Geoff Johns is an evil genius. Or possibly a wizard. Or maybe some kind of cyborg from an alternate dimension. He’s clearly not human, since he possesses the alchemical ability to take even the most exhausted, clichéd comic concepts and transform their leaden histories into storytelling gold. Over the past 10 years, he’s taken the Justice Society, Teen Titans, and Hawkman—properties way past their prime—and turned them all into contemporary critical and commercial successes. His toughest challenge was arguably resuscitating Green Lantern, a concept that should make for A-list material, but which has mostly languished since the mid-’90s. The main character got so boring that DC’s solution was to turn him crazy, have him slaughter his friends, attempt genocide on a universal scale, and then finally kill the poor bastard.
You don’t really need to know all of that to enjoy The Sinestro Corps War, although it helps. Johns had been building to this storyline—and what has come after it—throughout his entire run on GL (now in its third year), incorporating a plethora of disparate elements of Lantern lore. While it may be somewhat overwhelming to the uninitiated, The Sinestro Corps War was the mainstream comic event of last year, eclipsing much flashier and better-promoted stories.
Here’s the basic gist: the Lanterns are essentially space cops that patrol the universe, armed with magic rings that create anything their bearers imagine. Each member of the corps is selected based on their ability to know no fear. One of the greatest Lanterns of all time, Sinestro, went rogue after his idea of law and order drifted too close to Mussolini territory. Convinced that his way was right, Sinestro set out to start his own ring-wielding army, tasked to eradicate chaos through a more violent path—by instilling fear. A beatdown of cosmic proportions ensues, involving everything from sentient planets and exploding babies to killer viruses and mind-boggling prophecies.
Sinestro Corps War is sci-fi space opera at its finest, and although the sprawling arc meanders a bit in the middle (especially in the Sinestro Corps spotlight specials that I suspect were rushed into production after DC saw readers’ excited initial reaction), by the end it builds nicely, managing to live up to the bombastic, terrifying first installment. That single issue stands out as one of the finest comic books I’ve ever read, with Johns perfectly setting the ominous tone for this epic crossover, and artist Ethan Van Sciver contributing the best work of his life (that double-page spread revealing the Sinestro Corps will make him a legend). The only downside to this hardcover? You’ll have to wait for Volume 2 in June to find out how it all wraps up.