Books Of Oa: New 52 Green Lantern Sinestro & Green Lantern Corps Fearsome

Green Lantern Volume 1: Sinestro (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Doug Mahnke with Mike Choi
Collects Green Lantern #1-6

When I first heard about the New 52, the first two franchises I wondered about were Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern stuff and Grant Morrison’s Batman books. Not only were they two of the most popular series’ at the time, but they were also pretty longform works by some of the top talents in the biz. How would this reboot change them? Well, apparently they didn’t, not really. While this certainly offered a good deal of confusion to readers trying to figure out the differences between the two sets of continuity, it’s actually not such a big deal to a more casual trade reader like myself.

I should note that I don’t have and haven’t read the War of the Green Lantern story that, I believe, ended with the old universe, but from what I’ve read online and seen in this book, the connections are very strong, possibly the strongest between continuities as I didn’t find myself wondering about changed details or anything like that while reading this book which finds Sinestro back in the Green Lantern duds and Hal Jordan on the outs. So, while I don’t know the details behind these story (not continuity) based changes, I caught on pretty quickly and was along for the ride.

All of which brings me to the actual story which involves Sinestro creating a ring that he can control for Hal to use in order to help remove the Sinestro Corps from his home planet of Korugar. They head there, lose some power and allow the people to help them break free and win their own freedom. Meanwhile, Hal is also dealing with his relationship with Carol Ferris and the Guardians decide to create  the Third Army (after the Manhunters and the Green Lanterns). This is clearly the big overarching Green Lantern franchise story being built toward, but unlike some of the preWOTGL stories, these storiesdon’t feel like they’re only there to service the larger story and do a lot to both get new readers involved in what’s going on and also give plenty of service to long time fans (something that Johns has built his career on).

You know what makes all of the above even better? Doug Mahnke’s artwork. That guy was born to draw a book featuring not only a plethora of aliens but also all the constructs the imagination can create. I’ve been a fan of his since I first saw him on Man of Steel and on through the rest of his career. He is perfect on this book. As such, when you get to the last issue in the collection, it’s a pretty gigantic difference, one that doesn’t do anyone any favors. I’ve liked Mike Choi’s art on a lot of books, but it looks really sleight and faint here, which sometimes happens if pencils get colored without inking (no idea if that’s actually what happened here, but that’s what it reminds me of). Between that and the almost pastel coloring choices, you couldn’t genetically engineer an issue that looks more out of place after reading five issues featuring Mahnke’s dark, bold, bombastic pencils. Still, I’m a big fan of this trade because, if nothing else, it’s a return to form for Johns and the GL concepts I fell in love with post-Rebirth.

Green Lantern Corps Volume 1: Fearsome (DC)
Written by Peter Tomasi, drawn by Fenando Pasarin, Geraldo Borges & Claude St. Aubin
Collects Green Lantern Corps #1-7

The problem I had with the first issue of the new GLC when I read it months ago was that it felt like a rehash of stuff I’d already read. You’ve got Lanterns Guy Gardner and John Stewart realizing that they don’t have much of a place on Earth and moving to Oa, something Guy did in the previous GLC series with Kyle Rayner. You’ve also got a mysterious, seemingly Lantern-based force killing GLs in Sector Houses. It wasn’t the most thrilling thing to an old hat GL fan like myself, but then I remembered that these books are as much for people like me as new readers, if not more so the latter.

So, I tried reading this book with that in mind and I think it helped. It doesn’t reach that balance nearly as well as the Green Lantern volume, but this collection still offered an interesting and intense adventure that really looked like the GLs wouldn’t make their way out of (as much as you can expect something like that from a Big Two team book). Not only that, but we get introduced to a group of old warhorse GLs called Mean Machine and a guest appearance by Martian Manhunter of Stormwatch connecting this story more to the New 52 than the other.

The story also did something pretty interesting that explained an old trait of GLC members. Back in the day, they used to be able to reach into a pocket dimension, grab their lanterns and recharge. It’s something that’s been missing since the Kyle Rayner days and, honestly, I hadn’t thought about it in a while, so this was kind of a fun geek service thing. On the other hand, I can only imagine what it was like for new readers who have no idea what any of this refers to thought about it.

There was one story detail that still sticks in my craw. It’s a pretty big part of it, so I’ll let loose the SPOILER WARNING. At one point a small group of Lanterns gets captured by the bad guys and are being tortured for information. One of the rookies is just about to break so John Stewart frees himself just enough to snap that Lantern’s neck, killing him. It’s a super dark moment that I’m not sure if I like or not, especially having been a fan of Stewart’s for so long, but I guess it shows how much of a soldier he’s become. I was further confused by the fact that Stewart was able to cover up the murder considering he has a ring on his finger that can give a full report back to his superiors. It didn’t feel quite right on character level or a logic one, but maybe that’s the new world we’re dealing with (that’s got to be a great crutch to fall back on if you screw something up, isn’t it?).

After having read these books, I’m still in it when it comes to the Green Lantern books. I’m curious to check out the Red Lantern one and the New Guardians or whatever that other book with Kyle Rayner is is called. Plus, I have to admit, I’m curious to find out what the Guardians have up their sleeve with this whole Third Army thing. Color me interested.

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Corps Ring Quest

GREEN LANTERN CORPS: RING QUEST (DC)
Written by Peter Tomasi, drawn by Patrick Gleason & Carlos Magno
Collects Green Lantern Corps #19, 20, 23-26
Usually skipping issues in a trade paperback is a pet peeve of mine, but I think (much as I hate to admit it) that it works pretty well for this collection. See, issues #21 and 22 tell the story of Boodika after she becomes an Alpha Lantern, something I’ll cover in the next Books Of Oa. If memory serves, those two issues aren’t so great and definitely don’t fit into the larger story going on here, though I do hope they get collected at some point in some form. One other quick bit of housekeeping to mention is that the version of GLC #19 collected in this volume is the full issue unlike the edited excerpt you can find in Sinestro Corps War Volume 2. I assume they included what they did in that volume because it all had to do with the GLs dealing with the aftermath of the war while the bits they didn’t are all moving on type moments, like Guy meeting up with the newly undead Ice (his former girlfriend who died a while back).

Okay, so as I mentioned, this book picks up right after Sinestro Corps War which I reviewed yesterday. Also, as I mentioned, the first issue in this collection deals with how the different GLs deal with the end of the war/surviving. Kyle and Guy aren’t really sure what to do with themselves on Earth, Soranik helps wounded GLs, Kilowog heads to Oa for a dinner with his family, Iolande tries to balance being a queen with being a GL and, the best moment to me, Vath Sarn sits in a bar making constructs of every dead Lantern and taking a drink for him. I’m really growing to like that character and his rough soldier ways. Anyway, Kyle and Guy soon decided to move to Oa where they’ll open a new Warriors (the bar/restaurant Guy opened in Guy Gardner: Warrior which got destroyed in Rebirth).

All the good fun times come to an end pretty quickly when Kyle, Guy, Soranik, Stel, Iolande, Vath, Arisia, Sodam and Bzzt get tasked by the Guardians to track down Sinestro Corps rings in the Vega system which used to be off limits, but things are changing in the universe. As it happens, Mongul (Mongul Jr., to be exact) got his hands on a yellow ring in a manner pretty much like Hal got his from Abin Sur. Mongul’s been killing any nearby Yellow Lanterns who don’t want to follow him except a two-headed psycho called Duel who becomes his first lantern. Then, Mongul heads to the home planet of the Black Mercy which eventually attracts all the other GLs on the mission. There’s lots of craziness I don’t want to spoil and we get the history of both Mongul (quite concise) and the Black Mercy (including its involvement in No Fear). During all this the Guardians, including the one who got jacked up by the Anti-Monitor in SCW and who will soon be going by Scar, notice that the Pink Lanterns are starting to spread their light over the galaxy. It’s interesting, even though Mercy winds up trying on both sets of green and yellow bling at the end of the issue, she seems more apt to join either the Pink or Blue Lanterns. Her original intent was to help people by easing their pain, which could be considered an act of love, but she also gave hope. I wonder if she’ll come back eventually.

I kind of love seeing people try to explain old Alan Moore stories. I’m sure he never cared too much where the Mercies or Mongul came from, he just wanted to make up some characters and elements in order to tell the story (of course, I could be completely wrong on that one). Anyway, I think it’s interesting that, when Dave Gibbons wrote this book, it felt more like a cop show popping in and out of different cases worked on by different officers, but when Tomasi took over, everyone’s thrown together and treated more like a traditional superhero team. I still really liked this book and had fun with them throwing down with Mongul (he’s one of the toughest villains around). Another element I appreciate is that, at the end of SCW, the yellow rings didn’t just go away. Just like with WWII, there’s still Nazis running around being evil and they need to be rounded up. That’s kind of what GLC did for a while between big giant events. Fun stuff.

Books Of Oa: Sinestro Corps War Vol. 1 & 2, Tales Of The Sinestro Corps

GREEN LANTERN: THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR VOLUME 1 (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns & Dave Gibbons, drawn by Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason & Angel Unzeta
Collects Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1, Green Lantern #21-23 & Green Lantern Corps #14-15.
Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special was easily my favorite comic book of 2007. It was all just so crazy and well plotted out, plus the art by Ethan Van Sciver might be his best ever. After so much build up we finally got to see how big the Sinestro Corps really was (pretty huge and FULL of uggos), the deaths of some visually recognizable GLs (the big headed guy and the diamond-looking one), Kyle Rayner getting zapped to Qward and bonded with Parallax and the reveal that Superboy Prime and the Anti-Monitor are on Sinestro’s side. But, my favorite piece from the story involves Sinestro Corps member Bedovian who has literally been floating in space for years just to get into the right orbit around Oa to start sharp shooting GLs. There’s something about that element that really speaks to me, I think because it shows not only that Sinestro has been working on a very long term plan, but also that Johns has been as well.

That first chapter really sets the tone for the rest of the series by putting the Green Lanterns on the defensive and basically on their asses. The Guardians are still wrestling with the secret chapter of the Book of Oa and the Blackest Night prophecy, but that doesn’t sit well with Ganthet and Sayd who start branching out on their own going so far as to contact Hal Jordan on the sly to tell him where Kyle is and informing him that he will be a great leader of the Corps once again. If you’re unfamiliar with this collection, it bounces back and forth between issues of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. The GL issues focus mainly on Hal, Kyle, Guy Gardner and John Stewart in their battle on Qward while GLC deals with pretty much all the other Lanterns fighting Yellow Lanterns in space and ultimately on Mogo. Oh, we also see Sinestro appearing on his home planet of Korugar where he talks to Soranik Natu. That will be important later. Also, Salaak tasks Arisia with watching out for rookie Sodam Yat because of his involvement in the Blackest Night prophecy.

The bouncing back and forth is not as seamless as it could have been between the issue transitions, but I love how this story was crafted. At the time, Sinestro Corps War was a surprise hit for DC. You can tell because the story was contained solely in the two existing books and spilled over very little into other books. Even the inclusion of the one-shots in the Tales Of The Sinestro Corps which all came out towards the end of the story’s run seem like last minute follow ups, but more on that later. Compare all that to Blackest Night which went through the two main books, it’s own miniseries, a series of minis starring major chacaters and teams AND tie-in issues in regular ongoing books. SCW had one tie-in and it was in Blue Beetle. Strange.

GREEN LANTERN: THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR VOLUME 2 (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons & Peter Tomasi, drawn by Patrick Gleason, Angel Unuzeta, Ivan Reis, Pascal Alixe, Dustin Nguyen, Jamal Igle & Ethan Van Sciver
Collects Green Lantern #24-25, Green Lantern Corps #16-19
After spending the first volume of the story with the GLs of Earth fighting on Qward and the rest of the GLs fighting the sentient city Ranx, Sinestro Corps Members and the Children of the White Lobe on Mogo (remember we saw Ranx in Green Lantern Corps: To Be A Lantern where he had a run-in with Guy Gardner), the second volume brings everything to Earth where the real action is taking place. The Guardians assume Sinestro and his Corps are attacking Earth because it was revealed to be the seat of the multiverse after 52. There’s a lot of elements in this story that hearken back to Infinite Crisis especially the inclusion of Anti-Monitor and Superboy Prime.

Upon second reading, this second volume is now my favorite of the two. Not only do you get to see the GLC finally defeating Ranx, but the Guardians also reveal the first of ten new laws they’ve written for the book of Oa: Green Lanterns can now kill. We also see the defeat of Parallax, which Sayd and Ganthet split up and put in Hal, Kyle, John and Guy’s lanterns. Of course, that’s not all. We get more information about Sodam Yat and his past on Daxam, we see him throw down with the bratty Superboy Prime, we see Earth’s heroes get involved in the fight and, of course, we get to see the good guys defeat the bad guys. And in the end? Johns and company reveal the rest of the Lantern colors in one form or another including Ganthet and Sayd starting the Blue Lanterns based on Hope and the Black Lantern lantern.

A story like this really relies on its villains and I think they were handled masterfully in this story for the most part. Sinestro reveals that he still believes in the order the Green Lantern Cops can and should enforce in the universe. Even his Sinestro Corp oath talks about order, but he thinks that sentients will only respond to fear instead of any of the other emotions, which is why he orchestrated this entire thing to allow GLs to kill and thus instill more fear in the cosmos. He still wants to be the greatest Green Lantern. Cyborg Superman also reveals that all he wants to do is die. He’s allied himself with beings he hopes are powerful enough to end it all for him. Then there’s Superboy Prime who might be incredibly annoying, but in an understandable way. This kid gave up his regular life and his entire world to come help Superman save the universe in Crisis On Infinite Crisis. Did he get any thanks? Nope, instead he had to watch as the heroes he worshiped got broken, died or got gritty.  Sure he sounds like a message board troll at times, but I think he’s got an interesting point of view. The only one I don’t understand is the Anti-Monitor. He doesn’t really do much in the story, but more than that I don’t understand his role as the Sinestro Corps’ Guardian. For the GLs, the Guardians came together to create the Central Power Battery which gathered all the willpower int he universe. As far as I can tell from this story, though, Sinestro did that himself, so what does the Anti-Monitor do aside from bring power and look scary?

GREEN LANTERN: TALES OF THE SINESTRO CORPS (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, Ron Marz, Alan Burnett & Sterling Gates, drawn by Dave Gibbons, Adriana Melo, Patrick Blaine, Pete Woods, Jerry Ordway, Michel Lacombe & Joe Prado
Collects Green Lantern #18-20 and Sinestro Corps Special #1 (back-ups), Tales Of The Sinestro Corps: Parallax #1, Cyborg Superman #1, Superman-Prime #1, Ion #1 and Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps Secret Files #1
I’m not the biggest fan of Tales Of The Sinestro Corps as a collection. Sure, I’m glad DC decided to collect the back-up stories about some of that Corps’ members along with the Secret Files, but I wish the Tales one-shots would have been integrated into the larger collections. I think the whole story could have been told in one huge omnibus or two larger hardcovers (like the Blackest Night collections wound up). While I like having everything collected, I don’t really like having to bounce between books to read the story in a chronological order. For what it’s worth, I read I read Parallax before getting into Volume 2, Cyborg before GL #24, Prime before GLC #18 and Ion after finishing Volume 2.

I’d like the issues put where they belong chronologically because, unlike a lot of the issues thrown together for Blackest Night, these issues are actually somewhat important. If you’ve got no idea who Cyborg Superman or Superboy Prime (I refuse to call him Superman Prime), those one-shots are great infodumps that completely catch you up on what’s going on with those characters. Meanwhile, the Parallax and Ion issues are great Kyle-centric issues written by his creator Ron Marz which act as pretty great book ends for this series, especially Ion where we discover that Kyle’s no longer Ion but now a fellow member of the Honor Guard with Guy. Both issues also pick up threads left over from the Ion 12-issue series (reviewed here).

Overall, I can’t say that this is a perfect comic book crossover. The best ones around feel and seem seamless when it comes to reading from issue to issue (I’m thinking of X-Men: Messiah Complex and Death of Superman for example). It should feel like a movie cutting back and forth between two scenes of action all by the same director, but there are enough differences and odd bits that make it feel like two different films smooshed together, though possibly by two directors who studied under the same master. I’ve still got questions about how things worked, but all in all I still really enjoy the series. The villains are solid, we get great moments for our heroes (Yat fighting Superboy Prime, Hal and Kyle in a depowered fist fight with Sinestro) and the continued expansion of the emotional spectrum and the Lanterns related to them. I think a lot of people expected the end of Sinestro Corps War to definitevly end that story, but like Bedovian, Johns has huge, long term plans that will continue to involve most of the major players in this book which reminds me of the old school 70s and 80s Marvel comics that flow one into another. Great stuff!

Green Lantern: First Flight

As luck would have it, on the same day that my Blackest Night theory was confirmed, we got the animated Green Lantern: First Flight DVD and watched it. And I liked it, a lot. I haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet, but GL was far better than all the other animated movies I’ve seen from both DC and Marvel.

But, of course, I have a few fanboy complaints that I’d like to get out of my system right off the bat. I have no problem that they didn’t get into the emotional spectrum and only briefly mentioned how yellow and green are opposing colors, but I thought it was kind of strange that, given that, the floating cities on Oa were yellow. This is pretty picky, but it bothered me (to be SUPER picky, the planet Oa was red). There was a ton of yellow in the movie actually that seemingly had no effect which is why I was surprised when they got into the yellow vs. green stuff later on.

This might dip into SPOILER territory, but I didn’t understand why Sinestro, once he got the yellow ring, had the Sinestro Corps symbol on his chest, but the yellow battery and his ring had the Green Lantern symbol (what’s even weirder is that the actual Green Lantern power battery did not have that symbol).

Okay, fanboy bitching aside, this movie was rad. Within five minutes of the movie beginning Hal Jordan has received the ring from Abin Sur and, soon, he’s approached by a cache of GLs including Kilowog, Boodika and Tomar-Re. After that he’s off-planet on Oa getting hassled by the Guardians (who are more dottering old guys than omnipotent schemers) for being human and not worthy of the ring (we don’t ever get told how the rings are divvied up). Sinestro offers to back him and the two of them go off in search of Kanjar Ro. We get hints of Sinestro’s crazy strictness and desire for order and then the story flips to a GLs vs. Sinestro while Hal’s ring has been stripped away for reason I don’t want to spoil. So, there’s kind of an Iron Man like set-up at the end (depowered hero fighting fully functional villain and still winning), but I thought it was done a lot better.

I was also surprised at how adult the movie was even though it’s rated PG-13. I mean there’s not hardcore sex (or any sex actually) and head splattering violence, but there are a few swears and one particular death towards the end that reminded me of that dude getting “screwed to death” in Jason X. I was shocked by that one actually. There’s even some neck snaps and all that. SPOILER. The final battle itself doesn’t exactly get bloody, but there are literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of implied GL deaths due to suffocation in space. Yeesh.

For GL fans, the movie doesn’t quite get into the specific details that Geoff Johns gets into in Rebirth (like how Kilowog’s constructs are the only ones that make a sound), but we do get great characterizations of all the characters (though Boodika fans will probably not like how she’s portrayed either visually or her character). And a huge part of the characterization is thanks to the voice actors. I especially love Victor Garber as Sinestro. He’s the dad in Alias and plays a somewhat similar character (I think they even based aspects of Sinestro’s face on Garber as I could literally see him). I also really dug Michael Madsen as Kilowog, though it’s not a casting choice I would have ever thought of. The biggest head scratcher for me, though was John Larroquette as Tomar-Re. It’s a pretty small part and Larroquette’s a fairly big deal, so I wonder how he got involved in the project. Maybe he’s a big fan?

An interesting note about the aliens is that they actually changed a lot of their looks. Abin Sur has chin horns, the Weaopners of Qward are spider-like (maybe a Spider Guild reference?) and Kanjar Ro has a squidish look. I was scratching my head about this changes when I realized that, in the comics, those are all just regular looking dudes who happen to be pink. The redesigns end up looking pretty cool and the artists seem to have had a ton of fun creating all kinds of new ones to throw in the background.

There’s been a lot of talk about getting a Sinestro Corps War animated movie (in fact, I’ve written at least two wish list-style bits on the subject myself for ToyFare and Wizard) and I think this might be a pretty good set up. By the end of First Flight you’ve got a status quo that could easily lead into a stripped-down version of SCW that would work pretty well. My finger’s are crossed.

Also of note, there’s a special feature on the DVD where Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi all talk about Blackest Night. Johns actually explains an aspect of the Black Lanterns in it that has been hinted at, but not full stated in the series so far. SPOILER? So, you know the scenes where the BLs see which emotion their targets are giving off? Well, apparently, they actually feed off of that energy and the more there is the more powerful they become. Cool, right? I was wondering when they were going to get around to explaining why they kept analyzing peoples’ placement on the emotional spectrum (this may have been explained in another interview somewhere, but I’ve been keeping away because I don’t want anything spoiled).