Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Secret of Sinestro = Bondage, Drugs, and Assorted Kink?

So the other day I was going on about Green Lantern v.2 #124, and honestly, it's too good not to share with the world (Korugarian sex kinks, people!), so bear with me while I inflict this madness upon you. Behold -- "The Secret of Sinestro!"



Yeah... I think it's pretty obvious that the "secret of Sinestro", according to this cover, isn't exactly much of a secret -- Sinestro wants to tie Hal down and then fondle him inappropriately with yellow tendrils. The women? Pfft, just overcompensation while he tries to make the whole thing look very cool and villainous and totally Not Gay For Hal. (And yes, that's Carol Ferris and Kari Limbo that Sinestro is pulling the pimp-daddy act with.)

For the record, this is my favorite Green Lantern cover ever.

The story itself is a pretty entertaining one. Ollie and Hal are having yet another lover's quarr-- I mean, manly friendship fight -- over the fact that Hal went all lone wolf and wouldn't let Ollie go to Qward with him last issue. ("He and I just need to be apart for a while!" Hal says later. Yeah, that's what he tells his girlfriends when they get too serious, too.) Kari Limbo has just recently left Hal to get back together with the comatose body of Guy Gardner, so Carol Ferris is back in the picture again -- insisting that Hal call her "Miss Ferris" again, though. They're all hanging out with Pieface at the opening of the New Age Museum, a museum dedicated to honoring mankind's achievements in space flight, when Sinestro shows up and takes offense at the very idea of humans honoring their crappy space-traveling achievements. He has a tantrum, sets all the displays on fire, destroys the building, and then zips right back out again while Hal saves the innocent bystanders.

We get a moment of rare Hal intelligence when he observes that it isn't like Sinestro to blow shit up and not hang around to see the results of his handywork, followed immediately by a moment of Hal stupidity when he decides that Sinestro must have finally slipped into insanity. Wait, so... if he's just now insane, what has he been for the past twenty years he's been appearing in your comic before this, Hal? Just a little flustered? And Hal can't figure out why Sinestro hates him so much. I'm a little surprised that it didn't occur to Hal to wonder about it until just now... and the logic behind it is so very Hal-like. "He... doesn't like me? He obviously must be insane!"

Hal decides that, even though Sinestro could be"anywhere in this universe -- or in Qward!" the best place to start his needle-in-a-haystack search is Korugar. Which is actually... a very good guess, but a guess nonetheless. He dials up Katma Tui, who is sympathetic to his cause but is forbidden to do anything to Sinestro because Korugarian law says that she can't harm him if he hasn't harmed Korugar -- and all his recent crimes have been over in 2814, so he's not her problem. She does, however, inform Hal that Sinestro's dad operates a Null Chamber nearby, so it stands to reason that he might be hiding out with dad.

What's a Null Chamber, you might ask? Katma describes it as "something such as your Earthly opium-den -- illegal in the city but permitted here" and when Hal enters it, it's described as "a gloomy place full of strange smells and low murmurs". There are lots of half-naked Korugarians floating in the air, suspended by these weird yellow energy-beams. Sinestro's dad (who looks exactly like Sinestro, only with grey hair, a sexy long purple robe, and a Fu Manchu 'stache that isn't quite as Truly Dapper as his son's) explains the process to him -- the yellow null rays drain their vital force away, which... kills them. But apparently not all the way, because eventually (when their money runs out, I assume), he revives them. And people pay him for this, because "to taste death is the ultimate pleasure to a Korugarian!"

...So. Sinestro's dad peddles the Korugarian equivalent of erotic asphyxiation. This explains a lot.

As soon as Hal starts getting nosey about his son, though, dad snatches him up in yellow beams that, of course, Hal's Green Lantern ring is useless against. But... surprise! Sinestro's dad rips off his own face, to reveal that it was Sinestro himself all along! Dad really is in the room, too, though... floating in the null rays, addicted to the same pleasure he's been selling. (This also explains a lot. No wonder Sinny is messed up in the head. Dad kills himself for pleasure all the time.)

Hal is helpless in the grip of the null rays. He can use his ring, but Sinestro just shrugs off his attacks. And Hal is starting to feel sort of... happy. Apparently slow erotic suicide works on humans, too, because he starts to relax and enjoy himself, seeing the faces of Carol and Kari (and Sinestro watches all this with a little too much pleasure -- maybe watching is his thing?). Maybe Kari's stupid cheating face is what snaps Hal out of it, because he wakes up enough to send a super secret plea for help (in Morse Code) to Katma Tui and then gets Sinestro talking to stall for time. So why does Sinestro hate Hal? Because he can't get at the Guardians, he says, so he beats up on Hal instead. But why blow up stuff on Earth? Because Earth represents Hal, who represents the Guardians, and that's reason enough, apparently. Hal calls him insane, which seriously pisses Sinestro off -- why, he'll kill Hal right now instead of letting him have a nice slow pleasurable death!

Then Katma shows up and blows up the null ray generator, freeing Hal and all the dying junkies. Sinestro, still pissed off, knocks her out, and what follows is actually a lot of fun to watch: Hal proceeds to beat down Sinestro with his bare fists, just like he will do again much later at the end of the Sinestro Corps War. And Sinestro saves himself by...

Throwing a junkie chick at Hal.

Yes, a pretty young female addict stumbles into the fray, and Sinestro literally throws her on top of Hal -- proving that Sinestro, at least, understands what makes Hal tick even if Hal is still confused about what Sinestro is all about. Hal, of course, is distracted long enough for Sinestro to make his weird foldy getaway back to Qward.

Katma is not above pointing out to Hal that he did something stupid, by the way -- he sent his signal to her in Morse Code, forgetting that she wouldn't have the foggiest idea what all those dots and dashes were supposed to mean. And worse, he had just used the ring's real signalling capabilities not ten minutes earlier when he contacted her the first time! Oh Hal. You're dumb and Katma knows it. That's why, when Hal kisses her cheek, she tells him she's not like Earth women and kissing means nothing to her. (Korugarians don't kiss? I wonder what they do? Choke each other? Wait... yes, they probably do, given the evidence we've just seen.)

Obviously there's a lot of things about this issue that I find interesting.

First, Sinestro is established to have a father and a sister at this point, which is very unusual for Silver Age villains. It adds a tiny bit of depth to the character that most baddies back then lacked, even though neither sis nor dad were given names or ever showed up again.

Second, we learn a lot of interesting things about Korugar and its inhabitants here. According to Hal in this issue, Korugar is the only inhabited planet in its solar system, and Whonere is the only city on the whole planet (other sources list Korugar City as the capital, but I've seen Whonere mentioned before as well, and I can't recall if the name of the city has been mentioned in Green Lantern Corps recently so I don't know what's currently canon about this). The terrain surrounding Whonere appears to be desert-like, which... actually fits my personal vision of Korugar, but I can't say if that's a coincidence or because I've been remembering this comic for all these years and just haven't realized it. All the male Korugarians depicted here have the same receding hairline as Sinestro, which is insanely funny -- almost as funny as the fact that they all wear purple for some reason.

What interests me more, though, is the fact that this is a culture that gets pleasure from the experience of death. You'll recall that Recharge established specifically that death rites are very important to Korugarians, too. So I wonder if there aren't some cultural ideas about death that could possibly be significant for Sinestro, Soranik, and/or Katma (who is almost sure to be a Black Lantern) come Blackest Night? Normally I'd say no way, but Geoff Johns is just about the only writer I could imagine who is enough of a detail and continuity nerd to remember this lone issue and bring the subject up again.

5 comments:

SallyP said...

I have never come across this particular issue before, but I have to admit that it sounds SERIOUSLY kinky.

Oh Hal. Your utter fascination with your own self will surely be your downfall one of these days. Not to mention Sinestro's fascination with your own self, but I suppose we can't blame him for that.

I'm so proud that Katma pointed out the stupidity of using Morse Code to signal an alien on an alien planet. I'm sure that Hal thought he was being all brilliant and subtle.

The whole importance of death rites, and the erotic overtones are very interesting. If you remember, back in Recharge, Soranik was very insistant on performing the proper rites to commemorate the deaths of the various Lanterns. So I'm pretty sure that Geoff Johns is going to use that somehow.

Great Review!

Duskdog said...

The thing I like the most about Geoff Johns is that he doesn't usually mention things, like the death rites thing, for no reason. Everything sets up something else for the future! So I'm sure it will somehow come up again.

I'm wondering if, since death rites are so important to Korugarians and there weren't really any of them around when Katma died, if she got proper rites? Maybe when she comes back she'll be really angry about it -- like her soul can't pass on to the next life until she's buried on her home planet in proper ritual fashion or something, so she's been in ghostly agony all this time.

I'm assuming that Katma was buried on Earth, but did they dig up her body and bring it to the crypts on Oa when the new Corps was organized or what? I know she's immortalized there in green energy, but I wonder if her body is actually there.

Sea_of_Green said...

HA! Oh, how I love this comic book -- thank you for posting about it, Duskdog! :-D

The whole bit between Hal and Katma, in particular, always cracks me up. It was pretty much established later (though not in so many words) that Katma was just feeding Hal a line when she said his kisses didn't mean anything. JOHN's kisses certainly did, later in Katma's history.

You gotta wonder about the conflicts of interest that poor Soranik has to go through, being a doctor on Korugar. That CAN'T be an easy career to juggle in a culture like that.

SallyP said...

That's an interesting thought about Soranik, which I never considered before. She has a pretty forceful personality, and seems to like being in a position of power and or authority, as a doctor and later as a Green Lantern. Maybe she IS related to Sinestro!

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I assume that Siniestro was what he was because has a natural don, however now that you mention it, the probability that your theory will be true, are too much.