SINESTRO Redeemed? CULLEN BUNN Describes Villain's New Ongoing Series
Cover to April's Sinestro #1 by Dale Eaglesham
CREDIT: DC Comics
In April, the Green Lantern villain Sinestro gets new focus and a new mission as he and his fear-wielding Yellow Lanterns get their own DC title.
The title is being launched by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Dale Eaglesham, both returning to monthly DC work after more recently being seen on Marvel comics. It represents a further expansion of the titles associated with the Green Lantern Universe, as DC adds it to the existing Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Red Lanterns and the more recently launched book, Larfleeze.
Sinestro's story will be picked up after the events of Forever Evil and the villain's September one-shot. After the destruction of Korugar, and some motivation by his one-time Sinestro Corps recruit Lyssa Drak, Sinestro begins down a path he believes will set things right.
Bunn describes the new comic as a "space epic/intrigue/horror vibe." And although readers will see familiar and new Sinestro Corps members, Bunn said that "Sinestro definitely takes center stage."
"This will be the story of Sinestro, mistrusted even by the Corps he founded, trying to 'right the ship,' so to speak," Bunn said. "He’s trying to give the Yellow Lanterns focus. To do that, he has a new mission for them."
Bunn, who's also launching a Magneto title for Marvel, is best known for his indie work on projects at Oni Press like The Damned and The Sixth Gun. The last time he wrote for DC was in 2011, with a four-issue stint on the pre-New 52 title, Superman/Batman.
Newsarama talked to Bunn to find out more about the new title — and whether Sinestro's daughter, Soranik Natu, will show up.
Newsarama: Cullen, it's good to see you writing a title at DC. What brought you to the DCU?
Cullen Bunn: Thank you! I’m pretty excited to be working on this book. The only other work I’ve done for DC was a four-issue stint on Superman/Batman a few years ago. That was some of my first work with “the Big 2.” I’ve always hoped that, schedule allowing, I’d be able to work with DC again if the right project came along. And Sinestro is definitely the kind of project I’d hope would come my way.
Nrama: Why did Sinestro appeal to you as a writer? And what do you think of the way Sinestro has been written in the past? Anything you're hoping to change, highlight, emphasize...?
Bunn: I’ve always liked Sinestro on some level. Even as a kid, I thought he was one of my favorite parts of Challenge of the Super Friends!
But, let’s face it, he was always a bit of a mustache-twirling villain (and he does have a great mustache for it) until Geoff Johns got hold of him and gave him depth. Suddenly, he became a character readers could relate to. He had a past. He had goals (sometimes unreasonable goals, but goals nonetheless). And, even though his actions were evil, he became somewhat sympathetic. Whether he succeeded or failed, you wanted to be along for the ride.
That’s the Sinestro I hope to bring to this book. He’s not evil for the sake of being evil. But he wants something — be it redemption, glory, salvation, honor, or respect — and he’ll ruthlessly pursue it. But I think his reasoning… and his “mission”… will be understood by readers.
His methods, maybe not so much.
Nrama: Is there anything you can name as an influence on your approach to this title (even if it wasn't necessarily a Green Lantern story)?
Bunn: I’m drawing on a lot of influences here, I think. Geoff Johns' run with the character. My love of science fiction and space opera in movies, comics, TV, and books. We’re talking everything from Lensman to Star Wars, Dune to Firefly, Dr. Who to Micronauts and Dreadstar and Atari Force, Foundation to Flash Gordon.
I’m also drawing on many of my influences from horror fiction, because there are some dark things going on in this book.
Arthurian legends have a significant impact on the story, too. I didn’t really notice that until Dale Eaglesham pointed it out, but those influences are there.
And I’d be lying if I didn’t say Breaking Bad and The Shield and Game of Thrones didn’t influence me a bit. At one point, I described Sinestro’s role in the book as “Jaime Lannister, having suddenly decided that he wants to be a hero for the people, finds all his terrible actions from the past standing in his way.”
Nrama: You're also writing Magneto for Marvel. Do you think "villains with good intentions" are a strength for you?
Bunn: I’ve always been drawn to characters who were a little more morally ambiguous. If you look at my creator-owned projects, my leads are often those who could be heroes… or could be villains… depending on how you look at them. Eddie in The Damned is a complete SOB who tends to destroy the lives of anyone around him. Drake Sinclair in The Sixth Gun may, after 30-something issues, still turn out to be the biggest villain in the story. For me, those characters are more interesting… and more fun… to write.
Nrama: You've mentioned several of the titles you've done in the past. Will fans of that work see elements of other books you've done in this one? Can you compare or contrast Sinestro with other books you've done?
Bunn: I think there will always be personal signatures in anything I work on. I’m not even sure I could tell you what they are, but you can bet they’ll be there.
This will be a different type of book than, say, Fearless Defenders, which focused on these offbeat (sometimes silly) adventures. I want this story to be fun and entertaining, but its tone is different than much of what I’ve worked on. If nothing else, the space epic/intrigue/horror vibe sets it apart.
I think my interpretation of Sinestro will likely have hints of Eddie (from The Damned) and Drake (from The Sixth Gun). But I’m also trying to give him his own voice here, something that makes him stand apart.
Nrama: Let's talk about what it is that makes Sinestro "stand apart." What makes Sinestro different from other villains you've written — and other villains in general?
Bunn: Sinestro is a character who, to quote Pulp Fiction, is trying real hard to be the Shepherd. He wants to do the right thing. Now, that doesn’t necessarily set him apart from every other villain. However, the scope of his designs definitely gives him an angle. He’s an intergalactic conqueror who thinks he’s being a hero of the people.
Nrama: I keep calling him a villain, but would you call Sinestro a villain? Is he still a bad guy?
Bunn: Sinestro will always be a villain. There’s really no changing that. He’s such a tragic figure, because he’s a bad guy who thinks he’s doing good.
Nrama: There's no doubt Sinestro usually has good intentions, but he's used some really bad methods. Has he learned from his more recent experiences and time as a Green Lantern at all?
Bunn: One of the things that makes Sinestro interesting for me is that he learns and changes, yes, but his own pride is so much more powerful than his experiences. Pride is his only real weakness, but he doesn’t see it that way. If he even recognizes pride, he’d say it was a strength. So, he’s got a new plan… new methods… new goals… but his pride will poison even the best intentions.
Nrama: Knowing that he's playing a role in Forever Evil, which ends right before your series launches, would you say he's feeling redeemed at the point you take over his story? Or have the horrors he created in the Sinestro Corps made that difficult for him?
Bunn: I wouldn’t say he’s redeemed at the beginning of this story. Rather, I think he’s simply given up. He’s lost everything — his world, his people. I’ll leave it to the readers to decide if he can or can’t be redeemed. In Sinestro’s mind, though, he’s lost any hope of redemption.
Until Lyssa Drak shows up and gives him a glimmer of hope… and fear.
Nrama: We've got a book for the Red Lanterns. Is this kind of like a Yellow Lantern book, with a Corps playing back-up roles to Sinestro?
Bunn: That’s how I’d describe it. Sinestro definitely takes center stage, but the Sinestro Corps will be playing a big role in the book. This will be the story of Sinestro… mistrusted even by the Corps he founded… trying to “right the ship” so to speak. He’s trying to give the Yellow Lanterns focus. To do that, he has a new mission for them.
But there are more than a few Yellow Lanterns who will not be happy with these new marching orders.
Nrama: So will there be other Sinestro Corps characters? Can you name a few?
Bunn: Yes, there will be plenty of Sinestro Corps members. You’ll see all your favorites. Maash and Karu-Sil and Murr the Melting Man will be there, among many others. Arkillo and Lyssa Drak will be there. There will be many new Lanterns, too, including Dez Trevius and Rigen Kale, a pair of characters I think readers will dig.
But the story will be Sinestro’s. While the other Lanterns will show up, they’ll definitely be there as supporting characters.
A few — Lyssa, Arkillo, Dez Trevius, and Rigen Kale — will act as a kind of inner council for Sinestro.
Nrama: Will we see Soranik Natu play a part in Sinestro's life?
Bunn: Soranik Natu will be very present in the book. She has an important — and surprising — role to play in the series.
Nrama: How much of a role does Korugar play in the comic?
Bunn: The memory of Korugar serves as a driving force for Sinestro. He believes that almost all of his people died when his world was destroyed. But we know (from the recent Sinestro one-shot) that some Korugarians still live. When Sinestro learns this, he sets out to be the savior his people deserve. Of course, the Korugarians don’t necessarily want to have anything to do with Sinestro. In addition to earning the respect of his Lanterns, Sinestro must earn the trust of his remaining people.
Nrama: Will there be any reference to Katma Tui or other characters from Korugar that we've seen in the past?
Bunn: You might see some references to some of those characters. For Korugarians, we’ll be more focused on some new individuals found among the surviving members of that race. One in particular will become an interesting foil for Sinestro in the days to come.
Nrama: Will there be any Earth natives playing regular roles in the comic?
Bunn: I went back and forth with this. Initially, though, we won’t be seeing any Earth natives playing a major part in the book. That will change, of course, but not for a few issues.
Nrama: How much will Sinestro interact with the other Lanterns and with Earth characters?
Bunn: Initially, Sinestro will be keeping his distance from the other Lanterns (except for Soranik). But it’s only a matter of time before they realize that he’s back to moving and shaking.
Nrama: Will we see Sinestro's origin fleshed out at all? Or his past life in the Green Lantern Corps?
Bunn: Even though Sinestro is focused on the future, we will touch on his past from time to time. As I mentioned, his actions in the past may form obstacles for him.
Nrama: You mentioned that Dale pointed out some of the Arthurian themes you're exploring. But as the artist on the book, what do you think he'll add visually to Sinestro?
Bunn: I’ve been a fan of Dale’s for a long time. He has a gift for bringing big, epic ideas to life on the page. He’s a terrific collaborator, too, and I think the book has improved… even in the early stages… by discussing the direction with him.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about the Sinestro title?
?Bunn: I think we’ve got plenty of surprises and action and intrigue and character moments in store for you! Please make sure to pre-order the book! And let me know what you think once you’ve read it! You can find me on Twitter @cullenbunn!