Tuesday, March 13, 2012

52 In Review: Green Lantern So Far...

If it's not broke, don't fix it. That piece of advice was well taken into consideration when DC began their line-wide reboot. If a series was doing well, proving both profitable creatively successful - then only minor tweaks where going to be made. You don't want to ruin a good thing. Batman and Green Lantern are probably the most obvious recipients of this light-touch approach -- the most that was really changed here was Hal's uniform; it has more lines, and looks a little more stream-lined. Besides that - GL's universe didn't change at all.

Welllll....... OK, things did change a little! Funny thing happened - before the reboot, at the end of "War of Green Lanterns" Hal had managed to kill a Guardian (his large blue-headed bosses, the Guardians of the Universe). It was an evil Guardian; I'd think warped beyond recognition - but killing him was something the Green Lantern rings where never suppose to be able to do. Built into it's programming, causing the death of a Guardian is suppose to be impossible. Yet Hal Jordan, always a troublesome human to begin with, managed to kill Krona. This freaked the Guardians out to no end - and instead of congratulating Hal Jordan for once again saving the entire Green Lantern Corps from Krona's mad scheme, they instead strip him off his ring and kicked him back to Earth.

To make the situation even worse - during the incident Sinestro mysteriously was chosen by a Ring, and made into a Green Lantern once again. Hal Jordan gets kicked out, but Sinestro regains the job he brutally betrayed? The Ring won't come off of Sinestro's hand.

That's where issue #1 starts - with Sinestro pretty much acting as the lead role of the title. Unwilling to remove the ring themselves, the Guardians tell Sinestro that they recognize the real reason the Ring chose Sinestro: a chance at redemption. Really? REALLY?! Their Planet-Sized Green Lantern Mogo was the one who regularly guided and downloaded data into the Rings -- and Mogo was tragically killed during Krona's attack. Maybe the ring is malfunctioning?! And why are the emotionless Guardians suddenly going on about redemption, anyway? I thought for a moment they where perhaps turning over a new leaf -- but that couldn't be farther from the truth.

The Guardians pretty much let Sinestro go. Sinestro asks what they expect him to do? They tell him they expect him to defend his sector, like all Green Lanterns. Just forget you're letting, essentially, the Korugarian version of Hitler back into you're ranks!

The Guardians motives are brought even more into question when its revealed that they are essentially lobotomizing their fellow Guardian, Ganthet - draining him of all emotion. Ganthet had been one of the few Guardians to develop emotions, and thus become an advocate for common sense within their group. Apparently his fellow Guardians are tried of his dissenting opinions. And boy, do they have a whopper of a proposal up for discussion! Their first Army, to bring order to the Universe, where the robotic Manhunters. When they malfunctioned, the Guardians instituted the Green Lantern Corps. Now that they mistrust the Corps, and their potential ability to kill them, they are now going to begin forming 'The Third Army."

Still - the Guardians being crazy not withstanding - the idea that Sinestro might gain some measure of redemption is very intriguing. At his core, Sinestro has always been loyal to the Corps. Even when he was expelled and exiled -- even when he formed the Yellow Fear Wielding Sinestro Corps; it was all ultimately to bend to focus of the GL Corps to his idea of justice and order.

Sinestro goes to his home planet of Korugar. He is disgusted to find that his Sinestro Corps have, instead of protecting Korugar like ordered, they have instead enslaved the population. A Sinestro Corps member happens to run near Sinestro - and attacks him. Yet this isn't any ordinary Green Lantern officer this Yellow Lantern is trying to kill -- it's Sinestro himself! He jumps to the conclusion that Sinestro had betrayed them! Before a warning call can be made, Sinestro skillfully leaped behind the Yellow Lantern, creating a garrote wire and chokes the Yellow Lantern to death, whispering into his ear "I betrayed nothing."

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Hal Jordan's life has turned to $&*%. It becomes painfully apparently that Jordan, who lacked social graces to begin with, has too long relied on his Ring for everything. He can't get anywhere without a car (worse yet, Coast City is in California!). He's behind on his rent - in addition to not being able to deal with not being a hero anymore. When he hears a woman screaming across from his apartment window into the next building, he leaps into action (like he always did as GL) to save the day. He crashed through the window - to find himself interrupting the filming of a movie. The woman who was screaming had been acting. Hal ends up in jail and has to be bailed out by his on-again off-again flame Carol Ferris. Carol and Hal seem to be sparking up their romance yet again over dinner later - but Hal instead ends up getting Carol angry. She drove off, leaving him to walk all the way back home, as she was his ride. Jordan simply doesn't know how to function anymore as a regular person -- and he's also left out of the going-ons out there in space.

Jordan gets back to his apartment to find a very unwelcome visitor: Sinestro. Though it pains him deal with his longtime nemesis, Sinestro feels he has no choice but to force Jordan to help him in freeing his home planet of Korugar. Jordan's life is bad right now - but being wing man to Sinestro is a whole other deal. Sinestro, though, isn't taking no for an answer. Plus, the job comes with the added perk of being a Green Lantern once again. Sinestro is able to use his Ring to create a Copy-Ring, and bestow GL powers to Hal once again. The first thing Hal does with these powers? Shoots them right back at Sinestro! This, of course, doesn't work -- Hal's fake Ring is made of Sinestro's Willpower; that same willpower can't be used against him.

Hal continues to buck and struggle against being on Sinestro's leash - but the arrival of a Sinestro Corps member on Earth gives Sinestro a chance to teach Hal to comply. People are put in danger by the Yellow Lantern, and Sinestro refuses to give Hal powers unless he promises to take his orders. Hal reluctantly takes the indignity of the situation and promises, and is able to save the people - and the Sinestro Corps member is dealt with.

Even though he's tied to Sinestro - Hal loves being back in action again. They both travel to Korugar. Sinestro reveals a little known ability of the GL Rings - being able to go dark; changing the ambient light of their uniform and powers to near pitch black. Hal asks why he never knew about this power, which Sinestro explains that the Guardians don't like officers knowing everything the Ring can do. With this stealth mode Hal and Sinestro are able to arrive on Korugar undetected.

The plan is pretty simple. Sinestro and Jordan would wait for sunset - at which point Sinestro would cause a distraction, allowing Hal to fly into the Sinestro Corps central power battery. When Sinestro created his Corps and Lanterns -- he built in a fail safe. If a Green Lantern is detected within the Yellow Power Battery and drains it of power - it would disable the entire Yellow Corps. Jordan asked why the fail safe included was made for a Green Lantern; did Sinestro really expect to one day be a Green Lantern again? Sinestro angrily says that he never wanted this! Ultimately, the GL-Required fail safe sounds like a subconscious desire on Sinestro's part to not let his Corps go too far; and be able to be stopped by a Green Lantern if ever need be.

Waiting for sunset, down on the ground the two are able to see a Yellow Lantern scaring and threatening to kill a little girl. Sinestro tells Hal to not intervene yet -- but then sees a woman leap out of the crowd, attacking the Yellow Lantern to protect the girl. Sinestro recognizes this woman. Disregarding his own plan, Sinestro zooms down to protect this woman. Being left hanging - Hal heads to the Central Power Battery, with Sinestro's GL Lantern - diving in to activate the fail safe. Instead, the Power Battery begins to disassemble Hal's molecules. He struggles to escape - causing a large explosion. The plan has failed, Sinestro is captured - along with a knocked out Hal Jordan.

Hal is placed in a containment cell infused with the Sinestro Corps power and designed to absorb energy. Hal tries to break out, but his Copy-Ring from Sinestro is running out of power. With its last ounce of power Hal can create one more thing. Thinking of what he wants most, the ring projects an image of Carol.

Sinestro, taken in by the members of his own Lantern Corps, is examined and tortured -- attempts are made to take the Ring off of his hand. The Yellow Lanterns don't know wether Sinestro has really betrayed them or not -- but removing Sinestro's hand is a possible next step.

In the meantime, after their examination is over, they toss Sinestro in a cell next to where Jordan is. Unlike Hal, Sinestro isn't alone in his cell. Various citizens of Korugar are in there - as well as Arsona, the woman Sinestro had reacted to before.

It turns out that Arsona was once one of Sinestro's most ardent supporters. She was a police officer, and fought for Sinestro's leadership and takeover of the Korugar government. They all believed in him -- she believed in him; and he had ultimately betrayed them, becoming a tyrant to his planet. (This was the reason he was expelled from the Corps; abusing his Ring to take over and rule the planet.)

Despite the re-emerging emotional wounds, a plan is developed to help them escape. Sinestro pushes his Ring to its absolute limits - expelling dozens of Ring-Copies (like Jordan's), and giving them to the people in his cell.

Their response of wanting to attacking Sinestro in understandable. Yet their Rings won't work. This time it's not just a case of the Ring being made up of his own power -- but that the Korugarian citizens don't know how to activate them. A Green Lantern has to know no fear -- so Sinestro has to provoke Arsona into a emotional reaction, to make her overcome her fears. Hal Jordan, listening in from the other cell, tells Arsona that they can't waste energy attacking Sinestro -- dividing his powers up to so many people means they will only last a few minutes.

Arsona and her people are able to draw on the willpower and overcome their fears. Sinestro's Green Lantern, which had been forgotten about outside the cells, arrived at Sinestro's command to blow the cells wide open. Sinestro leads them out, saying "Remember. No Fear."

While the empowered citizens of Korugar are able to take to the streets and attack their enslavers, Sinestro and Hal head for the Central Power Battery once again. Hal says he's not going in there again -- that the fail safe didn't work. Sinestro tells Jordan that it would work; Jordan had simply done it wrong. Sure enough the fail safe is activated -- and all Sinestro Corps members are forced into comas.

The mission being a success, Hal Jordan is unceremoniously dropped into an ally back on Earth. The Copy of Sinestro's Ring remains with Jordan; but without any power. Hal hurriedly thinks he has to find a way to charge the ring. He says it's all he has; it's all he... wants. Remembering the vision of Carol, being his fleeting last desire, Jordan returns to Carol to make amends. Jordan asks her for another chance. Carol smiles, saying that technically this would be his tenth chance.

The art and writing of these first 5 issues where simply excellent. Doug Mahnke, simply put, is doing the best art of his entire carrier. (He's been on this title for a long while, and has been an amazing artist even before that; so it's saying something that his art has improved and looks this good!) Geoff Johns' love of Sinestro as a character is quite well known - and it seems like he takes every chance he has to put Sinestro back in a Green Lantern uniform. Sinestro has been built up to be fascinating character -- in Sinestro's own mind, he's a hero and always has been. The results of all of Johns stellar characterization of Sinestro is paying off well here. The dynamic of Hal and Sinestro as a forced-together duo is great to see. I'm wagering Sinestro isn't going to remain a Green Lantern forever -- but for the time being both Hal and Sinestro are going through some stellar character-defining moments.

Issue #6 is somewhat of a fill-in issue -- with Mike Choi taking over with art, giving Mahnke a break and allowing him to get a head start drawing the next story arch. Choi is a very good artist - but his depiction of Hal Jordan simply is off kilter; appearing too young. Some fans had far worse things to say about the art in this issue. Over all I thought it was pretty good, with the exception of Hal's young appearance. The focus of this issue, though, was about Sinestro.

Sinestro arrives on the planet Ogoro, in sector 1417. Sinestro has come to visit an old foe - a former super hero and champion of Ogoro named Starstorm. Sinestro had fought Starstorm years ago, and had defeated and humiliated him. He's now a beleaguered old man; his life as Starstorm being far in the past as a painful memory. Sinestro doesn't care about that - he's come to Starstorm for a very specific reason. Utilizing Starstorm's special helmet, which where the source of his powers, he is able manipulate light, among other abilities. The ability Sinestro wants is the helmet's ability to locate any power source. Sinestro wants Starstorm to lead him to a particular person with a yellow ring. Being forced into the role he now reviles so much, Starstorm reluctantly does as asked. They don't have to go far -- the source leads to a building on Orgoro. Yellow chains lash out and ensnare Sinestro and Starstorm.

Lyssa Drak, who wields a Yellow Ring, was once a member of the Sinestro Corps. Drak had betrayed Sinestro, though, giving her allegiance to the Book of the Black - a tome that contains the stories and tales of the Black Lantern Corps. The book has also shown the ability to absorb people into its pages -- their lives and stories becoming a part of the book.

Struggling against Lyssa, Sinestro rips one of the pages out of the book. His mind is flooded with images of the future. Scenes showing the Guardians of the Universe instituting the Third Army - lead by the First Lantern; proclaiming that anyone who stands in their way will die. The Indigo Tribe, along with the Black Hand and an injured Hal Jordan are also seen. Finally a Guardian holding a White Lantern Ring, along with Sinestro bleed out and dead -- with the echoing words of the guardians "We are the Guardians. We will not be stopped."

No longer needing the Helmet, Sinestro pulls it off of Starstorm and throws it at Lyssa. Damaged and made to explode, it knocks Drak through a wall to outside. Sinestro hovers above her, with the book now in his possession, saying that she's lucky he doesn't slit her throat and watch her bleed out. From what he learned from the Book of the Black, Sinestro says he may need her alive.

Back on Earth Hal has continued to rekindle his romance with Carol Ferris - accepting that he doesn't HAVE to be Green Lantern; that he doesn't want to be Green Lantern. Waking up in the morning with Carol, Hal suddenly finds his copy-ring recharged and his uniform appearing on him. Confused Hal looks outside to see Sinestro floating outside their window. Hal yells at him, telling Sinestro to find someone else to be his sidekick - that he's done being Green Lantern. After what Sinestro learned, he tells Jordan no. "Unfortunately, you are far from done."

What might have simply been a fill in issue actually turned out to be an incredibly strong story. Geoff Johns is very skillful at leaving clues and previews of whats to come in his books. The formation of the Third Army obviously is going to be the next big Green Lantern event. I'm actually quite excited -- seeing the Guardian act like detached and unfair jerks is always entertaining - more so when their detached and emotionless decisions become deadly and destructive.

Before that, though, the long awaited revelations about the Indigo Tribe are up next. Ever since appearing as allies during the Blackest Night mini-series, the nomadic purple Lanterns have remained a mystery. So far its been suggested that the Indigo Rings might change a person's personality -- a kind of brainwashing, as evidenced by the now docile Black Hand, a new addition to the Indigo Tribes' ranks.

Indigo-1, the nameless female of the group is the leader. It's worth noting that the Indigo Tribe has it's own language - and it's pretty annoying. "Nok" is their most repeated word. I really hope there's actually a translation to this made up language - because I'd hate to think we're just reading gibberish. I only know that Nok might mean "Compassion be with you."

Issue #7 maybe just be setting up the ground work for this story arch - but it proves to be very entertaining; and even scary.

For starters - Sinestro is now demanding Jordan come with him. Jordan, finally putting his relationship with Carol before his job, refuses. Sinestro uses his ring to capture Carol and puts a gun to her head. "Come with me right now, Jordan... Or I blow a hole through her head."

Jordan is able to get Carol out of the way while punching Sinestro in the face. The two continue to struggle, with Sinestro insisting that Jordan listen to him. Hal's copy-ring still can't harm Sinestro, so Sinestro is able to place a knife to Jordan's throat and make him listen. Sinestro tells how he's recovered the Book of the Black, and seen glimpses of its prophecies. "It's the Guardians. They're going to replace us. They're going to replace the Green Lantern Corps."

After Sinestro has said this, he turns around to find the Indigo Tribe having appeared. The Indigo Tribe has come for Sinestro, and are able to subdue and capture him. Jordan is fought off, but is able to follow the Indigo Tribe into the wake of their teleportation.

While this is going on the Guardians of the Universe are confronting Lyssa Drak. Sinestro had dropped her off to be imprisoned before going to recruit Hal Jordan. Lantern Voz, a big bear-like alien is the warden of the prison cells on Oa. Having seen Sinestro bring in Drak, he says to the Guardians that they must have had a good reason for letting Sinestro keep that Ring. This is more of a question that a statement - as everyone has been confused by the Guardians actions in not taking the GL Ring away from Sinestro. The Guardians tell Voz that they need to interrogate the prisoner. Voz asks "Can you trust Sinestro?" Ganthet calmly tells Voz "Trust us, Lantern Voz. We have the situation under control."

Lyssa Drak angrily asks what the Guardians want. They say they want the Book of the Black. Lyssa tells them that Sinestro took it from her. Realizing that the book is no longer in her possession, one of the Guardians raise their hand to blast and kill Drak in her cell, saying that she already knows too much. Ganthet tells her not to kill her yet - that Lantern Voz would ask too many questions. The other Guardians dispassionately states that they should then kill Lantern Voz. Even more disturbing, Ganthet says that they cannot strike down their Lanterns until they are fully prepared. It seems they need the Book of the Black if they are to find the First Lantern. (Ominously this is the First Lantern seen by Sinestro in the Book of of the Black - the one that will lead the Third Army.) This entire interrogation and exchange only takes two pages; yet it speaks volumes to how truly lost the Guardians are.

After having followed the Indigo Tribe into their teleportation wake, Hal wakes up later to find himself in a jail cell. His copy-ring is out of power again. Someone in the cell next to him begins ranting He sees the Ring on Jodan's hand and knows he's a Green Lantern - and demands that he free him. He's desperate and wild, saying he'll do anything - he'll be his slave - if only he'll get him out of there! The prisoner grabs hold of Jordan's arm and says he'll tear it off if he doesn't free him.

A flash of purple light strikes the prisoner, freeing Jordan. Outside the darkened cell Jordan is confronted by Black Hand. William Hand, a villain obsessed with death, had been the catalyst for the rise of the Black Lanterns - and the Blackest Night (a big event a few years ago). Black Hand had killed himself so he could become the representative entity of the Black Lantern Corps. The dead rose from their graves across the universe. William and the Black Lanterns where stopped - and William Hand's role as the Black Lantern entity was ruined when he was brought back to life (no longer being dead, and thus no longer serving his role to death.) Black Hand disappeared after that - whisked away by the Indigo Tribe and was made one of their members. The Indigo Lanterns represent compassion -- but it seems their compassion is forced, making Black Hand docile and peaceful.

Jordan asks William questions. He speaks the Indigo Tribe's language, saying "Nok Lekka Abin Sur." Jordan asks what Abin Sur has to do with this? Abin Sur was a friend to Sinestro when they both served in the GL Corps - and was the Green Lantern who died on earth, passing his Ring onto Jordan himself. It had been hinted at before that the female leader Indigo-1 had a life changing meeting with Abin Sur. (It was also indicated that she might have been a violent murderer, instead of a compassion-wielding nomadic monk.) Jordan asks what they want with Sinestro - demanding William speak english. Black Hand tells him "We are all saved, Green Lantern. And Sinestro Will be saved too. Sinestro Lora Nok." Hal suspiciously asks what that means. Black Hand continues "It means Sinestro is no longer a worry. Sinestro will be reborn as I have been. Compassion be with you." All of this is explained as the Indigo Lanterns approach a chained Sinestro.

This really is a fascinating and long anticipated story arch. Ever since hints where made about the truth of the Indigo Tribe's idea of "Compassion", I've been eager to learn more. Where once they where allies against the rising dead - they are now a mind-control cult. Sinestro, having committed so much evil during his life, seems to be a prime candidate for their group. I don't think either Hal or Sinestro will go down without a fight, though.

I think the rest of the Indigo Tribe arch is going to be really good. This entire series hasn't missed a single beat in the transition into the New 52 - and in fact seems even more polished and focused than ever before.

If you didn't like the Green Lantern movie - that's ok, because the Green Lantern comic is simply awesome! It's narrative is simply enough, and fills you in along the way for new fans coming onboard - but also excels in delving deeper and deeper into the incredible Green Lantern mythology Geoff Johns has created. As for regular comic fans -- some who I've heard sometimes have a problem with Johns writing; well I say, simply put: get over it. This comic series is awesome - and is a must read! Right now is perfect time to jump on board - as the new #1 has given the series a fresh start, but without undercutting anything that has been built up beforehand.

1 comment:

  1. If you look at this particular image where Sinestro got a glimpse of the "future" that the Guardians of the Universe planned to create the "third army" -- look at one of the Guardians, I presume Ganthet, wielding a white ring.

    Everything indicates that they want the white power, the Entity itself, as the culprit of the "Third Army"?