Hal Jordan & Sinestro: The Friendship That Burns Bright

GUEST Article By: Taylor Pechter

“No evil shall escape my sight,” reads a verse in the sacred oath of the Green Lantern Corps. As pledged through the oath, Green Lanterns are tasked to protect the galaxy from what is considered “evil”. But what constitutes this “evil” exactly? It’s a deeply layered question—there are some obvious evils that must be fought without hesitation, but some morally ambiguous evils that may not be so easy to tackle. For example, what if that “evil” was your friend and former colleague? This is the question that is the core of Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern. As the run progresses, we see the trials and tribulations of Hal Jordan, but also those of his greatest adversary, Sinestro. Throughout the run, we see the friendship of Hal and Sinestro take form and seemingly fall apart. What we learn through their story is that Hal and Sinestro have similarities and differences that make up their unique friendship, and bonds them as each other’s greatest foe but also their greatest ally.

Looking at their beginnings, we see a similarity in their lives before they meet each other—Hal and Sinestro’s lives are defined by loss. Hal’s origin is predicated on the death of his father, an event which leads him to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pilot in the Air Force. He is seen as reckless and dangerous by his superiors. This eventually leads him to the crashed ship of Abin Sur when he accepts the ring from a dying Abin Sur and becomes a Green Lantern. Later on, he is stricken by grief after his city is demolished by Mongul and Cyborg Superman. It is in that wave of fear that he is possessed by the entity Parallax, and is then ostracized from the Corps as a renegade. Sinestro’s story is much the same—he lost Abin Sur, one of his closest friends in the Corps, even though patrolled separate sectors. Abin was even Sinestro’s brother-in-low, as Sinestro married Abin’s sister Arin after being introduced to her. After Abin’s death, Sinestro felt that it is his duty to track down the killer, which leads to his first confrontation with Hal. Sinestro is looked as the model of the perfect Lantern as his sector, Sector 1417, and by extension, his home planet of Korugar, was at that point the sector that had the most order. Sinestro would soon fall and be labeled a renegade, much like Hal, and gets banished to the Antimatter Universe. Their origin and fall have similarities that serve as an excellent foundation to base their conflicts upon.


On the other side of the coin, they both differ starkly when it comes to their ideas of justice. One of the cardinal rules in the Book of Oa is that Lanterns must “show respect for life which includes restraint of force unless there is no reasonable alternative.” As such, much like the other Green Lanterns, Hal believes that killing should never be the answer. Sinestro, on the other hand, believes in subjugation, that through the power of fear, you can dispense justice by any means necessary. This moral dilemma of due process versus subjugation comes head-to-head in the Sinestro Corps War. The willpower of the Greens is tested while the never-ending assault of the Yellows bares down on them. As the war rages on, the tides turn, but not at the cost of the morality of the Green Lanterns; by using lethal force, Sinestro achieved his goal. As Hal visits him in prison after his capture, Hal ponders the aspect of giving him the death penalty, understanding that if he does, he will just become what Sinestro is.


Lastly, we come to their overall bond. We have at this point we have seen Hal from his origin, to his Rebirth, and finally his end. There is one persistent aspect through all of it: Sinestro. As the run closes, we see their final confrontation, the culmination of both of their arcs in which they both come to terms with their places in the universe. We see them on opposing sides but they don’t want to fight each other. Before they battle, they share a final word. Hal asks Sinestro “Were we ever really friends?” Sinestro replies, “That is the tragedy of all of this, Jordan. Hal. We will always.” This connotes that no matter what battles take place between them, Hal and Sinestro will always linked in their friendship.

There exists a clear connection between Hal Jordan and Sinestro throughout the entirety of Geoff Johns’s decade long run. We watch as Hal claws his way back up from his Rebirth, while Sinestro has a rebirth of his own. Their arc comes to a bittersweet end as they cement themselves in opposing sides of the universe while still acknowledging their bond. From the beginning to the end, it all comes back to their friendship. In the end, that is what burned bright.