NYCC 2013 Exclusive Interview: Justin Jordan of ‘Green Lantern: New Guardians’
Justin Jordan may not be a household name yet or, better to the point, a comic book store talking point, but he will be. The successful scribe of the Luther Strode books, as well as Superboy and Team 7, has recently been tapped as part of the new group taking over the Green Lantern Universe. Jordan’s responsibility is Kyle Rayner, whose tales of being the White Lantern are held within the pages of Green Lantern: New Guardians. Currently, the GLU is undergoing a massive upheaval. At NYCC, I got to sit down with Jordan and get his take on the new direction for the intergalactic emerald police force.
CRAVE ONLINE: You’ve been pretty much revamping the entire GL Universe. How do you even begin to approach that?
JUSTIN JORDAN: First, you stress out, you throw up a couple of times, you cry, and then you get down to work. I took a look and really thought about what is the essential Kyle Rayner. There are, in any character, core things that make up who they are. You can change a lot of the details but you have to find the core. I tried to do it with Kyle; I hope I’ve been successful
CRAVE ONLINE: What is the essential Kyle Rayner?
JJ: He started out as an artist. John and Hal are military. Guy is a hard charging guy. Kyle is not that. He’s more introspective and tends to think things through. On the other hand, he does have this vast power.
CRAVE ONLINE: Is that why he was chosen to be the White Lantern?
JJ: It’s part of it. Kyle is intelligent enough and thoughtful enough to realize that just having power isn’t the answer, even when you have so much of it at your fingertips.
CRAVE ONLINE: Will New Guardians be about Kyle’s quest for balance?
JJ: Partly. The series will also be about him making sure he is the person that should have that power. Is he the best choice for the White Lantern? We’ll watch him grow, and see if he rises to the task or if he fails.
CRAVE ONLINE: The title indicates that the new Guardians are also a big part of the book. What’s the deal with them?
JJ: With the new Guardians, I’m looking at their perspective on things. The original Guardians started out billions of years ago as rather idealistic creatures. Over the years, they just went astray until they ended up dead. These Guardians don’t have those years of corruption, so they’re still idealistic and want to fix the universe. They’re also really smart, so they looked at their brothers and sisters and were horrified by it. They don’t want to make those same mistakes, but then the original Guardians didn’t want to make those mistakes either. So now, the Guardians have to really be careful to avoid those mistakes.
CRAVE ONLINE: Is that why they’ve taken Kyle under their wing?
JJ: Yeah, one reason they have aligned themselves with Kyle, is they feel he can help them not make those same mistakes.
CRAVE ONLINE: How can he stop it?
JJ: He’s got so much power. The question becomes, when you have that much power, what do you do with it? Kyle could go to some planet under a dictator’s rule and take that dictator down, but that doesn’t change the planet. It still has all the systems and beliefs that caused the problems. So, how do you combat those problems without becoming them? How do you not subvert free will? Kyle’s reaction to those issues will also help the keep the new Guardians honest.
CRAVE ONLINE: When DC came to you and said they wanted to destroy Oa and wipe out most of the touchstones of the Green Lantern Universe, did you think they were nuts?
JJ: No, I actually thought it was kind of cool. Obviously, DC is not cancelling all the books, so there is light at the end of the tunnel. I really liked the idea that these powers are not infinite. There are consequences to constantly using those powers. Yes, we have a weapon that can do anything, but only with a finite amount of power to run it. We need to be judicial in how we use it. That kind of Green Lantern makes a more interesting book to me.
CRAVE ONLINE: Did you think it was time for a GLU shake up?
JJ: Yes. The Lanterns had Oa for billions of years; it was there center of the universe, now it is gone. Where do you go from there? With a new creative team and a new direction, you need to unmoor them from the past. It allows for greater story possibilities. I thought it was a really solid dramatic choice. The old Guardians are dead and OA is gone. What’s the next step for the entire Green Lantern Corps?
CRAVE ONLINE: So what is the next step?
JJ: Part of it is trying to define what the Lanterns do with the power and then what they should be doing with it. The still have the ability to do anything, they just have to be thoughtful about it. The various emotional energies can’t be used as a blunt hammer. It has to be selective. They can’t just Green Lantern a planet into the sun; they have to take care of things on multiple levels.
CRAVE ONLINE: Plus the universe doesn’t exactly embrace the Green Lanterns right now.
JJ: Green Lanterns have faced that as they try to regain the trust of the universe. They have to be careful with what they do. For lack of a better term, a lot of it is PR. If they are going to protect the universe, they need the universe to trust them; they can’t constantly be seen as the bad guys. The Lanterns have to overcome the problems the old Guardians left them with, which has partly ruined their reputation. All of that becomes something they have to deal with moving forward.
CRAVE ONLINE: That’s a lot of pressure, rethinking an entire canon.
JJ: Yep, it’s both awesome and massively intimidating. We have to do right by the fans, but we also have to tell interesting stories. We have to do stuff that doesn’t fundamentally wreck the concept, but is also new and adds to the mythos. It’s risky. I just hope the fans follow along with us.
CRAVE ONLINE: What do you hope the reaction will be?
JJ: I want them to have a story that they are really into, but also one when they look back on in a few years they say, “Yeah. That was a good move. That was how Green Lantern should have gone.”
Green Lantern: New Guardians is out now. You can follow Justin on his twitter feed at @justin_jordan