They say all's fair in love and war, but as the Green Lantern Corps redefines its mission, what lines will it cross during war with the Durlans?
In "Uprising," the event that will be crossing through the Green Lantern comics in May, the Corps will battle the Khund, the Durlans and the newly revealed Durlan Ancients. As readers saw in Green Lantern Corps #30 earlier this month, there's a new origin for the Durlans of the New 52, and it isn't pretty — and it means big trouble for the Green Lanterns in upcoming issues.
Van Jensen, who's been writing Green Lantern Corps solo for the last few months (after co-writing with Green Lantern scribe Robert Venditti), talked to Newsarama about this month's origin issue, the problems that are brewing for the Corps, and what's coming up in the future of the Green Lantern titles.
Newsarama: Van, this issue turned out to be a new origin story for the Durlans, showing how they went from using their powers as a defense to using them as a weapon. Is that part of their appeal as villains?
Van Jensen: Yeah, the characteristics of the Durlans and that history was something that I had planned out since issue #21, and I really like the idea of a creature that, every aspect of them — both their biology and their identity is completely framed by deception, and based on deception.
So how do you exist when you can't trust anyone, even of your own race? Everything that you do and you accomplish is through deception. What would that culture be? How would it evolve?
And then how did it lead into this ancient grudge against the Green Lantern Corps?
That kind of world-building and development is something that I hadn't gotten to do before the work at DC, other than in my independent comics, and we're going to see it play out in a big way in "Uprising."
Nrama: With the part of the story that showed members of the Green Lantern Corps suspecting Daggle, because of his race, were you tapping into that part of human nature that jumps to those kinds of conclusions? That has this inherent mistrust?
Jensen: Yeah, absolutely. And that's key to what the Durlans are. You think the most scary thing a shape shifter could be is whatever giant scary monster it could turn into. And certainly, turning into a giant, scary monster has its uses.
But the greatest power that they have — and the most damage that they can inflect — is by putting their opponent in a position where they can't trust anyone, even in their parents or their spouse or their fellow general. That's an age-old tactic that humans have used, of course, and the Durlans' entire identity is based around that.
The corps right now is faced with fighting a war where, based on the recent revelations, the Green Lanterns cannot trust anyone.
How can you fight a war when you can't trust the guy in the foxhole next to you?
That's basically the thrust of the story. And we're going to see how that continues to affect the corps in the next few issues.
Nrama: So we've got this issue of trust, and this somewhat justified grudge against the Green Lanterns. Are those the situations that drive the main themes of the story?
Jensen: Yeah. But a key theme at the center of the story — and this affects the Green Lanterns and the villains; this isn't just a story about the villains — surrounds this idea of, how far will you go to win this war?
For years now, the Green Lantern Corps has been led astray, as the Guardians would do anything to accomplish whatever end they thought was best. And the corps came upon dark times, and has since been trying to rebuild itself.
But now the Corps is faced with an enemy in the Durlans that literally will do anything to defeat the corps. So it's kind of an inversion of that.
And in order to defeat the Durlans, the Green Lanterns are going to have to go to some pretty extreme measures themselves.
So there's this almost ageless question that maybe doesn't have an answer, which is, how far will you go to win the war? Will you go to these great lengths? Or is there a point where you need to hold back? And the Corps is going to be faced with that very directly.
Nrama: There's also been a lot of preparation on the part of the Durlans, right? And these Durlan Ancients that we've met?
Jensen: Yeah, the Green Lanterns are faced with a foe that's spent years really penetrating the Corps, attacking them from the inside, and destabilizing them. They have no one that they can trust. They're in as bad of a place as they can be.
Now is the time that the real war is starting, and the Durlan Ancients, who have been sitting in their temple, gearing up all the machinations of the war are finally on the march.
And part of it too, with these Durlan Ancient monsters suiting up and gearing up for war — there's just something cool about a giant monster getting into a suit of armor.
The Durlans will do anything to enact revenge upon the Corps for what they view as the destruction of people. And it's going to play out in a very big way.
Nrama: Can you tease anything about what's coming up in Green Lantern Corps and the whole "Uprising" story?
Jensen: A giant space battle, betrayal, huge, huge battles, John Stewart, Fatality, Von Daggle, Hal Jordan — every key character is going to face making decisions and taking actions that impact the future of the Green Lantern Corps in very big ways.
Nrama: What's in store for the Green Lantern Corps the rest of this year?
Jensen: I think, at the end of "Uprising," people are going to see that it seems like the Corps has gone through their darkest hour, and that things have changed in monumental ways, and it will seem like it couldn't possibly go any worse for John Stewart or the rest of the Lanterns, but even after that, they're going to have to dig down deeper.
The Corps is going to continue to evaluate what their mission is, what they can accomplish, what they're all about — and figuring out a new mission without Guardians in place to guide them — who's going to be leading the Corps, and there are a handful of new, very big, very scary villains.
Green Lantern Corps #30 saw John Stewart and the GLC round up the Durlans infiltrating Oa and lock them away. It was all a bit too easy, if you ask us. We also got a fascinating look at the history of the Durlans, but it was told by Durlan Green Lantern Daggle, so we're not sure how genuine it was. You can never trust a Durlan!
This issue is the last before the Uprising Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps crossover begins in Green Lantern #31. Uprising will continue through to issues #32 and #33 of both comics, ending in Green Lantern Corps #33. Both titles have been showing the growing distrust of the Green Lanterns across the universe, and now an uprising against them is fast approaching.
We spoke with Green Lantern Corps writer Van Jensen about the events of this issue, how he is setting the stage for Uprising, and how his former job as a crime reporter has influenced his writing.
Check out what Jensen had to say and then take to the comments to let us know what you think about this issue of Green Lantern Corps! Will you be reading Uprising?
IGN Comics: My first question is about Star Sapphire Yarra. She's been a great part of the book, and I wanted you to talk about where her and John's relationships was when you started and how you see it now, just before Uprising.
Van Jensen: Yeah, she's a central part of the book. She's a fascinating, complex character. She's very passionate, but very strong-willed. Really, what her and John's relationship brings to the book is -- where we started, in Issue #21, John had been focused on the past and focused on past failures, and through her love for him and through her strength as a character, she sort of showed him a different path, getting over all the past failures and launching forward with a stronger sense of purpose and being more concerned with what tomorrow brings than what happened yesterday.
That's been really good for John, but then of course the tension that enters in with their relationship is that both, through her background and training as a warrior and through her role as a Star Sapphire, her standards for protocol are a little bit different from John's. She's someone who is willing to kill, to take another life, for what she sees as the greater good. That's very antithetical to where John is right now. So that friction is really going to continue to grow between them. It's pretty central to what happens throughout the Uprising crossover. But in a lot of ways, the Uprising story is about the next evolution in their relationship. All I can say is it's very key to the story that's happening.
IGN: For this issue, the big development was that the Green Lanterns have rounded up all the Durlans on Oa and imprisoned them. But what was interesting about that is -- and even John says this out loud -- that it was a little too easy for them to do that. Was that obviously supposed to be a false victory to make the Green Lanterns think they had won?
Jensen: Yeah, absolutely. This was not even the opening battle of the war. Really, this issue, mostly what we saw, was the extent of the scope of the Durlans' effort against the Green Lanterns. In a way, it's setting the stage of what's to come. I can guarantee you that what's to come is much, much worse. I think this issue in a lot of ways is about establishing the depth that Durlans will go to. There are actually even worse things that the Durlans have in store. But they're a really compelling race, and so to get the chance to establish and explore their background in such depth was a lot of fun.
IGN: Yeah, we definitely saw a lot of history of the Durlans, revealed by Daggle. Daggle's an interesting character because he appears to be on the side of the Green Lanterns, but it's openly stated that he could betray them at any second. So is it safe to assume that the stories he was telling of the Durlans were 100% true, or is he an unreliable narrator-type character?
GLCOR-30-2-9d3bbJensen: No, it's certainly open to interpretation, because the key thing about Durlans as a people is that everything that they are, their identity both in terms of their biology, but also their personality, it's all based on deception. They can take on any form and act like any other thing. So it is literally impossible to ever trust the Durlans. That's the very center point. So Daggle, that's what makes him so compelling as a character. He seems like someone who wants to do good, but you can never be absolutely sure that he is ultimately trying to do good, that that is his ultimate aim.
But even beyond that, the way that he achieves good results, the way that he helps the Corps is through doing things that are all based on deception. Deception at its core is a negative trait, right? If everything you do is based on lying, how can you possibly be good? I think it's not my place to provide some final resolution. It's not like we're trying to say Daggle is ultimately good or ultimately bad, more just portray the inner conflict that he faces in every waking moment.
IGN: Will Daggle be a big player in Uprising?
Jensen: Yeah, he is very key to Uprising. Daggle is going to continue to be faithless. There are really only two groups that have ever provided any sort of home or family to him, and that's the Green Lantern Corps and the Durlans. He can't sit this one out. He has to pick one or the other. The choices that he makes and the actions that he takes are going to have huge ramifications.
IGN: So everything you and Robert Venditti have been doing in your respective books has been leading up to Uprising, which starts this month, right?
Jensen: Green Lantern #31 is the first issue of Uprising, yeah. So it's both #31 issues, #32s and #33s [of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps].
IGN: What was the stage that you and Rob wanted to set for Uprising? A what can people expect from it?
Jensen: Yeah, so we're almost looking at this as the big finish of the first season of our run on Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, specifically. It's really all about the Corps being left in a bad place where they're being questioned by the universe and questioning themselves as to whether they're still heroes based on the actions taken by the Guardians in recent years and forced to deal with the fallout of that. It's really that the universe has turned against the Green Lanterns.
I think the question that's at the center of it is, how do you protect a universe that hates you? That becomes an overarching conflict. The Durlans were essentially waiting for the opportune time to exact their revenge upon the Corps and have been working towards it for a long, long time and in very insidious ways. This is a time when the Corps is perfectly set up to be destroyed, so the Durlans aren't going to let that opportunity pass them by.
IGN: As I'm hearing you talk about all this, I'm reminded that you come from a background as a crime reporter, so it sounds like there may be some crossover there, like when police protect people who hate the police. Could you talk to anything specifically that you've written in Green Lantern Corps that has been directly informed by your experience as a crime reporter?
Jensen: I guess the most direct thing is probably just knowing the nature of criminals and how they approach things. The Durlans are in many ways criminals, if on a huge scale. A lot of what you see as a crime reporter is kind of crimes of passion or basic, small-scale crimes, but there's also the occasional "long con," so to speak, some very elaborate schemes that take months or years to unfold. It's really interesting, having seen what motivates someone to do something like that and see what motivates someone to dedicate that much time and that much of their lives to either exacting revenge or stealing something or any of that. That's really who the Durlans are. They've been waiting and stewing and building up this anger. For years, they've dedicated themselves purely to enacting that, and that's kind of a terrifying thing.
IGN: What would you say to fans to get them excited for Uprising?
Jensen: The big thing is, with what the Durlans are doing, literally nothing is safe. No one can be trusted. There are a lot of huge, huge things in store that are going to radically change the book. They're going to radically change things for John and for Fatality and for all of our key characters. But the biggest thing is just, whatever you expect, there's going to be something even bigger and crazier and scarier in store.
Also check out another interview over at ComicBookResoures here.