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“Stare too deeply into the abyss…and it stares right back!”

Cullen Bunn has built The Paling up to be the perfect successor to the Black Lanterns, a force driven by the desire to extinguish the light of any emotion in the universe.  With nearly all the lanterns gone only the Sinestro Corps has remained to fend off the rising tide of the emotionless, led by a Guardian long since departed from his fellow Oans.  This week’s Sinestro #20 brings this event within a series to a conclusion and the battle isn’t without it’s costs.

I think that this series is sadly under appreciated by comic readers and I think there’s cause for concern as to how much longer DC will see it published.  Bunn’s grasp on what makes Sinestro tick makes this book such a great piece of character exploration.  The sprinkling of Sinestro’s inner monologue throughout the issue speaks volumes about him and while many, including myself, have praised Geoff John’s handling of Sinestro Cullen Bunn has taken it to another level altogether.

Bunn mines Sinestro’s tragic past…

As Sinestro and Soranik Natu take on the Pale Bishop we witness the unraveling of Sinestro’s past and how he has not overcome fear so much as learned how to accept it for what it is and use it to strengthen his resolve.  It’s in those moments of Sinestro reliving his past that he finds the strength to push forward, past his own fears to discover the truth about the Pale Bishop himself.  As suspected the diminutive being is a former, anonymous Guardian of the Universe.  Initially I really wanted to know his name, however in retrospect it’s not really important since his history branches off so early in the history of lantern lore that it has no real bearing other than to be able to attach a name to his identity.

Bunn balances the face-off between Sinestro and the Bishop with the actions taking place on Earth as Sinestro’s forces struggle against the rising tide of the Paling’s forces.  There’s perhaps a bit too much time spent on Earth but in the end it’s important for the “redemption” of Sinestro to see the impact of his efforts.  There’s a particularly humorous moment between a little girl and Arkillo that both lightens the issue and shows the payoff of what Sinestro is trying to accomplish in setting his Corps up as the force of order in the universe.  If all of this remains intact from a continuity perspective it will make the eventual return of the Green Lanterns all the more interesting if the universe really does begin to see the Sinestro Corps in a better light than the reputation that they’ve been characterized with.

…and reveals the Pale Bishop’s as well.

The resolution takes a great toll and a new leader of the Sinestro Corps emerges.  One might question why there’s a need for a change at the top however, given the nature of the Corps, a weakened master would create cause for the Corps seedier elements to gain a strong footing and challenge to undo Sinestro’s master plan.  It’s also a smart move by Bunn as it allows him to take the attention off of some characters and explore others by changing up the group’s chemistry.  How Sinestro Corps stalwarts like Lyssa Drak, Arkillo and the rest accept the change has a great deal of potential.

Thankfully Brad Walker is back in full force for this issue, however the sad news is that this is his last issue.  Brad exits the series on a strong note and throughout his run his work has been very solid.  This issue he really elevates Bunn’s already great script and adds to the feeling that this particular story arc is not just another tale as much as an event confined to one title.  Good luck to whoever picks up the reigns as he or she has a lot to live up to.

Sinestro #20 provides a very satisfying conclusion to the story of the Paling, but like every great battle there is a cost to be paid and in this case it’s a changing of the guard for the Sinestro Corps.  Cullen Bunn and Brad Walker have managed to provide readers with an “event within a series” which serves Sinestro’s master plan and redeems his Corps in the eyes of Earth’s population.  A solid ten out of ten lanterns.

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