REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS SINESTRO
Green Lantern, that is, Hal Jordan, seemed to go through an extended time of -- well, not really obscurity, but rather a sort of mid-level-ness that he had a hard time getting past. This, despite a number of attempts in the early to mid 1990's to raise the character's stature. He was in on the ending chapters of "The Death and Return of Superman", he saw his home city destroyed by Mongul and the Cyborg Superman, went a bit nuts after that and became Parallax, was the focal point of the Zero Hour mini-series, seemingly gave his life during the Final Night mini-series, and turned up some years later as the newest human host for The Spectre. Meanwhile, the Green Lantern role had gone to Kyle Rayner, one of several "young" heroes who had one way or another taken over for their predecessors.
Then writer Geoff Johns came along and said, "Enough, already, we're bringing back Hal Jordan, and we're going to do it right!" And brother, did he ever. Jordan was back as a Green Lantern, the Guardians of the Universe were back, the whole Green Lantern Corps was back, and it wasn't too long after that that it was revealed that there was an entire emotional spectrum of colors in the universe, at which green, representing willpower, was at its center, and all of these various colors had their own ring-based Corps, to one degree or another. This led to such epic events as the Sinestro Corps War, the conflict with the Red Lanterns, the confrontation with Agent Orange, and the Blackest Night.
Throw in a live-action movie (which deserves to be better regarded than it seems to be) and a new CGI animated series on Cartoon Network, and I don't see anybody really calling Hal Jordan a mid-level character anymore.
And then there's Sinestro. Arguably Green Lantern's best-known arch-enemy, he was an alien bad guy with a yellow power ring, this being the one color that Green Lanterns were vulnerable to. But he was pretty much a mid-level bad guy, as well. He barely had a role in the Infinite Crisis event several years ago. He rounded up Lady Quark for the bad guys sitting at the center table of the Secret Society and that was about it. But that was before the Sinestro Corps War. These days, he'd demand a seat at the table, and probably call Luthor "baldy" just for the heck of it.
Every part of Green Lantern's corner of the DC Universe owes a massive thanks to Geoff Johns for his accomplishments with the ring-slingers.
Now, it's no great surprise that both Green Lantern and Sinestro were prominent enough to be featured fairly early on in Mattel's excellent line of DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS action figures. Both characters turned up in Series 3, and in fact, there were two versions of Sinestro at that time, one in his classic costume, the other in his newer, and I suspect now more recognized, Sinestro Corps uniform.
So, why am I reviewing a Sinestro figure now? Because Sinestro, in his Sinestro Corps uniform, turned up again, as part of the final retail wave of DC Universe Classics figures, Series 20, and there's an important difference between this Sinestro and the one dating back to Wave 3.
And I'll get to that difference right after we take a more detailed look at the character of Sinestro:
Thaal Sinestro was created by John Broome and Gil Kane. Sinestro is the former mentor of Hal Jordan and the arch-nemesis of the entire Green Lantern Corps. Sinestro first appears in Green Lantern (vol. 2) #7 (July–August 1961). In 2009, Sinestro was ranked IGN's 15th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.
Sinestro was born on the planet Korugar in space sector 1417. His dedication to preserving order originally manifested in his previous career, an anthropologist specializing in reconstructions of ruins of long-dead civilizations. One day while he was on one such site, a Green Lantern named Prohl Gosgotha crashlanded into the site, injured and apparently dying. He quickly gave his ring to Sinestro, just in time for Sinestro, who barely even understood what the ring could do, to defend himself from the Lantern's pursuer: a Weaponer of Qward; however, Sinestro had to destroy the ruins he had spent loving care restoring in order to crush the Qwardian. Afterward, Gosgotha turned out to still be alive and asked for his ring back to keep him alive long enough to get help. Sinestro, knowing this would mean not being a Green Lantern himself, instead allowed him to die and took over his post, the Guardians unaware of his actions.
In Green Lantern #45, his wife is shown for the first time in a flashback, and revealed to be the sister of Abin Sur.
His desire for order did well by him in the Corps, and initially led him to be considered one of the greatest Green Lanterns. As the years passed, he became more and more fixated upon not simply protecting his sector, but on preserving order in the society of his home planet no matter the cost. Eventually he concluded that the best way to accomplish this was to conquer Korugar and rule the planet as a dictator.
When Hal Jordan joined the Green Lantern Corps instead of Guy Gardner because Hal Jordan was closer to Abin Sur at the time, Sinestro was assigned to be his instructor. Jordan was horrified at his new mentor's totalitarian methods, though Sinestro maintained that his iron-fisted rule was necessary to protect his people from alien forces.
During his training, Jordan helped Sinestro repel an attempted invasion of Korugar by the alien warlords known as the Khunds. When Jordan called for help from the other Green Lanterns, Sinestro's dictatorship was exposed and he was forced to appear before the Guardians for punishment.
Katma Tui, the leader of a Korugarian resistance movement who felt that Sinestro's "protection" kept her people from growing as a society through contact with other alien races, was recruited as his replacement in the Corps. Though Katma Tui eventually grew into one of the most respected Green Lanterns, she and the rest of Korugar initially resisted her appointment to the Corps; due to Sinestro's actions, Korugar had come to consider the symbol of the Green Lantern Corps an emblem of terror and oppression.
For using the power of the Green Lantern to instill fear rather than combat it, the Guardians banished Sinestro to the antimatter universe, a counterpart to the "real" universe made up of "negative matter." Sinestro ended up on the Antimatter world of Qward, that universe's counterpart of the Guardians' homeworld Oa, which was ruled by a race of warriors and scientists known as the Weaponers of Qward, who bore a fierce hatred of the Guardians and all Green Lanterns.
By exiling Sinestro to a world ruled by evil beings who specifically hated him as a Green Lantern, the Guardians hoped to humble him. Their attempt at punishment would be a major miscalculation, however. Sinestro believed himself to have been wronged by his former masters and now hated them just as much as the Weaponers did. Through their mutual hatred of the Guardians, Sinestro and the Weaponers became allies, with the Weaponers offering to help Sinestro gain revenge on the Guardians and the Corps.
Creating a yellow power ring for Sinestro to use, the Weaponers sent him back to the "positive matter" universe to seek his revenge. Sinestro quickly became the Green Lantern Corps' most powerful nemesis, partially due to a weakness in their power rings that prevented them from directly affecting the color yellow. Despite this, skilled Green Lanterns like Jordan, Sinestro's most hated enemy, always found ways to defeat him.
In the Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths timeline, Sinestro first met Hal when he had already made an alliance with Qward. Hal had already beaten the Weaponers three times. Sinestro tried to kidnap him using a device which could transport people to Qward and was able to imprison him in a yellow bubble by threatening to kill 100,000 people who had been kidnapped with the device. However Hal used his ring to speed up a clock, making Sinestro think his ring had run out of power. When he released Hal from the bubble to eliminate him, he was defeated and imprisoned in a green bubble by Hal, who did not take him back to his Universe as it would go against the jurisdiction of the Guardians. However he escaped using a ring that could drain the Green lantern's ring-power and continued to menace Hal. He tried to attack the Guardians after trapping Green Lantern, before disguising himself as him so he could occupy a meeting of Green Lanterns and absorb power from their rings. However Green Lantern escaped and defeated Sinestro, who was placed in a green energy container which would orbit the Universe by the power of many Green Lanterns. But he escaped with a power ring hidden in his boot. He was very adept at escaping the ways the guardians tried to imprison him.
Before the Guardians took a leave of absence from their universe to attempt mating with their female counterparts, the Zamarons, they constructed an inescapable prison for Sinestro and thousands of others on Oa. However, Sinestro's cunning prevailed once again and he managed to free himself through the mental manipulation of the Mad God of Sector 3600. Now wielding nearly unlimited power, Sinestro murdered entire star systems until he was finally subdued by the Green Lantern Corps of Earth. Now guilty of multiple acts of genocide, Sinestro was put on trial again by the assembled membership of the Green Lantern Corps. Finding him guilty, they condemned him to death and executed him, but Sinestro managed to cheat death itself by sending his essence into the Central Power Battery, and shut it down. While in the Battery, he also made a startling discovery about the ancient weakness to yellow within the Green Lanterns' light.
Hal Jordan entered the Battery in a desperate attempt to restore the powers of his fellow Lanterns, and ultimately defeated Sinestro, whose spirit was condemned to remain trapped inside the Central Battery, powerless, for eternity. Yet Sinestro had earned an even greater personal victory as the so-called "Yellow Impurity" turned out to be a sentient entity known as Parallax, the living embodiment of fear. He also discovered the battery's power source was Parallax's green counterpart, Ion, the embodiment of willpower. Thanks to Sinestro's actions, Parallax successfully infected Jordan's mind, leaving the so-called "greatest Green Lantern" vulnerable to fear for the first time in his life and setting up Sinestro's ultimate triumph.
In the meantime, the return of the Guardians resulted in the Corps being re-established. The newly restored Corps would be short-lived, however, thanks to the inadvertent efforts of the alien warlord Mongul and Hank Henshaw, a cyborg who was at the time impersonating Superman. As part of their ultimately thwarted plot to transform Earth into a new version of Mongul's interstellar fortress Warworld and gain revenge on Superman, Mongul and the Cyborg used several nuclear devices to completely destroy Coast City, California, which was Hal Jordan's home, and everyone living in it. Driven mad with grief by the destruction of his city and the Guardians' apathy towards his plight, Jordan's previously indomitable willpower was shattered. Parallax was thus able to possess him completely and push him towards a homicidal rampage that wiped out most of the Guardians and left scores of Green Lanterns dead or maimed, as Parallax sought to absorb the Central Power Battery's energies into his being.
As a last-ditch effort to halt Jordan's rampage, the Guardians freed Sinestro from the Central Power Battery and sent him to stop Jordan. Though Jordan snapped Sinestro's neck after the battle, apparently killing him, it would later be revealed that what the Guardians had actually extracted from the Battery was a hard-light construct of Sinestro, created by Parallax and mentally puppeteered by the real Sinestro from within the Battery. Parallax promptly finished off the Green Lantern Corps by absorbing the Central Battery's energies into himself. With the Battery destroyed, Sinestro escaped and went into hiding as he watched Jordan become what he'd always hated Sinestro for being: a traitor and a murderer reviled by his friends and his allies.
Later, when the last surviving Guardian, Ganthet, gave the last remaining power ring to Kyle Rayner, Sinestro became obsessed with the young Earthman, realizing that despite Jordan's downfall, his plot to extinguish the Green Lanterns' light had failed.
Sinestro eventually revealed the charade of his 'death' when Kyle Rayner discovered the existence of Parallax and revealed it to Green Arrow and the Justice League. Nearly killing the two heroes, Sinestro was stopped by the newly resurrected Hal Jordan, who reclaimed his ring and was purged of Parallax's influence. The two fought to a draw, with Sinestro escaping to the antimatter universe when his ring was damaged by Hal during the fight.
Sinestro later appeared in the miniseries Villains United, where he captured Lady Quark for the Secret Society of Super-Villains. Sinestro had been a member of the group in the past. Here he plays a major role in the Society's massacre of the Freedom Fighters, who are investigating the meeting place of other villains, but walk into an ambush. Sinestro begins the fight by blowing a hole through the chest of the second Black Condor, killing him instantly. He then defeats Uncle Sam, leaving him for dead.
After the Battle of Metropolis, Sinestro retreated to the antimatter universe. He made a pact with the Anti-Monitor and embraced the doctrine of spreading fear. The Green Lantern Corps is once again reformed with the return of Hal Jordan so Sinestro decides to found the Sinestro Corps, offering yellow power rings and a role in the Corps to the most feared and savage warriors of the universe. He is also revealed to have masterminded the death of Kyle Rayner's mother by having the sentient virus Despotellis invade her as part of a plot to break Kyle's will so that he can become Parallax's latest host.
The Sinestro Corps War begins with an attack on Oa. Sinestro himself returns to Korugar to confront his successor, Soranik Natu. Sinestro defeats her, but makes it appear she has defeated him. This will force her to stay on Korugar to fulfill her responsibilities as "the Savior of Korugar".
Sinestro returns to Qward and joins the battle occurring there. He confronts Earth's Green Lanterns, and upon their escape, follows them toward Earth, the Sinestro Corps' real target. The Sinestro Corps begin attacking Earth. Sinestro reveals to Hal, Guy, and John that he intends to turn Earth into the new homeworld for the Sinestro Corps and the site of the new Coast City into a mass graveyard, "A mecca of fear". During the battle, The Guardians enacted new laws to the Book of Oa. The first new law was to give the Green Lanterns the ability to use lethal force. Sinestro claims he has achieved his overall goal because now the Green Lanterns spread fear by being unchecked. Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner beat Sinestro in hand-to-hand combat.
Sinestro is then imprisoned in Oa's Sciencells where he learns from Hal Jordan that he has received a death penalty. Despite his personal defeat, Sinestro claims victory. Sinestro's overall goal through his war was to groom his former Corps for a more active, forceful role in the universe. With the enactment of the Corps' new laws and the approval of lethal force, the Green Lantern corps will inspire fear, creating the same effect as the Sinestro Corps: order through fear.
With the hunt for the members of the Sinestro Corps becoming one of the Green Lantern Corps' highest priorities, many of those who wield yellow power rings have been incarcerated in Oa's sciencells, with their power rings stored in the large chamber that houses the entire detention facility. However, subsequent to this, and an encounter with Atrocitus and his Red Lanterns, and the events leading up to the Blackest Night storyline, most of the Sinestro Corps was freed, and worked with the other Corps, at least temporarily, to defeat the Black Lantern Corps.
Events subsequent to this take place in the rebooted DC Universe following "Flashpoint", and given my opinion of the "DCnU", as some are calling it, I refuse to report on any of those events here.
So, how's the figure? Well, that's where we really come to the crux of the matter, isn't it, and once again ask the question -- why is there a new Sinestro figure, when Sinestro, in both of his costumes, was created for this line way back in Series 3?
It comes down to the sculpt of the original figure. You see, most of the DC Universe Classics figures, at least most of the adult males, use a fairly common set of body molds. Now, honestly, I have no problem with this. I think it lends a consistency to the line that other action figure lines -- that could use it -- tend to lack.
However, there are some characters that simply won't fit into that consistent appearance. No one expects the Penguin to be well-muscled and wearing spandex. Two-Face wears a suit, not a costume. And then there's the matter of Sinestro.
Although commonly dressing in spandex-type costumes (or whatever sort of alien fabric was the equivalent), and clearly possessing decent muscle tone. Sinestro has also most commonly been drawn as noticeably more slender than the average well-muscled Earthman. I'm not saying that Sinestro was skinny, or out of shape. Clearly he was in good overall physical condition. He was just slender, perhaps a normal trait for his people. Sort of like how Eternians in Masters of the Universe are a good bit bulkier than we are.
This required the original Sinestro figures to have a distinctive body of their own, and so one was created. But something -- and I'm not sure anybody will ever admit precisely what it was -- didn't quite go right. While the original Series 3 Sinestro figures possessed an appropriately slightly more slender build than the average adult male DC Universe Classics figure, they were also distinctly shorter -- and that's something that Sinestro definitely was not.
The average adult male DC Universe Classics figure stands about 6-1/2" in height. The original Sinestro figures, and I use the plural only for the sake of the two different costumes available, since they otherwise used the same body molds, were barely over 6" tall. At that scale, that's pretty noticeable.
Mattel tried a slight compensator late in the original run, by stretching the neck somehow, but it still didn't bring the figure up to a full and proper height. And given the growing prominence of the Sinestro Corps, there were quite a few disappointed fans, but I don't believe anybody really thought anything would happen.
Then -- something did. There was one other Sinestro figure, dressed in a Green Lantern uniform, that was part of a Green Lantern 5-pack sold to Walmart. This set also included Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Tomar-Re, and Hal Jordan with white fringe in his hair. However, this Sinestro figure merely used the same body molds that most males did. While the proper height, certainly, it was a little stockier than appropriate.
And then along came a very interesting two-pack, around the time of the live-action movie, although not directly affiliated with it. This featured Hal Jordan and Sinestro, and this time, by using other parts (which I will discuss momentarily), Sinestro had the proper height, and the proper physical build. However, he was also wearing his classic, pre-Sinestro Corps costume. Fan reaction to this was largely along the lines of: "Hey, great, but -- come on, already...!"
Finally, with the concluding Wave 20 of DC Universe Classics figures. Mattel has given us Sinestro -- proper height, an appropriate physical build -- in his Sinestro Corps uniform.
Although some of the parts are new, especially the lower arms with the highly ridged wrist-bands, some of the body parts have seen previous use. They were originally developed for the figure of Deadman, who first turned up in Series 11 of DC Universe Classics -- ironically enough a Series that had a fairly heavy Green Lantern emphasis in it, including a Collect-and-Connect of Kilowog, certainly a heavy Green Lantern...
Deadman is perhaps best known for being illustrated by Neal Adams, who portrayed this spectral character as having as robust a body, ghostly though it was, as any of the other main DC heroes. However, later interpretations have tended to give him a more emaciated look. Personally, this makes little sense to me. He's a ghost. How can he be wasting away!? Sure, it makes him look a little more gruesome, but is that really necessary?
Technically, I would have preferred a more robust Deadman figure. On the other hand, if sculpting the more slender parts needed for a skinnier Deadman also allowed for a Sinestro figure that didn't have to crane his neck to look up at everybody, then I'll live with it.
About the only flaw in this is that the way the figure was sculpted, in order to accommodate Deadman, there are tiny wrinkles or pinches in the design on the musculature to make it look as though the costume doesn't quite fit tightly, or is fitting over a frame that is wasting away. It's not that severe, and on Sinestro's black costume, it's barely noticeable, but it is there, at least on the upper arms and upper legs. The torso is a new piece, since it had to be remade because the original allowed for Deadman's high collar. Obviously, this has been designed to look like the uniform fits more smoothly.
One other change has been made. The yellow aspects of Sinestro's costume are much brighter than the original, which was almost a yellow-orange. I believe this was done so that this Sinestro is a better match for the figures of the Sinestro Corps that have come out since then. When Sinestro was originally released, there were no other members of the Sinestro Corps in the works, figure-wise. However, since that time, there has been the two-pack of Romat-Ru and Karu-Sil, as well as figures of Low, Maash, and a Collect-and-Connect of Arkillo. That's a fair supply of Sinestro Corps characters, and they all have fairly bright yellow trim on their costumes. And now, so does their leader.
The original Sinestro head was used, of course, and why not? It's an excellent sculpt. And Sinestro's yellow ring is present and accounted for on his left hand. The figure even comes with a yellow power battery as an accessory!
Paintwork is excellent, and should especially be commended. In my experience, there seems to be no tougher task than painting yellow over black. Mattel has done a superb job here, although notably, some parts, such as the upper arms and the boots, were molded in yellow. Smart decision, really.
Of course, articulation is superb. Sinestro is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. I am pleased to report that the figure does not have any double-jointed articulation in the knees or elbows.
So, what's my final word? Some people may see this figure as a reissue. He's not. He's much needed for the collection. I'm not saying that you should discard your original Sinestro's. Maybe get them a small platform to stand on or something, but that's about it. Nevertheless, I am sincerely pleased that Mattel went to the effort to bring us a properly tall Sinestro, in his Sinestro Corps uniform, as part of the farewell assortment of DC Universe Classics. It is most welcome, sincerely appreciated, shows how much Mattel sincerely cares about this line and the reactions and concerns of its fans, and I'm very pleased to have this figure. I believe you will be, too.
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of SINESTRO from WAVE 20 definitely has my highest recommendation!