Sunday, March 28, 2010

Summary of Green Lantern up to Sinestro Corps War

I wrote this summary of every important event in the DC universe leading up to the Sinestro Corps War for a friend of mine who wanted to jump right in. I figured I might as well share it online since I went to all this effort already.

I've pretty much ignored inconsistencies and retcons, summarizing everything as it has been revised/reinterpreted by Geoff Johns. Therefore, some of the events described below may have been told slightly differently in the original stories.

SPOILERS DISCLAIMER: What follows is a series of MAJOR SPOILERS for the following comics:

GL: Emerald Twilight
Zero Hour
Final Night
Day of Judgement
GL: Rebirth
Green Lantern - Geoff Johns run up to Sinestro Corps War
Green Lantern Corps - Dave Gibbons run up to Sinestro Corps War
Infinite Crisis

Do not read the rest of this post if you intend to read the above comics and want to avoid spoilers. (Although some of those so-called spoilers, especially related to Emerald Twilight up to Rebirth are fairly common knowledge if you're at all familiar with DC comics.)

I. Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, up to Rebirth

Hal Jordan was a pilot who was recruited into the Green Lantern Corps when an alien named Abin Sur crashed-landed on Earth. Before he died, Abin Sur found Hal as a replacement, citing his "ability to overcome great fear."

The Green Lantern Corps is an intergalactic police force that was set up by the Guardians of the Universe, a group of immortal blue men and women who live on planet Oa at the centre of the universe. Oa is the Corps's heardquarters and where the central power battery is located, which is the energy source of all the individual power rings. (The rings need to be recharged with the lanterns.) Initially, the power rings were ineffective against the colour yellow. This was known as "the yellow impurity" and attributed to some kind of defect in the technology that the Guardians were unable to resolve. More on that later.

The Guardians of the Universe have a bunch of rules that are kept in the Book of Oa. The most important of these is that Green Lanterns can't use lethal force.

Hal Jordan was trained by his mentor Sinestro, who at the time was called the greatest of all the Green Lanterns. But Hal discovered that Sinestro was using fear to rule over the people of his home world, Korugar. When the Guardians learned of Sinestro's dictatorial ways, they banished him from the Corps and he became its arch-nemesis.

During the "Reign of the Supermen" storyline, the supervillains Mogul and Cyborg Superman (AKA Hank Henshaw) joined forces and destroyed Coast City, Hal Jordan's home town. 7 million people were killed. Hal Jordan, overcome with grief, succumbed to his fear and went insane. He tried to rebuild Coast City with his power ring (and to bring the dead back to life), but the Guardians didn't let him do it, citing one of the rules in the Book of Oa that doesn't let members of the Corps use the power rings for their own gain. Hal Jordan got really angry and he rampaged his way to Oa, defeating several other Green Lanterns on the way, stealing their power rings and leaving them for dead. On Oa, Hal Jordan destroyed the power battery and absorbed all of its power. He became the supervillain Parallax and killed most of the Guardians.

Ganthet, the only surviving Guardian, travelled to Earth with the last remaining power ring and offered it to Kyle Rainer. The Green Lantern Corps no longer existed and Kyle Rainer was the only Green Lantern for a long time.

Parallax showed up as a villain in the DC universe on a few occasions. In Zero Hour, he tried to destroy the universe in order to rewrite history and undo the destruction of Coast City. (He failed.) In Final Night, a Sun Eater drained all the energy from the Earth's sun. Hal Jordan sacrificed himself to reignite the sun and save humanity, thereby redeeming himself. Then, in Day of Judgement, his soul became the new host for The Spectre. Hal Jordan was technically dead, but he still showed up once in a while as The Spectre.

II. Rebirth (beginning of Geoff Johns run)

In the Geoff Johns reboot, Kyle Rayner, Ganthet, and two former Green Lanterns, John Stewart and Guy Gardner, worked together to resurrect Hal Jordan. Exactly how this happened is convoluted and not that important. What is important is that it was revealed that Parallax was in fact a kind of space parasite who is the embodiment of fear. The Guardians knew of his existence and they imprisoned him in the central power battery. When Coast City was destroyed, Parallax was able to infect Hal Jordan and take control of him. So it wasn't Hal Jordan gone insane who killed all those Green Lanterns and acted like a jerk, but rather Hal Jordan under the control of Parallax.

It was also explained that Parallax was responsible for the so-called yellow impurity. When Hal Jordan frees himself of Parallax, they re-imprison him in the power battery. But now that they are aware of his existence, experienced Green Lanterns are able to recognized their fear and overcome it, which allows them to use their power rings on yellow stuff. Only rookies sometimes have a hard time with that colour.

Ganthet resurrected the other Guardians of the Universe and they started rebuilding the Green Lantern Corps. Here are some important characters:

Kilowog: big guy who trains new recruits on Oa.

Mogo: a sentient planet who is a member of the Corps and who acts as a sort of spiritual leader/counsellor.

Salaak: multi-limbed alien who works as the Guardians' personal assistant and liaison with the Corps members.

Soranik Natu: she was a doctor on Korugar, the planet that Sinestro is from. Because of Sinestro's abuse of power while he was a Green Lantern, the people of Korugar see the Power Rings as cursed and are not big fans of the Green Lantern Corps. Soranik Natu was at first reluctant to accept the ring, but she changed her mind when she realized that its power could be used for good. However, her people reject her as a traitor.

The Lost Lanterns: these are the lanterns that Hal Jordan/Parallax left for dead when he went berserk. They were presumed dead, but in a storyline leading up to the Sinestro Corps War, Hal Jordan discovered that they were being held captive on the Manhunters' world. He and Guy Gardner rescued them. The Lost Lanterns remain very distrustful of Hal Jordan. The most prominent ones are Boodika (Hal Jordan cut off her hand when he stole her power ring, so she's particularly resentful), Jack T. Chance, Ke'Haan and Tomar-Tu. There are others, but it's not important to know them all by name. You just need to know they exist as a group and why they have this beef against Hal Jordan.

While the Corps is being rebuilt, Hal Jordan is also helping to rebuild Coast City on Earth. People are reluctant to move there, because of everything that happened, but Hal Jordan continues to hope that people will come once they realize that he's keeping the place safe. He even convinces his brother and his family to move there. This is an important recurring theme that pays off at the end of Sinestro Corps War.

III. Ion

During the events of Infinite Crisis, Kyle Rainer acquired new powers and took on the name of Ion. He no longer needs a power ring, as the source of his power is within himself. As Ion, he is given extra responsibilities by the Guardians, who refer to him as the Torchbearer, both because of his role in bringing them and the Corps back to life and because of his responsibility to do this again should anything happen to them.

IV. The Sinestro Corps

During the different storylines leading up to Sinestro Corps War, hints are occasionally dropped that Sinestro is around and recruiting people for his Corps. Some of the key players are:

Cyborg Superman and the Manhunters: The Manhunters are a race of robots that were built by the Guardians of the Universe before they formed the Green Lantern Corps. They were kind of a failed experiment; they turned out to be too cold and emotionless for the job so they were banished to some abandoned corner of the universe. After he was defeated by Superman (after destroying Coast City), Hank Henshaw (AKA Cyborg Superman) encountered the Manhunters and became their leader. Their goal is to eradicate all life from the universe, because they're robots and that's what they do.

Ranx, the sentient city: Guy Gardner encounters this sentient city who hates Green Lanterns. He defeats and humiliates it, so it's now really angry and looking for vengeance.

Amon Sur: He is the son of Abin Sur (the Lantern who gave his ring to Hal Jordan). He feels that he should have been his father's successor, so he hates Hal Jordan.

In addition to all these recruits, Sinestro is also working with the Anti-Monitor (the being from the anti-matter universe who attempted to destroy the multiverse during Crisis on Infinite Earths). The Sinestro Corps's heardquarts is on Quard, a planet in the anti-matter universe. This is where their central power battery is located and where the yellow power rings are being manufactured. The yellow power rings work the same way as the green ones, except that they are controlled by fear instead of willpower.

V. Infinite Crisis, Superboy Prime, and the multiverse

At the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the multiverse ceased to exist and was replaced by a single universe combining elements from the five remaining universes that the Anti-Monitor hadn't destroyed yet. When this happened, most of the characters were reinvented (rebooted) and they don't know there ever was a multiverse. However, a handful of characters from the original multiverse survived: Superman of Earth-2, Lois Lane of Earth-2, Alexander Luthor (son of Lex Luthor) from a universe where Lex was a good guy, and Superboy Prime (who was from a universe where he was the only existing super-hero). These characters survived in a "pocket universe" – a kind of virtual paradise where they were supposed to live happily ever after.

During the events of Infinite Crisis, it was revealed that they had been watching the new universe ever since and were growing increasingly frustrated with all the corruption they were witnessing. Under Luthor's leadership, they came up with a plan to escape their pocket universe, destroy the current universe and bring back the golden age world of Earth-2, which they saw as a purer, simpler and less corrupt world where heroes were not the kind of morally ambiguous, tortured anti-heroes we are now used to.

Earth-2 Superman quickly saw that this plan was crazy, so he joined forces with the New Earth superheroes to defeat Alexander Luthor. However, Superboy Prime didn't. He turned out to be really insane and powerful and evil – one of the most dangerous super-villains of the DC universe. At the end of Infinite Crisis, he was imprisoned on Oa, where Green Lanterns constantly guard his cell. But he will be freed by Sinestro and join the Corps (new called Superman Prime – he's all grown up).

In 52, it was revealed that a new multiverse was created. This ties in to some of the what's going on in Sinestro Corps War and beyond, but you can basically ignore that stuff if you don't care. If you do care, then you have a lot of reading to do to catch up.

The end - now read Sinestro Corps War.

How this obsession started

As a kid, I read all of Tintin, most of Astérix, and a few other bandes dessinées like Lucky Luke, Achille Talon and Spirou. I also read a few collections of Garfield strips. I grew up in a French-speaking corner of New-Brunswick and this is what most kids read. American super-hero comic books weren't very accessible. Spider-Man, Superman and Batman were all familiar characters, but we knew them from TV and movies and various merchandise, like PJs, bed sheets, toys and lunchboxes. Aside from a few Disney and Archie comics, as far as I can remember the only American comic books I read were: a single issue of Spider-Man, a single issue of Captain America, and a few issues of Thor.

The Spider-Man issue is the one I remember most clearly. I must have read it dozens of times and it made quite an impact on my imagination. It was a team-up with the Human Torch, and they fought against Sandman. I still have very clear pictures of some of the panels. The Captain America issue was weird and confusing to me. It was probably in the middle of a larger story arc, because I never really fully understand exactly what was going on in it. I think it had a much darker tone, which probably explains the vague feelings of anxiety I associate with it. I'm pretty sure the villain was Red Skull. I have since spent a lot of time on various online comic book databases looking for these specific issues, but haven't been able to figure out which ones they were. The Thor issues are even more blurry in my memory.

And until fairly recently, those were pretty much the only super-hero comic books I'd ever been exposed to. As an older teenager, I read a few issues of Heavy Metal, and weird comics in the Québécois humour magazine Croc, including parts of the epic and ultra-violent Red Ketchup serial that appeared in it every month. Then, as an adult, I started to discover underground comics and indie graphic novels. But I never went back to super-hero comics until I turned 30.

I don't remember exactly how I became interested in it, but almost two years ago, I decided to buy a copy of Watchmen. I know it wasn't the movie hype, because I only found out about it after I had started reading it and it struck me as a strange coincidence. Of course, I thought the book was brilliant and it sparked my interest in super-hero comic books.

After this, I plunged head-first into the DC universe, focusing almost exclusively on post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity. I found that it was necessary to limit the scope of my reading and "research" at first, because there was so much material out there that it was overwhelming. Only recently have I started to get curious about older comics and (to a lesser extent) Marvel and other companies.

The purpose of this blog is to

(1) document my journey into the world of comics. I'm going keep track of all the comics I read by at the very least listing them and, as much as possible, writing down my impressions and reactions to them;

(2) brainstorm ideas about comics and super-heroes, how they operate and what makes them interesting. This will take the form of mini "essays" in which I will try to explore broader themes or concepts; and

(3) taking notes for future reading/exploration, including both upcoming titles and back issues.

By the way, the title is a not-so-clever play on the concept of "relevant comics".

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Monthly reading: August 2009 to February 2010


The Watchmen
Identity Crisis

August 2009

All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder vol. 1
The Dark Knight Returns
Batman: Year One
Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: The Killing Joke

September 2009

Superman for All Seasons
Animal Man (TPB)
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Superman: Man of Steel
Animal Man: Origin of the Species
Animal Man: Deus Ex Machina
Kingdom Come
Green Lantern: Rebirth
Countdown to Infinite Crisis
The OMAC Project
Superman: Sacrifice
Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight
Final Night
Parallax: Emerald Night
Day of Judgment
Day of Vengeance
Adam Strange: Man of Two Worlds

October 2009

Adam Strange: Planet Heist
Rann-Thanagar War
Villains United
The Return of Donna Troy
Power Girl (JSA Classified #1-4)
JLA: Crisis of Conscience
Infinite Crisis
Infinite Crisis Companion
Aztek: The Ultimate Man
Batman: Dark Victory
Robin: Year One

November 2009 to February 2010

JLA: A New World Order
Starman: Sins of the Father
52: Vol. 1-4
Skyscrapers of the Midwest (Joshua Cotter, AdHouse)
Driven by Lemons (Joshua Cotter, AdHouse)
Green Lantern: No Fear
Green Lantern Corps: Recharge
Green Lantern: Revenge of the Green Lanterns
Green Lantern Corps: To Be a Lantern
Ion: The Torchbearer
Ion: The Dying Game
Green Lantern Corps: The Dark Side of Green
Green Lantern: Wanted: Hal Jordan
The Sinestro Corps War vol. 1-2
Trinity vol. 1-3

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