Green Lantern Corps #222 (1988)

Green Lantern Corps #222 (March, 1988)
“The Last Testament of Sinestro!”
Story – Steve Englehart
Pencils – Joe Staton
Inks – Mark Farmer
Letters – Agustin Mas
Colors – Tony Tollin
Editor – Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $0.75

Yesterday we laid a bit of the foundation for the post-GL 200 Green Lantern Corps… met the cast, sorta-kinda established their mission statement.

Today we’re jumping toward the tail-end of this run, to discuss the beginning of the end for the Green Lantern Corps (for now).  This will be a major talking point during an upcoming episode of the Cosmic Treadmill… and, I’m using this as my refresher!

And now… the Trial of Sinestro!

We open with a look at the first time Sinestro faced a Green Lantern Tribunal… that time he was stripped of his Lantern status, and banished to Qward.  We jump further back in time to learn just why he was stripped in the first place.  We know the deal by now, Sinestro abused his powers… little did he know that the much like Dick Lewis, the Guardians are always watching.

His stay on Qward wasn’t quite as “forever” as the Guardians intended… and he’d be a pretty persistent thorn in the Lanterns side ever since.  Today, however, he’s been nabbed and it looks as though he’s going to be put on trial again.

Hal and the gang are greeted by the “Old Timer” Appa Ali Apsa who will oversee the pending trial.  The Lanterns chat a bit about the recent Millennium event… which is thankfully behind us by this point.  Kilowog does a scan and finds that there are 137 fewer Lanterns than last time he took a look… a statistic he attributes to Sinestro, and maybe a little bit Ch’p.  Worth noting that Sinestro has his tiny sorcerer Myrwhydden by his side.

After some more Millennium talk… you’d almost think Englehart wrote the thing– oh yeah.  Anyhoo, the Lanterns finally get around to the matter at hand.  Sinestro.  They know he’s guilty as all hell… but the question is, now that they’ve caught him, what in the world do they do with him?

Arisia is the first to pipe up with a suggestion… and it’s death!  Kilowog piles on, and considering that Sinestro wiped out his entire planet, it stands to reason that he would!  There are many Lanterns opposed, and feel like a life-sentence in the sciencell would suffice… but, c’mon… do they even lock those things?  As Sinestro listens to the debate, all he can think is how pathetic these Lanterns look.

The Old Timer interjects, and presses for the trial to begin.  Apros approaches Myrwhydden and passes judgment… not nearly as dangerous as Sinestro, he will just be returned to the Sciencell.  After all, capital punishment isn’t the norm for Lantern-Justice.  Hal wonders if it should even be on the table at all!

The trial is set to go… with Appa Ali Apsa preciding… Kilowog for the prosecution, and Sinestro’s own “countrywoman” Katma-Tui Stewart for the defense.  Sinestro is tossed into a heavily guarded Sciencell while preparations are made.

As the trial begins, Sinestro’s crimes are read aloud.  Looks like dude is responsible for the death of billions… with a “b”, making it look like a slam-dunk for Kilowog.  Further cementing that, when ‘Wog throws it over to Katma for a rebuttal… she’s got nuttin’!  Even this appears to tickle Sinestro.

Being unable to properly defend Sinestro… or at least take the death penalty off the table, Kat lets Lantern Skirl plead the case for life.  What he comes up with is basically… Lanterns shouldn’t kill, to which, Kilowog reminds him that they actually have that right in the “GL Regs”… when they have no other choice, it’s a-okay to deep-six a threat.  Meanwhile, Sinestro is as cool as a cucumber.

Appa Ali Apsa closes things out, and it’s time for the vote.  All of the Lanterns will beam their will into the Central Power Battery… and it will reveal the majority decision…

… and that decision is…

Sinestro is pretty incredulous to start… he knows that no matter what the decision is, the Lanterns will ultimately balk and lessen his punishment.  He’s not so sure, however, when he finds himself surrounded by some of the Corps’ heaviest hitters!

Sinestro starts to panic a bit… and pleads with them not to kill him, even going so far as to put doubt in their heads about what might happen should they go through with it (more on that, tomorrow).

Then, it happens.  The Lanterns actually go through with it, and… kill Sinestro.

Kilowog checks Sin’s fallen body and confirms that he has passed.  Just then, Salaak barges in from the future… with a warning.  Whatever they do… do not kill Sinestro!

This is definitely one of those issues I wish I was “there” for.  Well, “there” and “invested” I guess.  I’d have loved to experience this as it happened… just to gauge my reaction to it.  I have a feeling that this issue would’ve “blown up” had social media been a “thing” back in 1988.

I suppose what we start with is this issue’s handling of the death penalty.  Now, I’m not equipped nor qualified to really opine on the real-world death penalty… it’s a wildly contentious and conflicting concept, inside and out, and it can be, and has been, passionately debated from all fronts.

Now, it’s not necessarily that the death penalty was “on the table” that really gets me about this issue… it’s more the fact that characters we’ve followed and loved for years actually take part in “pulling the trigger”.  I dunno about you, but seeing Hal Jordan (and John Stewart) as part of the “firing squad”… kinda bugged me.  It bugged me more than the fact that they were going through with it in the first place!

I couldn’t see this happening today.  I’d assume that Hal and John might be “conscientious objectors” in this sort of situation.  Not necessarily putting a stop to it, but certainly not taking an active role in the execution.  This actually feels a bit more cold-hearted than when Hal snapped Sinestro’s neck six years later.

We closed out with hints that should the Corps go through with this… bad things are going to happen.  Of course, Sinestro’s ranting gets dismissed as the panicked words of a man grasping at straws to save his own hide.  Then… Salaak comes with tidings from the future to back up Sinestro’s claim… just a few moments too late.

Sounds like a bad deal, right?  Well… I dunno, anytime you bring time-travel into a story, the stakes drop for me… big time.  I could see Salaak showing up, seeing Sinestro dead… going “Oops, my bad.”, then just time-traveling again to a few minutes earlier.  Maybe that’s a bit too simplistic… but it’s the first place my mind went.

Overall… found this to be a pretty great and thought-provoking issue.  Sinestro’s cockiness throughout was pretty bad-ass… until, of course, ya know.  The Lanterns putting on the “show” of a trial was interesting, but ultimately unnecessary.  I guess that goes to show the lengths an organization might go to in order to “cover their bases” and give the illusion of “due process”.  Still have a bit of a problem with Hal and John’s involvement in the execution… but, this was definitely a “net-positive” issue.  Well worth checking out… but it’ll be a bin-dive.  This issue hasn’t been collected nor made available digitally just yet.  Worth a hunt!

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