Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Sinestro Corps War Revisited: Part Two!

If you haven't read Part One, here it is: Sinestro Corps War Revisited Part One

When we last left our intrepid green brigade, Kyle Rayner (possessed by Parallax) was hovering outside the balcony of Hal Jordan's brother's house while we discover that the Sinestro Corps isn't after Oa (the center of the Universe), they are after Earth (the center of the Multiverse).  But given the way this story has been set-up, alternating between issues of GL & GLC, Vol. 2 picks up with the Green Lantern Corps as they fight to save Mogo from the SC & their own living planet Ranx.  This chapter is a great example of how the Corps functions as a unit, as evidenced by Lantern Green Man using the knowledge from his home planet as a means for Mogo to protect himself.  This part also bring up the prophecy surrounding Lantern Yat and shows the reader how the Corps reacts to the new law of the Book of Oa that enables lethal force to be used.  Suffice to say the level of violence, already quite high given the ruthless nature of the SC, is jacked up even further.  Still, it's not something that sits well with every member of the GLC but before the impact of this change can really sink in, the Corps is caught up to speed on the events of the the previous chapter as they learn of the assault on Earth.

Finally, after several chapters of just hanging out on the moon biding his time, Superboy-Prime joins the fray as the SC encroaches on Earth.  This image is very reminiscent of one I put in my Blackest Night blog (although that would probably be vice versa if I was doing this in chronological order), and I think that's completely intentional.

This next chapter is the turning point in so many ways for the Earth GL's, but it also lays out fairly clearly what Sinestro's desires are when it comes to Earth.  He wants to "create a symbol of terror that will was over the universe.  I want the universe controlled with order.  And I want all to realize that control comes not out of love, compassion, or hope, but out of fear."  Suffice to say that the real world overtones of this saga are hard to miss, especially given the time frame in which this story was originally written.  What's the threat level associated with yellow again? (Threat Level yellow = a significant risk of terrorist attacks, thanks wikipedia)

Anywho, this is the moment of truth for Kyle Rayner when, as Parallax, he faces off against a powerless Hal Jordan while Guy Gardner chases down the painting Kyle mentioned in the first part of SCW.  Upon absorbing Hal, we get to see Parallax in the yellow & black of the Sinestro Corps for the first time, and it's a damn imposing figure...

This issue also marks the merging of the GLC story line & the GL story line as the Corps finally makes it to Earth, saving Guy in dramatic fashion from a SC attack as he quests for the painting.  It's also the issue, given that we're on Earth, in which the other heroes join the fray.  Remember Hal's words after the fight with Zoom that started this whole shebang?  Well looks like he was as wrong as it gets...

What proceeds is an internal battle as Kyle & Hal fight to free Kyle of Parallax's influence. Now this is where I feel like I should bring up the Tales Of The Sinestro Corps books and whether or not they were essential to the core story.  With Blackest Night there was A LOT of tie-in material, most of which was non-essential, but the 6 mini's had some story beats that were necessary to get the full picture.  The SC Tales, of which there were only 3, are a mix...the reason I bring it up here is because the Parallax one focuses on Kyle's struggle prior to this AND gives some context for just why this painting is such a big deal in Kyle's life.    None of this material is printed in the collected SCW, rather given its own collection and I'm only intending to mention it when there's something "missing" from the story proper.

Back to our regularly scheduled program: Kyle & Hal fight their way free of Parallax, Ganthet & Sayd store its essence within the lantern batteries of Kyle, Hal, Guy, & John Stewart, and Kyle...who is no longer the host for given a proper GL ring.  The panels of the four Earth GL's reciting the oath over images of the SC's domination (in particular the Statue of Liberty replaced by Sinestro) are quite powerful.

Jump to the GLC as they head to Earth, but first the Guardians make it known they intend to reassign the Ion power, albeit earlier than they intended.  Arkillo and Killowog get their rematch, and in quite a brutal moment, the GLC's drill instructor takes Arkillo's finger and his ring along with it!  Now I'm going to have to take a look at his post-SCW appearances to see if this missing digit is actually still missing.  Dude loses his tongue and a to be him.

The Anti-Monitor makes his way to Earth, and starts blasting away, hitting Sodam Yat and there's this odd moment in which Sodam seems like a robot as his eyes glow red and he comes back to life.  It's just wierd, but it does lead to the Guardians infusing Yat with the Ion entity...

...which is followed up by SuperboyPrime's Tales of the SC issue that isn't discussed or mentioned, so it seems totally random that he is now without the armor.  It also makes you wonder what the hell happened to him in between panels. Oh yeah, and unfortunately the art for this chapter just in the next part too.

The next part is mix of flashback and fight as we learn about Sodam Yat's origins on Daxam while he's busy getting pulped by Prime in one of the bloodiest, no make that the bloodiest fight, of the entire SCW.  The last couple panels of the fight just throw ichor all over the place and, I would surmise because he's potentially too powerful, Ion gets a weakness in the form of lead poisoning (something else I have to check on to verify that it's maintained post-SCW).  So we end this chapter with the uber-powerful Prime holding the lifeless body of Yat as Guy & John take aim. 

So we begin the final chapter of the SCW with a real look at the war with these two images...


From the looks of it, this war has brought every GL and damn near every hero on Earth to the fight.  But before the Earth GL's, fresh off the Parallax fight, rejoin the larger battle they are filled in on the Prophecy of the Blackest Night by Ganthet & Sayd.  It's as close to full disclosure as the Guardians, even Ganthet, are likely to get as they elaborate on the different Corps that will pop-up between SCW & BN. We even get this nifty image of the War of Light that is foretold in the Book of Oa.

 So with all that in mind, Hal attempts to save his family by having them evacuate Coast City but they, along with the rest of the residents of town, illuminate green lights in the window as a show of support.  We also see the the Anti-Monitor at work as he attempts to make a meal out of the positive matter energy of Earth.  Then all hell really breaks loose!  The Lost Lanterns come to the aid of Hal Jordan as he battles Sinestro in space, the Guardians (in a call back to the original Crisis) battle the Anti-Monitor, Guy Gardner gets sick from Despotellis, Amon Sur turns tail and runs when he realizes the GLC can kill, and Hal & Kyle realize that truth about Sinestro.

All he has wanted was to force the GLC to change, and with the institution of the Lethal Force Law, Sinestro sees that he has already won.  Sinestro speaks of his loyalty to the idea of the GLC, and in some ways all he has done has been in attempt to push change upon the Corps; changes that could truly allow the GLC to police the universe, or in Sinestro's words "The Universe will fear Green Lanterns, and the Universe will be better for it."

Back on Earth a moment that will change the future of the GLC, indeed the entire DCU, goes down as the Anti-Monitor burns one of the Guardians with his touch.  That Guardian would eventually become known as Scar, and serve as a mole within the Guardians, working for Nekron, and steering events towards The Blackest Night.  It's just one more example of how intricately Geoff Johns has laid out his GL opus...

An increasingly sick Guy & John Stewart use the Yellow Lantern Battery as a bomb to stop the Anti-Monitor, trapping the Cyborg Superman within, and seemingly granting his death wish which Henshaw meets with a "thank you" to the GLs.   Hal & Kyle both end up with 0% power in their rings, they turn Sinestro's toys against him to drain his power ring, and the fight goes hand-to-hand.  Superboy-Prime single-handedly ends the threat of the Anti-Monitor by flinging his shell into space.  Natu heals Guy using the GLC's own sentient virus, Hal beats Sinestro, a Guardian sacrifices his life to seemingly stop Prime, and the fight finally comes to a close.

The wrap-up sees Coast City's population boom, we discover Prime has been transported into the Multi-Verse, the Guardians mention initiating the 2nd new Law into the Book of Oa, Sayd & Ganthet officially spawn the Blue Ring of Hope, Cyborg Supes is unwillingly resurrected by his Manhunters, the remains of the Anti-Monitor crash land on a dark planet, and the last thing we see on the final page of the SCW....

The Blackest Night is upon us...

So upon finishing the SCW my first thought is....damn that was intense!  Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons, and Peter Tomasi threw everything they had at the reader and it made for a truly emotional, impactful, gut wrenching story that not only was excellent on it's own, but it also serves as a guide stone for the future of the GL-Verse.  Just within this story you have:

- The Prophecy of the Blackest Night/War of the Light
- The Other Corps Explained
- Origin of Scar
- Anti-Monitor Set-Up In the Black Lantern Battery
- Guy Joking About Wearing Other Rings
- The 10 New Laws In The Book Of Oa (only 6 have been revealed to date)
- Earth = Center Of Multi-Verse
- Superboy Prime in Multi-Verse (Plays Out In Final Crisis & Blackest Night)

There are certainly more set-up points as well, but those are just the ones that were on the tip of my proverbial tongue.  In the same fashion that this set-up "Blackest Night" and BN led into "War of the Green Lanterns", "Sinestro Corps War" was the result of two years of build that all started in "GL: Rebirth".  Johns has proven quite masterful at sowing the seeds of his future storylines within events while simultaneously paying off the build-up, and this is a skill not easy to come by.  All too frequently an event comic can feel as if it was nothing more than a bridge to the next event, and not provide a payoff of its own.  For me that was not the case with BN, nor was it the case with SCW. 

In the initial reading, I felt like this paid off all the build and it made me excited for the future of the GL-verse.  Reading it back now, after having seen how all the set-up paid off, I find it even more amazing how much was really in the meat of this story.  And that's just within the realm of the comic book, not saying anything  of the real world implications of this story.

The character of Sinestro invokes the images of dictators from across the years, I believe Guy even calls him "Adolf" at one point, and his mission to rule by fear is one that strikes close to home in a world where we have seen our lives changed because of fear.  Fear of terror attacks has caused the general population here in the United States to WILLING give up their rights under the guise of homeland security.  This consistent state fear of is perpetuated by the terror alert color schematics, by "enhanced" airport security, by constant rumors of terrorist attacks, and by having a boogieman lurking out in the desert for nearly a decade.  It's nothing new, the idea of government using fear tactics to their advantage...the red scare of communism, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and that's just me using the US government as an example. 

The world that Sinestro wishes to create is one in which rule of fear is taking to its ultimate extreme, but it is one that is plausible.  The opposite argument, in the form of the GLC and as evidenced by Coast City's rally, is that it is through our own willpower that we can fight this sort of fear-based tyranny, and that it can really only be done if we stand together. 

I find it a rare thing in comics that you get a story that speaks to you on a real level, and makes you think about things that actually happen in the "real world".  This was one of those stories, and in the same way Marvel's "Civil War" broached some serious issues, so did "Sinestro Corps War".  Just because it's a comic book, doesn't mean it can't...or rather won't...force you to ask questions.


Got everything from Geoff John's GL run covering "Sinestro Corps War" thru "Brightest Day" on my EBay Store: My Ebay Store

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Sinestro Corps War Revisited: Part One!

And so it was after re-reading "Blackest Night" that I decided to keep going in reverse thru the tent-pole events of the GL-Verse.  Since Geoff Johns started his opus with "Green Lantern: Rebirth", the story has had a specific forward momentum; building towards events that shaped the immediate future of the GL Corps, and laid the groundwork for future events.  Parts of what went down in BN were established as far back as GL: Rebirth (with some story elements written well before Johns was even thinking of being a comic writer).  That is also the case right here with "The Sinestro Corps War".  So with that I decided to follow in the footsteps of what I did with BN, and read ONLY the core story itself and none of the other tie-in books (thankfully in this case that's only like 4 one-shots).

The opening page of this story, in a fashion sometimes lost in comics, tells you every bit of backstory you really need to know in 5 simple panels of beautiful Ivan Reis art.  A naked Sinestro utters one sentence that sums up his whole purpose, and the purpose of this event..."The Universe Needs To Change".  His backstory unfolds quickly, the second page answers the question of how Sinestro's back was scarred with the Lantern logo, and clearly defines his hate for Kyle Rayner, or rather "the alley rat" as Sinestro so lovingly calls him.  And in the 3rd & 4th pages, we get to hear the oath of the Sinestro Corps; an oath that is the antithesis of the GL oath.

Given the current status quo of the DCU, I find it amusing that Zoom is the villain Geoff Johns elected to use to really kick this story off as the JLA searches out Sinestro in a follow-up to the moment in an earlier issue where Batman is initated into the Sinestro Corps for a minute (GL #17)...

It's in those moments after the Zoom confrontation that Hal Jordan makes a dire statement, "I don't think the Sinestro Corps is Earth's problem, it's the Green Lanterns."  Enter the yellow rings as they fly around the universe looking for those beings capable of creating great fear in a follow-up to a few issues earlier where the reader sees the construction of the rings on Qward, further teasing what was about to go down here.

Johns' drops in on The Guardians as they investigate another of Geoff's favorites, The Cyborg Superman (last seen leading a new wave of Manhunters , who has apparently discovered the secret of the 52 parallel universes and we also get our first mention of the Prophecy of Cosmic Revelations: the Blackest Night in this story (it was name dropped GL #11).  In another small touch, that only has meaning in hindsight, Cyborg Supes says "Without life, there will be no fear, avarice, or hate.", to which Ganthet retorts "Without life there is also no hope or compassion." and Sayd (the female Guardian) chimes in "or love".    In one panel we have the core elements of the...ummm, corps...stated before anything outside of the GLC or SC exist.  And the seeds are planted...

After a quick check-in on another Johns favorite in Superboy-Prime (following up on his imprisonment after "Infinite Crisis"), we get a down moment that lets us in on the internal struggles within the GLC as well as those of Kyle Rayner AKA Ion.  We find out about Ion's Mom, about some painting, and then with a KRAKSH everything goes to hell!  Kyle's abducted, deposited in the Anti-Matter Universe, and the reader gets their first idea of just what awaits Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and the rest of the GLC...

And as if that wasn't enough, the brutality begins on Oa and we get to see how violent this war is going to be when a sniper beam blows a whole in a Lantern's head and sprays Guy's face with blood. Kyle versus the SC, the GLC vs the SC, Superboy-Prime & Cyborg Supes liberated, the truth behind Ion revealed as its ripped from the chest of Kyle, and the symbolic ripping of Kyle's heart from his chest as Sinestro tells Kyle the truth about his mother's death & the SC's role in it.  He is a broken man, just like Hal Jordan after Coast City's destruction, and just like Hal, Sinestro uses that moment to turn Kyle into Parallax.   Oh wait, there's more...

And all of that is just the Prologue issue...Sinestro, Parallax, two Super-Men, and the f'n Anti-Monitor!  Not to mention the Sinestro Corps and their very lethal methods.  In one issue, Geoff Johns has set-up a no-win situation for the GLC and even in the re-read I still felt that same sense of "how the hell are they going to survive this" that I had when I first saw that image right above.

In the proper Part One, Johns gives the reader the same kind of origin for Hal Jordan that he did for Sinestro and nails all the pertinent information in a couple of pages.  The stress caused between the Lost Lanterns & Hal Jordan continues while the Guardians elect to further bury The Blackest Night by destroying the last chapter of the Book of Oa.  But it is those action that bring about the eventual creation of the Blue Lanters when Ganthet & Sayd bid farewell to Hal Jordan with three simple words... "We will hope.".  Unfortunately that hope is nearly decimated immediately as Hal is confronted by the Parallax-possessed Kyle Rayner.

With Chapter Two of the story in GLC (written by Dave Gibbsons), it jumps to the events of the War from other perspectives: primarily that of Sinestro but with some members of the GLC included.  The level of violence in this is chapter really shows how different, how serious this battle truly is, but the crux of the story is that of Sinestro's return to Korugar which is now patrolled by Soranik Natu.  In this confrontation we get our first mention of the GLC's inability to use lethal force on their enemies which becomes a major point within the SCW, and we get the first meeting between Sinestro & Soranik which has some serious long term ramifications.  In the light of what is eventually revealed about their familial connection, it's no wonder Sinestro didn't kill her, and it gives a whole other level of meaning to Sinestro's statement that he "only need Korugar to believe you have defeated me and I have won."  Maybe, in his twisted way of thinking, Sinestro figured that Natu would owe him for the fealty Korugar would give her for the "victory" over their former tyrannical ruler....or maybe he figured she'd owe her Daddy one.  Oh yeah, and this Sodam Yat guy pops up....

Back to Hal's story and the return of Amon Sur (now a Sinestro Corps member) after his failed attempts to kill Jordan a few issues prior to SCW.  I guess the first few pages of this issue tell the tale of how only family can talk trash about family, anyone else better watch their mouth.  What's Superboy-Prime waiting for? How sad is Cyborg Supes when you really look at him? And how terrible are the Guardians as they are apparently willing to sacrifice everything Kyle has done for them to save the Ion Entity?  For the greater good and all that...

Kyle unfortunately has to suffer through some of the same moments Hal had to when he was under Parallax's influence, specifically when he kills the lost lantern Jack Chance.  And we get our second moment of a ring shutting down at the attempted use of lethal force, this time by another lost lantern, Boodikka.  Seems to be a theme.  Oh yeah, and very pivotal figure for the coming years is introduced in the Keeper of the Book of Parallax known as Lyssa Drak. 

The jump to GLC bring us a brutal bloody war on Mogo as several elements of previous GLC arcs come into play in the forms of Ranx The Sentient Planet & The Children of the White Lobe.  As a matter of fact, the attempted destruction of Mogo is actually a continuation of a prophecy from a 1986 Annual written by Alan Moore.  Hell, a lot of what Johns has used to tell his long-term story is based on Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2 (the Empire of Tears, Ysmault, the Five Inversions, etc.).  We also get continued concern about the condition of Sodam Yat by the Guardians, and the fight everyone has been waiting for since we first saw him in GL #10: Arkillo vs. Killowog.  Oh yeah, and the GLC meets the Anti-Monitor!

To Hal and the Earth-GL's....oh wait, first a little stop in Coast City and the Jordan family.  See Hal's brother and his family moved to Coast City shortly after Jordan's return to life but despite the best efforts of the government, the city is still barely populated.  Anywho, Hal find himself powerless in the heart of Sinestro Corps hell and makes the scary scary decison to take on a handful of yellow rings; touching another Corps ring and setting the stage for moments to come as hell eventually wears the ring of damn near every Corps (which in turn created the speculation that he would be the White Lantern since he had touched all the colors).  The Guardians also make their first fateful decision as they renege on something they stated many issues earlier when Hal requested to explore the Forbidden Sector: they elect to rewrite the Book of Oa...and toss Ganthet & Sayd on their asses for acting on emotion. 

In the span of a few pages, the entire game changes:  The Sinestro Corps heads for Earth while the Guardians have amassed the GLC on Oa, the Earth Lanterns stand alone in Coast City as Parallax arrives, and the 1st of 10 new rules in the Book of Oa is announced: Lethal Force Enabled!  Why Earth and not Oa (given that Oa is the center of the universe)? 

Because Earth is the center of the multiverse....

Thus ends Volume One of the Sinestro Corps War HC, and part one of my recap/review/rewind/rehash.  So what do we have? 

In the first half of the story, Johns & Gibbons have laid some of the foundation for "Blackest Night", have evolved storyline points from the first two years of GL & the one year of GLC to bring to fruition the teases of the Sinestro Corps formation; villains that sprouted out in pre-SCW issues have come full circle with membership in the SC; the saga of Coast City continues; elements of Johns' other mega-story "Infinite Crisis" are brought into play with Cyborg Supes, Supes-Prime, and the 52; it laid the groundwork for the whole concept of The Entities; hell even elements of Kyle's life pre-Johns are fleshed out as his sorrow at his mother's death becomes a key storyline point.  And all of that is just in the first half of this GL-Event.

What lies in story for the culmination of the Sinestro Corps War?  How does it foretell the coming of the Blackest Night and the other Corps that are introduced following SCW?  What else does SCW tell us about the past & future of the GL-Verse?  Check back at the end of the week for Part Two of Sinestro Corps War Revisited! 

Until then, don't let Parallax get ya!



And if you're interested in reading this, or any of the rest of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern run, I am currently auctioning off a large chunk of his run (everything from SCW - present), so check it out here: My Green Lantern Auction.

Also, check out the rest of my auctions if you're interested: The Rest Of My Auctions