Thaal Sinestro is a fictional character, an alien supervillain / anti-hero in the DC Comics Universe. Created by John Broome and Gil Kane, Sinestro is the former mentor of Hal Jordan and the arch-nemesis of the entire Green Lantern Corps. Sinestro first appears in Green Lantern (vol. 2) #7 (July–August 1961). In 2009, Sinestro was ranked IGN's 15th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time. While he was under the possession of the White Entity he was one of the most powerful characters in all of the DC universe.
Sinestro was born on the planet Korugar in space sector 1417. His dedication to preserving order originally manifested in his previous career, an anthropologist specializing in reconstructions of ruins of long-dead civilizations. One day while he was on one such site, a Green Lantern named Prohl Gosgotha crashlanded 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 Weaponer of Qward; however, Sinestro had to destroy the ruins he had spent loving care restoring in order 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 were unaware of his actions.
In Green Lantern #45, his wife is shown for the first time in a flashback, and revealed to be the sister of Abin Sur.
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 rule the planet as a dictator.
Sinestro as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Art by Alan Davis.
When Hal Jordan joined the Green Lantern Corps instead of Guy Gardner because Hal Jordan was closer to Abin Sur at the time, Sinestro was assigned to be his instructor. Jordan was horrified at his new mentor's totalitarian 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". Sinestro ended up on the Antimatter world of Qward, that universe's counterpart of the Guardians' homeworld Oa, which was ruled by a race of warriors and scientists known as the Weaponers of Qward, who 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.
Pre-Crisis Sinestro first met Hal when he had already made an alliance with Qward. Hal had already beaten the Weaponers three times. Sinestro tried to kidnap him using a device which could transport people to Qward and was able to imprison him in a yellow bubble by threatening to kill 100,000 people who had been kidnapped with the device when he used it on a city Hal was supposed to be at. However Hal used his ring to speed up a clock, making Sinestro think his ring had run out of power. When he released Hal from the bubble to eliminate him, he was defeated and imprisoned in a green bubble by Hal, who did not take him back to his Universe as it would go against the jurisdiction of the Guardians. However he escaped using a ring that could drain the Green Lantern's ring-power and continued to menace Hal. He tried to attack the Guardians after trapping Green Lantern, before disguising himself as him so he could occupy a meeting of Green Lanterns and absorb power from their rings by casting an illusion of a monster so they used their rings. However Green Lantern escaped and defeated Sinestro on Oa, who was placed in a green energy container which would orbit the Universe by the power of many Green Lanterns. But he escaped with a power ring hidden in his boot. He was very adept at escaping the ways the guardians tried to imprison him.
Before the Guardians took a leave of absence from their universe to attempt mating with their female counterparts, the Zamarons, they constructed an inescapable prison for Sinestro and thousands of others on Oa. However, Sinestro's cunning prevailed once again and he managed to free himself through the mental manipulation of the Mad God of Sector 3600. Now wielding nearly unlimited power, Sinestro murdered entire star systems until he was finally subdued by the Green Lantern Corps of Earth. Now guilty of multiple acts of genocide, 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 Lanterns' light.
Hal Jordan entered the Battery in a desperate attempt to 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 as the so-called "Yellow Impurity" turned out to be a sentient entity known as Parallax, the living embodiment of fear. He also discovered the battery's power source was Parallax's green counterpart, Ion, the embodiment of willpower. Thanks to Sinestro's actions, Parallax successfully infected Jordan's mind, leaving the so-called "greatest Green Lantern" vulnerable to fear for the first time in his life and setting up Sinestro's ultimate triumph.
In the meantime, the return of the Guardians resulted in the Corps being re-established. The newly restored Corps would be short-lived, however, thanks to the inadvertent efforts of the alien warlord Mongul and Hank Henshaw, a cyborg who was at the time impersonating Superman. As part of their ultimately thwarted plot to transform Earth into a new version of Mongul's interstellar fortress Warworld and gain revenge on Superman, Mongul and the Cyborg used several nuclear devices to completely destroy Coast City, California, which was Hal Jordan's home, and everyone living in it. Driven mad with grief by the destruction of his city and the Guardians' apathy towards his plight, Jordan's previously indomitable willpower was shattered. Parallax was thus able to possess him completely and push him towards a homicidal rampage that wiped out most of the Guardians and left scores of Green Lanterns dead or maimed, as Parallax sought to absorb the Central Power Battery's energies into his being.
As a last-ditch effort to halt Jordan's rampage, the Guardians freed Sinestro from the Central Power Battery and sent him to stop Jordan. Though Jordan snapped Sinestro's neck after the battle, apparently killing him, it would later be revealed that what the Guardians had actually extracted from the Battery was a hard-light construct of Sinestro, created by Parallax and mentally puppeteered by the real Sinestro from within the Battery. Parallax promptly finished off the Green Lantern Corps by absorbing the Central Battery's energies into himself. With the Battery destroyed, Sinestro escaped and went into hiding as he watched Jordan become what he had always hated Sinestro for being: a traitor and a murderer reviled by his friends and his allies. When the last surviving Guardian, Ganthet, gave the last remaining power ring to Kyle Rayner, Sinestro became obsessed with the young Earthman, realizing that despite Jordan's downfall, his plot to extinguish the Green Lanterns' light had failed.
Sinestro eventually revealed the charade of his 'death' when Kyle Rayner discovered the existence of Parallax and revealed it to Green Arrow and the Justice League. Nearly killing the two heroes, Sinestro was stopped by the newly resurrected Hal Jordan, who reclaimed his ring and was purged of Parallax's influence. The two fought to a draw, with Sinestro escaping to the antimatter universe when his ring was damaged by Hal during the fight.
Sinestro later appeared in the miniseries Villains United, where he captured Lady Quark for the Secret Society of Super-Villains. Sinestro had been a member of the group in the past. Here he plays a major role in the Society's massacre of the Freedom Fighters, who are investigating the meeting place of other villains, but walk into an ambush. Sinestro begins the fight by blowing a hole through the chest of the second Black Condor, killing him instantly. He then defeats Uncle Sam, leaving him for dead.
After the Battle of Metropolis, Sinestro retreated to the antimatter universe. He made a pact with the Anti-Monitor and embraced the doctrine of spreading fear. The Green Lantern Corps is once again reformed with the return of Hal Jordan so Sinestro decides to found the Sinestro Corps, offering yellow power rings and a role in the Corps to the most feared and savage warriors of the universe. He is also revealed to have masterminded the death of Kyle Rayner's mother by having the sentient virus Despotellis invade her as part of a plot to break Kyle's will so that he can become Parallax's latest host.
The Sinestro Corps War begins with an attack on Oa. Sinestro himself returns to Korugar to confront his successor, Soranik Natu. Sinestro defeats her, but makes it appear she has defeated him. This will force her to stay on Korugar to fulfill her responsibilities as "the Savior of Korugar".
Sinestro returns to Qward and joins the battle occurring there. He confronts Earth's Green Lanterns, and upon their escape, follows them toward Earth, the Sinestro Corps' real target. The Sinestro Corps begin attacking Earth. Sinestro reveals to Hal, Guy, and John that he intends to turn Earth into the new homeworld for the Sinestro Corps and the site of the new Coast City into a mass graveyard, "A mecca of fear". During the battle, The Guardians enacted new laws to the Book of Oa. The first new law was to give the Green Lanterns the ability to use lethal force. Sinestro claims he has achieved his overall goal because now the Green Lanterns spread fear by being unchecked. Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner beat Sinestro in hand-to-hand combat. Sinestro is then imprisoned in Oa's Sciencells where he learns from Hal Jordan that he has received a death penalty. Despite his personal defeat, Sinestro claims victory. Sinestro's overall goal through his war was to groom his former Corps for a more active, forceful role in the universe. With the enactment of the Corps' new laws and the approval of lethal force, the Green Lantern corps will inspire fear, creating the same effect as the Sinestro Corps: order through fear.
With the hunt for the members of the Sinestro Corps becoming one of the Green Lantern Corps' highest priorities, many of those who wield yellow power rings have been incarcerated in Oa's sciencells, with their power rings stored in the large chamber that houses the entire detention facility. Sinestro has been shown to have chewed a very large hole in his finger, and he used his blood to paint the insignia of the Sinestro Corps on his cell window. All Sinestro Corps members followed his example, with the result of thousands of emblems across the cosmic jail. Interestingly, when Sinestro formed his insignia from blood, the power rings stationed on Oa seemed to react violently, threatening to break free of their confines.
Sinestro is to be executed on his homeworld of Korugar. During the transport a group of Sinestro Corps members attempt to free him. Atrocitus and his Red Lanterns intervene by attacking both Corps and kidnapping Sinestro. In the midst of the battle, a Blue Lantern named Saint Walker tells Hal Jordan that Sinestro's survival is crucial in order to stop the Blackest Night. After being taken to Ysmault, he is nailed to a cross to await his execution at the hands of Atrocitus who wishes to make Sinestro suffer greatly by taking his revenge on everything he has ever cared about. His targets include Korugar and Sinestro's hidden daughter. Sinestro breaks free and must go back to his home world to see to family business.
War of Light
After escaping the assault by the Red Lanterns, Sinestro finally reaches his homeworld of Korugar. After rapidly incapacitating Princess Iolande, he confronts Soranik Natu and reveals that his wife took Soranik and left him as he began his rise to power of Korugar. He was eventually able to locate his daughter and give her the mark on her face, his family's coat of arms, along with a micro transmitter so he could locate her. He visited Soranik throughout her life using his ring to alter his appearance. He even took a picture of her and the Natu's at her medical school graduation. Sinestro then says that he's proud of his daughter for succeeding where he could not, namely bringing order to Korugar as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. He then tells her that they must work together to stop the Blackest Night. After leaving Korugar, Sinestro travels to visit the grave of Abin Sur, and makes plans to lead an assault on the homeworld of the Star Sapphires.
When he arrives, he first encounters Carol Ferris. While Sinestro holds no ill will towards Carol and only wishes to free his Corpswomen from Zamaron, he warns Carol that he will hurt her if she stands in his way. Carol then encases Sinestro in a crystal structure, forcing him to relive the death of his love, Arin Sur (Abin Sur's sister). Angered by this, Sinestro bursts free, staggering Carol enough for his Corpsmen to seize her. However, before he can capitalize on the advantage, the Black Lanterns invade, led by Amon Sur, shocking both Sinestro and Carol. Hal Jordan and Indigo-1 then appear, initially fighting off some of the Black Lanterns. Indigo-1 teleports the group to Korugar so that Sinestro may finally confront Mongul. Sinestro defeats Mongul by overriding his rings, then imprisons him within the Yellow Central Battery. Sinestro vows to keep Mongul alive (and torture him), then kill him when the Blackest Night is over. He also proclaims himself to be "leading this coalition" against the Black Lanterns. The Sinestro Corps' celebration is cut short when a ship crashlands nearby, containing Black Lanterns Abin and Arin Sur.
As the Black Lanterns attack, Sinestro is emotionally manipulated by the corpse of Arin. At one point, the corpse even alters itself to look more like a living person and addresses Sinestro by his full name (revealing his first name, Thaal, for the very first time). Just then Hal, Abin, and Carol burst through the streets to where the others are. With all four in place, they destroy Abin's and Arin's rings. Afterward, Hal and Sinestro debate whether to contact the Blue or Red Lanterns, respectively. Hal then makes the decision himself. Sinestro relents, tells his Corps that there is a temporary truce with the GLC, and travels with the others to Odym. After gathering the other Corps leaders, Sinestro and the others follow the Black Lantern battery to Earth, where Nekron has already risen. Under Indigo-1's direction, they combine their lights, thinking it will destroy the Black Lanterns' source of power, but this fails and in an attempt to bolster their ranks, Ganthet duplicates the corps leaders' rings, having them seek out candidates to deputize. Sinestro's ring chooses the Scarecrow. The Black Lantern Spectre then attacks the group. In order to defeat it, Hal releases Parallax from its prison, intending to let it possess him again. Sinestro offers to join with Parallax instead, but is rebuffed. When the restored Spectre manages to separate Parallax from Hal, Sinestro again tries to claim the fear entity as his own, but is foiled when Parallax is pulled away by an unknown force.
In the midst of the battle, Nekron kills a Guardian and uses its blood to summon a large white figure from the earth. Ganthet reveals this is the Entity, the living embodiment of the life force of the universe. It seems Earth is where life first began, a fact the Guardians did their best to hide so as to keep the Entity safe. Outraged at how the Guardians' need for control caused the death of Abin Sur, Sinestro stabs Ganthet with his ring. Hal Jordan realizes the Entity needs a mind to guide it and prepares to fly in but Sinestro cuts him off. He dives into the white energy and emerges as a figure all in white, declaring he's about to show the universe he truly is the "greatest lantern of them all". Entity intones "Thaal Sinestro of Korugar...Destiny awaits".
During the confrontation with Nekron, Sinestro is apparently killed by Nekron, but healed back to life by the White Entity, claiming to be in harmony with every living being in the universe and thus reborn as the true Guardian of the Universe. However, Sinestro proves unable to fully control the Entity's power because of his egomaniacal personality, and Nekron is able to separate them. Hal then comes to the realization that even though Nekron allowed the various resurrections of the heroes he transformed into Black Lanterns, it was they who chose to live again. This enables Hal to access the Entity's power and transform himself and the other heroes into White Lanterns, resurrecting Black Hand and breaking Nekron's tether to the living universe. As the various corps part ways, Sinestro notes that Larfleeze himself has changed, as he actually returns Lex Luthor to the other gathered Corps rather than keeping Luthor for himself after he was forced to briefly share his power with the bald billionaire.
War of the Green Lanterns
In the Brightest Day crossover, Sinestro discovers a white power battery in a crater on Earth. In the first issue of the "New Guardians" story arc, Sinestro reveals that the white power battery wants Hal Jordan. He and the other Corps leaders must pursue Krona, who is trying to capture all of the Emotional Entities. Sinestro must also work with Kyle Rayner and the Green Lantern Corps in an effort to rescue Soranik Natu from a Qwardian, who made Sinestro's original yellow ring.
In the War of the Green Lanterns storyline Sinestro and the other 'New Guardians' are trapped in the Book of the Black by Lyssa Drak while trying to recover the emotional entities from Krona. Hal Jordan alone is able to avoid the book and escapes with the other "New Guardians's" rings. He later uses Sinestro's ring when Parallax is returned to the Central Power Battery, allowing Krona to control all Green Lanterns- Hal and others escaped only thanks to their prior experience with Parallax granting them an immunity to the initial assault-, in order to give himself a weapon against the other Lanterns. While attempting to escape the Book- which forces the New Guardians to re-live their lives prior to acquiring their current rings-, Sinestro discovers Indigo-1 in a prison cell, angrily proclaiming that she will escape whatever Abin Sur has planned for her, although he chooses to focus on his own escape rather than remain to question her more about this, only for Krona to burn the page that Sinestro is on before he can escape. Sinestro and the other are later freed by Kyle Rayner, who 'draws' their escape. Sinestro's ring attempts to return to him, but is overridden by Krona, who wields all seven varieties of power rings. As Hal Jordan battles Krona, Sinestro hears him as he declares his dedication to the cause of the Green Lanterns, and is inspired to join his old enemy in battle. As he fights Krona, a green power ring comes to him, making Sinestro a Green Lantern once more. Sinestro is not interested in becoming a Green Lantern, but the Guardians of the Universe convince him to join the Corps. Later, when the Green Lantern Corps are in disagreement and attempt to kill him, the Corps break into the sciencells, but the Corps discover that Sinestro was in captivity by the Guardians, who are trying to remove Sinestro's green ring, but the ring will not be removed. Later, the Green Lantern Corps were in a meeting by the Guardians that they choose between discipline continuing the fight and starting a mutiny. The other Green Lantern Corps are in agreement.
Sinestro is in the Guardians' room with the Guardians, angry that he has Green Lantern Power Ring. The Guardians feel the ring 'wishes' to redeem him. He leaves and finds Hal Jordan and tells him do as he commands to get his ring back.
The Sinestro Corps decides to kill Sinestro for 'betrayal', and he tells his former group they have forsaken his code of conduct and asks for Hal's help to kill the Corps by flying into their Power Battery's core and destroying it. Hal does and is hurt while accusing the regretful Sinestro of treachery.
Hal and Sinestro are imprisoned with Korugarians when Hal suggests using the ring's abilities to make duplicate rings for everyone so the prisoners can escape as well, but they attack their former leader instead before turning on the Corps while Hal and Sinestro escape.
Sinestro returns Hal to Earth with a powerless ring and witnesses the prophecy of the Guardians' plans for a 'Third Army' and returns to get Hal from Earth and is captured by the Indigo Tribe, who let him go after their Power Battery is destroyed and Hal says he can help Sinestro atone without an Indigo Ring.
The two are drawn to the once again evil Black Hand, whose corpse army is destroyed by detonating Sinestro's yellow power battery. The Guardians imply they are willed Hal's ring to 'claim' Sinestro to undermine all the other corps, especially his own.
Black Hand regains the upper hand and buries Sinestro and Hal alive, until they break out and the Guardians arrive and command Black Hand to kill them. As their life is draining away, Hal and Sinestro fuse their rings together with an unknown message and get trapped in a mysterious realm surrounded by darkness.
Sinestro and Hal then begin making their way through which has now been identified as the Dead Zone searching for way to escape, while attempting to avoid the attention of a cloaked figure observing them in the shadows.
The visual design of Sinestro was based upon British actor David Niven. However, the alien features of Sinestro's physical appearance have been depicted inconsistently in both comics and animation over the decades.
Sinestro's skin color (and that of other Korugarians), although often diegetically described as simply "red", is rarely depicted as such, ranging from pink, deep scarlet, purple and, perhaps most commonly, magenta, depending on the colorist.
Additionally, many artists portray Sinestro with an upwardly elongated forehead (similar to the original design of Hulk villain The Leader, albeit less extreme), while others artists have bestowed him with more human cranial proportions. He was initially bald, but now boasts a human-like head of black hair. The villain's ears are also inconsistently depicted, being frequently drawn with tapering pinnae in the same manner as Vulcans and Elves, yet he is also commonly shown to have human-shaped ears instead. Oddly, other characters from Korugar such as his successor Katma Tui and even his own daughter Soranik Natu are virtually never depicted with these features of either the tall forehead or elfin ears.
Additionally, due to the fact that his name is derived from the Latin word sinestra, meaning "sinister" or also "left" and "left handed", and commonly associated to wickedness, Sinestro has been often depicted in the comic books as left handed. This trait has also been faithfully portrayed in other media, such as in the animated film Green Lantern: First Flight and in the live-action film Green Lantern.