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REVIEW:
DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS SINESTRO
By Thomas Wheeler


Mattel has a truly superb license here. The DC Universe is rife with amazing characters, and these figures are easily on a par with Marvel Legends. The characters and concepts are rife with potential, and there is no reason it should not enjoy a long and healthy life -- assuming it gets to the stores in good order so we fans can buy it.

One of those "characters" from Wave 3 that I found was none other than SINESTRO, arch-enemy of Green Lantern (who happens to be in the same wave).

Sinestro was created by John Broome and Gil Kane, Sinestro is the former mentor and arch-nemesis of the superhero Green Lantern (Hal Jordan). Sinestro first appears in Green Lantern #7 (July-August 1961). The visual appearance of Sinestro was based upon British actor David Niven (you know, I do see a resemblance...)

A native of the planet Korugar in space sector 1417 (as the Guardians of the Universe designate space), Sinestro's dedication to preserving order originally manifested in his previous career, an anthropologist specializing in reconstructions of ruins of long-dead civilization. One day while he was on one such site, a Green Lantern named Prohl Gosgotha crash landed into the site, injured and apparently dying. He quickly gave his ring to Sinestro, just in time for Sinestro, who barely even understood what the ring could do, to defend himself from the Lantern's pursuer, a yellow-clad Weaponer of Qward. However, Sinestro had to destroy the very ruins he had spent loving care restoring, to crush the Qwardian. Afterward, Gosgotha turned out to still be alive, and asked for his ring back to keep him alive long enough to get help. Sinestro, knowing this would mean not being a Green Lantern himself, instead allowed him to die and took over his post, the Guardians unaware of his actions.

His desire for order did well by him in the Corps, and initially led him to be considered one of the greatest Green Lanterns. As the years passed, he became more and more fixated upon not simply protecting his sector, but on preserving order in the society of his home planet no matter the cost. Eventually he concluded that the best way to accomplish this was to conquer Korugar, and to rule the planet as a dictator.

When Hal Jordan joined the Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro was assigned to be one of his instructors. Jordan was horrified at his new mentor's fascistic methods, though Sinestro maintained that his iron-fisted rule was necessary to protect his people from alien forces. During his training, Jordan helped Sinestro repel an attempted invasion of Korugar by the alien warlords known as the Khunds. When Jordan called for help from the other Green Lanterns, Sinestro's dictatorship was exposed and he was forced to appear before the Guardians for punishment. Katma Tui, the leader of a Korugarian resistance movement who felt that Sinestro's "protection" kept her people from growing as a society through contact with other alien races, was recruited as his replacement in the Corps. Though Katma Tui eventually grew into one of the most respected Green Lanterns, she and the rest of Korugar initially resisted her appointment to the Corps; due to Sinestro's actions, Korugar had come to consider the symbol of the Green Lantern Corps an emblem of terror and oppression.

For using the power of the Green Lantern to instill fear rather than combat it, the Guardians banished Sinestro to the antimatter universe -- a counterpart to the "real" universe made up of "negative matter" -- in particular, the alien world of Qward, the Antimatter counterpart of the Guardians' homeworld Oa, ruled by a race of warriors and scientists known as the Weaponers of Qward. The Guardians' antimatter universe counterparts, the Weaponers, bore a fierce hatred of the Guardians and all Green Lanterns. By exiling Sinestro to a world ruled by evil beings who specifically hated him as a Green Lantern, the Guardians hoped to humble him. Their attempt at punishment would be a major miscalculation, however. Sinestro believed himself to have been wronged by his former masters, and now hated them just as much as the Weaponers did. Through their mutual hatred of the Guardians, Sinestro and the Weaponers became allies, with the Weaponers offering to help Sinestro gain revenge on the Guardians and the Corps.

Creating a yellow power ring for Sinestro to use, the Weaponers sent him back to the "positive matter" universe to seek his revenge. Sinestro quickly became the Green Lantern Corps' most powerful nemesis, partially due to a weakness in their power rings that prevented them from directly affecting the color yellow. Despite this, skilled Green Lanterns like Jordan, Sinestro's most hated enemy, always found ways to defeat him.

After several grievous acts involving the destruction of entire worlds, Sinestro was put on trial again by the assembled membership of the Green Lantern Corps. Finding him guilty, they condemned him to death and executed him, but Sinestro managed to cheat death itself by sending his essence into the Central Power Battery, and shut it down. While in the Battery, he also made a startling discovery about the ancient weakness to yellow within the Green Lantern's light.

Hal Jordan entered the Battery to desperately try and restore the powers of his fellow Lanterns, and ultimately defeated Sinestro, whose spirit was condemned to remain trapped inside the Central Battery, powerless, for eternity. Yet Sinestro had earned an even greater personal victory: the so-called "Yellow Impurity" turned out to be a sentient entity known as Parallax, the living embodiment of fear.

But that's an entirely different story, aspects of which can be found in my review of the Green Lantern figure.

I have also deliberately not covered those aspects of Sinestro's history involving the formation of the Sinestro Corps and the subsequent war with the Green Lantern Corps. There is a reason for this. There are two versions of Sinestro action figures available -- the "classic" version, which this figure is, and one of Sinestro in his Sinestro Corps uniform. I remain hopeful of finding that one, and as such time as I do, I will review that one separately, with the necessary background details at that time.

Sinestro has had a number of media appearances over the years. He turned up in an episode of "Superman: The Animated Series", as well as the more recent "The Batman" series, both of which obviously guest-starred Green Lantern. He was also in the Justice League animated series, obviously. Incredibly -- or perhaps incredulously -- one of Sinestro's earliest media appearances was in the live action "Legends of the Super-Heroes" show in the late 1970's. This cheese-fest, shot on videotape and complete with a laugh track, is the super-hero version of the "Star Wars Holiday Special", despite managing some fairly impressive costuming. In this, Sinestro was played by comedian Charlie Callas. I guess David Niven wasn't available.

Just to throw in one more bit of weirdness, Sinestro also turned up in an episode of "Duck Dodgers", facing off against the space-based version of Daffy Duck, who had come into possession of a Green Lantern costume and power ring. Talk about a bad guy having a hard time getting respect...! Then again, he was voiced by John DeLancie in the episode, and how bad off can you be if you get voiced by Star Trek's legendary "Q"?

So, we now turn out attention to the action figure of Sinestro. As I indicated, this is the classic version of Sinestro. He is wearing a mostly black uniform with a dark blue "starburst", for lack of a better description, around the collar. The costume has a white collar, ridged metallic blue wristbands, a rather thick white and blue belt, blue trunks, and blue boots with slight flares at the top.

Sinestro himself, being non-human, that is, a native of Korugar, has a rather interesting look to him. His skin is a dark pink in color. This is actually a somewhat toned down version of Sinestro, whose skin used to be a rather straight-on red in the comics. There have been occasional references that he looked a bit satanic as such, never mind comparisons to David Niven. In recent years, the red skin tone has been toned down somewhat even in the comics, but I think the toy toned it down just a little more. Mattel painted a very, very slight "mottled" effect over the skin. Normally I don't like this sort of thing, but it's not too bad here.

Sinestro has a somewhat larger than average cranium, a rather tall head with a prominent forehead, the result of, as much as anything, an apparently slightly receding hairline and a tendency to brush his hair back. He has rather arched eyebrows, and a thin mustache. Some artistic takes on Sinestro over the years have given him pointed ears, but that's not the case here.

He has his yellow power ring on his left hand, nicely sculpted and detailed. Sinestro is superbly articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper-arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso (worked surprisingly well into the musculature of the figure), waist, legs (a somewhat unusual design allowing for back and forth as well as outward movement, but it works), upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. The legs are a LITTLE pre-posed, in that for Sinestro's feet to be flat on a surface, the legs must be spread out a bit. He tends to look a little bow-legged. This is actually probably correctable with the often-used practice I have heard about of briefly boiling the figure and adjusting the plastic while it's more pliable. For myself, I've never had the guts to try that action.

The overall paint detailing is excellent. Very neat, very well applied, no glitches. I've heard that Mattel has been trying to increase the level of quality (and accuracy) in their paint work, and this may be an example of it. I can think of at least one other major toy company that would do well to follow this example.

Any complaints? Well -- kind of. And it has to do with the figure's height. Here's the dilemma. Mattel has designed a fairly standard "male hero body" to use for most of their characters, only changing details such as heads and the like as needed. I, for one, don't have a problem with this, as long as the basic body design is a good one, which it most assuredly is. Properly heroic, not pre-posed, and superbly well articulated, Mattel has designed a superb super-hero figure. The only problem is -- it doesn't work for everybody.

Sinestro has generally been portrayed as reasonably muscular, but also fairly slender. He just doesn't have the standard build of a male human super-hero. Never has had. And indeed, that's not the body that was used for the figure. In point of fact, the body used for Sinestro does have a more slender overall build than the body used for Green Lantern (or Orion, or several others in the line to date).

So what's the problem? While Sinestro may be more slender than average, nothing's ever been said about him being SHORT, and the figure categorically is! While most of the DC Universe males are about 6-1/2" in height, Sinestro is about 6-1/8", and that's WITH the big head. Without that, he'd probably be more like 6". He can look Harley Quinn squarely in the eyes. And need it be said, he comes up pretty short on Green Lantern.

There's a theory online that the body used for Sinestro was designed to be used for teenage characters in the line. Okay -- maybe. Problem with that theory at the moment is, there's only one other teenager in the line, he's part of Series 3, and the body types -- based on the picture on the package -- don't match. It's Robin, and if nothing else, the boots and gloves are wrong, and he's got additional sculpted details on the chest. I'm not saying that he and Sinestro might not have some common parts. I'd need to have a Robin figure in hand to make that comparison, and at the moment, I don't. I'm not saying the Sinestro body couldn't be used for other teenage super-heroes. But to date, it hasn't been, and I'm not entirely convinced.

What we ultimately have here is a short Sinestro, who looks very decent on his own, but when standing next to Green Lantern or almost anybody else, had better be sure his power ring has got a full charge, otherwise he's in for one heck of a butt-kicking. It's really just a bit of a shame, because on his own, this is a very impressive Sinestro figure. And I'm not going to NOT recommend him, but I am certainly going to mention this matter on an advisory basis, as well as hope that Mattel doesn't make a habit of this sort of thing.

Sinestro comes with two accessories, although one of them doesn't really entirely qualify as an accessory TO Sinestro. One is a power battery, which honestly looks more like it would be better given to the "Sinestro Corps" version of Sinestro, especially given its overall design in matching the symbol of the Sinestro Corps. It's a rather odd color, too -- a sort of "tennis ball yellow", heading almost (and rather inappropriately given his primary adversary) into the green range. It's still well made, though, and looks cool.

The other -- "accessory" -- is part of the DC Universe Classics equivalent of the "Build-a-Figure" concept inaugurated by Marvel Legends. For DC, it's called "Collect and Connect", and the figure that can be constructed for Series 3 is Solomon Grundy, a longtime foe, somewhat ironically, of the Alan Scott Green Lantern character, Hal Jordan's predecessor. Sinestro comes with one of his legs. Essentially somewhere between a zombie and a frankenstein monster, Grundy is a superhuman walking pile of white flesh and pure meanness with a limited intellect. He's also pretty big, too, and this is certainly reflected in the action figure. Although I don't have all the parts, the leg is 5" long. This in a line where a "standard human" figure is 6-1/2" in height.

So what's my final word here? In all honesty, my biggest complaint about the DC Universe Classics line is its lack of availability. Apart from that, though, this is a very cool and impressive figure of Sinestro -- if noticeably too short, but I am still sincerely pleased that I found him and have added him to my collection.

And if you're any sort of fan of the DC Universe, or of Green Lantern in particular, you will certainly want him in your collection. This line as a whole is definitely worth supporting, and the DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS SINESTRO most definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!