Comic Book Review – Green Lantern: Wanted-Hal Jordan and The Sinestro Corps War

Green Lantern: Wanted – Hal Jordan (2007)
Reprints Green Lantern #14-20
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert, and Daniel Acuna

The Sinestro Corps War (2007)
Reprints Green Lantern #21-25, Green Lantern Corps #14-19, Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special
Written by Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons, and Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Ethan van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Angel Unzueta, Pascal Alixe, Dustin Nguyen, and Jamal Igle

In the wake of Infinite Crisis, all DC mainline titles leaped forward by one year. That gap year was covered in the year-long weekly series 52, which you can read my reviews for. While Johns was one of the chief architects of the whole affair, it’s clear from reading Wanted – Hal Jordan he didn’t necessarily want this for the Green Lantern. In some ways (the Sinestro Corps), it gave time for threats to reasonably build in intensity, but Johns also tells a similar story to Revenge of the Green Lanterns. While that story was about Jordan dealing with the fallout from his actions as Parallax on the Corps, Wanted keeps him on Earth against the Global Guardians and Rocket Red Brigade as he deals with the consequences of violating foreign airspace. 

Wanted also includes the reintroduction of the Star Sapphire. In classic Green Lantern stories, Star Sapphire was an identity assumed by Jordan’s on-again-off-again love interest Carol Ferris. Carol had her mind & body taken over by the Zamarons, a race of female aliens who served as one the counterparts to the all-male Guardians of the Universe. The Zamarons wished to prove males were inferior to females and imbued their power into Carol, much like the Green Lanterns use power rings. Johns is building new Corps along the color spectrum and easily folds the Zamarons into this. 

It’s previously been established that the Green power equals Will and the Yellow power aligns with Fear. The Violet energy that Zamarons wield is associated with Love. This Love is dangerously obsessive as the crystal the Zamarons send to Earth leaps between Carol and Jordan’s new love interest Jillian Perlman. Reading this story arc now, it definitely has not aged well. It’s rife with horribly gendered sexism that undercuts Johns trying to incorporate the Sapphires into his new Green Lantern mythos. As Johns’ run continued, it sure seemed like he didn’t know what to do with this particular Corps, so they always remained pretty underdeveloped along with the poor Indigo Tribe. 

The background of all these stories is set up for The Sinestro Corps War. Amon Sur, the son of the late Abin, is brought back to continue his crusade of revenge. Yellow rings are swarming across the universe, seeking out those who will join Sinestro, including Batman, who is determined to be an avatar of Fear in his space sector. Batman rejects the ring, and the story hints that it will be appropriately delivering itself to the Scarecrow. Johns may not be every reader’s cup of tea, but from a structural point of view, he is spinning many plates here and pulling it off. We can’t forget he was also writing Justice Society of America and Teen Titans at the same time as this. 

But now the main event, The Sinestro Corps War. This was the conclusion of Johns’s first act on Green Lantern and still holds up as an inventive story arc. Rather than making this a line-wide event like Infinite Crisis, the main story runs through the two Green Lantern ongoing books. Other creators were allowed to make their series tie-in or not, but those are not included as they aren’t essential to understand the main story. That main story is about Sinestro forming his own Corps, based on Fear and armed with copies of his yellow ring. His goal is to prove the Guardians’ philosophy of protecting the universe is wrong, and that order can only be done with Fear and the threat of violence. The members of his Corps are some gnarly-looking creatures, something the artists on this event have expressed having a lot of fun creating. 

The process was for them to just let their imaginations go, and Johns would pick the stuff that was the best. This is how we got Karu-Sil, an alien woman whose family was killed when she was a girl. A pack of wild dog-like creatures raised her but eventually died. With her ring, she conjures hard light recreations of these beasts she unleashes on her foes in battle. There’s Bedovian, a snail-like being who is a master assassin. We see him hidden in his shell clung to an asteroid in a massive belt, emerging with his high-powered laser rifle and executing Green Lanterns in the area. There’s Sluush, a humanoid-shaped acidic blob with the remains of his previous victims visibly floating inside his gelatinous form. You get the picture. They are an utterly evil Corps of monstrous creatures, which makes for a visually stimulating event.

Johns and company understood the scale a great Green Lantern story would need. It should span across galaxies, incorporate all sorts of alien beings, and the stakes needed to be something that could shatter the universe. Sinestro’s entire history, especially his ties to the Weaponers of Qward who forged the first yellow ring, plays a vital part. Johns pulls in plot points from other GL arcs and even Infinite Crisis as the Manhunters and Superboy-Prime are brought into the Sinestro Corps fold. We even get the surprising return of a significant DC Universe villain who hangs out in the background until the third act. 

If you are a fan of the Sinestro Corps War, then you might not like the following statement. This story does not work as well as a collection as it reads weekly in single issues. I also think the lack of inclusion of some tie-in one-shots hurts the story. Those one-and-dones could pull back from the often repetitive, stretched-out action of the main books and spotlight characters. These human touches helped add texture to what is otherwise a lot of cyclical sturm and drang. The books also had backup stories featuring Lyssa Drak, the historian of the Sinestro Corps, that gave us backstories on these wild new villains. Unfortunately, you will not find the backstory of Karu-Sil in this trade paperback; you will need to find another collection or the original issues to read.

In my opinion, The Sinestro Corps War falters because Johns is so aware of his long-term plans and the greater arc he’s telling that it seeps into the work. There’s little closure or explanation here for many mysteries, merely the introduction of more questions & mysteries. The corpse of one villain becomes the landscape from which a new threat grows. The Sinestro Corps isn’t ultimately defeated and simply retreats to lick their wounds. Kyle Rayner gets much-deserved attention, but overall I was underwhelmed by the book. That’s not how I felt going in, but I remembered reading it all week to week as it came out. If you also have a good memory of picking up the singles, you may want to leave it that way. A revisit is not necessary and honestly discouraged.

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