16th Aug2019

‘Sinestro: Year of the Villain #1’ Review (DC Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Mark Russell | Art by Yildray Cinar | Published by DC Comics


If you love event comics, now is something of a Golden Age for you. Every second comic you pick up seems to be an event comic, tying in to that week’s big ‘it’s the end of everything’ story. It isn’t of course, as in a couple of months time another ‘it’s the end of everything’ book magically appears. It’s a bit like shop sales these days. Do shops ever actually sell anything outside of a sale? Winter sale, Spring sale, Summer sale, Autumn sale, Christmas sale and repeat. But I digress. My point being even if you love crossover events, big game changing storylines, then sometimes you can get too much of a good thing, can get just that little bit jaded unless the ‘next big thing’ can offer something a bit different. Happily, I think Year of the Villain, which is exactly what it says on the tin, does just that.

For those not in the know, Year of the Villain is an idea that sprang out of the Justice League book, and the move to put Lex Luthor firmly at the apex of the DC villain triangle. Not just Superman’s big bad, but the DC Universe big bad (on Earth, anyway. Darkseid Is, right?). Lex has struggled with being a good guy and a bad guy, sometimes well meaning but always dragged down by his jealousy of Superman. He’s come to the conclusion that humanity was born to be bad. Rather like the Sith in Star Wars, true power and leadership comes through strength, through dominance, through being bad. So, he did what we would all do if we were a supremely rich egotistical genius. He faked his own death, and gave all the major villains money and resources to do the one thing they dreamed off. Defeat, or kill, their individual nemesis on the hero side. He is, as Scott Snyder put it, telling the villains to ‘live your best life’. With extra violence.

Which brings us to Sinestro, another character that down the years has struggled to juggle the duality of trying to do the right thing with just wanting to run everything. Him and Lex are very alike. As with other Year of the Villain specials, this gives Sinestro his turn to shine, although to be fair he has had quite a bit of air time himself in the last decade or so. Sinestro is now working for Lex, the price being a power upgrade Lex gave him allowing him to tap into the ultraviolet spectrum to boost his power levels. His monologue early on though about the ‘illusion of order’ gives you a slight hint that his working for Lex may not be a long lasting arrangement. Sinestro is smart, he always looks for an angle, and that is why Lex has chosen him for this assignment. It’s a big one.

Lex’s actions have been noticed far and wide, and some hugely powerful beings, called Paragons, have come to our Universe from theirs to destroy planets connected to Lex’s new universal order. Sinestro’s first skirmish with them is unsuccessful, but he manages to discover their secret. The gigantic Paragons are actually made up of a huge community of microscopic beings who are born inside them , live their lives serving the Paragons by repairing them, and continue to reproduce. As Sinestro realises, this effectively makes the Paragons gods, as they are to all intents immortal. Sinestro, though, has a plan. Defeat the Paragons from the inside, by speaking to the Microns and persuading them that they serve a false God. This he does by sending in some slivers of his consciousness that look like mini Sinestro’s, and effectively kills them with kindness. The Paragons that is.

This was not the book I thought it would be. I thought it would be yet another decent take on Sinestro, feeding into the Luthor stuff, and pretty throwaway overall. What it actually is, is a very smart look at Sinestro and the way his mind works, and also quite a political jab by scripter Mark Russell. His story, about manipulation of people by giving them what they think they want, then taking it away but persuading them it was their choice, is quite familiar for these times of populist sound bites and manipulation of the masses. Lot more depth in here than you would expect, but done very well, and Sinestro again proved far more than a two dimensional villain. The art, by Yildiray Cinar, is excellent, lovely clean lines and very nice layouts, conveying a lot of story perfectly. The Paragons I especially liked, looking like 1970’s Marvel Celestials, a very classic look.

Although I’ll dip in and out of the Year of the Villain stuff, I doubt you’ll find a more overt political and social commentary, and thought provoking, filled issue than this. It really does Sinestro justice too. So much more than a power ring.

Great stuff, and highly recommended.

****½  4.5/5

Sinestro: Year of the Villain #1 is out now from DC Comics.


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