Welcome to the fourth installment of my look back at Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern. Here’s where you can find previous parts of my retrospective. If you’ve got a certain aspect of the run you want me to talk about or want to voice your opinions on the run to the world, email me at email@example.com or share your thoughts in the comments.
Let’s just get this out of the way: I LOVE The Sinestro Corps War. It’s one of my favorite comics ever and may be my favorite single story in all of comics. This is the absolute high point of Geoff Johns’ work in comics, in my opinion. This is how event comics should be done. I was having a really hard time figuring out how to talk about this story so I decided to make a list of the top five reasons I think it’s so great.
1. The villains think they’re in the right. This is so important to the story and it should be important to comics as a whole. Sometimes we’ll get enemies that are evil purely for the sake of being evil. The main villains in this story all think that they’re in the right for what they’re doing. Sinestro still thinks that he’s the greatest of all the Green Lanterns so it only makes sense that he would make his own Corps. He thinks that the GLC doesn’t know what they’re doing so he decides to take things into his own hands. Sinestro really believes that he is helping the universe by starting this war. Cyborg Superman wants to destroy all life because he believes that existence is a terrible thing and he wants it to end. Superboy Prime is clearly a bad guy, but in his mind he’s a hero looking to get revenge for having his world wiped out. The clear motivations behind these villains are what make them interesting. I care about the villains as much as the heroes, but in a completely different way.
2. There’s never a dull moment. I’ve read this story several times, but I don’t think that I’ve ever found myself being uninterested at any point. Everything moves by so quickly. How the event is structured ensures that it’s almost constant action. It’s an ongoing war and because there’s always another Corps member that’s doing something interesting they can keep cutting to something new. Where this story could have gone wrong would have been to make it the Hal Jordan story in the Sinestro Corps War. Hal is a huge part of it, but he’s not the only focus. Hal is a very important soldier, but he’s just one of the many soldiers. The Green Lantern issues mainly focus on Hal, but he’s got so many characters around him, it doesn’t feel like a character piece. It’s a story that involves so many characters it would be a disservice to them to just focus on one.
3. The fights are fantastic. The battles in this story feel like a war in a comic should. They’re all chaotic because there’s so many people involved and they’re all brutal. They only get bloodier and more violent as the story goes on. The Ranx and Mogo battle is so good because the objectives for every character are very clear. In most of the battles, they don’t feel like superhero fights where everybody meets up to brawl. The battles feel like a war. They’re hitting each other at every opportunity and they’re hitting each other hard. The final issue splits the final battle across two fronts; one in New York and one in Coast City. In New York there’s the fight against the Anti-Monitor and Superboy Prime and then in Coast City, Hal and Kyle Rayner fight Sinestro. By the end of both brawls, they’re the complete opposites of each other. New York has a super-brawl and Coast City eventually devolves into a depowered fistfight. It was a really interesting way to divide the final bits of fighting in the war. One more fight worth mentioning is the Sodam Yat and Superboy Prime fight because it feels so much like an issue of Invincible and that’s a compliment because Invincible has some great fight scenes.
4. Even though the Sinestro Corps lost, Sinestro still won. There’s always a Plan B. About halfway through the story the Guardians rewrite the Book of Oa to include ten new laws. The first law now allows a Green Lantern to kill an enemy, something that they previously weren’t allowed to do. If Sinestro wasn’t able to win the war, this is exactly what he wanted to happen. Now that the Green Lanterns can kill, people across the universe have a reason to fear the GLC. The universe will now fear the force that is supposed to protect them. By the end of the war there’s more fear in the universe, so even though he ends up being arrested, Sinestro wins the war. I don’t think he ever actually believed that his force would win the physical battle, but he knew that his ideology would win out.
5. The final issue sets up A LOT. Not only does the final issue end the story (duh), it also sets up everything that we’ll see leading up to Blackest Night. We’re shown that there will be more Corps beyond the Green and Sinestro Corps and we get a look at the upcoming War of the Light. Knowing what’s coming up, it feels like they gave a lot away, but looking at it from the point of view of someone who doesn’t know what’s going to happen next, everything that they set up is very vague. This taste of the future got me really excited to keep reading this story.
This is the story I recommend to anybody looking to get into Green Lantern because it’s such an awesome comic. I honestly don’t have a negative word to say about the Sinestro Corps War. If you haven’t read the story in a while, go back and check it out. It’s a lot of fun.
Next time in the Green Lantern Reread: We’re going to take a break from the War of the Light story to go back to Hal’s early days in Secret Origin.
Filed Under: Retrospectives