Review: Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War Volume 1 collected hardcover (DC Comics)

Monday, August 11, 2008

I was not as impressed with the first volume of Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War as I thought I would be. Sure, there were some surprises, but I imagine the biggest one -- the identity of the "Guardian" of the Sinestro Corps -- is pretty much already revealed to anyone who looks at the cover to volume two. This is still a better comic book than what DC released ten years ago ("Millenium Giants," anyone?), but as a crossover most of it seemed quite ordinary.

[Contains spoilers for Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War Volume One.]

I'll grant that there are some large, fantastic battles in the first half of The Sinestro Corps War, and that there's a thrill to seeing the embattled Green Lantern Corps in the trenches (the sniper, early on, was especially exciting). But the plot quickly devolves to standard crossover fare -- the main Green Lanterns Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner are kidnapped to the Sinestro Corps' home planet seemingly without reason, while the rest of the Corps fights on Mogo and Oa, allowing writers Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons to split the plots between the two books. As opposed to Greg Rucka and Judd Winick's jointly-written Checkmate/Outsiders crossover (or even Rucka and Johns Wonder Woman/Flash), this has the effect of making every other chapter forgettable, depending on which plot you find the most interesting.

Additionally, we find in the end that the Sinestro Corps' real target isn't Oa or Mogo, but rather Earth. It's a nice cliffhanger leading in to volume two, but it makes most of the battles of volume one moot. For a crossover that's received as much attention as The Sinestro Corps War, I didn't expect to have to go through nearly five issues before the story really started.

While I've enjoyed the way that Geoff Johns has deeped and extended the Green Lantern mythos, there's also a lot of revelations in this volume that aren't fully explained. Even as I know the story's not over, I also don't get the sense that answers are necessarily forthcoming. Apparently, we learn, Ion is a willpower force separate from Kyle Rayner, which inhabits its host similar to the fear-creature Parallax; I believe it's the first time we've learned this, though some Green Lanterns are surprised while others take it in stride. Second, the entire Sinestro Corps concept is very vaguely explained -- it's called the Sinestro Corps, but the leader really seems to be a resurrected Anti-Monitor, which is expecially tough to jibe with the multitude of Monitors in Countdown.

What I did like here -- and what continues to put Green Lantern above comics of the past -- were some excellent character moments around all the carnage. Johns shows early on how Sinestro Corps functions as a thematic sequel to Green Lantern: Rebirth; Rebirth was about Hal Jordan regaining his life, but Sinestro Corps is about his regaining his position of leadership, and this will be an interesting challenge for Hal. Over on the Green Lantern Corps side, Gibbons continues to profile one of my favorite characters, Soranik Natu, who must sit out the war to deal with a political dilemma created by Sinestro. The book also deals with some of Guy Gardner's history with the yellow Sinestro rings in a creative and amusing way.

This first volume of Sinestro Corps War ends with one other cliffhanger, that of the Guardians now granting the Green Lanterns the ability to use lethal force. We're led to believe at one point that Hal Jordan himself might kill his enemies -- Hal has killed before, of course, as Parallax, but most of those deaths have been reversed since Geoff Johns brought Hal back, and my hope is that Hal will decide not to use this new ability. I understand why Wonder Woman killed Maxwell Lord, and even why Guy Gardner once killed Major Force, but the newly minted Hal strikes me as a character who should be able to rise above lethal action. My guess is that Johns intends the reader to feel exactly this dilemma, and I'm eager to see how it's resolved.

[Contains full covers.]

On now to the second volume of Sinestro Corps, and then the Tales of the Sinestro Corps collection. I've heard such good things about this crossover; I'm hoping to be quite impressed.
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5 comments:

  1. Well, volume two is really "more of the same, but BIGGER", and considering your feelings for this one you might not get as big a kick out of it as I did.

    I will say that I didn't really care about the Ion "revelation"; I didn't read either Rann/Thanagar War or the Ion miniseries so I didn't even know there was supposed to be a revelation. I thought it could have been edited out and the series wouldn't have lost much.

    I'd be interested to hear about Tales of the Sinestro Corps; I decided to wait for the softcover instead. I mean, bad enough I'm paying US$24.99 for two hardcovers, but an additional hardcover for $30? Yeah, right. (It helps that you don't need it to understand the main story, something I really appreciate.)

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  2. How about the production value for that price ? Any nice extras ?

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  3. Yeah, as you'll see tomorrow, I had similar concerns about volume two. I did like Tales of the Sinestro Corps (see the review on Monday); it's a strange read, as the stories take place up, around, and through the Sinestro Corps War, but there's a Secret Files at the end that's to die for.

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  4. Oh, and David -- No extras in volume one, but volume two (see tomorrow) has an interview with the creators and a sketchbook, which I appreciated.

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  5. For me SCW was what Final Crisis should have been.

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