By: Geoff Johns (writer), Doug Mahnke (penciller), Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, Tom Nguyen (inkers), David Baron (colorist)

The Story: You know what the Korugans need?  An Occupy movement.

The Review: Just as Green Lantern has risen in stature in the last few years to the point where he now has the same iconic status as Superman and Batman, so has Sinestro gone from second-tier villain to one with a profile equal to, say, Lex Luthor or the Joker.  Like them, he started out with a very narrow, almost caricaturized personality: cripplingly arrogant.  But under Johns’ pen, Sinestro has grown more self-aware, masterful, and complicated, signs of a first-class character.

In a lot of ways, he possesses more of those qualities than even his heroic counterpart, who remains impulsive and direct.  These differences lead to a lot of rich interplay, as you can see in this issue.  While Hal’s chemistry with Carol has staled a little over the years, his and Sinestro’s has stayed as fresh as ever, never failing to produce a fun moment or line between them: “Turn the green to black.”  “Wait…black?”  “Your training really stopped after I left, didn’t it?”

Their continued dialogue also shows what sets Sinestro apart from leagues of villains out there.  No matter how manipulative or megalomaniacal, he retains a cloak of nobility about him.  You always get the sense he thinks, even in the midst of his most depraved actions, that he’s in the right.  It’s a strangely attractive paradox in an antagonist, explaining why Hal can get pulled along so easily into his greatest enemy’s agenda.  You can’t imagine Batman deigning to hitchhike with Joker on some hare-brained clowning scheme.

As it turns out, Sinestro has a point about this whole Korugar thing.  One thing you can count on is he may not give a fig about the rest of the universe, but his fondness for his own homeworld and people is a constant, even though they see him as nothing more than a universal stain upon their species.  We still don’t what the Sinestro Corps gets out of enslaving the planet, but there’s a certain poetic justice to their using Korugans’ fear to fuel the guiding emotion they stand for.

Of course, Sinestro has a plan to turn that all around, which he wants executed in his usual meticulousness (“Don’t forget what I said.  We wait until—”  “After sunset.”  “Seven minutes.  No matter what.”), but he can’t foresee everything.  We know he has a certain blind spot when it comes to Korugans he has a personal connection with, and one appears at just the right moment to set his strategy astray: Arsona, a fiery spirit equal to Sinestro himself, who declares to her captors, “Korugar will never be afraid.  Not again.

Another thing Sinestro doesn’t see coming?  The issue’s cliffhanger.  Johns certainly has a knack for these things, more so than quite a lot of otherwise strong writers, and this issue’s is one to beat the band.  I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that it has the same “Okay…what now?” feeling as Barry Allen getting himself cooked by lightning in Flashpoint #2.

By now, Mahnke’s particularly effective, organic, dramatic style is common knowledge.  There’s really little to say about the strong work he brings to the issue other than apparently it takes a whole scad of inkers to finish his pencils now.  At this rate, by this time next year we’ll have more inkers than there are characters in the series.

Conclusion: Several major steps forward for the plot, and a fascinating, entertaining look into one of the great enemy-ships in comics history.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – “Yeah. I screwed everything up.  Who got his own planet enslaved?”  Touché, Hal.  Well played.

– Let me just say, the fact Hal can be convinced by his archnemesis to fly himself into the furnace of a giant power lantern—well, he’s not exactly the brightest bulb in the bunch.

– It’s worth mentioning the Guardians have plans to establish yet another cosmos-policing force, but given their track record, they may as well stick to the flawed but functional group they have now, Guy Gardner and all.