For those readers who haven’t read that many Green Lantern books – if any – and thought the New 52 reboot would be a good place to acquaint yourself with the character and his world, prepare to be disappointed: this isn’t a reboot despite the label. I’ve read a number of Justice League books and have seen the GL movie so I’m familiar with the character but there were still many questions raised when reading through this book.
Why is Hal Jordan no longer a Green Lantern? Sinestro was a Green Lantern, then he wasn’t, and now he is – the explanation being? Carol Ferris has a power ring of her own and is a superhero herself – but she’s not a supe in this book? It’s misleading to call this Volume 1 in a series reboot when it is in fact a continuation of the enormous Green Lantern saga that DC have been doing for the last few years. I understand that it makes sense to discard such a rich body of work but still, a summary of sorts would help new readers picking up this series for the first time.
And while this is a common complaint among New 52 titles, unlike the second usual complaint that follows a New 52 series review, this book is actually a lot of fun! Hal Jordan is recruited by a newly reinstated Sinestro Green Lantern to help free his homeworld of Korugar from his Yellow Lantern Corps who have enslaved his people. What follows is a great action adventure story involving a prison break-type setup and we get to see the great relationship between Sinestro and Hal Jordan.
Sinestro is a complex character, at times seemingly evil though his actions he claims were for the greater good, and despite his arrogant and violent personality he has moments of pathos and sadness, especially after being exiled from his homeworld. His nobility contrasts with his ruthlessness and his past actions make his future intentions highly suspect – though he is generally a likeable character. He’s an excellent centrepiece for this book especially as a foil to Jordan who is a bit too annoying, at least in this story.
Hal Jordan is bouncing around after being expelled from the Corps, penniless, refuses to get a job, and can’t seem to commit to Carol Ferris, their on/off relationship straining the boundaries of interest. Geoff Johns writes him in a way that shows Hal is genuinely a decent guy who really can’t stand idly by while injustice happens in front of him, but whose thoughtless actions often leave him in tight situations, a shortcoming you would expect an experienced superhero would’ve overcome by now.
He also behaves a bit like a drug addict/Gollum without the ring, yearning for it, a total mess without it, and when he and Carol are together they speak about it in tones of a couple where one of them has successfully gone without substance X for a number of days. Maybe given the destructive nature of the ring in Jordan’s life, this reboot could’ve chosen someone for whom the ring would be much less burdensome?
Johns’ writing is a bit cheesy at times, suffering from the unsubtle superhero cliches of abundant exposition and hurried, clumsy narration at the start of each issue, but it is competent and his extensive experience with the comics medium makes for a pleasingly fast-paced story. His grasp of these characters is clearly very strong and the knowledge of them and their world makes for a masterful and layered tale that allows for the book to jump from Earth to alien worlds and outer space comfortably and cleanly without seeming awkward or unconvincing.
Doug Mahnke’s artwork is excellent as he effortlessly draws sprawling alien creatures while depicting facial expression accurately and realistically, even on the faces of non-humans. His green and yellow constructs were imaginative and the monstrous Yellow Lanterns were drawn in a compelling and interesting way.
This isn’t the most alienating first book in the New 52 reboot you’ll read but there are a lot of things left out that would confuse the first-time reader of Green Lantern. That said, the action and story are familiar enough to involve anyone from the first page to the last in the fantasy and imagination Johns and Mahnke create. Definitely a good read, Green Lantern, Volume 1: Sinestro is one of the better New 52 books and well worth a look.
We are currently seeking Comics contributors on WhatCulture. To find out more about the perks of being a Comics contributor, click here.