Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Sinestro Corps War - Volume 1 May Be Fractured In Points, But Starts An Engaging Story!

The Good: Decent plot, Good artwork, Good sense of the larger DC universe
The Bad: Missing plot events, Awkward panel orientation at some points, Lighter on character development than I would like.
The Basics: Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War - Volume 1 awkwardly puts into play villains that have the capacity to redefine the Green Lantern Corps.

It is a weird thing getting a story out of order. Last week, I read and reviewed The Sinestro Corps War - Volume 2 (reviewed here!). Being pleased with the second volume, I was excited to get my hands on Volume 1. Now that the full Sinestro Corps War has been published as a single volume, I am able to recommend that book over The Sinestro Corps War - Volume 1. That said, the book is engaging and worth reading, even if the full story is much more worthwhile than this single volume.

Unfortunately, the Sinestro Corps War ends better than it begins. This part of the Green Lantern Saga follows on the heels of the Infinite Crisis (reviewed here!) and is pretty early in the rebirth of the Green Lantern Corps. The reader is best served by understanding the resolution to Infinite Crisis, which leaves some of the villains in the DC multiverse imprisoned in the Green Lantern Sciencecells. Sadly, while the story might be comprehensible without the understanding of Infinite Crisis, it is harder to understand without missing episodes. Throughout The Sinestro Corps War - Volume 1, events are alluded to that are supposed to coincide with events in the book. So, while prior outings like Guy Gardner going up against Ranx are adequately explained, transitions like what happens to Guy and John Stewart on Qward between are missing. Similarly, there seem to be some significant battle moments that are absent from this text.

As Sinestro builds in power by sending yellow power rings to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, the Guardians interrogate Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman. As Sayd and Ganthet work to convince the other Guardians that a very real threat exists with the prophecy of the Blackest Night, Kyle Rayner tries to save a Lantern in need. With Ion inside Kyle Rayner, the Lost Lanterns feel free to express distaste in Hal Jordan. So, when Rayner is abducted by Sinestro to the antimatter universe, the threat becomes clear. Ion is expelled from Kyle Rayner and Parallax is put in his body in its place, which becomes the final component Sinestro needs in order to unleash his Sinestro Corps upon the multiverse.

Sinestro uses the Manhunters, Cyborg Superman, Superboy Prime, the Anti-Monitor and the Parallax-infested Kyle Rayner to wreak havoc on the Green Lantern Corps. After sabotaging the Green Lantern battery, the forces of Sinestro look like they might eradicate the Green Lantern Corps. With conflicts on Korugar, Oa's sciencecels, and Mogo, the Green Lanterns are ordered to fall back to Oa to protect the bastion of willpower in the galaxy. In fighting the lethal forces of the Sinestro Corps, many Green Lanterns discover their inability to use lethal force is a liability which creates a crisis of conscience within the Corps.

The Sinestro Corps War - Volume 1 is a plot-heavy setup book that puts the Green Lantern Corps in very real danger. The rise of Sinestro and the Sinestro Corps is dangerous and big for the DC Universe, especially with the adversaries he employs. Like most of the stories that have panels that are entirely devoted to villains, the book illustrates that villains are only out for themselves. For example, in one of Hank Henshaw's few panels after joining Sinestro's forces, he indicates to the Anti-Monitor his desire to die, a desire the Anti-Monitor will only grant after he does something for him. The idea that most of the Sinestro Corps is only out for themselves seems like it might lead to a tragic flaw in the Sinestro Corps, but the story is not even that character-based.

That is not to say that the book is without character. Writers Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons begin to explore members of the Green Lantern Corps and Sinestro outside the main, human Lanterns. Sinestro visits Korugar and confronts Dr. Soranik Natu with the idea that Korugar needs order and the universe needs order as well. Sinestro makes an argument with her that the universe is in chaos and that fear, not willpower, and he manipulates her . . . supposedly for Korugar. Johns and Gibbons recreate Sinestro as a character who is merely philosophically different than the Green Lanterns, not just monolithically villainous. That is an interesting interpretation of the Sinestro character.

Beyond that, the book is more plot-intensive than character-driven. So, for example, while the Guardians begin to splinter, it seems less about a growth or change in Sayd and Ganthet's characters than a plot event that leads into Blackest Night. Similarly, while Sodam Yat is protected by the Guardians, this has nothing to do with his character in this story and, instead, more to do with a plot twist that comes in the second part. In fact, more than being about any of the characters growing or changing, what the book is more preoccupied with is the setting up of the resolution to the problem rather than enriching characters who will make the resolution happen.

At least as problematic as that is the artwork. Most of the artwork is actually incredible. So, for example, the transformation of Kyle Rayner into Parallax and Hal Jordan's fight with him is well-rendered. Unfortunately, there are several pages where the panels abruptly go in thin bands from left to right as opposed to down the left, then right pages. That makes the book far less fluid than I would usually like.

Even so, if the missing chapters were put in, The Sinestro Corps War - Volume 1 would be worth it. On its own, there is barely enough to make this worth reading, but in combination with Volume 2 the story is engaging enough to be worth reading.

For other Green Lantern-related books, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Rage Of The Red Lanterns
Agent Orange
Emerald Eclipse
Blackest Night
Blackest Night: Green Lantern
Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps
Brightest Day: Green Lantern
Brightest Day: Green Lantern Corps - Revolt Of The Alpha-Lanterns


For other book reviews, be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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