By: Geoff Johns (writer), Doug Mahnke (penciller), Christian Alamy & Keith Champagne (inkers), Alex Sinclair (colorist)

The Story: Sinestro, you can’t just hand out these power rings like they’re candy!

The Review: Oh, come on—seeing Hal get fried in the Yellow Central Battery was all good and fun, but no one thought for one second that would be the end of it, right?  That’s the thing with the vast majority of cliffhangers: even when they’re done well, you don’t actually fear that the fate of your favorite characters hang in the balance.  Mostly, cliffhangers are an exercise for writers to produce the most ludicrous cop-out ideas possible.

In this case, it turns out the Yellow Central Battery’s intruder-destroying measures are restricted to only certain individuals: “You are not Sinestro.  Transport to Antimatter Universe aborted.”  It ejects Hal immediately, rendering his attempt to destroy the battery from the inside mostly pointless, except for a few “life flashing before his eyes” panels which yet again emphasizes that Carol is the love of his life.

And if that isn’t enough, Johns brings up the couple again a few pages later, when Hal gets thrown into a Sinestro Corps decharging cell and decides to use the very last drop of his secondhand power ring’s energy to summon a construct of Carol.  It seems a bit out of place to insert a corny romantic moment smack-dab in the middle of dramatic prison scene, particularly since that specific well of material has run a bit dry lately, but it’s touching, nonetheless.

But the real emotional substance of the issue comes from Sinestro, who has pretty much hijacked the starring role of this title.  The drama doesn’t get any sweatier or intense than Sinestro having a reunion with his people (and former subordinate) in a jail cell.  Kudos to Johns for continuing to develop such a rich back-story for the villain/antihero; it’s always impressive when comic book characters are revealed to have relationships beyond their vigilante lives.

And the relationship between Arsona and Sinestro is a doozy.  As his last Korugan supporter way back when Sinestro’s tyranny was only just starting to reveal itself, Arsona has plenty of reason to hate his guts, and she spews that resentment with great integrity here: “We trusted you!  We believed in you!  I DID!”  True, she goes over the top in a way you only can in comics, but you feel so much of her bitterness, anger, and yes, humiliation, so it’s worth it.

Then the impossible happens, and it shocks you in a way no zany cliffhanger can ever do: Sinestro—spoiler alert—apologizes.  And get this: he admits he “made a…mistake.”  True, he says the words hesitantly, as if they’re foreign to him (and let’s face it, they probably are), but that serves to make his confession seem that much more sincere.  Scenes like these remind you why Johns is counted among the majors; he really knows how to sell the crucial moments.

Mahnke does his usually astounding work.  Not only is he one of the best in crafting alien figures that look real and believable (take the many-chinned, black-lipped, toothy Professor Insidd, for example), almost no one can top him in drawing energy constructs that convey weight and mass while retaining an airy, unmistakably photonic nature (although this is in no small part due to Sinclair’s vivid colors—seriously, don’t look at the yellow constructs in direct light or they may actually blind you).

Conclusion: This is Johns getting into his groove on the title which he made into a household name.  This is straight-up superhero stuff written in the most credible way possible, and it feels good.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – The expression on Hal’s face when Sinestro apologizes is priceless.  And actually not quite far off the mark from mine at the same time.

– Oh, man—a baby Green Lantern cuddled in his momma’s Green Lantern arms.  Also priceless.