The post-Geoff Johns era of the Emerald Knights has been handled by Robert Venditti on Green Lantern and Van Jensen on Green Lantern Corps working side-by-side to bring them into a brave new world that hates and fears them. The twosome have also teamed up to bring Wally West back into the New 52 in The Flash. At San Diego Comic-Con, we got a chance to talk to them about the latest developments in their books.
Check it out!
Crave Online: First of all, I have to thank you so much for knocking Hal Jordan down a few pegs. He needed it SO BADLY, and it makes him that much more readable. Did you consciously feel that he needed some humbling?
Robert Venditti: I wouldn’t say ‘humbling’ so much, but it’s about conflict and character growth. So when I was looking at Hal Jordan’s character when putting in my pitch for the series, I wanted to think about the conflicts he would have to go up against that would be very hard for him to deal with, because that’s where stories come from – conflict. For me, it was him taking on this leadership role that would put him in a position to have to go against his own nature. All of what makes up who he is – being a test pilot, being so willful that he’s the greatest Green Lantern ever – would all be very bad in a situation where he became leader. He’s not going to be a fast learner, right, because as a willful individual who makes a mistake, he’s going to be stubborn in trying to correct that. So he’s going to make those stumbles, and the fate of the universe and the Green Lantern Corps is all hanging in the balance. So that was the way the conflict was framed, and then showing the growth and progression for him – how does he go from being a test pilot to being a general. Now, going into the next big storyline for him, he has learned how to be a general, and we see at the end of “Uprising” that he’s strategies that involve artillery and ground troops and a ruse that traps the enemy. But a question we all have to deal with is how much do we grow and change as people but not lose what makes us who we are? That’s going to be the next story arc for him.
Yes, it’s a tough call figuring out how to thread that needle of being true to the core but also moving beyond the mantra of being The Greatest and Best Green Lantern God Ever Gave Man On This Earth. But there’s this thing with Relic that’s hanging over everybody’s head like the Sword of Damocles, since any use of the Lantern rings are actively destroying the universe. Is there more coming on that? It feels like a huge issue they need to deal with immediately.
Venditti: Yeah, very much so. It’s a long-form story arc that works in the back of these mini-arcs that we have going on. It’s been happening the whole time, and it’s going to come back around full-circle again very soon. What exactly is the reservoir? What does it mean that Kyle Rayner was able to go to the Source Wall and replenish it? All those kinds of things. The storyline was crafted from the very beginning knowing what the end was going to be, and we’re working toward that now.
Does that mean that once you get there, you’re going to be moving on?
Venditti: Oh, no, no, that’s just the end of the first long-form story arc.
Okay, cool. Now, over in Green Lantern Corps, there’s a very shocking development that just happened to John Stewart, where his girlfriend Fatality turned out to be a Durlan who’d been in disguise for several issues, and I hate to drop the word, but that makes him a rape victim. Was that part of your thought process and will John be dealing with that trauma?
Van Jensen: I never thought of it in terms of that word explicitly.
It’s not the standard form, but it qualifies.
Jensen: I mean, usually, in comics, just historically, it’s been females that are the victims of any kind of crime of love, and John very much was the victim of this story. But more than anything, it’s really about John’s emotional state. He was in a very emotional state, having processed a lot of grief and having Fatality help push him in a new direction. This Durlan who masqueraded as Fatality very much took advantage of where he was and what he really needed in his life. He had been so backward-looking and so obsessed with past pain that he really needed something to love and to look to and to be inspired by, and that need was what ended up being exploited. Issue #34 coming out next month is really the culmination of John going out and searching for the real Fatality. Going forward, what I really wanted to do for this first year with John was force him to realize how backwards-focused he was and allow him to come to grips with the hole in his life and give him the opportunity to start moving forward as a character. The guy’s been through so much that I hate to stack more hardship on him, but I think it’s a story that was important for him. On the far side of it, it will be a good story for him going forward, where it propels him.
How long was that masquerade going on?
Jensen: Issue #22, or really #23, when the fake Fatality shows back up. If you go back through all those issues of #23 through #32, really, there are lots of little, very subtle hints throughout. It was really cool to see a story that was going to stretch that long. I mean, I hate to say that I took some pleasure in it because it’s kind of an awful story, but it was really fun to just set up fans’ expectations and then shift things so dramatically. Luckily, we’re done with the Durlans for the time being.
How closely are you guys working with Charles Soule on Red Lanterns as far as coordination? Do you try to have the books isolated and dealing with different aspects of the universe?
Venditti: All the books operate pretty independently from each other in terms of the actual writing, whether it’s Sinestro Corps, New Guardians, Red Lanterns. We all look at each other’s scripts and read the issues so we know what everybody’s doing and all the pieces are in the right spot and there are no continuity gaps. When we’re all working together on a single tight storyline, then we all get in the writers’ room and spend a lot of time on emails and conference calls, crafting the story, trying to punch holes in each other’s arcs in the story, elevate it as a group. It really depends on what the storyline is.
Jensen: And we’re all good friends. We know each other well and have a good rapport, so there are lots of moments in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps especially, but even with the other books, like Red Lanterns #33 has a Green Lantern showing up in it… as Charles was developing that story, he called me and we talked it through and figured out exactly how to make it work and use the characters in the best way, and it’s all the richer for us talking to each other. You want, if everyone reads all the books, that these little bits add to each other, and it’s just little bonuses.
And now you’re both working on the Flash. What’s in store there, with so much going on right now?
Venditti: We’re building up to the end of the first big story arc that we’ve done, which will be in #35. We have the current version of Barry Allen moving towards the future, as we all do, and then the future version of the Flash coming back from the future, and they’re encounter each other and crash with the life of Wally West hanging in the balance. It’s a big issue, it’s going to have a long legacy for both Flashes and for Wally. It’s something we’re excited about.
What went into the thought process on how to bring Wally West back in this new incarnation?
Jensen: That was a decision made by DC Comics to bring him back. We had started to work on the outline of the book and had an idea of what we wanted to do with Barry’s character when they came to us with that idea, and it really, in so many ways, added to what we were doing in terms of character and giving Barry both someone he could reach out to and teach, but also someone who could have a real impact on him. I think the series is a lot better for having Wally in it. I grew up reading Wally, so it was very much an honor to get to introduce him to the New 52.
Back to the Green Lanterns… there are SO MANY of them. What are your favorite ones, and which ancillary characters do you hope to focus on in the future?
Venditti: Mogo has always been a huge favorite of mine from the beginning when I started reading the series, and I wanted to find a way to make him a central part of it, so we did. He’s now the headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps. He’s a mobile base, whereas before it was always a fixed point in space. So I love Mogo, I love the interactions with Mogo and Saint Walker. I like Kilowog a lot. Billy draws a great Kilowog. He’s a very big, very powerful-looking character but deep down he’s warm and fuzzy. I like that aspect of him. And Goran-Sun, which is a new Lantern that Billy and I created, who is made of sentient energy. What I like about him is just the visual hook, he’s got a great design. He’s got a unique backstory, but when he fires onto the page, he’s just this pop of orange and yellow in what ends up being, by default, a very green book because they’re Green Lanterns who fire green light. He really stands out against the backdrop of space and all these cooler colors.
Jensen: With Green Lantern Corps, fans want to see a lot of characters. Every character out there is some reader’s favorite Green Lantern. I make a very concerted effort to cycle through different character, even if they’re in there just a little bit. There’s a character I really loved, OllaVersity, who is just a giant space snake. You had me at giant space snake. He was great, and we had some fun, and then I killed him.
Venditti: That’s why I’m not friends with him anymore.
So who created B’ox?
Venditti: Actually, I spotted B’ox in a double-page spread of Green Lantern Corps, and I started asking around about who he was, and the best anyone could tell me was that he was a sight gag – somebody had just drawn a Green Lantern shaped like a box. So I was like ‘well, we’re going to use that because it doesn’t make any sense and it’s just cool-looking.’
I’d love a B’ox solo series, with his natural conflict with the round guys.
Venditti: B’ox and Zox!