If “Forever Evil” has taught us anything it’s that DC Comics is home to some major league supervillains. Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Black Manta and Captain Cold are all bad to the bone (if not mildly misunderstood) and can unleash doom and gloom like nobody’s business. But when it comes to fear — in its purest and most primal form — the true master is Thaal Sinestro of Korugar.
Created by John Broome and Gil Kane, Sinestro made his first appearance in “Green Lantern” #7 in 1961. The former mentor of Hal Jordan, Sinestro turned to the proverbial dark side over the years and now fights the Green Lantern Corps with fear and the unyielding power of a yellow ring.
Fueled by the fear entity Parallax and living in self-exile since the close of Geoff Johns’ final bow on “Green Lantern” in the story arc “Wrath of the First Lantern,” Sinestro is about to come roaring back in April with his very own solo series.
Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Dale Eaglesham, the “Sinestro” ongoing series features a man that has lost everything he’s ever loved: his home, his family and his only friend — Hal Jordan. But his one-time enemy and now greatest fan, Lyssa Drak, has found his hiding place and aims to get him back into the game — big time.
CBR News connected with Bunn and Eaglesham and the creative team discussed the nuances of developing a series based in fear and headlined by one of DC’s greatest supervillains. Bunn also teased which events transpire as the series opens and which familiar Yellow Lanterns will also be playing a role while Eaglesham revealed that making Sinestro and his supporting cast too wholesome was an ongoing concern.
CBR News: In “Green Lantern” #23.4, his Villains Month one-shot, Sinestro is called the greatest ring-wielder there ever was. Yes, it’s his #1 fan Lyssa Drak saying it, but when “Sinestro” #1 opens, is he actually the greatest ring-wielder there ever was? When we last saw him he had gone into self-exile following the events of “Wrath of the First Lantern”…
Cullen Bunn: Sinestro considers himself the greatest ring-wielder, yes, not just of one Corps, but of two. It’s for that reason that he feels so betrayed and lost. He gave the rings everything he had and look what it cost him — his wife, his daughter, his planet, his freedom, his reputation. It’s because of this feeling of abandonment that he has turned his back on the ring and taken to a life of isolation and meditation.
Is he the greatest? Again, this is from Sinestro’s point of view, but to his way of thinking he had a clarity that the other Lanterns simply didn’t have. He could see how the end justified the means. That vision allowed him to accomplish big things with his ring.
In his own solo series, is Sinestro a superhero or a supervillain? And does he see himself the same way?
Bunn: Sinestro is beyond seeing himself as a villain or hero. In his mind, even the greatest hero must act in a villainous fashion in order to succeed. If anything, he sees himself as a returning king who has come to redeem his people — and himself in the process.
While I have known Sinestro for nearly 35 years thanks to “Super Friends,” it’s only in the last few years that Geoff Johns has really defined, and refined with the New 52 relaunch, the character. As you’ve been getting to know Sinestro in preparation for this new series, what do you feel makes him tick?
Bunn: If Sinestro’s motivation could be boiled down to one overriding concept, it would be pride. His pride carries him, often when nothing else will. His pride has also been his undoing from time to time. He’s too proud to ever accept that his way is not the right way.
Again, realizing that Lyssa is probably not someone that would define a hero quite the same that you or I would, she uses words like “honesty” and “courage” to illustrate the choices Sinestro must make to fully embrace the power of the ring in “Green Lantern” #23.4. Would you use these same words to describe Sinestro in his new solo series?
Bunn: I think so, yes, but keep in mind that terms like “honesty” and “courage” and even “fear” can be subjective. Lyssa and Sinestro view those things differently than others do. But there is one thing that Lyssa is absolutely positive about — in fear is the only true honesty.
I love that Sinestro was an archeologist by trade before becoming a Green Lantern. Does that particular skill-set come into play with what you are going to explore with him as a character?
Bunn: I’m not sure there will ever be a moment where you’ll see Sinestro dust off the leather jacket, whip and fedora. However, I hope to do a lot of galactic-level world-building in this series, exploring worlds and cultures with ancient histories. With that in mind, Sinestro will be flexing his archeologist muscles to some degree.
Can you give us a tease of what we’ll see in the series and what types of stories that you will be telling? Does it pick up from where we last left him at the end of “Wrath of the First Lantern?”
Bunn: Our earliest stories will see Sinestro choosing a new mission, which is bringing the lost Korugarians together once again. For this, he decides that he needs the Yellow Lanterns. The Yellow Lanterns, though, are in a state of disarray, and many of them will not be too keen on Sinestro’s new mission statement. So, he’ll be wrestling with his own Corps, and that will bring about the formation of a Sinestro Corps leadership council and a shadowy group called the Black Circle.
While Sinestro is dealing with turmoil and intrigue within his own team, the Yellow Lanterns will run afoul of a new threat that may be more than a match for them because to them, there is no such thing as fear.
Dale, after spending time on Earth with “Justice Society of America,” you were able to do some stargazing with “Fantastic Four.” What does drawing an intergalactic concept featuring Sinestro and the Green and Yellow Lantern Corps allow you to do as an artist?
Dale Eaglesham: Artistically, taking off into space is never boring because you are breaking through that barrier of the known and engaging in world creating. In sword and sorcery fantasy, the latitude for artistic license is considerable. In galactic adventures, we can go further still with our artistic license being positively James Bond-ian.
Sure, we have to observe the established continuity of certain things, but beyond that is that black expanse of space where creatively, anything can happen. “Justice Society of America” was as quirky a collection of heroes as you could find but they were family and it was a traditionally wholesome kind of experience. In “Sinestro,” I’m confronting a concept that will force me to undo everything I’ve learned to date regarding heroic posture and mannerism.
I am constantly redrawing figures because they are coming off as too “wholesome.” Sinestro’s world is like the jungle at night, alive with predators looking for a meal. Those who let their guard down don’t survive. Artistically, this title allows me to venture into the horror genre to a degree, too, and that is a kind of art I have always loved to do but have never had the chance to do professionally. If I don’t draw a Wrightson-esque head on a hand at some point in this series, I’ll never forgive myself.
What do you like about Sinestro’s look and feel, and seeing as you want to avoid him looking too wholesome, is there something you specifically like to showcase about his body or mannerisms to make Sinestro your own?
Eaglesham: In “Green Lantern” #23.4., I drew that elongated forehead of his and it proved to be a cumbersome feature. For “Sinestro,” I am going with more of a high hairline on a broad forehead. As interesting as the exaggerated forehead was, he didn’t come off as feral enough.
Traditionally, he has had a slender figure and I’m not going to change that but it wasn’t quite enough for me. There needs to be that sense of a coiled serpent about him, ready to strike. That is the problem posed by his character, how to project that visually? To solve this, I increased his muscularity but in a very limited way. He is broad shouldered but not with muscle mass, just the physical dimensions of his upper torso. I am increasing the muscle mass of his shoulder blades and his neck too. His shoulders hunch up a bit, implying a tension in this area while his slender body looks completely relaxed.
While Sinestro is very capable as a warrior physically, it’s that mind of his that is so cunning and lethal. The postures I choose for him reflect a calmness but also tension up high, near his brain. Visually that tells us that he is coiled and ready to strike at all times.
The solicitation for “Sinestro” #1 teases that Lyssa Drak continues to play a major role in this series. Can you talk about Lyssa? And who else will be featured in the supporting cast? Specifically, will we see Hal Jordan or any other Lanterns?
Bunn: Lyssa is Sinestro’s closest advisor and will be a member of his inner council. As we’ve seen, she’s branded herself with the words of the Book of Parallax. This will awaken some new and interesting abilities for her.
We’ll also be seeing the Sinestro Corps, so Arkillo and company will be present. As for the other Lanterns, they’ll turn up, but not immediately. Sinestro hopes to keep his return secret for a while. The only other Lantern you”ll be seeing right away is Soranik Natu, Sinestro’s daughter, who will have a huge part to play in this story.
It’s awesome to hear that Parallax still looms large too. Will this series be crossing over with the other Green Lantern-themed books or will you be telling your own stories when the series starts?
Bunn: At the beginning, these stories will be focused on Sinestro and his Corps. But the universe isn’t that big, so it’s just a matter of time before the other Lanterns figure out that something’s going on.
Finally, as the host of Parallax fear drives Sinestro like no other character in the DCU. What does writing and illustrating a series based on the most primal of emotions allow you to do as creators?
Bunn: For me, writing about characters that are so connected with fear allows me to combine horror and space opera in some interesting ways. There are so many levels of fear, from the overt to the subtle, that can be played with here.
Sinestro even founds his inner circle around the tenants the five primal fears will exploit in their enemies: extinction, mutilation, loss of autonomy, separation and ego-death.
“Sinestro” #1 by Cullen Bunn & Dale Eaglesham goes on sale April 16 from DC Comics.