From Comic Book Resources
When Robert Venditti took the reigns on "Green Lantern" last year from Geoff Johns, his primary goal with the series was to make a leader out of Hal Jordan. Mission accomplished.
As the current arc, "Uprising" comes to a close this week in DC Comics' "Green Lantern" #33 and next week in "Green Lantern Corps" #33, Hal has proven indispensable and absolutely capable of leading the Corps against a full-scale Durlan invasion utilizing a wide range of tactics including a Stonewall Jackson-like field assault and a bait-and-switch covert operation that would leave Jack Bauer grinning. And Jack Bauer doesn't grin.
But it hasn't been all Hal all the time with Venditti, The increasingly busy writer -- he is currently working on "Green Lantern," "The Flash" and "X-O Manowar" while completing his debut novel "Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape" -- has also delivered new heroes and villains to the Green Lantern mythos including game-changing Zezzite Gorin-Sunn.
With the Billy Tan-drawn "Uprising" Part 5 in stores this week and the final chapter coming next week, CBR News connected with Venditti to discuss Hal's growth as a leader, Gorin-Sunn's unexpected, yet well-received, prominence in the current arc and the upcoming return of one villain he created for the series (Relic) and an undead army that he didn't (Black Lanterns).
Venditti also teased that as big as "Uprising" was for Hal Jordan and the Corps, what's coming this fall is even bigger.
CBR News: When you are writing characters with a long history like Green Lantern, obviously developing a threat not only worthy of a confrontation but who is also fresh and exciting for readers, is of the utmost importance. Can you talk about the big bads of "Uprising," the Durlans, and how you were able to build them up into such a worthy adversary for the Green Lantern Corps this time around?
Robert Venditti: It started in "Green Lantern Corps" with a story featuring the Durlans and the Khunds -- two alien races with a history in the DCU so we didn't create them as villains. They were working in the background in "Green Lantern Corps" and at the same time, Hal was going up against the Outer Clans, which is like the Wild West on the fringe of the DC Universe. Van [Jensen] and I were talking because there are certain things we want to do with the two books and those are going to continue to come to fruition throughout the rest of this year and this is one large piece of it. What we want to do with Hal and John is have a storyline that if you read both books together, you would get a larger story but each individual one stands on its own, too. For example, the three "Uprising" issues in "Green Lantern" are about Gorin-Sunn and the people of Zezzen and the energy aspect of Durlans; and over in "Green Lantern Corps," it's about Sodam Yat and the Daxamites and finding out about DNA aspect of the Durlans' plan. There is two individual plots that you didn't really realize were connected until the very end and everybody ends up in the same spot for the final big battle. That was the challenge that we set for ourselves -- to tell a story that would do those things and have big moments in both books and sew them together to make something even bigger.
Read the full interview here.
Since Robert Venditti took over the Green Lantern title a year ago, he's been re-molding Hal Jordan and the Corps with a slew of new challenges, new characters and new villains.
But coming this fall, the writer promises the Corps will face an adversary that's "possibly the largest adversary the Green Lantern Corps has ever faced."
The villain — or rather, villains, as Venditti revealed — is yet another new concept, and this time it's going to be significant for not just for the Green Lanterns, but the DC Universe as a whole.
This week, Green Lantern #33 finished up the title's participation in the crossover event, Uprising, setting up the story's finale in next week's Green Lantern Corps #33. In August, Simon Baz comes for a visit in Green Lantern #34.
But in September, readers will not only get a tie-in to the Futures End weekly with Venditti's Green Lantern: Futures End #1, but they'll also see references to what's coming in 2014-2015 for the whole Green Lantern universe.
Venditti was previously best known for his work with Top Shelf, including his comic-turned-Bruce Willis film The Surrogates. More recently, he's been helping Valiant revive its characters.
But in June 2013, Venditti became one of the key architects of the Green Lantern titles, not only writing Green Lantern solo, but also helping out Van Jensen on Green Lantern Corps (although Jensen has since taken the book over).
As the Green Lantern Corps finishes up its war with the Durlans and heads toward this new adversary, Newsarama talked to Venditti to find out more about what's coming up in Green Lantern.
Newsarama: Rob, this week's issue felt like an ending, and it takes the Green Lanterns – and I'm sure your intent was, even the readers — by surprise when it turns out the story isn't over. Was that the plan from the start? And why go about it that way?
Robert Venditti: Yeah, that was the way the storyline was structured. It ties into the specific nature of the villain that the Green Lanterns are dealing with. The villains are all about deception, and all about lulling people into a false sense of security, and then they strike. And that's exactly how we tried to model the story to reflect this particular enemy, and how it will be different than any other adversary that the Green Lanterns have faced — really try to tap into the Durlans' unique quality.
Nrama: One of the things that happened during this storyline that we haven't talked about yet is that we found Sodam Yat still alive. Can you speak to the introduction of that character to your story, and whether he'll play a role in the Green Lantern universe going forward?
Venditti: Yes to the last part of that question.
But for the first part, you know, it all happened very organically. As Van and I had been working on Green Lantern Corps together, and we were researching and reading up on all the histories of the books, Sodam Yat was a character who just seemed to disappear from the pages. You know? He was a big part of the series, and all of the sudden he was gone. And it was never really, clearly explained what happened to him.
So that was a mystery that Van and I had always wondered ourselves. You know, what happened? Where did he go?
And so when we were putting together the storylines for the Durlans, we thought this was an opportunity to bring Sodam Yat into it. And it just sort of struck us that it would perfectly explain where Sodam Yat has been all this time, and also add a lot of dimension to his character, because he comes from this world that was very isolationist, and he was fascinated with alien life and traveling and things like that. But his parents always told him to stay home, and we're not supposed to leave the planet. Of course, Sodam Yat would become a Green Lantern anyways.
Well, it turns out in retrospect that, in some way, this almost abhorrent philosophy his father had ended up being accurate, because if Sodam Yat had stayed home, nobody would have ever known there were Daxamites, and the villains would have never come.
So this seemed like a way to bring a lot of storylines together and also develop a lot of character.
Nrama: I know, going forward, in the solicitations, there's mention of Simon Baz. Are you bringing him into the Green Lantern title, and can you tell us what role he's playing?
Venditti: It's not going to be a permanent position in the book. The way the Green Lantern universe is structured right now, Simon Baz is Earth's lone Green Lantern, so he's there watching over Earth while Hal and John and Guy and Kyle are out among the universe. So it's not going to be a permanent position for him in Green Lantern.
But he is, of course, a member of the Corps, and he does have a role to play in issue #34. And he will be back in the main series again, but it's still going to remain Hal's book.
Nrama: Getting back to the current storyline, it's finishing up in Green Lantern Corps, right?
Venditti: That's correct, yep.
Nrama: Although we don't know the end, I was wondering about the thoughts you guys had as you crafted this storyline and the themes you're exploring. Obviously, the Green Lantern Corps isn't very well liked right now. What has this storyline and the challenges of "Uprising" meant to the Green Lantern Corps?
Venditti: It's established this status quo for the Green Lantern Corps that, through some mistakes they've made themselves and that Hal has made himself, but also through some of the ways in which the villains have portrayed them inaccurately, they’ve become a force that the universe doesn't really necessarily be enforcing law anymore. There's some question about if they're the right people for that job.
The events of Green Lantern #33 certainly show the Corps acting and behaving in a way that's very heroic and they saved this world and this race and the larger universe from a pretty bad end, that's news that's never going to leave that world.
So it's almost like they're going to have to win back the universe's trust, one world at a time, which is obviously a very huge undertaking.
All of that's going to play into future storylines that we have planned, that are already in the works. It's going to be a theme that we're going to continue to play with.
And it just kind of mirrors law enforcement in the modern day, you know? Police officers are out there, doing what they can to keep neighborhoods safe, but a lot of neighborhoods, nobody's really happy to see a police officer. If you're speeding on the highway, and you see a cop behind you, you're not happy to see him. You know?
So it's kind of looking at that aspect of law enforcement, and what it takes to do that job in scenarios where they're not necessarily invited to do that job.
Nrama: You're writing the Futures End tie-in in September, with Green Lantern: Futures End #1. I'm curious what you're going to be exploring. In the weekly, we've seen what the Futures End world is like. Can you reveal anything about the story you're telling?
Venditti: Yeah, you've seen a lot of Futures End in the weekly series, which is all pretty Earth-based.
As Green Lantern has been since the new creative teams took over, it's going to be primarily a story set out in the wider universe. But it's going to pull on those same threads and those same conflicts that are going on in Futures End, and also hint at a lot of really big things that we have to come.
The back half of this year is going to be a very important year for the Green Lantern franchise. And it will all be hinted at in the five years later issue.
Nrama: So the September issue isn't just an "Elseworlds" type, what if story? It specifically refers to things you guys intend to have happen to the Green Lantern universe in the future?
Venditti: Yeah, it's one of those things where, when you read the stories over the next six months, you'll be able to go back to that issue and see how they tied in.
They won't necessarily be immediately apparent. But you'll see how those threads come together if you go back and give that issue another look, if that makes sense. Because we don't want to give anything away.
Nrama: I know we'll find out soon about what's coming in October, but can you tease this "important" story that's coming later this year?
Venditti: Yeah, it's not an understatement to say that it is possibly the largest adversary that the Green Lantern Corps has ever faced.
Nrama: Is this a new character? This adversary?
Venditti: Um, yes. It is new characters.
Nrama: Oh, not just one.
Venditti: Yeah, not one, but new "characters."
Nrama: And it's huge.
Venditti: It's going to be hugely significant, not just for the Green Lantern line, but the DC Universe as a whole.
So it's a big story. It's ambitious.
And it's also going to continue to follow a lot of the things we've been dealing with, particularly in Green Lantern with Hal Jordan in a leadership position.
What we've seen with this war, in Green Lantern #33, you know, he fights a final battle that involves artillery and ground forces and a pretty well-thought-out, well-planned strategy, with a rouse involved and all these kinds of things. I mean, this is all hugely forward for him as a character. He's a guy who just charges in with his ring and starts fighting. And now he's putting together battle strategies on a massive scale.
So we're going to see how these changes in his character, and how he's grown as a leader, work to his benefit, and potentially even work against him when going up against this new, greater threat."
The prolific DC writer gives us the scoop on his upcoming projects.
This summer is going to be huge for DC Comics. Between their expansive Flashpoint event series and the Green Lantern movie, fans of the DCU have plenty to be excited about.
Both Green Lantern and Flashpoint are going to be a key part of this year's Free Comic Book Day, which lands on Saturday, May 7th. For those that may not know, Free Comic Book Day is held the first Saturday in May every year nationwide, in an effort to bring new readers of all ages to our wonderful industry. This year, DC is reprinting a piece of Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis' acclaimed Green Lantern: Secret Origin, as well as giving hardcore fans their first glimpse at Flashpoint #1.
We got the change to speak with Geoff about all of this and more!
IGN Comics: Why don't we start with you just telling us what the Free Comic Book Day issue for DC Comics is this year?
Geoff Johns: Sure! This free Comic Book Day is designed for people who have maybe heard about Green Lantern but don't know who he is. It's got a chapter from Secret Origin in there that really shows off his origin. And then for all the fans and readers who come in every week, like me, there's a preview of Flashpoint in there.
IGN: Now, you guys have been doing a pretty great job of shrouding Flashpoint in mystery. Is the Free Comic Book Day issue going to shed any light on what exactly the series is about?
Johns: Just a little bit of it. It's a pretty short preview, but it's really to kind of set the stage for who Barry Allen is, or who the Flash is for people that might not know all the details. And then it just jumps into the story as the preview ends. It's really a Flash/Batman story!
IGN: Why is now the right time for a Flash-centric event like this?
Johns: I think he's overdue. I think the Flash is obviously one of DC's best characters and one of the pillars of the DC Universe. If you're naming the top five characters, he's there. I think the Flash has a great canvas to work narrative and stories across, it can involve the whole DC Universe, and it's well past time. But you know what? If we have to wait for Andy Kubert's beautiful art, then I'm fine with that. It is awesome.
IGN: You know, I put out a call for questions yesterday on Twitter, and a lot of fans have been asking about where Wally West is. Are we going to be seeing Wally in Flashpoint at all?
Johns: It's more focused on Barry and the DC Universe.
IGN: Alright, fair enough. Now, the other half of the FCBD issue is a reprinting of a chapter of Green Lantern: Secret Origin.
Johns: Yeah, it's the second chapter. It's really where Hal gets the ring from Abin Sur.
IGN: That's fitting, especially since you were at WonderCon for the debut of the new Green Lantern footage – how has the reaction been?
Johns: Crazy! You saw it right?
IGN: I did, I loved it.
Johns: It's your reaction. It's hard not to like seeing Mark Strong as Sinestro.
IGN: Yeah, he's very commanding.
Johns: He is, and you know, I think he embodies the best of what Sinestro has been for the last few years. But yeah, the reaction was great. Free Comic Book Day is designed to get those people who have maybe seen that footage or have heard about there being a Green Lantern movie and just introducing them to the story behind the movie.
IGN: Free Comic Book Day falls at a perfect time for this movie; was it always the plan to use that platform to cross-promote?
Johns: It was discussed really early on that we'd focus on Green Lantern because there's a movie coming out.
IGN: Now, we know you've got the Aquaman ongoing series with Ivan Reis coming later this year…
Johns: Ivan Reis just started the book, which is awesome because we're way ahead for once! He's just killing on it. To have Ivan commit to Aquaman is just a dream come true. Because again, like Flash, Aquaman deserves A-list talent and A-list presentation. So hopefully everybody will be excited for it, because I'm pretty psyched.
IGN: In Flashpoint, we're seeing a very different Aquaman. What can you tell us about the "Emperor" Aquaman character we're seeing in the teasers for that series?
Johns: I mean, Aquaman's a very different character in Flashpoint. You kind of see how he got pushed to that. He's not considered a good guy by people; he's at war with the surface world. I guess that's all I'm allowed to say!
IGN: A lot of the characters in Flashpoint seem like pretty big departures from their regular DCU counterparts. Are all the characters slightly skewed, or are there any that remain similar to how we know them?
Johns: All of them are slightly skewed because of what the world is. One of things I really wanted to do was make this something that we'd see a lot of the main characters and some of the other characters differently, but also a lot of new characters. I think that sometimes in these crossover events, it gets unwieldy because there are so many characters. I really wanted to take this opportunity to really focus on a handful of key characters and then also introduce some new ones too.
IGN: Jumping off to War of the Green Lanterns real quick; the Green Lantern book has been huge story after huge story. Are we going to see any sort of "downtime" after this story concludes?
Johns: No. [laughs]
Johns: One thing about War of the Green Lanterns is that I wanted to get back to the four core guys, and really get personal with them again. But I want the backdrop to be big because quite honestly, it's really exciting to work on a book like this. Any downtime issues… I don't quite know, you know, when does a cop have downtime? So it's storyline after storyline, but the Green Lantern stories are big. And they're very character driven.
War of the Green Lanterns is very focused on character, and there are some pretty major things that come out of it. The next Green Lantern story; I don't want to say it's smaller, because it's just different. But it's still going to be really a great story and focused on character. When people ask when there's going to be downtime, I don't know if they're asking when I'm going to take a month off, or…
IGN: [laughs] When are you going to take a month off?
Johns: I'm not! Do you want a story with Hal chilling on Earth? I certainly have some of that stuff coming up, but I lace it in with the bigger story and bigger things going on, because that's what I really enjoy writing. I enjoy the periodical format, but doing a downtime issue where everything's okay… I don't know how interesting that is for me to write.
IGN: Well said. A while back, it was announced that there's a Red Lantern book coming.
Johns: There is! By Peter Milligan, who I love.
IGN: Yeah, it's really exciting! Why do you think the Red Lanterns deserve their own book instead of one of the other Corps?
Johns: I think there is something really primal about rage that is interesting, and quite honestly, we have the good guys covered, right? There's Green Lantern,Green Lantern Corps, and Emerald Warriors. So there is something really interesting about exploring the other side of Atrocitus. I don't know if you read the Atrocitus issue of Green Lantern, but he's not evil. I think people mistake that. He's not evil; he's really really wounded, and he's really really angry. I think all of us have a lot of anger in us. I think all of us have anger issues. So I think that's something you can explore with these characters. You ever have road rage? You probably do here [in LA].
IGN: Oh absolutely, you have no idea! [laughs]
Johns: Yeah! And half the time, it's not really because they cut you off; you're probably already pissed off about something else. You lash out; we project a lot onto people. When we yell, we're usually upset about something else beyond just what we're yelling about. And those are issues that we either deal with or they fester inside us. I think that in a Red Lantern book, rage will be something really interesting to explore and write about, especially in Atrocitus – and Dex-Starr and Bleez and Zilius Zox, the big mad bald guy. They're all going to be delved into a lot deeper, just like the Green Lantern Corps is. I'm excited about it.
IGN: Me too! Is there anything else you wanted to add before you take off?
Johns: I hope that people who have been reading Green Lantern check out Flashpoint, and I hope that people who have maybe never read a Flash comic book, or given Flash a chance, check out Flashpoint. I think it'll really surprise them in a good way. And if not, read it because Batman's in it. [laughs]
IGN: [laughs] Well thanks for your time, Geoff. We know you're busy so we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us!
Johns: Anytime, Joey. We've got a crazy year coming up.