A Green Lantern: Sinestro Review – You Gave a Power Ring to WHO???

Green Lantern, Vol. 1: SinesttroTITLE: Green Lantern, Vol. 1: Sinestro
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Doug Mahnke. Cover by Ivan Reis.
COLLECTS: Green Lantern #16
FORMAT: Hardcover
PRICE: $22.99
RELEASED: May 16, 2012

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

When Sinestro, the infamous arch nemesis of the Green Lantern Corps, was given a power ring at the end of War of the Green Lanterns, my initial instinct was that this move was made so that the comic book version of the character would correspond more with the one fans had recently seen in the Green Lantern movie.

Whether that’s actually the case or this was just a coincidence, I’m not sure. But either way, Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke manage to make the change into a pretty compelling story, despite having to put conventional logic has on the back burner for a bit to do it.

At the end of War of the Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan was stripped of his power ring by the Guardians of the universe. Moments later, the ring inexplicably chose the villainous Sinestro as Jordan’s successor. In their infinite wisdom, the Guardians allow Sinestro to serve as a Green Lantern, thinking it’s a chance at redemption for him. Thus, Hal Jordan is powerless while one of the galaxy’s worst mass murderers is wielding a green ring. But Hal’s got problems of an entirely different sort, as spending too much time patrolling the cosmos has caused his Earthly life to collapse. He’s been dismissed from the Air Force, he’s about to be kicked out of his apartment, he’s behind on all his bills, and he’s missing the life of a hero. But when Sinestro discovers his homeworld has been enslaved by the Sinestro Corps, the army he originally built to go against the Green Lantern Corps, he recruits Hal to help him free his people. Whether Hal likes it or not, he’s about to take part on the most unlikely superhero team up of all time.

Green Lantern 1, Sinestro, 2012, Doug MahnkeUpon first glance this premise, while intriguing, seems almost laughable. Having Sinestro, a being responsible for the death of countless innocents, become a Green Lantern again (remember, he was a Lantern before he became a bad guy) is like calling in the Joker to cover for Batman. It simply defies common sense. Johns uses the Guardians’ often questionable “big picture” judgment, as well as their apparently unstable mental states (which we learn more about in subsequent issues) to justify it. It works, especially when you consider the Guardians’ questionable history with big decisions like this. But you’ve still got to work a bit harder than usual to suspend your initial disbelief in the logic behind the whole thing.

Still, once the ball gets rolling the drama is very well done. This book’s greatest accomplishment is the way it turns Sinestro into a more three dimensional character. He’s still the bad guy, but we get some nice reinforcement that he’s a bad guy who started with good intentions. Unlike other villains, he’s actually capable of caring about people. It’s some great insight into one of the most infamous villains in all of comic books.

Sinestro, Doug MahnkeSinestro empowers the powerless Hal Jordan by using his power ring to create a specialized ring for him. As such, Sinestro can turn Hal’s ring on and off as he choses, and Hal’s ring can’t mount any offense against its creator. It’s a great scenario that forces two bitter enemies to work together and allows the bad guy to toy with the good guy.

I’m conflicted about how Hal Jordan is characterized in this book. Before the New 52 took effect, Hal to be a daredevil hero, whose caution-to-the-wind attitude tended to land him in trouble with his loved ones and authority figures. In this book he seems like a guy who has a heart of gold, but simply can’t get his act together, especially when he doesn’t have a power ring. He also seems a bit more impulsive, which is consistent with the Hal Jordan we saw in Justice League: Origin. Does it make Hal a more interesting character? Maybe. It certainly makes him a bit more relatable. If I had been a newbie trying to see what all the hype for a story like The Sinestro Corps War, I suppose Hal might have seemed like a more generic, handsome and muscle bound hero figure. This version gives new fans more to latch on to. But as a longtime reader, I can’t help feeling like Hal has been turned into a cliche slacker character. Perhaps I just need more time to get used to it…

Either way, Sinestro is yet another solid outing by Geoff Johns and Dough Mahnke. There’s some great character work here, as well as a nice helping of the space action and drama we’ve come to expect from Johns and his groundbreaking, constantly evolving take on the Green Lantern universe.

RATING: 7.5/10

Image 1 from goodreads.com. Image 2 from gamespot.com.