With a combination of stellar art by Dale Eaglesham and a slow-paced but well-written story by Cullen Bunn, the first issue of “Sinestro” not only helps to repurpose Thaal Sinestro, the former Green Lantern villain, as a hero, but also helps bring insight to his character after not appearing in comics for the last year.
The story begins with Sinestro contemplating his life while in self-imposed exile for partaking in the destruction of his home planet, Korguar, after the events of the Green Lantern cross-over “Wrath of the First Lantern.” Alone, Sinestro is seemingly powerless as his mighty power ring, which gives him the capability to bend light into constructs based on his ability to instill fear, is dormant. Instead, Sinestro must rely on his wit and finesse to survive the wild.
However, when Sinestro is about to be mauled by the native beasts of the planet, he is saved by Lyssa Drak. She is trying to recruit Sinestro back to lead the Sinestro Corps, which is attempting to govern the galaxy through fear and intimidation.
Sinestro initially refuses Drak’s offer, preferring to stay in isolation, until she informs him that there are survivors of Korugar who are being captured by an unknown force. Fearing for the safety of his people, Sinestro is able to empower his power ring through his own feelings of terror and agrees to work with Drak to save the wayward Korugarians.
The comic progresses at a slow pace, with at least half of the narrative leading up to Sinestro and Drak’s encounter. It focuses rather on Sinestro’s grief at the loss of his planet and the guilt he feels for causing it to be destroyed. Readers are able to empathize with Sinestro for his penance and apologetic nature, which appear sincere in Bunn’s characterization.
Old and new readers alike will be able to pick up on Sinestro’s personality through his many internal monologues. Sinestro reminisces having tried to save the galaxy by policing it as a member of the Green Lantern Corps — after realizing its peacekeeping methods were ineffective, intimidating it into submission with the Sinestro Corps, and how both experiences have drained him. Despite this, once Sinestro finds out his people are in trouble, he rushes to help them.
Bunn’s writing is both fresh and engaging, allowing the reader to relate to Sinestro’s sadness over his loss without him appearing over the top. Bunn, however, pales in comparison to former Green Lantern writer, Geoff Johns, who wrote extensively on Sinestro and made him into one of DC Comics’ flagship iconic villains. Readers of Johns’ run on “Green Lantern” may feel as though Sinestro has lost his pragmatic and machiavellian principles, which were defining characteristics of John’s’ Sinestro.
This unethusiastic characterization of Sinestro is Bunn’s only weakness as a writer, given that Johns’ Sinestro was not as passive despite his troubled past. In past writing, Johns’ Sinestro is a man of action; Bunn’s is more passive and less intimidating, causing a discrepancy between the two author’s characterization .
Eaglesham’s art helps to establish the mood of the story through the designs of Sinestro’s monk-like garb, which complements his more passive and calm nature. Upon donning his signature yellow uniform, Sinestro stands out against the vivid, yet earthy backgrounds. This makes Sinestro and Drak appear like deities, floating around while bathed in yellow light.
The only flaw of Eaglesham’s art is the blocky, almost inhumanly muscular bodies. Sinestro has been historically drawn as lean and tall, but Eaglesham makes Sinestro seem like a professional body-builder who relies on brute strength rather than his wit and imagination. This may make readers feel as though Sinestro’s beefy frame will make him get into massive brawls throughout the series, instead of using his ring which past renditions of Sinestro were known for.
Overall, “Sinestro #1” brings new life to one of DC Comics’ most iconic and fan-favorite villains. Readers will be engaged by the interactions between Sinestro and Drak as well as Sinestro’s newfound fervor upon meeting Drak. Despite some issues with the art and a variance of characterization between authors, “Sinestro #1” is written well enough to be enjoyed and leave readers in anticipation for the next issue, scheduled for release May 21.