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“Your secrets belong to Sinestro”

There’s an idiom that most people have heard at some point in their lives, “don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes”.  When it comes to comics this phrase often gets employed by writers as a method to add dimension to characters and alter the way the reader perceives them.  In this week’s Sinestro Annual #1 writer Cullen Bunn uses the extra pages at his disposal to give readers a chance to walk in the paths taken by five members of the Sinestro Corps: Lyssa Drak, Arkillo, Rigen Kale, Dez Trevious and Bekka.

The main plot of the Annual, a murder at the hands of traitor somewhere on New Korugar, suffers a bit as it takes a back seat to the back stories which are each excellent short tales on their own.  In the end the murder isn’t even all that important and Sinestro already knows who is behind the death, and the ever greater threat revealed in the closing moments.  While the modern day scenes do a nice job of furthering the strains between the Sinestro Corps and the rescued Korugarians they also display the  amazing degree of control Sinestro has over his followers.  It really underscores for me the value that Lyssa Drak is to Sinestro, knowing that her abilities allow him to develop the keen insight he has into the minds of his Fear Lanterns – and it’s also an indication of why she is probably the most dangerous of them all.

Bekka is about to find out that there’s more to the Sinestro Corps than she thinks

Where the book shines is in the recounting of the events which makes each one of the spotlighted characters who they are, and why they aren’t just one note villains.  From Bekka’s struggle to function in a universe where everyone fawns over her to Dez’s tragic love story Cullen Bunn makes each tale one of pain, loss or anguish.  While it certainly adds depth to each character it also tells us something about life’s tragedies and how we each can choose the path we take during those pivotal moments in our lives.  These characters chose a path marked by embracing fear where other characters like Atrocitus or Saint Walker embraced other emotions and they emerged from their own defining moments.  For me this issue serves as a reminder that while we may not have control on the things that impact us, we do choose how we respond to them.

I particularly found Rigen Kale’s and Lyssa Drak’s back stories as my personal favorites but I liked them all for various reasons.  I can’t see this issue being one that anyone unfamiliar with the cast would be likely to pick up and read, but for readers who’ve been along for the ride so far this issue was a great way for us to learn more about the cast of characters and gain an understanding about why they act they way they do.

Dez is the obvious traitor…which is why he can’t be the one behind the murder.

I was a little concerned when I saw six different artists on this issue, but that concern was mostly for naught as the art styles complemented each other really well…for the most part.  Having one colorist (Tony Avina) for all the origins certainly helped keep things looking consistent.  Really only Andy Kuhn’s artwork for the Arkillo back story stood out like a sore thumb among the rest and just didn’t fit in well at all.

Sinestro Annual #1 is a bit of a hit and miss as Annuals go, foregoing the traditional route of using these over-sized issue to really propel the series’ narrative forward in favor of giving us five short “origin stories”.  With the confirmation that there is a traitor in the midst Cullen Bunn shifts the focus to providing well crafted, meaningful character studies geared towards regular readers of the title.  While it’s not what once would expect from an Annual there’s plenty here to enjoy despite the lack of a compelling A story.  Eight out of ten lanterns.

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