By: Geoff Johns (story), Doug Mahnke (pencils), Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, Tom Nguyen (inks), Hi-Fi (colors)
The Story: Two guys in the jungle with a pack of criminals on their tail. Someone say, “Reality show!”
The Review: Hero team-ups have gotten so common these days that in some cases, it’s rare when a title doesn’t have a guest appearance by some crimefighter or other. Hero-villain team-ups, on the other hand—those still have a little novelty to them (not counting any Batman and Catwoman business, since she’s technically more of an antihero anyway). Usually, the only time you have heroes and villains on the same side is against a massive threat to all parties.
So would you classify Sinestro and Hal’s misadventure here as a hero-villain team-up? Would you really? I suppose technically you can make an argument that Sinestro only harangues Hal into helping him because the breakdown of the Green Lantern Corps and the establishment of some unknown, supposedly superior “third army” in its place could threaten Sinestro’s egomaniacal plans for how the universe should be run. It’s no coincidence Hal calls him out on his belief that he’s “always right.”
But somehow Hal’s tone in this argument seems less like a hero accusing a villain of his crimes; it sounds a lot more like a person who’s finally gotten fed up with his old friend’s habits that he can’t keep it in anymore. And to a certain degree, that’s the case we deal with here. In all their historical confrontations, Hal’s general perception was that Sinestro was motivated by simple greed and power-lust. To say that Sinestro thinks he’s “always right” inherently means that there’s some justification, no matter how misguided or whatever, to his actions; it’s not just that he’s an evil guy doing things for evil purposes.
To me, that line is the real moment when we get the first clear indication that Hal has had a change of heart where Sinestro is concerned, long before we get to him telling Indigo-1 that he wants to believe his longtime enemy can be redeemed. Anyway, Hal wouldn’t let himself get dragged along on this mission if he didn’t believe to some degree it had some nobility to it.
More interestingly, it’s not as if Hal has suddenly opened up his eyes and seen Sinestro’s true intentions; Sinestro has changed quite a bit in his mindset and behavior, even within the last year. This control freak has actually gotten to a point where he can give in to someone else’s lead. When Hal tells him, “You’re not right this time,” and Sinestro agrees, that’s a pretty big deal. It’s not just that it shows him trusting Hal’s judgment—setting them up as equals—it also shows him acknowledging his own fallibility. Villains don’t usually do that.
Who knows if Johns may be laying the groundwork to truly redeem Sinestro in the long run (I tend to doubt it)? But it’s interesting that this slow evolution of the character comes in direct contrast to the inexplicable, altogether sudden remorse Iroque expresses in this issue, even without the control of her ring. So perhaps the Indigo process does work to reform the irreformable (not a word, but see how nicely it works!), and maybe the fact that Sinestro doesn’t quite belong with the Tribe means he’s not as lost as they are.
Mahnke has a director’s eye for the right shot to convey the right emotion in each scene. There are countless examples of this kind of thing in the issue, but I like to look at the panel where Sinestro goes off to hold off the Indigo Tribe by himself. By narrowing the panel to show only his eyes, which are focused but relaxed (and glowing with Hi-Fi’s eerie yellow), and his perked ears, Mahnke gives you the essence of Sinestro: a natural predator, practically licking its lips as it tracks its prey, even though the prey is a whole lot bigger.
Conclusion: Admittedly, there are really no new developments in the plot, but the character work is pretty outstanding, and the series never fails to be thrilling.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Is it just me, or did Sinestro’s “Okay” sound unnaturally casual for someone that tightly wound most of the time?