Anger may seem like a pretty straightforward emotion. But in DC's Red Lanterns title, writer Charles Soule is exploring the different facets of anger - and the war that results from those differences.
This summer, Red Lanterns gets some newly designed members and a whole lot of action, as Guy Gardner's "good" Lanterns battle Atrocitus and his rage Lanterns.
In a storyline titled "Atrocities," the war between factions will begin in next month's issue #32 and continue through July's Red Lantern Annual #1 and issues #33 and #34.
Then the results of "Atrocities" tie directly into September's Futures End issue.
Former Green Lantern Guy Gardner has been leading the Red Lantern Corps for the last dozen issues of the comic, ever since Soule took over writing duties with issue #21 last June. But Guy actually stole leadership of the Corps from Atrocitus, who's back for revenge, along with his loyal rage kitty Dex-Starr.
Newsarama talked to Soule about the "Atrocities" storyline and what readers can expect from September's Futures End "Five Years Later" issue.
Newsarama: Charles, everything seems to be coming to a head this summer, as Atrocitus and his team are gearing up to battle Guy Gardner and his team. Can you explain what's brought them to this point, and what this war between the two factions will bring to the title over the next few months?
Charles Soule: What I've been building toward since the start of my run on Red Lanterns — and I don't think this is going to come as any sort of surprise to anyone who's been reading — is really a big battle between Atrocitus and Guy Gardner.
They both have very different views about what the Red Lanterns should be and can be. And now those views are going to come to a head.
It also doesn't necessarily help Guy that in his first five minutes as a Red Lantern, he basically beat Atrocitus to death, stole his ring and stole his corps out from under him. So Atrocitus has a huge vendetta that he wants to satisfy.
And Guy is now trying to preserve this thing he built. He's turned these people who didn't really like each other, didn't really like themselves, and he turned them into… I hesitate to say team; it's more of a family unit. They don't really go against super villains, or that kind of goal. But they certainly have each other’s backs. And he feels like he's responsible for Atrocitus being so angry, so now he's basically trying to save his family, pretty much.
Atrocitus is going to do everything he can to stop him, and that's what we're building up to.
Nrama: The end of this week's issue said it's time for them to rescue Rankorr, which is probably going to contribute toward the war between these two factions (although as you mentioned, there are a lot of things leading toward this battle). But the next issue sees this rescue and the confrontation begins?
Soule: I think that's pretty fair to say.
I cued up kind of a million dominoes, let's say, over the series. There are a lot of things that will start to play out in the next several issues. The whole thing, for me, has been writing a strong revenge saga. I wanted to give Guy something to lose, and I wanted to give Atrocitus something that he really wanted to gain back.
You can kind of sympathize with both of them, in a way. You understand why Atrocitus would be so ticked off.
But now all these plotlines have been set up, and now it's time to let the chips fall where they may.
It's really fun, you know, when you get to write kind of a long story like this. It's hundreds of pages, at this point. So it's very fun.
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Writer Charles Soule discusses some of the finer points of his run on this series and what it is building up to.
There's been plenty of big changes in the world of the Red Lanterns since writer Charles Soule took over. The group is split and they're all currently after one, powerful new lantern: The Judge. Soule talked to us over the phone about the series and what we can expect in the upcoming months.
COMIC VINE: Red Lanterns are split between two factions at the moment. On one side, there's Atrocitus and Dex-Starr and on the other side is Guy Gardner, Supergirl, and Bleez. While the split feels natural where we're at now, why originally split up the Red Lanterns?
CHARLES SOULE: The basic thinking behind this was that Atrocitus had set up something he liked. It was a good feel for him. He was the high-priest, over-lord. No one could tell him how to do his job. It was his own, personal cult. He saw it as a religious calling to help the Earth through rage. Then Guy Gardner waltzes in and is like "whatever man. I'm going to beat you, steal your rings, steal your entire corps from under you and basically leave you for dead. Not only am I doing to do all that to you, but I'm also going to change your entire corps, which you created and own, and make it into this fun, free-willing, space-biker gang thing." It's insult to injury. Everything that Guy has done completely opposes how the Red Lanterns should work.
Part of that is a meta-commentary on the way the Red Lanterns should be. Should they be one or should they be the other? They are a fun, cool concept that works well as a space-biker gang, but there's also something to be said for the severe, scourge of the universe cult thing. I felt like whenever you get into a big battle, if you can make it as personal as possible, the better it's going to read. That's what I wanted to do here. You can see the point of view from both sides. Guy has built something and turned it into something of a family. He really likes these people and thinks something good can be done with them. Whereas Atrocitus feels like this is sacrilege left and right. This holy thing he made is being twisted and turned into something horrible. So you can see both sides of the coin and now it's about putting them against each other and seeing who wins.
CV: Last issue, we saw a new Red Lantern: The Judge. What makes this character so dangerous? Why do we have Guy Gardner and Atrocitus racing to get her?
CS: One of the things that makes her incredibly powerful is that she is not emotional about her rage. She is someone, as we saw in issue #30, she served on her home planet for 90 years. During that time, she went from a young idealistic judge, who thought she could create change, who could have justice on her planet, to someone who blocked all possibility of justice taken away. She the a symbol of what was right on her planet, but because of the corruption that had taken over everyone and everyone there, she could no longer do that. She just had to sit there and watch and get angrier and angrier and angrier as hope and justice left her planet, which means that for a lot of the Red Lanterns you've seen before, they got angry because of one, quick thing that happened to them: they lost a family member, they were hurt, they were burned alive, something terrible happened to them and a ring found them.
Now, with the Judge, she has has 90 years, 9 decades, of growing anger and it's this cold, intense rage that's she now able to access when the red ring finds her. She's so emotionless about it that she's able to suppress the madness to a certain degree. She can still speak and things like that, which aren't normal for Red Lanterns, but you put all that together, you got a very unique, very interesting perspective on what it is to be a Red Lantern and it makes her incredibly powerful. Now, here on two sides of an upcoming cosmic battle, not only do you want to get the strongest people on your side, but you want to keep the other people from getting them, so it's really a race to see who can grab this lady first and turn her to their side and help win this upcoming battle.
CV: The Judge is a really cool character and Alessandro Vitti is doing a fantastic job on this book. When it comes to your character creation with Alessandro, what is your process?
CS: Well, it depends. Some characters, you're just like "I need a new Red Lantern here. This is basically what I'm thinking, to Alessandro and Jim." Sometimes, I know they're essentially going to be cannon fodder. They're going to be gone in an issue or two, so I don't put too much thought into it necessarily. Let their imaginations go. The problem with that scenario is that they design unbelievable, beautiful characters that I say "Oh man. I can't get rid of this character. They are too cool." So it happens over and over again. I have a sense of the role the character is going to play, in a story. It's rare that I just make somebody up and see where it goes. But that often does change when I see them, particularly things like, in some of the other books I write that have a lot of new characters pop up, sometimes I let the artist design it and I sort of think up the powers once I've seen what they've done. Like I said, it depends where I start.
CV: There is a good supporting cast in this book. Who are you having the most fun writing?
CS: They're all fun in different ways. I'd be lying if I didn't say Zilius Zox was one of my favorites. I think that probably comes through in the writing. I think Rankorr is a lot of fun. One of the things that's easy to do when writing a team book is to forget about the relative age that people in our storyline, so Rankorr is a brand new lantern. He hasn't been one for very long. He's been through some amazing stuff, but he hasn't really seen space, he hasn't met all the other super-heroes, guys like Batman, and to write him is almost more wide-eyed and idealistic. Then you have somebody like Skallox, who was kind of a gangster, thug, enforcer, before he became a Red Lantern and he's been a Red Lantern for a long time. We've seen him for years in the Red Lantern books. They're going to have different takes on what is happening, which I think is interesting. Zilius Zox is just a weird, ball-shaped dude with gigantic teeth, who is awesome and he's with Guy Gardner, a buddy he really relates to, who he kinda clicks with immediately, and that was Zilius Zox. He has a lot of fun lines for a reason.
CV: Where did the idea for the Red Lantern ship come from, since all of the Lanterns can travel on their own?
CS: First of all, it's because space ships are awesome. I think we can all agree on that. Second, I really wanted them to have a home base, some place they can hang out. When I came onto the book, all they really had was the surface of Ysmault, a barren planet with a blood lake and a lantern and that's all there really was. There was no house. There was nothing. Giving them a setting, sort of solved that problem for me. I'm a firm believer in character development through location or setting. Ziulus Zok is kind of the gearhead and likes to work on the ship. Skallox was excited about all the weapons inside the ship that he could play with. Bleez likes to look at data and run the computer stuff. Then of course, you have Guy Gardner who has a bar, which he's always known for liking bars and all that so it kind of all comes together. You can develop characters by the things they do at their location. Now, if they're just on Ysmault with the rocks, it's harder to do that. But, I just like sweet space ships.
CV: Thanks a lot Charles.
CS: Thank you so much.
After a harrowing yet heroic sacrifice to save the universe, Kyle Rayner should have been dead. But the White Lantern somehow survived what no other sentient being in the DCU ever has before. He traveled beyond the Source Wall and returned, now more powerful than ever. But with that return he also brought something back with him, and it's not a stamp on his intergalactic passport. It's Oblivion -- the embodiment of all of his doubts and fears.
"Green Lantern: New Guardians" writer Justin Jordan told CBR News Oblivion's presence means Kyle's life isn't going to get any easier in the next arc, which kicked off last month in Annual #2 and continued in this week's "New Guardians" #31.
With the Green Lantern Corps still in the dark about Kyle's resurrection, the New Guardians -- led by the White Lantern and Star Sapphire/Carol Ferris -- are really up against it as they are set to face the Psions, a reptilian race making their New 52 debut. If you thought George Pérez made a bad ass Psion in the 1980s, Jordan says the H.R. Giger-inspired take "New Guardians" artist Brad Walker will take your breath away.
Jordan also revealed to CBR News that Kyle will learn more about what happened to him beyond the Source Wall in the months ahead, and that his relationship with Carol will only intensify. That's a bit of good news, finally, for Kyle. Maybe not so much for Hal Jordan...
CBR News: For a panel or two of "Green Lantern: New Guardians" Annual #2, I almost thought Kyle was having a Bobby Ewing-like experience and his recent past -- including passing through the Source Wall -- was all one long nightmare. But nope, you're still putting him through the ringer. When the alter ego of your superhero is an everyman like Kyle Rayner, how does that influence the brand of storytelling you are able to do?
Justin Jordan: The tricky bit with Kyle is that he's so very powerful that the question isn't really what he can do -- because he can do almost anything -- but what he should do. And that's a hard question. Kyle is a smart guy, but he's still just an artist whose been given this vast power, and knowing what to do with is always going to be a struggle.
So the stories we've been telling with Kyle reflect that, I think, or at least I hope they do. The answer for Kyle is almost never just blasting the bad guy or punching them in the face. Kyle wants to make the universe a better place. He just doesn't really know how. Which, you know, is the same problem the Templar Guardians are having. They want to help the universe but then, so did the old Guardians, and look how that turned out. It turns out that making the universe a better place without trampling on free will is hard. Who knew?
CBR News: As if passing through the Source Wall wasn't tough enough on Kyle, he's also brought something back in the name of Oblivion. Is this New 52 version of Oblivion the embodiment of Kyle's doubts and darker psyche? And if that's the case, have we seen the last of it because it certainly doesn't appear to be playing nice?
Justin Jordan: That's the New 52 Oblivion, yeah, and he is the embodiment of Kyle's fear and doubts. He's driven by Kyle's sense of the universe being wrong and Kyle's life being not what he wanted, so Oblivion is trying to fix that. That said, this is the first instance of Oblivion -- the New 52 Green Lantern stuff is not precisely the same as the old timeline. But yeah, I'd say there's a good chance we'll see Oblivion again.
CBR News: I spoke with Robert Venditti about writing Mogo as a character in "Green Lantern," and while you don't have a sentient planet flying around in your series, you do have the aforementioned Source Wall. While it has traditionally been the source for all that exists in the DCU, it also serves as a prison of sorts for Kyle and other champions, imaginauts and explorers. The Guardians have told Kyle there is more to be learned from his time on the other side. Will Kyle return to the Source Wall or at least remember what it is that happened to him while he was there?
Justin Jordan: He's certainly going to remember more of it, and you'll learn a lot more about the Source Wall and what's inside it. Kyle has done something believed to be impossible -- he passed beyond the Source Wall and touched the Source, and that's going to attract some attention. [Laughs]
CBR News: I know there are some naysayers, but I love the dynamic between Kyle and Carol. Is that a relationship you will continue to explore?
Justin Jordan: Oh yes. And it is a relationship now, and we're going to be exploring what it means for Kyle and Carol and, yes, Hal going forward.
CBR News: And are you enjoying writing Carol as Star Sapphire too?
Justin Jordan: Yes, I am. Carol is fun character. The thing about Carol is that she is, by nature and nurture, much more of a born leader than Kyle is. I mean, she ran a large business, which means she has to have certain qualities. At the same time, she is nowhere near as powerful as Kyle or, for that matter, the Templar Guardians, which is an interesting tension I think.
CBR News: And what about Kyle's father? The annual teased that a rebuild of their relationship may be on the horizon but I have to think that it won't end well as their relationship has always been troubled.
Justin Jordan: Well, Kyle's father got to see a different side of his son in the annual that he had hitherto not been aware of, which is going to change things. And frankly, a decent chunk of the tension between Kyle and his dad is Kyle's fault -- there are a lot of things that Kyle thinks his Dad thinks that he doesn't, which has contributed to the distance between them.
CBR News: For a supposedly dead Green Lantern, Kyle is pretty active. When will the rest of the Corps learn about his resurrection?
Justin Jordan: Soon. Frankly, if they weren't busy with their own problems with the Durlans, they'd have probably become aware of it when he was on Earth. But as it is, they're going to know fairly soon. Which is a problem for Kyle, because he really doesn't want to be viewed as the universe's reset button.
CBR News: And while the annual is tagged with the subhead, "Curse of the White Lantern," will Kyle be transforming back to a Green Lantern in the near future?
Justin Jordan: Nope. Not while I'm writing anyway. He's the White Lantern for the foreseeable future. And as you'll see in "New Guardians" #31, he actually can't quit the job.
CBR News: In this next arc, the Psions make their New 52 debut. What can you share about this updated version of the Psions and what can you tease about this next arc because I want to be ready for, as the solicitations tease, when they make a New Guardian scream?
Justin Jordan: Well, they're really, really horrifying. This is pretty overtly a horror story, so the Psions are not green, inexplicably-named lizard men any more. H.R. Giger has just died and the design of the Psions owes an awful lot to him, which should tell you where we're going.
CBR News: The solicitations also reveal that the Psions are really after the Guardians' DNA in this arc. Historically, the Psions and the Guardians share a common origin. Will those similarities continue in the New 52?
Justin Jordan: Yep. You'll get a concrete answer to the relationship between the Guardians and the Psions in "New Guardians" #33. And it's not pretty.
Kyle Rayner may be presumed dead by the rest of the Green Lantern Corps, but the very-much-alive hero just kissed Hal Jordan's ex, Carol Ferris.
And the power to smooch is the least of his abilities — as readers are discovering in Green Lantern: New Guardians, the hero has almost godlike powers.
New Guardians writer Justin Jordan implied that the attraction between Carol and Kyle is partly based on Carol's belief that she needs to be in love in order to use her Star Sapphire powers. But he also said Hal Jordan's not going to be very happy when he finds out it.
As the series heads toward September's Futures End tie-in issue, which Jordan is also writing, New Guardians will be addressing what might happen if Kyle doesn’t get a handle on what being the White Lantern really means.
Newsarama talked to Jordan to find out more about Kyle's almost unlimited powers, his attraction to Carol, and whether there ever be a Blue Lantern Corps again.
Newsarama: Justin, the revelations in the Annual about Kyle's powers seemed to pay homage to the concepts behind the New Gods and the Source Wall. What was your thought process as you came up with the ideas behind Kyle's time in the Source Wall?
Jordan: Well, a lot of it was figuring out what the hell the Source is and what Kyle would experience beyond the Source Wall, and figuring out something that integrated the New Gods mythology with something that would work with the Green Lanterns mythos.
But going beyond the Source Wall is something that’s never been done and was believed to be impossible, and that should effect Kyle. Hugely. And it has, the consequences of which we’re just beginning to see.
Nrama: We found out that Kyle altered the "operating codes for reality" and created Oblivion. Why did the story of this villain interest you, and why do you think he fits so well with Kyle Rayner in particular?
Jordan: I thought Oblivion was just a cool concept – your fears and doubts and worries made manifest and powerful? Plus now that Kyle is the White Lantern, which is life, his opposite being Oblivion felt right.
Plus he was a good villain to drive home just how powerful Kyle has become and how little they all understand about what the White Lantern is. I mean, he created Oblivion, who himself has the ability to (badly) alter reality, so how much power does Kyle have, really?
Nrama: Can you explain why Kyle created a Source Wall, with his face throughout?
Jordan: He was using what he found behind the Source Wall – essentially, tapping the Source. The Source Wall is how the universe reacts to that, and it reflected Kyle when it happened because he was there.
Nrama: So right now, is it accurate to say that Kyle has the ability to utilize the powers of all the emotional spectrum because he's a White Lantern, but now he can also can alter the codes for reality?
Jordan: We’re going to be exploring this in the upcoming issues but yeah, the first part is definitely true and the second is….hypothetically true.
Nrama: Oblivion was warping the reality he created. Is Kyle also warping reality when he uses that power? Has he changed things unknowingly?
Jordan: Yes to both of those. Which is a big problem for Kyle because he doesn’t know what he’s done already or, for that matter, how not to do it again. And he’s seen what happens when Oblivion rewrites reality and Oblivion only has a tiny, tiny fraction of Kyle’s power.
Nrama: It's clear that Kyle's figuring out his powers as we go from issue to issue, but the Templar Guardians keep talking about what Kyle is "becoming." And even Kyle said something about getting "stronger." Does that mean he's also changing as time goes on?
Jordan: The Guardians certainly think so. The real question is whether he’s actually changing or if he’s been changed all along and is just now realizing it. The worrying thing is that even the Guardians don’t really understand what’s been happening. They have some idea, but it’s still dark territory for them.