If there is one thing DC Comics does better than any other comic book publisher, it is how it has designed its villains. The villains of the DC Universe are often complex — certainly far from two-dimensional. The best villains are not your archetypical villains. The greatest example, no doubt, is the Joker — pure chaos; no desire for power, control, or riches.
The reason, I dare say, I have come to be a loyal DC reader and am solidly on its side in the never-ending DC vs. Marvel debate is because of its villains. The villains were the reason I became such a huge fan of the Batman franchise because while Batman is a great hero, his character is molded by his villains.
The one type of villain DC does better than anyone else is the anti-villain. It is the villain whose cause may actually be considered righteous if they were not held to the same standard as their hero counterpart. It is the antagonist who is not purely evil, villains highlighted in the last few months during the Forever Evil crossover series.
After relaunching its universe is 2011 with the New 52, DC Comics is not necessarily relaunching it again, but reshaping it. Essentially, whatever the DC Universe looks like after the Forever Evil series (and I am excited to read the final chapter of this story) it is not exactly going to be the DC Universe fans grew up with. Then again, the New 52 universe isn’t entirely that, either.
One character that has already played a notable role in the reshaping of the universe is one of DC’s best anti-villains: Sinestro.
During the events of Green Lantern #20, a brilliantly-written end to Geoff Johns’ run on the title, Thaal Sinestro uses the powers of Parallax to not only fight the First Lantern — one of the greatest threats ring-bearers have had to face — but to go into exile where he would then release its powers. Despite how horribly the Green Lantern movie reduced Parallax, it is one of DC’s greatest antagonistic forces.
The Green Lantern issue will be remembered for many reasons, but the scene that will likely stick out most in the minds of fans is one particular exchange between Hal Jordan and Sinestro before they part ways:
Hal Jordan: I can’t… I can’t just let you go.
Sinestro: Before I release Parallax, I will use his power to take me far from here. I will leave you forever. But, before I do… you were going to ask me a question. Long ago, when we were trapped on Ysmault and we both believed we’d die. But you never did.
Hal Jordan: Were we ever truly friends?
Sinestro: That’s the tragedy of all this, Jordan. Hal. We’ll always be friends.
The relationship between Jordan and Sinestro was never black and white, and neither was Sinestro’s role in the DC Universe. Sinestro returned in the Forever Evil crossover series when Batman attempts to use a Sinestro Corps ring to fight Power Ring. In many ways, Forever Evil separates the villains who are truly evil and those who truly believe their cause is righteous or are just not completely evil.
Sinestro #1 opens with Sinestro powerless and exiled in forgotten space. He is found by Lyssa Drak, a Sinestro Corps member and keeper of the Book of Parallax, a record of the Sinestro Corps, along with other secrets. Drak was one of Sinestro’s first recruits into the Sinestro Corps and, according to Sinestro, “the most insane.” In the past, Drak would have the Book of Parallax chained to her wrist by yellow energy (believed to be from Sinestro). However, the book was destroyed — sort of.
The same book that revealed to Sinestro that the Guardians planned to replace the Green Lantern Corps with what was called the “Third Army,” reveals that there is a growing force of anti-emotion spreading throughout the universe and Sinestro is needed to stop it. While Sinestro initially refuses to come out of exile, telling Drak to “let the universe beg the Green Lanterns for protection,” she reveals another secret that almost immediately changes his mind.
No spoilers here, but if issue one is any indication of what to expect from the title, it is going to be an excellent storyline to follow.
With new purpose guiding him, Sinestro will need the help of his corps, the corps he abandoned to live in exile and is now in the command of Arkillo, Sinestro’s second-in-command, who has no desire to relinquish his control over the yellow ring-bearers. The situation is complicated enough as it is, but there is one more twist at the end to get the title off to a great start.