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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Batman: In Darkest Knight — A Review

Good day, everyone! It’s good to be back from my hiatus, and I’m hoping to keep a regular second season on my column here at Sourcerer. So, thanks for reading and please do keep coming back. This first entry is a review of a work I have touched on before–DC’s Elseworlds story Batman: In Darkest Knight by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham, in which Bruce Wayne becomes a Green Lantern instead of Hal Jordan and instead of becoming Batman.

The story begins with a moment familiar to fans of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. Young Bruce, wounded and delirious from blood loss following his first vigilante outing, is in the process of simultaneously apologizing to and demanding a life purpose from a bust of his deceased father, Thomas Wayne. In this iteration, however, the familiar giant bat that sets Bruce on his life path as Batman is vaporized by Abin Sur‘s Green Lantern ring seeking a new wielder.

At this stage, I feel I need to step back to say a few things about this work as a comic, as a Green Lantern story, and as an entry in the Batman mythos. I’m going to be completely honest with you; this is not a particularly well done story. Though the artwork also has its weaknesses, the writing, especially, feels uninspired and contrived to force the story into being more than elegantly shaping it into something worthwhile. The best example of this is in the story’s treatment of Sinestro.

As many readers know, I am a huge fan of Sinestro. I hate to see him misused. Sinestro’s role in In Darkest Knight is a hodgepodge of altered earlier Green Lantern stories, such as his expulsion from the Corps (originally the fault of Hal Jordan). This series of convenient events continues with Sinestro coming to Earth to attempt to uncover his new arch-enemy’s greatest secrets. In furtherance of this, Sinestro hunts down Joe Chill, somehow fuses minds with him through his yellow ring, and then inexplicably begins wearing a purple suit identical to that of the Joker.

The next odd narrative choice is the establishment of a Green Lantern-themed Justice League by the Corps’s Guardians of the Universe. The Guardians approach Clark Kent, Diana of Themyscira, and Barry Allen individually in order to recruit them all into a defense force for the Earth that would allow Bruce Wayne more free time to pursue his Green Lantern duties around Sector 2814. Needless to say at this point, many of the characters’ motivations and the convenient results (such as the costumes) that follow are never satisfactorily explained.

Image of Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash taken from https://sourcererblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/7d637-reign075.jpg

There are a couple of other gripes I have with the story, and those are the sudden and useless murder of Commissioner Jim Gordon by Sinestro and the Green Lantern Batman costume. Seriously, look at it up above. He looks like a lame facsimile of Space Ghost.

Complaints aside, the story does contain some redeeming qualities. Chief among these is a line following Sinestro’s attack on Bruce that ends with Alfred’s death. When asked whether or not he would step down from his duties to take an appropriate time to mourn his loss, Bruce simply replies that his entire life is an act of mourning. If through nothing else and at no other time, the creative team truly expresses their grasp of Batman’s essential narrative here.

And that’s my Season Two premiere. I hope you all enjoyed it, or at least got a chuckle out of it. As a reading recommendation to start things off, I suggest reading this comic and drawing your own conclusions. The entire story is available on comiXology for $1.99. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

For at least the first few posts of this season, I’d like to do more reviews of comics I’m currently reading. I’ll admit I’m a bit behind the industry these days because of past financial difficulties, but I am trying to get ahead in my consumption with trade paperbacks. Future reviews will likely include the first volume of Sinestro (so I can finally finish out what I started last year) and a recently reprinted Marvel classic called Dr. Strange & Dr. Doom: Triumph & Torment. Look for more from me in coming weeks.

It’s good to be back! Now go out and support your local comic shops.

Villains Make the Best Heroes: Batman vs Lex Luthor

Happy new book day, everyone! I hope you are all doing well this week. I am quickly closing in on the six month mark on this column, and for this entry I decided to look forward instead of backward. The first true big event of DC’s New 52, Forever Evil by Geoff Johns and David Finch, recently wrapped up, and I believe it has been out long enough to talk a bit about it here. Be forewarned, though, that this post contains spoilers if you haven’t read Forever Evil #7.

Forever Evil has been quite a treat for me to read. Its tagline, “Evil is Relative,” plays well with my growing belief that villains make the best heroes, and that small evil actions can be committed for the sake of larger good ones. Criminality and disposition aside, you cannot argue with the effectiveness of the methodologies of such characters as Lex Luthor and Sinestro, two of the characters featured as defenders of the earth in Forever Evil.

Why, then, is Batman featured as the sole active hero in this team of villains? Though he is initially hesitant to work with Lex Luthor’s team, it can be argued that Batman functions better with them than he does with the Justice League. I can write entire posts (and have, and will again) about the things that differentiate Batman from his fellow heroes, from his lack of superpowers to his personality.

I have previously raised the question of whether or not Batman may even be in the right fictional universe, and I now pose a new question: is Batman a villain who decided to fight for justice rather than personal gain? As I’ve pointed out before, Frank Miller wrote Batman from the perspective that the darkness in Batman is greater than the light, but he makes this darkness work for the benefit of everyone around him. I believe this thought is worth meditating upon for awhile.

Continue reading

Review: Sinestro #2 (Spoilers!)

Hello, everyone! Today I’ll review Cullen Bunn and Dale Eaglesham’s Sinestro #2. This contains some spoilers, so be forewarned.

Sinsestro2

Continuing from the conflicts set up in the first issue, Sinestro spends a lot of his time this month reasserting his control over the lantern corps he founded. With the Sinestro Corps under Arkillo‘s control, it has grown, but not in a way Sinestro sees as being worthy of his ideals. As Sinestro states, he created his army to establish order and pursue justice across the universe using methods the Green Lanterns’ Guardians had no stomach for—namely, fear. Arkillo’s recruitment of untrustworthy criminals into the fold does nothing for this mission, leaving the Sinestro Corps a bloated force of bullies and murderers in need of guidance. Much as he has in the past, Sinestro demonstrates that the yellow rings he created for his corps will ultimately answer to him over their own wielders, and he gives Arkillo the trashing of his life.

After, Bunn sets up an interesting scene between Sinestro and his daughter, Soranik Natu, who had been kidnapped last issue to be used as leverage by Arkillo (this doesn’t go as he planned). Soranik, much like everyone in her generation on Korugar, grew up despising the tyrant Sinestro and still has no love for him after the revelation of her true parentage several years earlier. It appears their relationship may finally be on the mend once Sinestro reveals his ultimate goal of rescuing what survivors remain from the destroyed Korugar and settling them on a new homeworld. We will have to see how this continues to develop as the series takes shape. I would actually like to see Soranik rise to her birthright as Sinestro’s heir and become a terrifying dark queen in the process.

Bunn also introduces several new members of the Sinestro Corps that do meet Sinestro’s personal criteria, namely Dez Trevius and Rigen Kale. I am interested to see what he eventually does with these new, younger characters in the title. So far, they have certainly proven themselves loyal and capable in Sinestro’s eyes, which probably means a betrayal is coming soon. Good thing Sinestro is rarely caught off guard and hardly ever unprepared. As he tells Lyssa Drak, his closest friend and adviser at this point, he doesn’t even trust her. Why would he trust anyone else?

All of this is framed by an early appearance of the characters who are becoming the main antagonists of the story, the heads of the religion of anti-emotion taking hold across the universe. As I have seen mentioned elsewhere, these beings are becoming known as the Pale Vicars, which certainly shows off Bunn’s British identity. I am eager to see how they factor into the larger story being constructed here, especially since they are now aware of Sinestro and the fearful power he wields.

Side Notes and Further Recommendations

A good place to start with background readings to get caught up on Sinestro is to dive straight into the Sinestro Corps War vols. 1 and 2. I’ll recommend more next review.

I was pleased to see this issue contained a few preview pages for Superman #32, the beginning of Geoff Johns and John Romita, Jr.’s run on the title. This is appropriate given Johns’ long tenure writing Sinestro in Green Lantern. I highly recommend catching the beginning of this new era in Superman’s ongoing story beginning this month.

As I mentioned in my last review, Sinestro is also currently factoring rather heavily into Tom Taylor’s Injustice: Gods Among Us series. As I have said several times before, it is certainly worth a look. If interior artwork is any giveaway, Sinestro may also become an important player in the new digital-first Infinite Crisis series written by Dan Abnett that started recently. I’ll be returning to this title for a future review.

Finally, I strongly recommend checking out the recent Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice, both of which are available in their entirety on Netflix. It is a shame they were both cut short too soon. Sinestro does not have a strong presence in Green Lantern, but he does appear in one episode and is voiced by Ron Perlman, which works wonderfully. Go and give these series a shot; I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

That’s it for this review. What do you all think so far? Who among you is also reading this title? Do you find my rundown fair? I’m definitely sticking with the series for now. In fact, come back within the next month for my review of issue #3. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me @quaintjeremy.

Image: Unlettered Sinestro #2 cover by Dale Eaglesham. All characters and likenesses thereof copyright DC Comics or original authors, etc.