Charles Soule On Red Lanterns
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.
Cullen Bunn On Sinestro Ongoing
IGN Comics: Anyone who has read your work knows that you have a penchant for villains, or at least anti-heroes or heroes with checkered pasts – Wolverine, Deadpool, Magneto, and even Drake Sinclair from your Sixth Gun series – so you writing Sinestro feels like a great fit. What makes Sinestro different from the other “bad guys” you’ve written before?
Cullen Bunn: I definitely have a preference for writing anti-heroes and bad guys, especially when they have motivations that the average “good” person can understand and get behind. Snake Plisken, Vick Mackey, Boyd Crowder, Walter White, Parker… these are characters I love (or love to hate), and they tend to be the types of characters I want to write. These folks do “bad things” but we can almost understand their reasons (if not their methods). I think there’s a kind of joy in dancing between wanting to see one of these villains succeed… and wanting to see them finally get their comeuppance.
My hope is that each of the villains I write will have his or her own motivation that readers can understand, whether they agree or disagree. In every case, I think there is a kind of personal tragedy behind these characters.
What makes Sinestro stand out is that he doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. He legitimately believes that “his way” is the “only way” to save the universe. His pride has cost him everything, really, but he fails to see that. That’s what makes him so tragic.
IGN: How did you come to be on Sinestro's new series? Were you a fan of Green Lantern before or is this new territory for you?
Bunn: When editor Matt Idleson asked me if I’d like to write the series, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I always liked Green Lantern, but I wasn’t necessarily a diehard fan. I read stories here and there when I came across them. I did, however, follow Johns’ run on the character pretty closely, and I especially liked the “Sinestro Corps War” storyline. As mentioned, I like writing villainous characters, but I’ve also always wanted to write an epic space opera type story. So this was a natural fit for me.
IGN: Fans have been clamoring for a Yellow Lanterns/Sinestro Corps series for years. What was the thinking behind the decision to make this comic about Sinestro himself, not necessarily his Corps?
Bunn: Well, the Sinestro Corps will feature prominently in the book, but I believe that in this case, with a group of characters that is so vast, it’s important to have that one constant point-of-view character. While there will be many Yellow Lanterns at play in this book, we’ll be seeing the story through the eyes of Sinestro and a few key Lanterns. Another reason it’s important to see much of this story through Sinestro’s eyes is because we need to understand why he’s taking these drastic actions. Sinestro is a treacherous character, and he’s running a number of dangerous games, but I want the reader to have a pretty good idea of what he’s up to.
IGN: Could you clarify the time frame that this story takes place? It seems as though it’s post-Forever Evil because he no longer has Parallax.
Bunn: This story definitely takes place post-Forever Evil. A few months perhaps. As for Parallax, we’ll hint at what happened there, but you’ll have to wait until issue 5 or so to find out the whole story.
IGN: We see a quick glimpse of these awesome necro-priests that you call the Shepherds of a religion of Anti-Emotion. First of all, just seeing that page gave me chills, they’re pretty awesome, in a creepy way. Will they be the antagonists of the series?
Bunn: Ah, yes! The Paling! They are an extremely creepy bunch. When you’re dealing with bad guys like Sinestro and the Yellow Lanterns, you have to introduce foes who are much, much worse. The Paling will fit that bill, and they will be a constant thorn in Sinestro’s side for some time to come.
IGN: What were the conversations like that you had with artist Dale Eaglesham about how you wanted the book to look and feel?
Bunn: Dale and I always seemed to be naturally drawn to the same kind of tone for the story. We talked a little about it early on, and it was really exciting how we were on the same page from the get-go. I can’t remember which of us first spoke the word “Arthurian” in relation to this story. I think it was Dale. But that is a tone I’d always had in mind… sort of an Excalibur in space.
IGN: Anything you’d like to say to someone interested in picking up this title to get them excited?
Bunn: I think if you’re a fan of Sinestro… or of space epics… or of cosmic horror… or of the political intrigue… this book will have something for you. It’s a dark book, yes, but we’re also further developing Sinestro’s rich character and introducing a number of new Lanterns I think people will like. There’s plenty of interpersonal dynamics among this new iteration of the Sinestro Corps. Hell, there’s even some romance! And there are plenty of surprises in store for long-time Lantern fans and new readers alike!
The new SINESTRO series digs deeper into Sinestro's fears
There's a new Sinestro series out featuring the writing of Cullen Bunn and the art of Dale Eaglesham. The book follows the once leader of the Sinestro Corps and is the first time, in quite some while, that a villain has had his own on-going series at DC. Cullen Bunn took the time to answer some questions about this series.
COMIC VINE: What will the focus of this series be about?
CULLEN BUNN: As this series begins, Sinestro has gone into a self-imposed exile. He’s abandoned his quest for control over the universe. But he soon learns that he can’t go into retirement just yet. He believed that his people—the Korugarians—had been lost when his home planet of Korugar was destroyed. But he discovers that many Korugarians are still alive. They fled Korugar in secret while it was under Sinestro’s rule. They now live as refugees cast throughout the galaxy, and they are persecuted and mistreated, in part because of their connection to Sinestro. That’s enough to bring him out of exile. He has a new mission—save his people —but he needs help to accomplish this. For that assistance, he turns to the Sinestro Corps. The Corps, however, has fallen far from what Sinestro had envisioned for it.
So, the focus for Sinestro (and for the book) is saving the Korugarians and returning the Sinestro Corps to its former glory. Of course, those are just the first steps for Sinestro. As he sees his plans coming together, greater plans begin to take shape.
Sinestro’s own pride and ambition will be both his greatest assets and his greatest enemies.
CV: Why is it time for a Sinestro on-going series?
CB: I think it’s past time! Sinestro has been one of the most popular villains (and most popular characters in general) for several years. He’s not a character who is suited to long periods of obscurity. He’s made a mark on the DC Universe, and readers want to know what’s next for him.
CV: For some of the newer readers out there, what's changed about this character, since the New 52 began?
CB: Sinestro has gone through a number of significant changes in recent years, but the events that have rattled him to the core have been the destruction of his homeworld of Korugar, his abandonment of the Sinestro Corps, and the estrangement of his daughter, Soranik Natu. These things will all play a major role in his new adventures, because he’s really setting out to “make things right” with his people, his daughter, and his army.
CV:In Sinestro's past, mainly pre-52, there's been a power play for leader ship of the Corps. Is Sinestro going to be leading again, and if so, will there be those in the corps that don't want him in power?
CB: Sinestro doesn’t necessarily see leading the Corps as something he wants. He sees it as a necessity. In his mind, he’s the only person who is good enough to control the Yellow Lanterns. So, yes, he’s going to make a move to take control again. And, yes, there will be those who do not want anything to do with Sinestro. He’ll spot some of these dissenters right away, but there will be those who are a little more secretive and cunning. Some of Sinestro’s greatest detractors will be in positions of great power within the Corps.
CV: In GREEN LANTERN CORPS, we've seen Arkillo pop back up. Will he have any connection to this series?
CB: Most certainly! Arkillo will be a regular supporting character in the series, along with many of the Yellow Lanterns. You’ll see most of your favorite Yellow Lanterns in this book, but there will be a core group of focal characters. Sinestro, Arkillo, Lyssa Drak, and a couple of new characters and surprise characters.
CV: What tone are you going for on this series?
CB: There are a couple of moods playing against each other in this series. Because the Yellow Lanterns are fear-based, there will always be an undercurrent of horror and darkness in the book. At the same time, the series will depict epic cosmic adventures—other worlds, other cultures, aliens—and I’m hoping to get the idea across that the universe has a deep history of its own that we’ve only seen glimpses of. Exploration and discovery will be important story elements. Finally, there will be a lot of intrigue and politics at play here, a lot of double-dealing and backstabbing as Sinestro tries to control the Yellow Lanterns. All of those elements should come together to give the book its own distinct flavor.
CV: Aside from Sinestro, what are some of the other aspects, within his life you wanted to focus on?
CB: Sinestro’s relationship with Soranik Natu is of great interest to me. Here we have a terrible villain who wants to be a father to a great hero. How he deals with his daughter is something that will inform readers as to the type of character he really is.
CV: Will this series be new-reader friendly? How much of the recent GL-events will need to be known?
CB: I’ve tried to keep this book as new-reader friendly as possible. There’s obviously a very rich history with Sinestro, but I’ve tried to summarize it pretty quickly in just a couple of pages. Those are elements that I’ll layer on as the series progresses. In the meantime, as long as you can buy into the idea that he was once a great (if somewhat misguided) man and lost everything because of his actions, you’ll be able to follow the book pretty easily.
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.
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.
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