The end of 2007 is upon us and it seems fitting that The Sinestro Corps War - for my money the best multi-issue crossover mini-series all year - should end with it. I'll admit to being biased, though. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan in specific) was my favorite superhero as a boy and still holds a special place in my heart. And in he ten years that I've been reading comics, the mythos of the Green Lantern Corps have become just as near and dear to me.
It's no surprise then that a story like this - in which an all-star team of Green Lantern villains are united under the banner of their greatest foe - the rogue Green Lantern Sinestro - would appeal to me and every-other red-blooded Green Lantern fanboy. Indeed, the only flaw The Sinestro Corps War has as a whole is that much of the subtleties of the story can be lost on someone unfamiliar with the history of the Green Lantern Corps. At the very least, one must be familiar with the events of the last two years of Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps and the Ion mini-series.
Despite this, the series has been a critical success for DC Comics as well as a high-selling book. And polls on Newsarama named SCW the best crossover of the year with two out of three correspondents voting for it. So why has SCW succeeded where Countdown and Amazons Attack failed? Well, I think there are several reasons for this.
First, where these other crossovers have been stretched out across multiple titles with numerous tie-ins, SCW has been completely self-contained to the Green Lantern monthly titles and a handful of specials. Apart from one issue of Blue Beetle, the storyline has been completely untouched by the rest of the DC Universe and vice-versa.
Also, despite being a tough slog for some newer readers, the history and back-story inherit to Sinestro Corps War has given the series a sense of urgency that these other crossovers have lacked. One may not understand the full significance of The Prophecy of Blackest Night or have read the original stories regarding the prophecy written decades ago by the legendary Alan Moore in order to enjoy it. Your enjoyment of the depth of the story may be improved by this knowledge but it is not required.
And ultimately, that is why I think that Sinestro Corps War has been successful. At its' heart, it is a simple and basic story which has everything a good superhero story should. Action. Revenge. Miracles. Hubris. Even True Love Conquering All in the form of a romantic subplot between two of the Guardians.
The double-sized Green Lantern #25 was a fitting conclusion to this epic tale. The artwork is handled by two artists but their work blends together so seamlessly I had to double-check and make sure that my memory was right and that there really were two artists at work. And Geoff John's writing is a strong as ever. There are many great moments in this issue I could use to illustrate just how great it is. But I chose this one simply because I think it best exemplifies not only the greatness of this story but the superhero genre in general.
A faction of The Sinestro Corps is in-route to Coast City - the hometown of Green Lantern Officer Hal Jordan. Destroyed once by alien invaders and recently rebuilt, the town was nicknamed "Ghost City" due to the difficulty the local government had in convincing anyone to live there. With Sinestro himself leading the charge against his city, Hal Jordan uses his ring to command the airwaves and tells everyone in town to flee the city, just in case he can't save them. Hal's own family - led by his brother - refuses to leave despite the danger. And it is then that Hal's fellow Green Lantern Officer Kyle Rayner enters and tells Hal he needs to come outside and see something.
Mark Twain once said "the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great". In this moment, Hal Jordan becomes "really great" as he inspires the people of his hometown to the same standard of courage and willfulness that are the hallmark of the Green Lanterns. They refuse to run and choose instead to trust in faith that their hero will save them as he has time and time again. They chose to light a candle - literally in some cases - rather than curse the darkness.
To see the common people - the ones who don't have super-powers or fancy power rings to protect them - show such bravery in the face of adversity is rare. But it is even rarer these days for them to be seen viewing their super powered protectors as heroes rather than an annoyance or a menace. Even in the relatively brighter universe of DC Comics, this show of respect and confidence is depressingly infrequent and it lightens this old fanboy's heart to see it here.
This tone continues into the epilogue for the series in Green Lantern Corps #19, which shows how several of the members of the Corps are spending their time in the days following the conclusion of the war. There's not as much action and the pacing is a little bit slower than in Green Lantern #25 but that suits the issue just fine.
There are a lot of great character moments in this issue and while the critic in me appreciates the skillful writing the historian in me wonders about certain scenes. For instance, we see Green Lantern drill-sergeant Killowog enjoying a dinner with his family and it is a beautiful scene marred only by the fact that Killowog was the last of his alien race the last time I checked. I'm willing to admit I might be wrong but it was still jarring for me to see.
I also wonder how Kyle Rayner - recently appointed to the Honor Guard of Oa - can be looking for a job on Earth when Honor Guard membership requires that Lantern in question be based on Oa to aid in the training of new recruits as well as handling special missions for The Guardians of the Universe who run The GL Corps. Even with a ring that allows one to do the near-impossible, Earth to Oa is a heck of a daily commute.
But as much as I may nit-pick, even I cannot find fault in the scene where Guy Gardner tries to romance his recently resurrected lost-love Ice. I hadn't been reading GL Corps on a regular basis before SCW but this - and the revelation at the end of the issue of another old villain who will be returning with the power of Sinestro behind him - is enough to keep me reading this despite the end of the crossover.
Even the Ion special is an enjoyable read, despite being somewhat superfluous to the main storyline of The Sinestro Corps War. It is meant to take place between the events of Green Lantern #25 and Green Lantern Corps #19 but there is no indication of this anywhere in the cover and only the fact that the book concludes with Kyle Rayner's promotion to the Honor Guard allows the time of the story to be set.
This issue was written by Ron Marz; forever famous as the creator of Kyle Rayner and the author of the previous Ion mini-series as well as the Parallax special that was part of SCW. As in Ion seems to have been stuck with the task of explaining away the various inconsistencies that have sprung up regarding The Ion Force as described by Judd Winick, Dave Gibbons and Geoff Johns. In this issue, he does this in an amazingly simple manner, with the short version being that The Guardians weren't telling the whole truth... Again. He even manages to tie-up some lose ends involving long-time Alex Nero; a mad-artist with a fear-powered yellow ring and long-time Kyle Rayner villain.
This is all incidental to the main thrust of the story but it is a credit to Ron Marz's skill as a writer that he is able to smoothly fit the explanation for these details into his narrative even while spinning a tale that centers upon Kyle Rayner playing mentor to Sodam Yat; the new possessor of the Ion Power. While the action of the issue is nice and well illustrated by Michael Lacombe, the meat of the issue lies in Kyle - who knows full well what it is to be inexperienced and entrusted with great power regardless - trying to lessen the burdens of the intense Sodam Yat.
The conclusion of The Sinestro War promised that an even greater crisis awaits the Green Lanterns. Far beyond even the upcoming Final Crisis looms an even greater disaster. And a prophecy foretells of an unthinkable yet necessary alliance of the fear-empowered Sinestro Corps and the willpower-enhanced Green Lantern Corps in order for all that lives to be saved. The future may be dark in the DC Comics Universe but if this upcoming storyline maintains the same high level of quality we have seen in this story, I foresee nothing but a bright future for DC Comics in 2008 and 2009.