them from the hit-and-miss disconnection of Marvel's high selling, headlining events.

What this overly verbose assessment leads to is, Geoff Johns.
At first glance the writer appears to possess few special powers, but anyone reading DC comics knows how deceptive his approach can be. The Sinestro Corps War encapsulates the growth that the Green Lantern comics have experienced under the writer, benefitting not only from brand new contributions, but also the expert inclusion of ideas pulled from all the eras. It's a balance of ideals that has made DC the creative powerhouse -- competent in the face of adversity, creative while traditional.

The simplicity of the spectrum of emotion and colour to represent other Lanterns turns what could easily be a dismal concept, into something beautiful. The Rage of the Red Lanterns serves as one of the prologues to The Blackest Night, and is one of the beats we will hopefully talk more about in 2009.

I'd love to find the words to go deeper into this issue, but we're fast losing days in the year. Instead, let the this and the previous entry reveal where the Infinite Wars has come to rest at the end of the year. DC has been superb. In the new year I hope to talk more about Final Crisis, which has also been a series I've been quite impressed with, in stark contrast to Marvel's Skrull-event.

In case you missed it; be sure to check out our last review of this issue, detailing the personal battle between Sinestro, Hal Jordan, and Kyle Rayner. We will no doubt return to this epic issue at a later date for more of the Sinestro Corps War and the Superboy-Prime fight.

Next up, we tackle two of the major events that drove action on the Infinite Wars in 2008! First, I have to tag all these bloody Green Lanterns!

The Fight: 6 The Issue: 6

The complete Sinestro Corps War is available split across two Green Lantern trade paperbacks. You can pick them up at an affordable price via Amazon, and by using purchase links provided, also help sponsor the efforts of the Infinite Wars! Those, plus collected editions of most issues reviewed in the Secret Archive, are also available via the Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shoppe. Perfect for ringing in the new year!

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