Blogging A to Z Day 22: Sinestro

What frightens you? I’m not asking for the big things that nearly everyone would name. What are the day-to-day stresses and experiences that frighten you? I’m writing this right now during a heavy and potentially tornadic thunderstorm, so I’m a bit on edge myself. I would not consider myself a coward, but I’ve dealt with anxiety all my life, and about a lot of different things. That’s a big reason certain characters—Batman and Daredevil, to name but two—really appeal to me; they operate in a state without fear, having conquered it long ago. Admiring those sorts of characters led me to the Green Lantern books five or so years ago, and to one character in particular: Sinestro.

It is said that Thaal Sinestro was the greatest of all Green Lanterns—an order defined by its ability to overcome great fear—before his rather dramatic falling out with the Green Lantern Corps’s Guardians. Perhaps his strength of will grew too great once given the powers of a Green Lantern; regardless, it was his forcing of his will, of his sense of order, upon his war-torn homeworld of Korugar that led to his expulsion from the Corps and his banishment to the Antimatter Universe, where the Weaponers of the world called Qward created for him the first yellow ring that drew from the portion of the Emotional Spectrum powered by fear, the opposite of the green light of willpower.

As a former high ranking and well-traveled Green Lantern, Sinestro was familiar with the prophecy of the Blackest Night, and he created his own corps of yellow lanterns in preparation. As he revealed following his defeat in his war against the Green Lantern Corps, his goal was not necessarily to win. Rather, it was to make the universe strong enough to face the darkness to come; either his philosophy—strength through conquering one’s own fears and mastering others through theirs—would win out, or the Green Lanterns would have to adapt and become more savage in order to defeat him. Either way, a powerful army awaited whatever was coming.

Is Sinestro rightly classified as a hero, or as a villain? In all honesty, I have pondered this and cannot rightly say one way or the other. What defines either of those roles? Sinestro may not be the most classically righteous of individuals, but if the ends ever do truly justify the means, then he certainly sees the well-being of others as his greatest priority. Many may shy away from his methods because of the harshness of his example, but you have to acknowledge that when he puts a threat down, it never gets back up again. For all of these reasons, Sinestro is one of my very favorite comic book characters.

That’s it for my contributions to this year’s A to Z challenge. Thank you all for stopping by and reading! I look forward to seeing your thoughts in the comments below. Feel free to check out some of my other thoughts on Sinestro in my reviews here at Sourcerer of his ongoing comic series written by Cullen Bunn. Do check back in the future, because I have plenty more to say about this character and his stories. Have a good day, everyone!

 

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Blogging A to Z Day 11: Joker

Geeks. Batman. It’s a thing. He’s already taken up several letters of this Geek Pastiche, and I have a hunch he’ll appear in a few more before the alphabet is through… But heroes are only as good as their villains, so it’s fitting we take a moment to address one of the most famous supervillains in or out of comics: The Joker.

Ever since his first appearance in 1940, the Joker has been wildly popular. Like most villains, he was first written as a one-story character. He even died at the end, but when Batman got a solo comic, the Joker became one of the first comic characters ever resurrected in order to boost sales. Since that time he’s been a mainstay of Batman stories in all kinds of media — from constant appearances in the comics, to endless animated variations, to the movie versions we all know and fear. Where you see Batman, you soon will see the Joker. Fans even complain about overexposure, but I contend that the Joker is such an integral part of Batman that they’re narratively inseparable — where there is Batman, there must be a Joker.

From the beginning the Joker has reflected Batman, and not in a superficial way. (That would be Man-Bat.) The Joker is Batman’s thematic funhouse-mirror reflection… In some ways, the two are always identical. In others, they’re opposites.

JokerOriginBatman famously lacks superpowers. Because of his appearance, it’s sometimes forgotten that the Joker isn’t “super” either. They’re both human men, driven to transform themselves into larger-than-life characters for dramatic effect. They’re both, for lack of a better word, insane. On the other hand, even in the lightest and campiest of stories Batman is a fundamentally serious person, and you need something wild to counter that. There’s one vision of total control and another of complete anarchy. One man whose origin is so codified as to be mythical, against another whose whole life story is constantly changing even in his own memory. One wealthy gentleman in a manor house, and one spectre happy in urban squalor.

On still another thematic level, the Joker is the perfect Batman villain because, while he is Batman’s equal and complement, he is also everything Batman fears: Meaningless and unknowable. He’s the monster who kills children and laughs about it, for no reason at all. Someone who can’t be punched into submission, because he has no motivation. He’s the ultimate challenge to Batman’s fundamental desire not to kill — because what else can you do with him?

Plenty of other great Batman stories exist, and there are any number of fantastic new stories waiting to be told. The Joker will forever reappear, though… Because you can’t tell the perfect Batman story without him.

ed. – Hannah’s Blogging A to Z this month at her own blog, Things Matter, and you can find her on Twitter at @HannahEGivens

Blogging A to Z Day 8: Gotham

#AOkay, there are a lot of comic book shows on the air right now, with more on the way! The one departing the most from its comic source material, however, is probably Gotham. This is a show about the city of Gotham before the Batman – about a young detective Jim Gordon, and his cases. So instead of being a Batman crimefighting show, it’s another police procedural – there’s a lot of those on TV right now as well! They’re trying to tap into two TV themes at once, it would seem.

I used this on another review over at Comparative Geeks.

I used this on another review over at Comparative Geeks.

The case they opened with was the most obvious: the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. With this case, we quickly get to see the corruption at the heart of Gotham city, and see the good cop Gordon at work. However, we also quickly get to see some of the show’s greatest limitations – limitations that I think will make Gotham a show that only has a few seasons in it, unless they make some big changes.

One is the obvious: with young Bruce Wayne in the show, we have placed the show in time. Batman is an adult, even if a young adult – so the show is years from having Batman on it, if it ever does. Which is okay – they seem to have purposefully made this a Batman show without Batman in it. However, they have to keep it an interesting Batman show without Batman in it, because what they don’t have is the option to bail themselves out by having Batman show up!

The other limitation becomes apparent the more of the show you watch. Increasingly, they are adding and including known Batman villains, either in their young incarnations (roughly the same age as young Bruce) or are including them more as adults at Gordon’s age. They run the risk of having included basically every Batman character except Batman within a few seasons – at which point, what do you do?

There’s a deeper problem with this, about Batman lore and some of the bigger-named Batman comics, like The Dark Knight Returns (which our kind host here on Sourcerer reviewed over on Comparative Geeks, and then I did too!). In these comics, as well as in movie representations like The Dark Knight, there is a gnawing doubt, a question – are there all of these crazy super-villains because of Batman, or is there Batman because of them? The answer in the comics tends towards Batman as the cause, like the Joker argues in The Dark Knight. However, the show Gotham is definitely setting up a city where the super villains are all there and waiting, and the city desperately needs a Batman.

A Batman who won’t be showing up to save them…

This post is by @CompGeeksDavid of the Comparative Geeks and regular Sourcerer contributor. For more A to Z geekery, check out Comparative Geeks!

Blogging A to Z Day 7: Flash

As someone who had not read too many comics I only was tangentially connected to the comic book world and therefore did not know much about the Flash, besides being the fastest man alive. When the show Flash started on the CW I got excited mostly because it was by the same people who brought us Arrow, which I love. The only thing being that I really did not know much about Barry Allen or the Flash in general.

The more I find out the more I really love the Flash as a character! A lot of what I know comes from watching the show, but I have also looked at what others have posted and watching some of the cartoon movies. The Flash really has a heart that is different from some of the other characters in the universe.

One thing I love about Barry Allen is his optimism and his passion. Now maybe this is just the show, but other things I have seen and found seem to confirm this as well. Recently we watched the animated movie Justice League: Doom, that points out the weaknesses of various DC superheroes including the Flash. The Flash’s weakness is his need to protect others; this is demonstrated in that movie and in the show. At the same time of all of the weaknesses it is the most endearing. He just wants to protect people and for those that need help he wants to help.

From a full gif-set on Tumblr.

From a full gif-set on Tumblr.

There is a great Tumblr post that I saw recently that looked at an episode of Justice League Unlimited where Batman and Orion try and help the Flash out because they disagree with how he handles his enemies. At the same time they just want to come and beat everyone up. The Flash on the other hand can take some time and is able to talk to one of the enemies. This in turn leads him to the rest of the enemies that are trying to kill him. Even getting the one enemy that he talked to to turn himself in. It really is a great moment and contrasts so much with the other superheroes.

The great part about Barry Allen is that his optimism and passion is infectious. He is too smart for his own good, but his strength is not in overpowering an enemy, but outsmarting them. Also, at times his power is the fact that he legitimately cares what happens. It is so different from other superheroes, particularly those in the DC universe. It is kind of a refreshing change of pace, especially when it is contrasted with Arrow which does get incredibly dark and serious. Flash presents a world where so many things are possible.

This post is by @CompGeeksHolly of the Comparative Geeks, where you can find other posts about Flash, like this one. For more A to Z posts, check out Comparative Geeks!