Issue five of Green Lantern brings the “Sinestro” arc to a close in a story which spent as much time exploring the psyches of the two main characters as it did pitting them against the Sinestro Corps. In the background the decision of the Guardians and the fate of the whole Green Lantern Corps begins to emerge in what may be the greatest threat to cosmic free will.
The Story –
Issue #4 left off with Sinestro being confronted with power ring wielding Korugarians bent on exacting revenge on the Green Lantern for the actions which originally got him expelled from the Corps. We pick up right where we left off with Arsona, the main person who supported Sinestro in his rise to power, rallying her fellow Korugarians to strike back at Sinestro, to overcome their fear of him so that their rings will work. Despite Hal’s attempts to dissuade her from wasting precious energy Sinestro is able to goad Arsona into firing a blast so powerful that it knocks Hal on his butt in the adjoining cell.
However, like Hal’s construct ring the rest of them cannot harm Sinestro – a fact he used along with his somewhat cruel motivational technique to illustrate to his captive brethren how to use their new found power. Hal again tries to insert himself into the dialogue from afar, but Sinestro is the one who’s the mastermind behind the escape plan and he reminds everyone that while they are trapped inside Sinestro’s battery is not.
Professor Insidd sees Sinestro’s battery as the key to breaking the Green Lantern and it has all of his attention knowing that, should he be able to defeat Sinestro, he will become the leader of their Corps. Staring intently into the battery as he notices a change in it, the battery burst free and heads towards the holding cell, instantly killing Insidd in a horrific fashion.
Reunited with his battery Sinestro frees everyone and the battle ensues as Hal recharges his ring and joins the fray. He and Sinestro head toward the yellow Central Battery knowing that the construct rings the Korugarians wield only have minutes of life in them with Sinestro commenting that he couldn’t have made them any stronger without breaking his own ring, something he has done twice before by pushing them past their limit.
|Johns continues to make sure Sinestro is more than we ever thought he was.
Sinestro says that Hal’s attempt to de-power the Yellow Lanterns was flawed because it did it wrong, but in reality the failed attempt came as a result of the battery mistaking Hal for Sinestro. Sinestro drops a line that the experience may have done something to Jordan, but it’s brushed aside as the rings Sinestro constructed begin to fade, making the chore of shutting down the central battery an immediate priority.
|A taunt, or is there more to this than meets the eye?
Sinestro uses his Green Lantern battery to funnel the yellow energy and pushing the yellow central battery to go into survival mode and pulling the energy from any of the yellow power rings in their proximity. Apparently the Yellow Lantern Corps rings also shut down their bearers’ minds should this happen, perhaps a fail-safe that Sinestro had built into them in case of power struggle in his Corps that he couldn’t handle any other way.
Mirroring the scene in Green Lantern #2 the Korugarians begin to cheer Sinestro for saving them, however on Korugar Sinestro holds the planet and its people in higher regard and addresses them as equals, telling the children that he does not deserve to be cheered. That sentiment is mirrored by Arsona who tells Sinestro despite his apology that he will never be welcomed by his people and warning him that any return would be greeted with violence.
With the Yellow Lantern Corps and their central battery in tow Hal and Sinestro make their way to Oa. Sinestro points out to Hal that the Guardians are a bigger threat to the universe than he ever was, that all he wanted was order. Hal turns that around on Sinestro, pointing out that for him it’s more about control than order and casting doubt on Sinestro’s own self-doubts. Calling into question Sinestro’s guilt and accepting his failing Hal is jettisoned back to Earth complete with the power ring he was promised but sans a battery with which to charge it.
Arriving on Earth Hal immediately wants to find a power source but then stops himself realizing it’s not really what he wants most. At Ferris aircraft Hal stifles Carol’s confrontation with a kiss and then has one of the most honest dialogues with her he has in the fifty two years he’s been around, asking for a second chance knowing that it will never work for them, but hoping they have the will and the love to make it work this time. Proving math isn’t his strong suit Carol corrects him about the number of chances she’s given him and the two embrace.
|The most honest conversation Hal has probably ever had.
Switching gears to Oa, the Guardians of the Universe knew that Sinestro would defeat his own Corps and with the yellow power battery stored on Oa they believe it is now time to move forward with the formation of the Third Army. This calls for freeing the First Lantern, referred to during the “War of the Green Lanterns” by Krona, from a place called the Chamber of Shadows to lead the Third Army. Alluding to the other inhabitants of the chamber as obstacles the issue ends with the proclamation that anyone who stands in their way will die.
The Writing –
Geoff Johns really stepped up his game this issue and tied up all the plot strings from this first arc in a great bundle while still leaving a few bits of connective tissue to tie it into coming events. While Korugar is free once again both Sinestro and Hal Jordan have been changed by the experience and they have become stronger characters for it. One only has to look at Johns’ handling of Hal in the Justice League title to see that five years later his is more self-aware and reflective than they guy who called dibs on Wonder Woman after seeing her for the first time. Likewise Sinestro may have just learned a little bit of humility although no one should expect it to be something we see on his well controlled features.
There are a number of points to ponder with the events of this issue both in terms of character and plot development. While I’d be delighted to see Hal and Carol finally work it out and be able to balance their relationship with the baggage they bring to it, theirs has always been one fated to fail in light of Hal’s greater responsibilities. I don’t know if the ninth time’s the charm or not, but I trust Johns to make it interesting.
The line about Hal being changed by the yellow power battery seems like such a throwaway line but yet we’ve come to realize that Geoff Johns so rarely writes those kinds of things haphazardly that we have to wonder if something did indeed happen that will play out down the road. Similarly I don’t think that the yellow power battery going to Oa is coincidental and I have to wonder if in the end this is a gambit by Sinestro as an ace up his sleeve if things go South between he and the Guardians.
There’s some debate among fan circles that Johns is turning Sinestro into such a strong character that they begin to wonder how Hal could have ever beat him in the first place and have ever been considered the greatest Green Lantern in history. While I can see that viewpoint I liken this Sinestro to having grown significantly during the time he was sentenced to death in the central power battery. This Sinestro is in better control of himself yet, Hal can still get under his skin and push the buttons needed to get him off his game. And I also get that Johns has this philosophy that one side of the hero-villain equation has to grow in order for the other side to and while Hal’s return pushed the need to grow Sinestro as a viable threat now it’s Sinestro’s turn to act as a catalyst that will in turn make Hal rise to the occasion.
And then to the subject of the Third Army, the First Lantern and the Chamber of Shadows. The Third Army is an interesting concept and one that immediately conjures up the “will ninjas” of the Keepers – a loyal fighting force willing to make the hard decisions and sacrifice themselves for the greater good but still able to think for themselves. It seems too obvious but knowing the long term real-life friendship between Johns and Green Lantern Corps writer Pete Tomasi it seems certainly likely that their two plots might converge at some point. The Chamber of Shadows, other than sounding like the title to a Harry Potter novel, is a new concept and I think may reveal more skeletons in the Guardians’ closet.
As for the First Lantern, well that is the mystery that I personally find the most interesting. We’ve already seen the first Green Lantern if indeed it follows the history of the Green Lantern Corps. Recent history indicates that story may not exactly be in canon as it reads and I’ll be publishing a history on the character in coming days as well as how it might be reinterpreted for this new era. What makes this so interesting is that they call this character the First Lantern and not the first Green Lantern.
|The Guardians weave their tangled web
The Art –
Doug Mahnke does a fabulous job this issue with the action sequences and especially with his work on Sinestro this issue, although a lot of the success should also be credited to the rest of the art team on this issue: Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Tom Nguyen, Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina. The color and ink work just brings it all to life and conveys the drama of the moment. I think the standout scene for this issue for me were the words between Arsona and Sinestro where you can just read the emotion on both of their faces and see the tension that their history has brought to this one moment. Likewise I had a similar experience in the moments between Hal and Carol where you can see how hard it is for Hal to be so brutally honest but willing himself to be push past the fear of exposing his emotions and Carol’s realization that this is a real moment for both of them.
However I do still find awkward images where Hal doesn’t look quite right when he’s not being Green Lantern. Particularly when he arrives back on Earth and there’s that closeup of his face where he makes the realization that Carol should be the top priority he’s not quite right. Similarly when he kisses Carol on the next page his jawline and facial shape seems out of sorts. For me the art in those moments diminished what is otherwise a stellar issue.
What Do I Think?
The first arc of the new run on Green Lantern is over and while this story is not the galactic spanning opus that people seem to expect from Geoff Johns it is the kind of story it needs to be by exploring the characters and being the connective tissue between the last major event and what may be the next big one. Rather than fill in the necessary quiet before the storm with something meaningless the “Sinestro” arc did a great deal to explore and expand our understanding of Sinestro and Hal Jordan and the relationship between them while fleshing out Sinestro’s sordid past. That and enough tantalizing morsels have been dangled to prepare us for what’s to come.
Other than a couple of art missteps this issue was a more than satisfactory conclusion to the story giving it a four out of five lantern ranking.
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